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I have a couple of Lionel UP GP-9s with single Pullmor motor, TMCC, and Railsounds. One is from the 6-11956 lash-up set and the other is from the 6-11837 GP-9 Unit Train. These locomotives have a lot of sentimental value, but these days I hate running anything that doesn't have cruise control. I've been wondering about the possibility of converting them to DC can motors and adding cruise via an ERR Cruise Commander module. I've seen a post by @Newt about this kind of conversion but have a few questions:

  1. It seems to me this project would involve replacing the Pullmor motor with a DC can motor, replacing the ACDR board with an ERR Cruise Commander, and wiring everything up. Am I missing anything?
  2. I haven't replaced motors in locomotives before...
    1. What exactly is involved?
    2. Where could I purchase appropriate DC can motors?
    3. Is it possible to replace a motor and keep the original powered truck?
  3. For those of you who've done this (or something similar), can you share any advice or pitfalls you encountered?

Thanks in advance for all your help!

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@Mike0289 posted:


  1. It seems to me this project would involve replacing the Pullmor motor with a DC can motor, replacing the ACDR board with an ERR Cruise Commander, and wiring everything up. Am I missing anything? Sounds good.
  2. I haven't replaced motors in locomotives before...
    1. What exactly is involved? Take out the old motor and bolt the new motor in, after adjusting the gear mesh.
    2. Where could I purchase appropriate DC can motors? Frank Timko at timkorepairdepot.com
    3. Is it possible to replace a motor and keep the original powered truck? Yes. Frank makes motors that install with one screw, plus another screw to adjust gear mesh.
  3. For those of you who've done this (or something similar), can you share any advice or pitfalls you encountered? I have the parts to convert two F3 locos, but have not done them yet.

Thanks in advance for all your help!

It appears your engine was made mid 1990s or so. The receiver and motor driver are on a single board called an LCRU. Starting around 1998-99 Lionel went to a modular system. They have a separate receiver called an R2LC and Motor driver, either an ACDR for AC motors or DCDR for DC motors. Both non cruise. Cruise Ms work with modular boards and would replace either the ACDR or DCDR provided the motor was DC. A Cruise M won't work with an AC motor.

Since you don't have modular boards you have to remove the LCRU and replace it with a Cruise Commander which is both the receiver and motor driver.

Pete

Last edited by Norton

Personally, I recommend against it unless you're going to double-head them.  The single motor, especially in front, is pretty wimpy at best.  I did a pair of SD-11's with exactly that mod for a client.  We did the first one, and it really was not much of a puller, it couldn't pull four passenger cars!  I added over a pound of weight right over the driven truck, that helped, but it still was pretty weak.  We then did the second one and tethered it to the lead unit so we could use one cruise module, it also got weight over the powered truck.  After that, with them MU'ed, they're acceptable, and it increased the pulling power significantly.

Note that they have significantly better pulling power running with the motor in the rear, about 40% more than with the motor in front.  The MU configuration had that bonus as well, the trailing slave had the motor in back, aiding the traction.

My point is, if you do this, temper your expectations, they're not going to be performance champs.  The run fine, and the cruise works well, but pulling power for the MU set isn't up to a single modern GP9 with two motors and traction tires.

I actually sent the trucks back to Frank Timko for traction tires, that was another significant improvement.  However, the gearing in the truck, which is retained with the upgrade motor, is taller than the newer can motored trucks, so the pulling power still is not awesome.  In the end, with all the mods, the client was quite happy with the result, and so the story ends well.

Last edited by gunrunnerjohn

Since it already has TMCC, one would presume that you could wire that correctly with power and serial data and use the old board.  Note that I've seen the old RS 2.5 boards sometimes need a "boost" for the serial data in order to function correctly, if you experience issues with either the cruise commander running away or the serial data not being recognized by the RS 2.5 board, I have a buffer that will fix that.

@Mike0289 posted:

Thanks everyone for the great feedback! I'll have to think about this some more.

Sounds like a good idea - sentiment is worth something, after all. Wms frames and original Lionel shells as suggested...not really "sentimental", I'd say.

Certainly a motor in each unit, then "lash 'em up" is advisable, as suggested, but, per pulling power, please remember that these locos don't have to pull anybody else's trains (I presume), just yours, and if your trains are not overly large, then the locos will do the job that you want to do. With sentiment.

