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Hi guys, haven’t posted in a while but I’ve been doing some maintenance and traction tires as always something that is an enigma to me. When I was a New Jersey, I used to go to the Greenberg train show. There was a vendor there that sold me basic, generic diesel, traction, tires and basic generic steam engine tires, whether they were for Lionel or MTH, I’m recently running into some issues where the traction tires don’t fit is this really the case that each model specifically has a different size tire most of the steam engine seem to be working just fine but some of the Alco‘s and F units are a bit finicky where they’re either too wide or they’re just a hair too big and they slip. Is there any better way to buy these tires in bulk just to have them I don’t know. Just throwing it out there guys.

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Thanks for the heads up on that. But is there really a difference with all the models that are made you mean to tell me they’re all different sizes. It dose t seem right to me. A wheel on a diesel engine should be a standard wheel with the truck, making up the difference in size detail, and what not. Steam engines I could see being a little bit different because of the different size and scale of the engines, but still not for them to be individualized as being different.

Most of the diesel wheels are the same size.  In real life, most freight diesels had 40" wheels, some later ones were 42".  Lionel, MTH, K-Line, etc. all use a wheel with an effective tread diameter a little less than 0.875".  Of course, when it comes to fitting the tire, the DEPTH and WIDTH of the groove are both important.  Again, IMO the diesel tires are all about the same size.

When it comes to steam locos, sadly there is no standard!  Weaver and Williams brass, especially, use a very narrow tire which is no longer made.  So you have to cut down an MTH tire, or make your own.  MTH offers several different sizes based on driving wheel diameter.  I believe there is a lookup chart on their parts site.

Personally I think rubber tires are a nuisance, and for smaller layouts, unnecessary.  A little bit of wheelspin is prototypical, and in some cases permits a smoother start, but I don't advise running your train with an unfilled groove.  I wish the locos came with solid wheels for the user to optionally install, so you wouldn't have the issue of periodic tire replacements.  My $.02.

Last edited by Ted S

For MTH locos, I have looked up the part numbers and ordered exact replacements. For my Williams steamer, I took the loco to the LHS and went through dozens of possibilities in an unsorted plastic multi-compartment tray with no labels. I bought the 4 closest possibilities and one was fine.

I've been told to be careful about using chemicals in cleaning track due to effect on traction tires. My own opinion is volatile cleaners leave no residue, but maybe use a loco without rubber tires to pull a track cleaning car around the layout if making multiple passes, to avoid rubber tire on still-wet track

I'll have to check that list out when I get home @hokie71. Does that list have conversions from MTH to Lionel? That is what would fit Lionel engines?

Sad to report, not that I know of.  I have tried the hit or miss approach and should have started keeping records. 

This is a good Lionel chart but it is pretty old:

Plus, there are some good threads like this one that indicates the 0018 MTH tire fits a number of Lionel diesels too.

We need to volunteer someone to come up with that cross reference..... Maybe we will get lucky and someone will post it?

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