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I have my eye on a Lionel GP-7 set from the early 90's with magne-traction, dummy unit with rail sounds. To date all my locomotives are MTH (not against Lionel per se, I've just stuck with what's worked so far) and PS-1 from the late 90s. I have a couple PS2 and PS3 locos as well, and strictly run conventional. 

This set is within my budget, in a road name I like, and as far as I know - compatible with my Z 750/Z-1000 transformers (confirmation here appreciated).   

If I go this route, am I missing anything versus getting another PS-1 loco in my budget? Any pitfalls to this, or things I should know? Any hearty go for it and here is why thoughts? 

Thanks in advance 

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it depends on what you like really, i prefer to run conventional, and i enjoy early sound systems for their uniqueness, charm, and relative simplicity. it seems like most people either love or hate sound, so they either go for the best or nothing. there doesn’t seem to be a lot of love for the early stuff.

rail sounds 1 was pretty basic, chuff, whistle, and bell, no crew sounds or anything. its “better” than sound of steam at least. the diesel units sound pretty ok in my opinion, but the chuff sound for the steam engines always seemed a bit “off” to me. 

your transformers should work just fine for running most anything conventional, except the odd DC unit of course. 

Last edited by Signalwoman
aussteve posted:

Couldn't really say without knowing the number.   Pullmor or Pittman motor?  Electric e-unit or conventional?   Year it was made?  What version of railsounds?

But if you like it and the price, buy it.


Pullmor Motor 

Not sure on year, 1993 maybe? Also unsure on what version of railsounds. 

I got back into trains around 2000, while I was in college. My local shop had a set of these in the display case, and I always liked them. My Dad had bought a couple of MTH starter sets, and that's ultimately why I ended up getting an early Rail King Berkshire, and then a SW-8 switcher.

I have a couple of RK GP-7's, PS1 - how would these compare? Will the stamped handrails be noticeably different? 

Thanks again for the help guys!  



That set is one I've wanted for a long time myself. One of these days...

Be prepared to tear down the engine and re-lube everything. Sometimes the grease on these older Lionel engines hardens, and it will really affect the performance. Be cautious of hardened grease in the crevices of the worm gear (on the armature). Once lubed, these modern pullmor-equipped engines run very smoothly and quietly, especially since (according to my guide) that engine has the electronic (not mechanical) e-unit. It is true, though, that they do not have much in the way of low-speed performance, if that is important to you. (It was never important to me... life's too short!)

I do not know anything about MTH transformers. I do know that many systems use "pulse power" (short bursts of higher voltage) to coax lower-than-designed speeds out of engines with can motors. Perhaps your MTH transformer is of this sort (again, I don't know). With a pullmor motor, pulse power helps the low speed performance only slightly, and makes the motor noticeably noisier. They are just plain happier on something with a pure sine wave output. Even so, I have many times run my older Lionel engines (with and without electronics) on pulse power (from Lionel's TMCC) and nothing has broken yet...


Well I may be the last person to give advice as I generally like the prewar stuff, no sounds and lots of noise!.  I do recall an article however in "Classic Toy Trains" by Lou Palumbo of Underground Trains where he compares the ease of repairing the old pre/postwar Lionel with the difficulty of modern trains.  Primarily his concern is that the older "electronic" trains have circuit boards that are no longer available and that no one builds spares for and of course like all printed circuits they are difficult if not impossible to repair.  So if you take the plunge, make sure all of the features that you are looking for work before you buy.  However, I have had sound effects disappear after one loop around the track under my ZW power. Luckily in my case, the loco still functioned so it was OK with me, but you may really want sound.  All in all, from my perspective I tend to agree with those who say...if the price is modest, you like it, and it appears to operate - go for it.  If it ultimately proves unsatisfactory, you can normally move it on to someone else who can use it or put it on a shelf (that's why the investment has to be reasonable, if the worst happens you don't have too much in it).


RickO posted:

If it says "PULLMOR POWER" I highly recommend you avoid it.

Seeing as you've only owned can motored MTH stuff, you will absolutely hate anything with a PULLMOR motor.

Nothing against the guys on the forum that love them, I just  prefer to leave the coffee grinder for making coffee, LOL!

OK, I see you guys are putting down the Pullmor motor. I had an original Lionel 2333 with magne-traction, I believe those had Pullmor, horizontal drive motors on the trucks. Is that correct? That engine was a great puller! The sound was loud, but that was fun too. I wish I kept it. I bought a fancy new MTH engine with a can motor and PS/2. I like it and it pulls fine, because it has traction tires, but I still miss that 2333. 

