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The PRR Aerotrain with a full complement of cars. This locomotive has a reputation for poor pulling power due to the oddball rear power truck construction.

Coincidentally, the real Aerotrain locomotive also was a weak puller, so maybe it's not a surprise that the model shares that attribute!

In any case, I've tweaked this one so it can pull it's full complement of ten passenger cars up a 2.5% grade, so it's pulling power is sufficient for my railroad. This is a short demo to prove it's possible to actually run a prototypically train length with this locomotive.  You do have to make sure you properly lube all the cars as these four wheel cars are also known to have fairly high rolling resistance. Without proper lube, this demonstration probably would have failed.

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@Forest posted:

Looks great John. Are you gonna share what tweak you made on this fine running train?


A lot of little things, but the primary area is the rear truck.  Make sure the small "pony" wheels turn freely, when I got this (used), they were frozen and were dragging along.  Also, make sure the rear truck is well lubed where it slides on the chassis so it can track properly.  Finally, and very important, you have to do a little bending to balance the front pony wheels with the rear drive wheels correctly, it's a try and test process.  If it's not right, that's when the little wheels eight hop out of the rails, or there's not enough weight on the rear wheels to provide good traction.

@Richie C. posted:

Nice ..... and the lube of choice was .....

I just use 5W20 motor oil for normal lube, been using it for years.  One quart is a lifetime supply.  It doesn't get gummy like a lot of oils, and really stays in place.  However, lube is a very subjective topic, so I'm sure I'll hear a lot of push-back on my choice.

@RailRide posted:

What aspect of the single axle trucks causes them to have higher-than-normal friction?


I have no idea, but they have sleeve bearings, that can't help.  In any case, the rolling resistance of the 10-car consist is considerable, surprising based on the length of the cars.  I do know quite a bit of the rolling resistance is due to the center track rollers as well.  However, these cars will not coast anywhere near as far as most of my MTH Premier passenger cars if I just let them roll down my grade from the top, and the Premier cars also have pickup rollers.  One factor is likely axle loading, the little Aerotrain cars weigh 24oz, and the 19" Premier car 27oz.  That gives an axle loading of the Aerotrain of almost double the Premier passenger car.

Last edited by gunrunnerjohn
@Gene H posted:

I have a Locosound & a Proto 3 Aerotrain locomotive.  The Locosound pulls all 10 cars without a problem but  the Proto 3 is a poor puller.  Maybe 6 cars tops.

That is peculiar.  There has to be some other reason for the difference between the two than the sound system.... traction tire differences?  (Maybe production differences between the time the two locos were built?  I have the very early LocoSound version, but only have about 6/7 cars total.  I do notice that the hood of the loco gets warm if I've been pulling all my cars for 10 minutes or more.   I was surprised/disappointed at that, but absolutely LOVE my Aerotrain & thank Mike Wolf for releasing it in O gauge

Have you (or anyone) ever tried using Slick-50 or some other Teflon-based lubricant either alone or in combination with plain old oil?

Like John stated in a earlier post a quart of Mobil 1 Full Synthetic 5W-20 motor oil will give you a lifetime supply of oil for your trains.  I only use LaBelle 106 grease for the gears and still have 2 bottles of LaBelle 107 synthetic oil but when they're empty i'll refill them with Mobil 1. I can't say anything about Slick 50 but before you buy anything  be sure it's plastic compatible and don't attack the paint. Remember if you're willing to pay 4 digits for a locomotive a couple of extra dollars for safe lubricants won't hurt.

Gunrunner John, et al:

I just purchased a slightly used MTH Aerotrain with Rock Island decor; the standard RailKing train set plus three add'l coaches; six total.  The original owner already added weight to the loco and thoughtfully added passenger figures to the coaches.  I'll apply the tips offered on this thread about the rear truck and lubing. Meanwhile, I'll keep looking for more RI coaches to create a prototypical consist.

This "Train of Tomorrow" is one of my all-time favorite trains. I rode the Aerotrain in the 1950s when it was assigned to the PEORIA ROCKET route for a while. That was a rough ride, due in part to deferred track maintenance; further, the lightweight coaches didn't have sufficient "heft" for a smoother ride. The Aerotrain was re-assigned to commuter service between Joliet and Chicago.

Mike Mottler    LCCA 12394
Formerly a Kid from Peoria, IL

Last edited by Mike H Mottler

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