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Has anyone had an issue with split/cracked or broken plastic wheels that came on MTH's centipede or other  4 axle-per-truck loco's? I picked up a project recently that I'm converting over to TMCC. One of the plastic wheels is missing, another was split in two, and the other two are starting to split. I looked on MTH's website for parts, but since this loco was released so long ago, parts are not available. I imagine the Alco PA's use the same wheels based on my searches but MTH doesn't offer them either. Does anyone have any recommendations? I thought about ordering Lionel's flange-less diesel wheels and modifying them if needed. They appear to be the same size but they are made of metal which might cause electrical shorts/problems while navigating switches. I might even turn plastic ones on the lathe but that will take a bunch of time and those might crack as well. Any thoughts or ideas?

The existing plastic wheels are:

  • 7/8" O.D.
  • 1/4" wide
  • 3/16" I.D.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Original Post

I realize there are flange-less metal wheels on various applications. Most I've seen have been located in-between flanged wheel sets, not in the leading or trailing position. My concern is with the overall length of the 4 axle wheel assembly when it navigates over a turnout. The plastic wheels are flange-less which prevents them from binding between the rails. This would imply the wheels ride off of the rails a bit to allow the flanged wheels to freely roll through the turn. If the plastic wheels were replaced with metal ones, would they ride far enough off of the rails to possibly contact the center rail on a turnout? If they were located in-between the flanged wheels, I wouldn't be concerned. I guess I'll have to try the metal ones?

Hard to believe you can't find a current product that has the plastic wheels.  You have a good point, those plastic wheels have a floating axle that does allow them to travel up and down quite a bit, and they do hang out on the end of the truck.  I guess the curves you are using is also a factor, the Centipede is rated for O72 or larger.

Turning plastic wheels on a lathe. Might be time well spent. What about turning some metal wheels down and make a plastic tire about 1/8" thick. Don't press, epoxy it on (hoop stress).   Something I started doing on Weaver chain drives since the sprockets are so prone to splitting is to drill out the plastic parts so they were not such a tight force fit but still snug on the shaft then epoxy them in place. Roughing up the inside of the hole and the spot on the shaft where they ride.  A set of numbered drill bits from 1~80 is invaluable for opening up the holes a couple of thousands.  An unmounted drill chuck that goes from 0 ~ 1/4" so you can turn the bits by hand is also useful.  Another trick I sometime use when drilling soft plastic like Delrin  is to loosen the belt on my drill press and turn the chuck by hand.          j

@JohnActon posted:

Turning plastic wheels on a lathe. Might be time well spent. What about turning some metal wheels down and make a plastic tire about 1/8" thick. Don't press, epoxy it on (hoop stress).   Something I started doing on Weaver chain drives since the sprockets are so prone to splitting is to drill out the plastic parts so they were not such a tight force fit but still snug on the shaft then epoxy them in place. Roughing up the inside of the hole and the spot on the shaft where they ride.  A set of numbered drill bits from 1~80 is invaluable for opening up the holes a couple of thousands.  An unmounted drill chuck that goes from 0 ~ 1/4" so you can turn the bits by hand is also useful.  Another trick I sometime use when drilling soft plastic like Delrin  is to loosen the belt on my drill press and turn the chuck by hand.          j

That’s what I’m considering at this point. I picked up a few Lionel flangeless metal wheels that I’ll have to open the I.D. a little bit on each wheel. Thank you for the info!

@taycotrains posted:

Are you talking about these ?696FD51C-C722-4833-8CCC-14DB55DA017A

Bob Taylor,

Those look like ‘em. I’m thinking I’m gonna continue with the Lionel wheels I picked up. If I use plastic wheels to replace the ones I have, will they crack again? That’s the million dollar question. Where did you pick up the flanged wheels from? Do you have a part #? Maybe I should just order flanged wheels and trim the flange off with the lathe. 

@GGG posted:

Not uncommon for older ones to have cracks.  If you go metal I would look at how it may short going across switches.  I believe they maybe plastic for a reason beyond cost savings.  G

GGG,

That’s my concern. I picked up Lionel flangeless metal traction wheels. I’ll either cut the O.D. undersize and press a plastic collar (tire) on the wheel or just put a rubber drive tire on the existing grove but I fear the raised edges might contact the rail. 

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