The answer really depends on what you want. Scott said he is a conventional operator. For conventional operations, this engine should be very solid. I bet with the magne-traction it could pull and climb very well. It seems like the knock against the Pullmor motor is the noise. Well, that could be a plus or a minus depending on what you like.


Chris Lonero posted:

Myself personally if the Lionel unit has an old fashioned AC motor that would be a deal breaker for me. With an MTH PS-1 you have can motors which run quieter than the old AC’s and much smoother.  So long as you change the battery in the PS-1 before you run it for the first time I would go with the MTH that’s in your budget.   

I ruined my first MTH PS-1 by running it with an old battery. This was years ago and Midge took my call. I got the reset kit and a new chip and got it working again. I did not like the PS-1 electronics and ended up replacing it with the newer upgrade. The Pittman motor in it was and is great though! 


Thanks to all of you, you have given me some things to think about with this for sure. 

So pullmor motors are not as good at low speed and may be louder? Is that correct. 

The single motor is good to know, since while I have a generally flat 8x8 but with future expansion planned, I do like long freight trains. I could definitely see those pulling a long string of piggybacks. 

Serows1 your picture makes this even more enticing. I'm still trying to determine what I think of the stamped handrails. They look thick, but when moving not sure how noticeable it will be. 

I've had some PS-1 loco electronics issues, which a forum member is currently getting fixed for me thankfully. That said, I'm not opposed to going that route again, as there is good value to be had there too, but I also can't get a NKP Geep. 

I think Williams made every railroad ever in their GP9 runs.....they’ll pull a house down...and run at Mach III just like the old postwar locomotives....twin motors, run smooth, very well made IMO......and most are spitting images of the old postwar stuff.....maybe somebody else can verify, but I think you can take the shell off a Williams Geep and put it right on the old postwar geeps??.........I’ll let somebody above my pay grade answer that.......Pat

If you run conventional I wouldn't hesitate to get that set.  I prefer conventional and I like the pullmor motor, magnetraction, no rubber tires and ease of repair/parts.  My experience with the postwar style GP engines has been very good.  

Just reading this forum has convinced me to avoid the electronic engines.  Getting parts today is already a problem.

If the e-unit is electronic, you could pick up another power unit and put the dummy shell on that powered frame. 

You can put in a Dallee sound system and choose from several different sounds of engines, horns, bells etc.

nkp4me posted:

Thanks to all of you, you have given me some things to think about with this for sure. 

So pullmor motors are not as good at low speed and may be louder? Is that correct. 


I'm not convinced that the engine will perform poorly at low speed nor that you won't be able to run at low speed. I believe I had an F3 in this era with a single Pullmor motor and it ran fine at low speed. I think you get somewhat better performance with a higher power transformer. There is a bit of an apples and oranges comparison going on here. Most electronically controlled engines operate better at low speeds. They are more precisely controlled. It's not the motor itself, but electronic speed control vs. speed control based solely on the voltage output setting of the transformer.  Also, with magne-traction, I think this engine will pull fine. I think we should narrow the discussion to the alternatives you have in this road name. There is a Williams NKP GP-9 available on eBay right now. It's a single engine (no dummy) and is a little more expensive than the Lionel set. There's a Lionel Legacy GP-9; whoa is that expensive! That's all I see right now as options. 


Norton posted:

The engine Scott is looking at was made in the '90s. By then all engines came with electronics. Mechanical e units were long gone. Substitute replacements are plentiful and easy to change out. Certainly easier to repair than a mechanical E unit. 


Electronic e-unit, but not electronic speed control. 


nkp4me posted:

So pullmor motors are not as good at low speed and may be louder? Is that correct. 

I'm still trying to determine what I think of the stamped handrails. They look thick, but when moving not sure how noticeable it will be. 

Pullmor motors, which are AC motors, don't have the low speed capability of DC powered can motors, which your MTH engines have. And they are somewhat noisier (built in RailSounds!). But they're bulletproof, for the most part. Also, one characteristic with Pullmor motors is that the longer they run, the smoother they get. I have a number of Pullmor powered engines, and with some break-in time on them, they run at pretty slow speeds, adequate for most folks, probably, with a little growl.

For lower speeds yet, you could add an ERR AC Commander later on, so that's an option. If you want to fool around with them, you could also try adding add another powered chassis to the dummy, as someone above mentioned, for dual motor capability. You're right about the handrails - they're not bad, and when the engine is running, you probably aren't going to notice them. If the set isn't too expensive, go for it. They look nice, and you'll probably have fun with them.

Last edited by breezinup

Scott, long post here.  If you want my recommendation skip to the bottom.

