AZL Traction Tire/Wheel Replacement (RS3)

Llanerch Crossing Aug 14, 2020

  1. Llanerch Crossing

    Llanerch Crossing TrainBoard Member

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    I have been anxiously awaiting the release of the AZL RS3's and was planning on buying a pair for a layout loop which features several consecutive MTL turnouts.

    My only experience with Z Scale locos thus far is MTL with no traction tires. Even with none, I have had temporary issues with locos stalling or sputtering through the turnouts which is usually rectified by cleaning something, (an Aztec car has helped a LOT). However, the prospect of a double header with traction tires going through those turnouts has me leery.

    I know that MTL loco wheels within a loco truck are pretty much identical so I was thinking of buying a set of AZL loco trucks and just swapping out the traction tires for normal wheels.

    First is this feasible with AZL loco wheels, and second, am I being overlay paranoid about the effect of traction tires through turnouts?

    I do have another loop with no turnouts so this doesn't prevent me from running a single AZL RS3 on this layout but I was hoping to buy two and double head them.

    Thank you in advance for any suggestions or guidance.
     
  2. rvn2001

    rvn2001 TrainBoard Member

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    Double-heading the locos should eliminate any stalling issue. That's one of the reasons I double-head trains at train shows.
     
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  3. Llanerch Crossing

    Llanerch Crossing TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks!

    Any insight of the feasibility of swapping wheelsets within an AZL loco truck in the event I wanted to go that route regardless?
     
  4. rvn2001

    rvn2001 TrainBoard Member

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    I've never even considered doing it so I can't be of much help.
     
  5. davejones

    davejones TrainBoard Member

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    Can't say for the RS3 but that is exactly what I did with an AZL GP38-2 and it works perfectly.
     
  6. tjdreams

    tjdreams TrainBoard Member

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    I would think Swapping AZL RS3 traction tire wheel sets for AZL RS3 non traction tire wheel sets can be done but i seriously doubt it will fix your problem. And i'll bet it will be expensive. Do your MTL loco 's run ok around the rest of the track and only stall on the MTL turnouts. If so then the problem is in the MTL Turnouts. Swapping the wheel sets out is like cleaning house by sweeping the dirt pile under the edge of your carpet You may not see or notice it right away. but like the dirt your problem will still be there.
     
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  7. shortpainter

    shortpainter TrainBoard Member

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    I have done this. Once you get the axles off the truck, the wheels with traction tires can be switched out pretty easily. I did this because a brand new ES44AC was constantly stalling and I thought it was traction tires. Removing them only helped slightly. Turns out the problem was oil all over the copper pickups within the truck. After I cleaned the pickups and put the traction tires back the loco worked just fine without stalling. As far as I can tell, the traction tires don't cause stalls.
     
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  8. JoeS

    JoeS TrainBoard Member

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    By no means an expert. But unless the tires are parallel you shouldn’t have too much pickup trouble. I think the very first run of GP 7s might have had them parallel but all my others they are staggered. So never dead on a frog. Plus pulling power is pretty darn good with them.

    So what I noticed is this. Because both MT and AZL locomotives run great but MT is chunkier I rarely run MT and AZL at same time. I guess they just look better to eye separate. So only my experience but the traction tires with AZL I tend to have to clean track more often. Don’t know if tire puts residue down and it’s not a big deal maybe every other day then every 3rd day when running daily.
     
  9. Llanerch Crossing

    Llanerch Crossing TrainBoard Member

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    You all have given me a lot of input to digest. I guess I'll bite the bullet and add the RS3's to my layout and worry about issues if and when they occur.

    Thanks!
     
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  10. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

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    I can understand the concerns, but I would like to try and solve the turnout focus first. In reality, you likely won't need the traction tire(s) as Switching trains aren't that long and most home layouts don't have the longer trackage.

    It is said that there is sporadic running issues and a little cleaning is in order, making for a somewhat improvement. Yes, track does need some cleaning but honestly, I find both loco wheels and truck pickups (4 to a loco, each axle to the side frames, frame to the chassis pickup, pickup to the frame). HOWEVER, if the loco runs fine, around-and-around the layout (excluding turnouts), then there is either a truck, axle on the loco or, the turnouts.

    Here is how to test an axle or truck: put a thin, narrow strip of tape across one rail and run the loco around. If the loco stalls, its that axle. A wider strip for 2 axles on same rail and a both rails to determine if that truck IS the power one and the one WITHOUT tape is the bad one.

    The various turnout manufacturers have differing designs. The two main components are the Frog and the Points. The Exit rails are also part of it, I'll get into that in a moment.

    MTL and Rokuhan use the same principle, a single solid swinging plate (like the Kato for the N scalers). This plate, about 1-1/4 (3cm) in length, gets its power from 2 locations: the internal mechanics of the the Frog power routing and, tension against the Outer Stock rails. At the frog end, they are literally sitting on the Frog power metal. The points wobble some, dirt, dust, track cleaning fluids (I'll tell you a story about Mr. Dave at the end), efficacy of the switch throw (manual or electrics), etc. create electrical reliability in a turnout. I can tell you the hassles we have had on the 2nd generation MTL's when they restarted (parts missing inside, etc.) The frog interior parts rotate, make contact to various track parts and such. Get an analog volt-ohm meter (the Ohms mode will drive more current for a better continuity), a Digital DVM in Continuity mode or better use an LED tester which has reasonable current. Connect 3 pieces to each part of the turnout (or use the installed on your layout. Clip on lead of the Ohm/Continuity/Test to one rail off the turnout. Test each piece of the turnout and beyond. Do the same for the Frog rails, especially the exit rails. Some issues are the Power Routing settings or, the contacts of the Exit Rails to the Frog. This is an issue if you use an insulated joiner between to turnouts in a crossover. Make sure that test the points for pick too.
     
