Best Pulling Locomotive

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D. Soppy

Member
I'm looking to buy a good Diesel Locomotive that has good traction and pulling power. There are many out there ,I do not know where to start. I'm getting back into the hobby after a 40 yr break , and my old cheap Tyco and Bachman 4 wheel drive locos just don't cut it anymore. My layout is small 4x8 with a 3.9% grade. I'm running DC using the old 18' radius atlas snap track.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
Any modern scale SD-70 and up, most 1960's Geeps and SDs, Dash-8, Dash-9...pick 'em. Fact is, most modern non-small-switcher locomotives, and by modern I mean recently brought to market, say after 2000, are going to perform well. If you MU them, multiple units, as most diesels operate anyway, you can expect near-prototypical performance.
 

santafewillie

Same Ol' Buzzard
I find that Athearn Genesis and Kato HO scale are quite heavy and pull well. ScaleTrains and the original P2K are not quite as heavy but pull very well also; in fact I would pick a ScaleTrains loco over any other that I have owned. I cannot advise on any brands that I don't personally own, like Bowser, Rapido or Atlas. There are many others out there as well. I have some older Walther's and Bachmann that I just use for display in the background. I don't know about their latest products. Even most six axle locos will negotiate 18" curves, but don't look proper.
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
I would suggest using four-axle diesel road switchers which you can double-head, if necessary. Of course, it depends on how many cars you are pulling on a grade that steep. A pair Geeps ought to do the job. If you can locate them, and they are in good shape, some older Athearn "Blue Box" GP-7's ought to handle eight free-rolling freight cars. If you run passenger cars, I'd recommend three or four of the older Athearn "Blue Box" 72' heavyweight or streamlined cars, which will handle 18" radius curves without looking a bit weird.
 

logandsawman

Well-Known Member
The Athearn "super power" F-7's could really pull. I had 24 freight cars behind one and it did not even wince. Wish I would have kept that video, I made it for youtube when I went to sell the locomotive. It sold for more than I paid for it.

It was a heavy locomotive and gear driven, not the rubber band one.

Dave LASM
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
tryin to second guess you on what you are tryin to do.
Long trains on a 4x8 just isn't going to end up with a lot. A 3% grade or worse just isn't real train like. More at a roller coaster as ya get steeper.
 

D. Soppy

Member
tryin to second guess you on what you are tryin to do.
Long trains on a 4x8 just isn't going to end up with a lot. A 3% grade or worse just isn't real train like. More at a roller coaster as ya get steeper.

My stuff is 45 years old . I dragged it out of storage this spring and started a complete makeover using what I have. The locos are cheap Tyco & Bachmann 4 wheel drive 4 wheel pick-up from a basic starter set. They limit out pulling 5 properly weighted cars around my layout.
The grades are a little steeper than I would like , but that was the minimum I could get away with for the design of my layout.
There are many countries where " Real" trains climb more than a 3% grade , so my layout is " Real " enough for me. All I'm looking for is a good used loco that will pull my short trains without any problems. There is so much out there , I want to avoid wasting my money buying junk.
 

D. Soppy

Member
Add some lead weight to the inside of a Loco shell. Try and get the weight over the axles or as close as you can. Even a little bitwill improve the traction but don't over do it.
I replaced the steel weights with led did 45 yrs ago. It helped, but with only 4 wheels driving, traction is still limited. The locos are running the "pancake" motors directly attached to the truck.
They also only have a power pickup on the front truck , so running on the old brass track gets to be a P.I.A.
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
My stuff is 45 years old . I dragged it out of storage this spring and started a complete makeover using what I have. The locos are cheap Tyco & Bachmann 4 wheel drive 4 wheel pick-up from a basic starter set. They limit out pulling 5 properly weighted cars around my layout.
The grades are a little steeper than I would like , but that was the minimum I could get away with for the design of my layout.
There are many countries where " Real" trains climb more than a 3% grade , so my layout is " Real " enough for me. All I'm looking for is a good used loco that will pull my short trains without any problems. There is so much out there , I want to avoid wasting my money buying junk.
Some logging railroads in America had grades as much as 4%, but used geared locomotives like the Shay and Climax. Of course it will depend on how much you want to spend, but there are some low-priced Athearn Super-Power F-7's on e-bay. Also, I believe there is some goop that can be used to create traction tires on locomotives. The Athearn Blue Box F-7's with Super Power have the motor in the middle of the frame, and connects the drive shafts to the truck gear towers. Electrical pickup comes from all eight wheels, and flywheels will help maintain momentum. If you don't like the F-7 style, there are other diesels with 4-wheels on each truck, and you probably can use 6-wheel diesels on 18" radius track.