@D500 posted:

Sounds like a good idea - sentiment is worth something, after all. Wms frames and original Lionel shells as suggested...not really "sentimental", I'd say.

Certainly a motor in each unit, then "lash 'em up" is advisable, as suggested, but, per pulling power, please remember that these locos don't have to pull anybody else's trains (I presume), just yours, and if your trains are not overly large, then the locos will do the job that you want to do. With sentiment.

Can't agree more. I love the sound on these locos and it would be fun to run them slow and smooth like my newer Legacy/LC2.0 locos. They were ok pullers lashed up with the Pullmor motors, just couldn't run very slow or smooth.

Is it reasonable to expect the pulling power to be about the same after a conversion to DC can motors?

@Mike0289 posted:

Can't agree more. I love the sound on these locos and it would be fun to run them slow and smooth like my newer Legacy/LC2.0 locos. They were ok pullers lashed up with the Pullmor motors, just couldn't run very slow or smooth.

Is it reasonable to expect the pulling power to be about the same after a conversion to DC can motors?

Mike, if you can hang loose a day or so, I’m heading home with a giant pile of MTH junk....might be some Geep frames with motors on them,...I do not know right at the very moment.....might be right up the alley you need.....you can ERR them to death....they’ll be void of boards, and shells, ....could be just the ticket you need if the Lionel shells will sit down on them......I can report back on here if you’d like, or you get a hold of me....

Pat

@Mike0289 posted:

Can't agree more. I love the sound on these locos and it would be fun to run them slow and smooth like my newer Legacy/LC2.0 locos. They were ok pullers lashed up with the Pullmor motors, just couldn't run very slow or smooth.

Is it reasonable to expect the pulling power to be about the same after a conversion to DC can motors?

I would think so. I am confident that they would do the same work as the Pullmors, but run smoother due to the cruise control.

To drill down a bit further: a lot of Pullmor equipment was hamstrung by poor (zoom-zoom 200 mph) gearing, and the AC motor started off with 2 strikes against it. A 1-700E scale Hudson with Pullmor will run smoothly at reasonable speeds because it was geared more like a model than a toy. As conjecture, I think that your GP's may be geared "higher" (more toy-like) than current locos, so their creepy-ness may not be quite up to current levels. It will still be good. Someone here will know about the ratios for sure. I do not.

Having actually done some of these exact conversions on the same type of locomotive, I have to disagree with a couple of opinions.  They don't appear to have the torque of the Pulmore motor, remember that Timko uses the Mabuchi 3xx motor, a fairly small motor.  The gearing is very tall, I don't remember the gear ratio, but it's not as large a ratio as modern diesels and doesn't have the low end torque.   I'm sure someone with a similar engine in captivity could probably easily measure the gear ration and clue us in.  Also, the can motor is much lighter, so you have to add considerable weight to the engine at the motor end to even have the traction to the rails the same as the old Pulmore.

Something to consider. Part of the sentimental attachment involves that Pullmor motor. You will loose that growl when you replace it. Williams makes a reproduction of that very engine, same style frame and paint job. I would leave the original alone and update a Williams Geep.

Thats been my approach to my Post War favorites. Leave them original.

Pete

I did a double motor conversion on a Lionel F-3 ABA NP I had sitting in the parts bin, The shells were shorter than the Williams, so I had to use the motor and truck from a Wilson Williams engine, which had traction tires already. Powering the 2  A units using ERR DC commanders, it made the set a puller, I run 14 of the K-Line, MTH and Lionel NP Full dome Aluminum cars behind it at the layout with no problem.

I wish I had used the Cruise Commanders but this was my first ERR conversion and I am happy with them. The only mod I had to do was hog out the wire channel for the power wires from the truck. After a repaint on the frames, it looks factory from the outside, draws less amps than a single Pullmor set, and works just fine with the railsounds in the B unit that came with the unit.

I have a number of the TMCC/RS Geeps from the late 90's. The later ones have diecast trucks, diecast fuel tanks and diecast pilots, and so have quite a bit of heft to them, and pretty good pulling power. I sometimes use a dummy and run the powered unit in the back with the motor in the rear, which sometimes results in a bit more pulling power, although these Geeps don't have any problem pulling enough cars for my layout.