    Nick Lorusso likes this.
  11. Llanerch Crossing

    Llanerch Crossing TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you for the detailed response!!

    However, presently I am NOT having any turnout issues, I am just hedging my bets to prevent future issues. In the past, dirty loco wheels or pickups have caused issues through MTL turnouts with MTL locos. That required a thorough cleaning of track and locos which on this particular short loop layout with a ton of freight cars is a royal pain.

    I just figured if I could have issues with all metal wheels, I might have them with traction tires so I want to have a way to get rid of them before I spend $$$$ on a few AZL RS3's. I am really not a fan of the concept of traction tires in Z scale and I really wish AZL offered just wheels that you could swap or locos with or without. At least with MTL, I know I can swap loco wheel sets. It is not so certain with AZL apparently.

    At this point, I am holding off any purchase until I get a definitive answer about wheel swapping from the the folks at AZL.

    Thanks again for your help!
     
  12. shortpainter

    shortpainter TrainBoard Member

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    Concerning all metal wheels, does that include the rolling stock? Typically I run my layout with all metal wheels on every car and loco, no traction tires and carbon on the rails from a #2 pencil. I don't have to clean the tracks for three months. If I run a single car with plastic wheels, I have to clean my tracks every week. No exaggeration. The build up from plastic wheels can be a problem, too.
     
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  13. Llanerch Crossing

    Llanerch Crossing TrainBoard Member

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    I learned about metal wheels the easy way from the person that sold me my first Z scale stuff. With that insight, I replaced every MTL truck with a Full Throttle Truck and I used "Will's Wheels" on any rolling stock with a body mounted coupler. Fortunately the majority of my rolling stock is Full Throttle so I didn't have to replace a huge amount of trucks or wheels.

    The 2nd best thing I did was buy a couple of Aztec cars when they were available.
     
  14. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    Yeah, I got an Aztec cleaning car too, they do help, when you remember to run them.
     
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  15. Llanerch Crossing

    Llanerch Crossing TrainBoard Member

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    I have a two and run them continuously on different loops right behind the locos. Best $$$ I ever spent.

    I tried (begged) to get a couple more, literally just when he shut down the business to no avail.

    Another couple of things I have quickly learned about Z scale:

    A lot of stuff you have to beg for or be as patient as heck if you really want it bad enough (like the five Huet PRR cabin cars I have that took me over 6 years to amass), and if you see something you like and have the funds...buy LOTS because it won't be around long...

    ...which is more or less your signature line. ;)
     
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  16. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

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    Rob, what was your signature tag? .... :)
     
  17. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    What my signature tag translates to if I practiced what I preach, and I have been practicing:
    1.jpg
    Each box is about 12" x 12" x 14", and is almost full to the brim with that category of items. As you can see I have lots of categories:
    2.jpg
    75% of the boxes are trains stuff, with the rest being computer stuff, and not junk computer stuff, that all got tossed when I moved, but all are hobby related:
    3.jpg
    An example box, is this passenger car box. It has Marsillius, AZL, MTL, Marklin, and other passenger cars filled to the brim. It's only one of my passenger car boxes too.
    4.jpg
    Another box, one of 3, is all for brass kits, and kits with brass parts. On the right is about 40-50 Miller Engineering kits, and underneath is Micron Art, Train Cat, Tim Buehring, Chris Schmuck, Karen Snyder, Michael Hilliard, Harold F., Gerd M., Olliver Passmann stuff, and everyone who ever made etched Z stuff is represented here.
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    I have boxes and boxes of great prizes like this, Detail Parts, RP parts including tons of unpainted raw Make My Model stuff, Laser Cut Kit companies that were born, lived, and died in Z. I really don't need anything, I can build dozens of home and modular layouts with what I have amassed over the past 17 years in Z, but I am not satisfied until I have MORE! :D Because, if you don't get it when you see it, it's gone forever tomorrow. ;)
     
  18. bostonjim

    bostonjim TrainBoard Member

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    Holy Cannoli!!!That's a lot of collecting. I thought my 1 file cabinet and 1/2 of a closet was a lot. You are much more organized than me. I can't find anything...Jim
     
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  19. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

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    "If you see it, Buy It" It won't be there tomorrow.
     
  20. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    Myself I had stall issues with many of the MTL turnouts I first purchased. I don't consider them anymore for my future project. In my opinion, power-routing turnouts (live frog) are mandatory in our beloved scale. On my current (small) layout I have 7 short-lived Wright turnouts but since they are not available anymore I will use a mix of Fast-Tracks and Atlas on my future layout.

    However I would definitly prefer my AZL locos without traction tires..

    Please could you tell us :
    -How you proceed for axle swapping,
    -And to find tire-free spare axles ? ;)

    Dom
     

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