You mention brass track. The only thing "wrong" with brass track is that it oxidizes more quickly than nickel-silver, but can be kept clean with a little work. I have several places, especially in my yards and sidings, where I have old brass track and turnouts salvaged from my original layout.
 

Bigboy57

Active Member
I have one long incline with my layout with a 24r curve at the beginning and 4% grade thereafter. My GP7’s will pull 10-12 freight cars without problem up that grade and with a two unit consist I have pulled 26 up that same grade. Passenger cars count for about 2 freight cars but I usually pull 4 with a single and 7 in a two unit consist.

As others have mentioned, long trains on a small layout really don’t mix and you’ll need to experiment to achieve your best fit.
 

JeffH

Well-Known Member
Someone mention the goop you can put on the wheels to add traction. I believe he was referring to "Frog Snot" which can be applied to the bearing surface of wheels. Once dried, it's like a thin rubber tire that acts like a traditional traction tire.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
All I'm looking for is a good used loco that will pull my short trains without any problems.
Ok, I am on the same page now.

Yes there are many good options. As at least two other folks have mentioned an Athearn "super power" F unit. It has an extra weight over the motor that gives it some really good traction. I am guessing even an Athearn blue box GP7 would work. Lots of pulling power for a hood unit.

I believe a Life Like Proto-1000 FA might be a good option. Every time I pick mine up I am amazed at it's "heft".

I also had an Atlas (yellow box) SD24 that could pull 45 cars (not on 18" curves but up a 1.5% grade), that I could recommend.

In general I would say almost anything from the main non-toy train set brands after 1984 and before sound and DCC (1995?) would be candidates for a 4x8 layout. I say before sound and DCC because manufacturers started taking out weight to make room for speakers and circuit boards. Non-toy train main brands being Athearn, Atlas, Bowser, Genesis, Inter-Mountain, Kato, Proto-1000, Proto-2000, Spectrum, Stewart, and um um probably missing a couple.

Toy train brands being AHM, Bachmann, IHC, Industrial, Lifelike, Mantua, Marx, Mehano, Rivarossi, Tyco
 

Smudge617

Well-Known Member
Some logging railroads in America had grades as much as 4%, but used geared locomotives like the Shay and Climax. Of course it will depend on how much you want to spend, but there are some low-priced Athearn Super-Power F-7's on e-bay. Also, I believe there is some goop that can be used to create traction tires on locomotives. The Athearn Blue Box F-7's with Super Power have the motor in the middle of the frame, and connects the drive shafts to the truck gear towers. Electrical pickup comes from all eight wheels, and flywheels will help maintain momentum. If you don't like the F-7 style, there are other diesels with 4-wheels on each truck, and you probably can use 6-wheel diesels on 18" radius track.

You mention brass track. The only thing "wrong" with brass track is that it oxidizes more quickly than nickel-silver, but can be kept clean with a little work. I have several places, especially in my yards and sidings, where I have old brass track and turnouts salvaged from my original layout.
The goop your referring to is Bull Frog Snot, available in the US. This is a US seller but most model train stores will probably have.

 

D. Soppy

Member
I purchased a nice 1990's athearn super power F7 loco and dummy on eBay.
Can the shell be removed from the dummy loco and put on a powered F7 dummy ?
 

logandsawman

Well-Known Member
I purchased a nice 1990's athearn super power F7 loco and dummy on eBay.
Can the shell be removed from the dummy loco and put on a powered F7 dummy ?
Nice choice,

The shell was the same on my F7 dummy and super power, however they were purchased separately on Ebay without boxes so not sure if that was luck or if someone else tinkered with them or how they were manufactured. They produced several iterations of that locomotive with some minor changes to the shell over the years. Mine was Chicago Northwestern.

You may want to consult HO seeker, found this one of many diagrams showing the "booster" unit, as well as a dummy engine which was different from mine:

F-7.png


note web address in upper left


Dave
 

J.Albert

Member
Modern (as in, "large") diesel locos aren't going to look that great on 18" radius track. Might even derail.

I'd suggest you look at the Proto 2000 line (originally sold by Lifelike, which was bought by Walthers in 2005 or so) -- good all-around products, look good, run good.

The SD7/SD9's are particularly nice. Look for "new-old stock" on ebay.
The GP7/GP9's are good, as well.

Others:
Atlas SD 35
Atlas GP 40
Atlas C424
Bowser Alco C430

One thing, however -- regardless of how good a puller an engine is on level track or a mild grade, when you get to 4%, that engine may pull "a lot less". Fact of life. You may need multiple units...
 




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