Part of the reason the Pullmor motor may not run smoothly at very low speeds, is that it's a 3-pole motor.  The rotating armature has 3 coils set 120 degrees apart.  So at very slow speeds you may see / hear it going "whump whump whump" as each coil passes through the magnetic field.  By comparison, the Mabuchi can motors in Williams, MTH, etc. have FIVE poles, so there's less of a cogging effect and more power pulses for every inch the locomotive travels.  You could even say that these "two-can" locos have four times as many more power pulses per inch traveled, because there are two motors in the loco.  I'll explain below why this doesn't help as much as you might think.  In the meantime, the Lionel geep has a couple advantages of its own...

The Pullmor motor's armature is physically larger than the tiny can motors in the Williams and MTH.  By virtue of its larger size, I would guess that it has higher initial torque.  This is important when initiating movement from zero RPM.  The Pullmor is a series-wound universal motor, and this design has favorable torque and current characteristics for starting heavy loads. 

You didn't say what diameter your curves are.  But if your layout is 8x8, I'm guessing they're pretty tight.  Since the Lionel has Magne-Traction instead of rubber tires, its wheels are free to skid a little, so it can smoothly negotiate transitions from straght to curves.  The MTH and Williams locos with rubber tires on opposite sides of the same axle slow unrealistically as they experience a sudden increase in friction when entering a curve.  You can see this on an ammeter, especially when the loco is running "light" (i.e., solo without a train.)

Now for the best part... The NKP set includes a powered unit and a dummy.  If your mainline is long enough to merit double-heading, I strongly suggest that you buy another powered GP of similar vintage, and put that powered chassis under the NKP dummy's hood.  Now you have two motors just like the MTH and Williams (although yours are in two different units.)  You still have only six pulses per rotation compared to their ten.  BUT- Your motors are bigger and make more torque.  Best of all, the triple-threaded worm gears on your Lionels are back-drivable.  That means the wheels can turn the motor.  It also means your two motors can help each other, so you're getting the full benefit of both motors.  If one motor is about to stall between poles, the motor in the other loco can give it a "push" until it catches and vice-versa.  When you crack the throttle with a long train, your NKP geeps will walk out at one... two... three mph.  Realistic and very fun!

Meanwhile, the two can motored "China Drives " from MTH and Williams have self-locking gears -- and a lot of friction.  Until those tiny motors reach about 600 RPM, they are reluctant to turn.  The gears are self-locking, one motor cannot push the other.  So if one motor stalls, the loco isn't going anywhere!  Instead of getting consistent acceleration from a dead stop, you'll see each truck start to move at a different time.  Perhaps a little "chuggle" or bucking until the torque in each motor exceeds its threshold of static friction, and then the loco will suddenly accelerate to four or five mph.  Not train-like at all, IMO.

To sum up:  I warrant that two POWERED GP9s in consist will give more realistic initial acceleration with a heavy train, and;  more consistent operation when going from tangent track into sharp curves running light; than would a Williams or MTH PS1 diesel with two can motors.  If you're willing to buy a second powered unit and MU them, my experience suggests that the Lionel geeps will be more gratifying to run.

As others have suggested, using some kind of "chopped wave" AC power, from a Z-1000 transformer, K-Line transformer, ZW-L or the AC Commander will help wring even more slow-speed performance out of a pullmor motor.  Note that chopped-wave power will also make them noisy (and they are already noisier than the can motors.)  Good luck, whatever you decide!

Last edited by Ted S

An open frame motor is a different throttle experience; plain and simple. I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice not to try at least one; you may even prefer it's tourqe curve. 

Most people that visit here and end up running, prefer the postwar trains for running. The occasional woman drools over my Marx tin....always the hardest to pull them away from the throttles, lol. The can motors are admired for looks but often soon abandoned for an open frame steamer most of the time.

Buy a beater pre/post war and simply have some fun running it too fast...maybe even rolling it on purpose. Take a second to admire magnetractions ability to defy scale physics while cannonballing around a sharp bend at 120+mph lol. 

The "grinder" can often be tamed smooth by shimming  the armature shaft to cap gap ,,,,dress the plate, and brush, spring swaps, grease gear, etc..

The grind also doubled as "sound" for the diesel though. Close enough that even a little imagination gets you there imo. They still run "forever" noisy or quiet too.

Whether it is a Type1, Type2 etc is also the source of certain sound characteristics. The T1 is a removable motor case mounted to the frame(truck)...a rock that pwL was built on...   the T2 is actually part of the truck frame, still good stuff.

Most of you can't hear can motors; but believe me; they make noise just like "silent" Fastrack does.