Once the Pullmors get adequately broken in, they run quite well at lower speeds. An option to an expensive and labor-intensive conversion to can motors, and loss of the "sentimental value" of the original Pullmors, would be the installation of the ERR AC Commander, which has the option of 100 speed steps, and gives impressive low speed performance for Pullmor powered engines. Not cruise, but the next best thing for Pullmors.

Incidentally, these Geeps are the most bulletproof engines around, and sit lower and more prototypically than just about anything, giving a great look, not to mention having what are generally considered some of the best RailSounds out there.



No high water gaps here!

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Almost all the china drive trucks with 3xx Mabuchi motors are between 10 and 11 to 1.   Atlas made some with 15:1 this may have been only on 3 axle trucks. I don't have first hand experience with Atlas 15:1 gearing the reason I summise this is two years ago I ordered an idle gear for an Atlas FM Erie Built and they asked me if it had 10:1 or 15:1 gearing.   Lionel scale size Hudsons (700e, 773, 785 etc) are 18:1. Lionel horizontal motor F3  2333, 43, 53 are 9:1. Lionel 18000 B6 switcher is around 14:1 though it's easy to swap the upper gearbox from 2:1 to 3:1 and acheve 21:1. 90% of the Williams brass steamers are either 21:1 or 42:1 depending on whether the worm gear is a double or single helix. I have counted the turns on ten or eleven MTH premium steamers and they were all 18:1 the RailKing line is not so predictable. The AMT F7 diesels with the 7 pole Pittman universal AC/DC motors are 8.5:1. These are great motors and can be mounted in Lionel's vertical pullmor motored F3s and GP7s trucks with a little effort. They actually work better in the Lionel trucks than in the AMT trucks and will run much slower than the 3 pole pullmor.  The vertical motored Lionel diesels F3 & GP7s with diecast trucks are 8.5:1. Divide the wheel circumference by the gear ratio to get distance traveled per motor revolution.  Something I have been harping about is the change from 5xx mabuchi motors in early TMCC china drive Diesels to the 3xx series motor this almost forces you to have two powered units "4" motors to do the job that a single diesel with two 5xx series would do.   MTH started out with the 3xx motors in their diesels no one will convince me this was not aimed at selling you a second powered unit. Yeah I know the 5xx series motors will not fit in the narrow hood of a GP or SD loco.  Lionel followed their lead.  If either had gone to 15:1 gearing when changing to the 3xx motors  it would have negated the need for a second powered unit for most of us most of the time. Not to mention the improved slow speed performance.        j

Last edited by JohnActon
@breezinup posted:

Once the Pullmors get adequately broken in, they run quite well at lower speeds. An option to an expensive and labor-intensive conversion to can motors, and loss of the "sentimental value" of the original Pullmors, would be the installation of the ERR AC Commander, which has the option of 100 speed steps, and gives impressive low speed performance for Pullmor powered engines. Not cruise, but the next best thing for Pullmors.

FWIW, my Phantom Pulmore motor addition also got the AC Commander, it was an amazing transformation over the LCRU2 that was the original TMCC board in the engine.  I actually considered changing to DC motors and using the Cruise Commander, but after seeing the performance with the AC Commander with the dual motors, I decided it ran so well that it would be pointless to try to improve it.

Thanks again to everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Since a DC can + Cruise Commander conversion is likely at least 1/2 the cost of a new Legacy diesel, it's probably not worth it. The AC commander is probably the way to go. Pulling power is OK when they're lashed up and that's the only way I'd run them (with the additional dummy) anyway.

@Mike0289 posted:

Thanks again to everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Since a DC can + Cruise Commander conversion is likely at least 1/2 the cost of a new Legacy diesel, it's probably not worth it. The AC commander is probably the way to go. Pulling power is OK when they're lashed up and that's the only way I'd run them (with the additional dummy) anyway.

Sounds like a solid plan Mike, ....sorry I’m late to the party, ....I did wind up with a boat load of MTH GP chassis with motors,.....so if you ever change your mind, ....or looking for a project, you can hit me up....

PatED797B8C-7A11-486F-994C-0FB170062F24

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