Hey Railroaders,

"Ltrain!" here, I am new to this forum but not new at all to o gauge trains.  Here's my first topic: What are your thoughts on Lionel locos and rolling stock from the 1970s through 1990s (the MPC and LTI eras)?  Here are my thoughts.

I bought a Lionel 8250 Santa Fe GP9 diesel about three years ago.  I know some people say they "can't pull for nothing", but I find that if you know what to put behind it (ie: MPC Cars or anything with plastic trucks) they run and pull just fine.  I pull an average of 8-10 cars made by Lionel MPC/LTI and even some old K-Line classic cars (with die-cast trucks!) and nary had a problem.  Same goes for a more recent acquisition, a Lionel Rio Grande RS3 diesel with two truck mounted can motors, that will pull a good amount of lighter cars too.

For the freight cars, I've heard it said that the MPC models derail on tight curves quite easily.  I have not found that to be the case if  you run trains at a constant medium speed (around 12-14 volts on an average ZW or KW, both of which I use [that is still quite speedy as far as realism is concerned]).  

All in all, I think these eras of Lionel are great values (price, price, price!) and all have served me quite well so far.  Let's hear your thoughts!

Happy Railroading, Ltrain!

Original Post

If a postwar car is not too heavy, placed in front of the train, the MPC Geep can pull it.  The trick is proper lube.  put a drop of Teflon oil, and put it on both sides of the PW wheel.  Slide wheel back and forth within limit of play.  then spin wheel.  If it spins freely, you are good.  If not, try anoter drop of oil, check for rust or see if wheel or axel are ok.  a MPC geep can pull lightweight PW caes provided the wheels are ok.  Placing these cars in front of the train will prevent stringlining accidents.

The TEXAS SPECIAL:  The REAL RED streak of the golden prairies!

MPC and LTI made some very nice trains. They also went from LL steamers to real RR names. Their boxcars were the most colorful ever made by them. Early GPs were light weights but would pull a modest train. Motor to the rear worked best. Their 2 motor F3s would pull any train.



When I was a kid, many moons ago (LOL) I had and still have my 8030 Illinios Central GP9. I also had a mixture of MPC and postwar Lionel cars, but many more postwar then MPC, just because I bought or my mom I should say, bought all of my cars from Madison Hardware and MPC was still in it's youth. I would runs long trains ( well long for a 10 year old) of 13-15 cars with the diesel. It never had a problem pulling those trains, but I did run it long nose first, just because I liked the look of it that way better then short nose first. If it had a problem I would have known, I was 10 and all 10 year olds and know what fast was, plus I knew my trains. Every kid at that age knows what fast is. My set up was a carpet layout that went around the perimeter of my room, under my bed, probably 10x10 ft. (New York Tenement- when they built real sized rooms).  Well as kids go, and I was no exception, I had a set of barbell weights that were given to me. So one day I decided to experiment. First went 2 1/2 lb weight on a flat car- no difference, then another for 5lbs, still no difference, then 5lbs on another flat car behind it for a total of 10, little difference, then 1 10lb weight on a third flat car for a total 20lbs, well it pulled it, but struggled, but it pulled it around the layout. After that it didn't pull like it used too, I wonder why???  So I told mom the engine wasn't pulling like it used too, never told her why, ( We weren't as stupid as today kids) and away we took it to Madison Hardware. Carl brought it in the back to the repair person, Joe, he came out and gave me a scowl, he knew EXACTLY what had happened, you don't burn out the motor on these engine by pulling cars around the track. He never said anything to my mom and repaired it. Full price $48, to teach me a lesson, which it did. That did hurt my mom's pocketbook, but never did I do something like that again. But back to the story, I've never had a problem with the pulling power of the MPC GP units, as far as I'm concerned they can pull they're weight in gold. Well maybe not gold, but in barbell weights-LOL!!!

Engines of any sort, steam, diesel or electric are just fascinating pieces of equipment.

I always liked that stuff, and own a ton of it. I have stopped running it, in favor of modern scale equipment and engines with TMCC. The cars from that era were colorful and easy to pull. I could pull about 50 of them with a good postwar steamer. No real complaints, except for the occasional weak coupler, but it's easy enough to tie them shut.  

I pretty much owned much of the stuff from this era.  After sitting in boxes from purchase til recently I have been testing many of the engines. 

Diesels with lubrication prior to running not hardly any problems running or pulling.  I don’t pull a lot though.  As me and my Dad were collectors (Dad more than me) these were never run  So >30 years  So that alone is impressive 

Steam and tenders success rate has been less

From a pulling perspective, the biggest challenge is with the F3s

I have ABBAs for many of what was produced (e.g. IC, UP, SP, etc.). With the ABBA and passenger cars and I always bought the add on cars, only having the one powered unit, it struggles especially with any grade to pull that entire train.   So had to drop the extra b and or passenger cars to run them 


When I got back into the hobby in the late 80's, this PW guy bought a bunch of MPC and LTI stuff, which was relatively abundant, cheap and colorful. My first GPs, U boats and steamers were from that era. I like them very much. As far as pulling power, many of them do better with lighter loads, so I run MPC billboard reefers and boxcars with them quite often.









