I am not a fan of traction tires, and suspect not too many people are.  What if:  the train manufacturers made the drive wheels using a "hash type" pattern on the drive surface of the wheel?  With the weight of most modern engines today, would there not be sufficient adhesion using this instead of the "rubber bands" that dry out and fall off after time?  Just one of my "random" thoughts!

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AMF, I often thought that would work.  K-Line had that design on steam locomotive tires and those engines were good pullers.   That would not be hard to do.  It would mean putting a wheel in a lathe and hitting it with the proper tool to get the cross hatch pattern.  Hopefully some machinists are on the forum and can add thoughts  to this.

 

 

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MTH did the 'hash pattern' many years ago on the 0-4-0T dockside drive wheel. The noise it created was terrible. Especially with plastic roadbed. MTH has not used that idea since. I remember customers wanted that drive wheel replaced and you could only buy the frame with wheels already installed. 

. . . and nothing is harder to replace, especially on steamers, than rubber traction tires.  If it was that painstaking to change the tire on my car, I'd drive the thing over a cliff and go back to the horse . Oh wait, here's an idea:  use steel track and engines with magnatraction.  Wish someone had thought of that . . .

The enemy of traction tires appears to me, to be the following;

o Jack-rabbit starts and stops.

o "Goo-Gone" as a track cleaner

o Spilled/excess smoke fluid on rails

I say this because in the last 25 years of operating traction tired locomotives, I've had to replace three for cause. I will give you the caveat that I do not have any appreciable grades on my last three layouts (had some on the earlier two...).

To that end, my summary for good traction tire life would be; operate in a non "toy-like" manner, and avoid oily chemicals on rails.

The only instance I've actually had to replace new traction tires is when Lionel shipped over-size tires on their 2012 production of F3s and F7s.

 

Let the ranting continue...

Would the 'hash type' pattern on the wheel cause damage to the track? Or cause the hollow tubular track to prematurely wear through? Or cause the solid rail track to become rough at the rail surface?

 

One more thing that can be hard on rubber traction tires is track work not fitting together well, like gaps and such at the joints or not being completely level and smooth at each joint.  

I can verify that heavy loads will do them in.  When I ran the 115 car train with my two Legacy U-Boats, the traction tires had a bunch of little orange peal looking divots, doubtless from working their little butts off over not so smooth track joints.

 

My "beef" with traction tires:  When I take engines that have been in the box new for a period of time like 4,5,6, 7 etc....years old out of the box, the rubber bands are dried up.  First time in use, they peel off the wheel.  Not too bad to replace on most diesels, but on steam engines a real pain in the neck.  On these engines, I find I am also replacing batteries> with BCR replacements!  (I know....it's a hobby!)  Going to get some cheese to go with my whine!

D&H 65 is correct on the killers of tires.  RTR12, I have never seen tubular track wear through.  The wall thickness is much thicker than Gargraves and others.  I replace about two, sometimes 4 traction tires a year.  I swear by the outline D&H 65 put out.  A traction tire put on properly will go the distance.  I always try to tell newer train guys to roll the tire on a wheel and not stretch it like a rubber band.  Whatever you stretch a tire to will be the final size.  They do not work like a rubber band they stay where you stretch them to.  In the past years Lionel has had some very nasty tires that need to be replaced by MTH (better quality) tires.

 

Stay clear of using any glue to put on a traction tire and stay clear of that Bullfrog product.  Roll the tire on and it will last.  BTW, I have many engines and run my trains every day and tires put on properly are not a problem.  Any tire that comes off should be thrown away.

 

RJR, I also have many engines from that era that were converted to PS2 and PS3.  The original tires are as good today as they were back in the day.

 

 

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I have some pretty old tubular track from the late 40s and I've never had a problem with any engines wearing through the track.  The track did oxidize a bit. 
It would be possible to put a diamond surface on the wheel but preferably during the mfg operation.  The noise level and track abrasion would deter me from buying an engine with it.
Must be a reason why the real railroads don't rough up their wheels or tires.
Originally Posted by aussteve:
I have some pretty old tubular track from the late 40s and I've never had a problem with any engines wearing through the track.  The track did oxidize a bit. 
It would be possible to put a diamond surface on the wheel but preferably during the mfg operation.  The noise level and track abrasion would deter me from buying an engine with it.
Must be a reason why the real railroads don't rough up their wheels or tires.

Rail wear and higher rolling resistance would be two reasons.

 

Tom B

Traction tires may not be a problem on tubular track.  My layout and my club's layout are Atlas track.  I can attest that traction tires do not last very long when running on Atlas track.  It may have something to do with the flat top of the track.  I find that they are a pain to replace.

 

NH Joe

I probably don't run things as much or as hard as a club does, but I have had Atlas track for about 3 years and have yet to have a traction tire problem on any of my engines. Mostly MTH engines with a couple of Lionel's. All are diesels, no steam.

Ok.  How bad would it be if no traction tires or no "roughened" wheels, or Magnatraction were used?  The modern model train engines today are pretty heavy and have great pulling ability.  If the wheels did not have traction tires, would the engines still be able to pull enough cars (which are also light weight today and the wheels move easily) to make for an interesting consist?  Maybe traction tires really aren't needed at all?  I wonder if the model train manufacturers have done a recent study as to pulling ability with and without the traction tires?  Perhaps traction tires exist because "that's the way we have been doing it"?

 

I have some clear vinyl traction tires for HO locomotives, and they seem more resistant to oils and whatever else causes them to deteriorate, holding up better than my O27 handcar tires.  And I have seen some insulation on wires get hard or gummy due to oils, etc., but I have a few scraps of 60 year old Marx wire that seem to be resistant to everything, oil, solvents, and time.  I think they could make an almost life-long traction tire if it were important to the manufacturers.  It has to be something in the formulation of the rubbery substance that makes them more or less vulnerable.

Bet some old-school DuPont chemists would know what's going on.  Perhaps a contaminate in the mix is the culprit.  At about $1.50 for an O27 handcar tire, I am looking for a substitute.  Those little rubber bands that the craft stores sell are working for me now, and I found them in black recently at Hobby Lobby. They are similar to the rubber bands for women's hair the Dollar Tree used to have.  Sometimes 2 together fills the grove, side by side, and they are of varying diameters.

AMF, pretty bad.  I have O-gauge locos with no traction tires.  Two have (or had---it's weaker now than these were 60 years ago) magne traction.  A 624 switcher starts to slip on my gentle grades when pulling 4-5 cars.  The 2-8-4 is slightly better.  For the ones with nothing, forget it.

 

Many decades ago, I would put tiny rubber bands on a driver, against the flange, and for a few weeks they would be great.  Then they'd break.  I'd rather change tires occasionally. 

No traction tires = no pulling power.

Even less pulling power on a grade.

No traction tires = more money for more powered units

Equals more problems for lash ups.

Traction tires are not that hard to change, like anything else, just takes a bit of practice.

I think the traction tire issue is directly related to how one runs the trains. Slow starts and realistic speed seems to work for me. If you prefer to run the trains as we did during post war years then tire replacement seems to come more frequently. There are some great suggestions on this forum and hopefully they will work for you.

romiller

Rod Miller

Originally Posted by Marty Fitzhenry:

....I always try to tell newer train guys to roll the tire on a wheel and not stretch it like a rubber band.  Whatever you stretch a tire to will be the final size.  They do not work like a rubber band they stay where you stretch them to....  

Great info, thanks Marty, I didn't know that!

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