It's a high frequency whine. Tolerable on the motors (not the track). It is quieter that open frame buzz, normally drowned out by cars and other trains; but so are open frames... but anyhow, in silence and run alone, the can motor rpms whine is very distracting compared to the "slow" 60hz hum of the open frame motors or "knocking"(grind) of the armature hopping with pulses.

(I can hear high pitches well. Ear doctors get all excited when I test, 19khz+ all day, near "dog hearing"... alt. e.g. I couldn't stand the very highly rated Alpine radio brand as they had whine most folk don't hear) 

I'm not sure you'd have directional lighting; but an electronic E unit raises the odds incredibly.

I'm with the folks that stay steer clear of a single motored diesel with the Pulmore motor.  My experience is typically the dual motored Pulmore motored locomotive a typically strong pullers.  For the single motored models, typically the motor is in front, which is the worst place to put it for traction.  The dual motored locomotive have more weight, and all the wheels are driven, a totally different situation!

I'll recount just one of my experiences.

I added a motor to the Lionel 1990's first version of the Lionel Phantom locomotive, it started with one motor in the front.  It had difficulty pulling the four set passenger cars on level track!  Adding a couple extra cars and you're were permanently in the station!  You could forget about grades, that was a non-starter!    You can read all about the upgrades and the results here.

Improving the Lionel Phantom Locomotive


Last edited by gunrunnerjohn

John I was thinking of your Phantom when I wrote my post.  Unfortunately there's no way Scott can get a second motor in a Geep.  But if his layout is 8x8, two single-motored locos should pull enough cars to wrap the layout. 

IMO "dummies" are just that-dumb.  If you're not going to put a motor in the dummy, then I would forget the Lionel.  Buy a Williams "clone" and wire the motors in series for better control.  My $.02.

For sure the motor in the front is one major issue with a lot of these models.  That just exacerbates the traction issue of only having one driven power truck.

In an interesting twist, the Vision Line Genset is a single motored unit, it's motor is in the rear.  I was pretty impressed with it's pulling power, it handled 30 cars up a 2% grade without any issues.

This loco has magne-traction as well as traction tires. If you don't pull more than 6-7 cars it will perform well. If it doesn't have much run time it will be noisy at first but will smooth out and "settle down" once the brushes are seated and the mechanics have had time to "break in". I usually run 3-4 single motor Lionel GP's in a consist as I run long trains. As I said before these locomotives were built with superior materials and will last a long time. At nearly 30 years old, I have found these to be very robust. 

Last edited by Ricky Tanner
RSJB18 posted:

Might be off topic a hit but I bought a Lionel RS 3 a while back that had one pull more motor. If I ran it with the motor in the rear it was a fair puller, otherwise it couldn't get out of it's own way. I added a second powered truck and now it pulls great.

IMHO pullmore's were great motors in their day.


 2017-01-02 11.49.14

You must have the wrong engine pictured.  I believe the engine you show is a LionChief Plus engine, which has dual vertical dc can motors and not an ac Pullmor motor. These engines have great pulling power. Lionel never made any RS-3s with Pullmor motors - Pullmor motors won't fit in the narrow RS-3 shell.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

For sure the motor in the front is one major issue with a lot of these models.  That just exacerbates the traction issue of only having one driven power truck.

On the Lionel Pullmor Geeps, the engine is in the "front" of course because a Pullmor won't fit in the rear of the shell. One simple suggestion to try (other than adding another powered unit) is to run the Geep long hood forward, as many railroads did, which will put the motor and its weight on the rear truck. Also, the drive wheels on these Nickle Plate engines have magna-traction , so you might find its pulling power adequate. You can also try adding some weight (lead weights, for example) to the inside, which may give it even more traction.

Last edited by breezinup
Ted S posted:


To sum up:  I warrant that two POWERED GP9s in consist will give more realistic initial acceleration with a heavy train, and;  more consistent operation when going from tangent track into sharp curves running light; than would a Williams or MTH PS1 diesel with two can motors.  If you're willing to buy a second powered unit and MU them, my experience suggests that the Lionel geeps will be more gratifying to run.

I have two powered Lionel GP7s, one Postwar, one modern, both with 2028-100 motors. Both have ERR AC Commanders installed and are set to 100 speed steps. Run individually their performance isn't great. But run together they preform like a twin motored F3 or Trainmaster, which is to say pretty decent. With the AC Commander under TMCC the GP7s will run consistently in the 20-30 scale MPH range on 054 curves pulling a train without complaint. I installed diecast fuel tanks under both, and the added weight helps a bit as well. 

My recommendation would be two powered Geeps and AC Commaders in both, for the best operation. Op just runs conventional, so that may not work for him .

Last edited by Lou1985

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