MPC was the best thing to happen to the hobby in the early modern era. Good looking, affordable and dependable.

I run Prewar, Postwar, MPC, some Williams and some early MTH Railking. I can do nearly all my own repairs on them. With Williams and MTH, I've had the electronic eunits fry, but they've been easily replaced with rectifiers and mechanical eunits.

No $$$$ paperweights on my layout.

"You have to grow old. You don't have to grow up". Ray Bradbury

IMO the high end MPC and LTI engines that were remakes of the postwar engines are superb.  For me they are tremendous operating units and look great.  I prefer reliability/dependibilty over the operational uncertainty and high cost of the more modern stuff.

Same with the rolling stock.  As long as you put the cars with die cast sprung trucks up near the front I can pull 35 plus cars easily. 

Tinplate Art- As a kid the reason I couldn't stop after the first few was because I thought to myself "If it could pull that much I wonder how much more it can pull" And by the time I figured out what it couldn't pull any more it was too late, just like I learned. LOL!

Engines of any sort, steam, diesel or electric are just fascinating pieces of equipment.

The majority of my collection is LTI and MPC era products. They're mostly bullet proof and can be found at great prices.

Though I tend to stay away from the items with plastic trucks, there are plenty of durable items with those trucks like the ore cars. The majority of rolling stock I try to get have die cast trucks and couplers. If they don't, they'e usually easy to replace with those trucks. They give the cars some better weight and the couplers usually hold better.

Locomotive wise, much of the small can motored engines like the RS-3's can't pull much, but they can run basically for hours on end. The AC motored engines can't, but they usually all still run well and usually pull better in the larger locomotives like the Hudsons. Other locomotives like the Southern Mikado and ALCO PA's from 1992 which have big, heavy duty can motors can pull significantly well - just as good as any current day locomotive.


Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters

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I agree. Run them with the cars they were made to be run with, and they perform great. I have some modern (post-2000) cars and an baffled by their weight and rolling resistance. Some of these, even with lubrication, need a push to roll down a 3% grade. It's no wonder many people complain that MPC trains can't pull.

Although the "premium" engines, with what Greenberg's called the Type I power truck (F3s, Trainmasters, premium GPs) are supposed to be better, I find that the smoothest and quietest runners are the engines with the redesigned Type II power trucks (all GPs, Alcos, and NW2s prior to 1983). MPC did a great job on this power truck. On the Type I power truck, it seems like their machining tolerances were a little looser than they should have been - mine are noisier than my postwar examples, with a certain amount of wobble in the armature.

I have not had many problems with cars derailing on curves, except some childish attempts to couple cars by backing up at warp speed Some MPC cars do have plastic wheels which don't roll as well as the metal ones (not hard to replace, tho). And on some, the trucks are attached to the carbody with a plastic split rivet - an assembly with a lot of slop in it, which could be troublesome (I have very few of these actually). Especially after they switched to solid wheels, the wheels are so heavy in comparison with the lightweight cars, that they do a lot to keep the center of gravity down low, which helps things a lot.

Not a big fan of MPC (but they kept Lionel alive and have great graphics), poor quality in the trucks, motors, etc. IMHO.  Don't think you'll find MPC with magne-traction.

I do like the LTI offerings that had the look and feel of quality of post-war Lionel. My favorites include the remake of the yellow Alco and passenger car "Anniversary" set and the Southern Pacific Daylight steamer and Heavyweight cars. The multitude of "Bullion" cars has made me a collector of those

Lionelski posted:

Not a big fan of MPC (but they kept Lionel alive and have great graphics), poor quality in the trucks, motors, etc. IMHO.  Don't think you'll find MPC with magne-traction.

I do like the LTI offerings that had the look and feel of quality of post-war Lionel. My favorites include the remake of the yellow Alco and passenger car "Anniversary" set and the Southern Pacific Daylight steamer and Heavyweight cars. The multitude of "Bullion" cars has made me a collector of those

I'm not sure what today's definition of magnatraction or MPC is, but i have several engines made between 1970 and 1986 that will pick up and hold, in mid air, a piece of Lionel tubular track. As well as track pins, screws, small screwdrivers, etc.

Most all of the FARR sets, Fallen Flags sets, a lot of the large steam engines, I think the UP, NYC,  SP,  lll Central F3s, the SF,  SP,  CNW,  JC, Virginian, Southern, and Wabash FMs, some of the GP-9's, and some of the electrics,  GG-1s were made with magnatraction.  Just a rough guess but i would estimate 25 plus i can think of.

The problem is they just keep running and give you nothing to write about on the forum.

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