Big disappointment about new MTL 33' Metal Wheels

Dogwood Jul 8, 2019

  1. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    That makes a lot of sense, because the weight on pilot wheels is just the wheels and the weight of whatever is holding them under the front of the loco. Except where some manufacturer has put a spring on the top of the pilot truck, those wheels don't carry any other weight. I have heard other people say that they cured pilot truck derailments by putting as much tungsten putty as possible on top of the pilot truck. (Most pilot trucks already come with metal wheels.)

    On a car, the trucks with the metal of plastic wheels will be carrying something like 1/2 of the car's weight, which is considerably more than the weight of just a pilot truck on a locomotive. So, it is hard to compare the effectiveness of metal wheels from one situation to the other.

    However, I have seen plenty of freight car trucks that were so stiff the they did not flex enough to keep all 4 of their wheels on the rails, so the car weight was not on at least one wheel. Which would probably allow that wheel to derail quite easily. Whether using metal wheels adds enough weight to bring all wheels down on the rails in stiff trucks probably depends on must how stiff the trucks are.
     
  2. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    AS for the whole G business, I'm more familiar with CG are related to aircraft. They are very concerned as the difference between having it right and not is coming home in a car or coming home in a box. In aircraft the big thing is the position of the CG is critical fore and aft. Top to bottom is never a concern.
     
  3. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    But is that a problem with the wheelsets or with the truck itself? I don't know what trucks you are running but if you got any trucks where all of the wheels are not in contact with the rail get rid of the dang truck! In July 2019, NS suffered two derailments on Horseshoe Curve (July 5 and July 26). Both involved three empty center beams placed directly behind the locomotives in the forward section of the train. Cars had body mounted couplers and metal wheels. So metal wheels don't prevent derailments when the car itself is too light. RR's typically place lighter cars such as empties at the rear of a train. Why these were placed in the front section I don't know. Maybe someone thought, what the hay, they got metal wheels, what could go wrong?

    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?...34EBAC0BC6487F62856E34EBAC0BC6487F6&FORM=VIRE

    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?...996C7E1D37C1F1B97C30996C7E1D37C1F1B&FORM=VIRE
     
  4. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    You would probably be surprised at how often this is really occurring. It is hard to detect. You don't usually see one wheel not touching the rails, even though there may be almost no weight on one wheel (or even two). This becomes an issue when there is some change in the track from a straight, ungapped rail. Abrupt vertical shifts in the rail incline, switch frogs, etc. may make a wheel that is in contact with the rails "float" enough to go over a rail if the weight on the wheel is not enough to overcome the stiffness of the truck.

    Trucks do need some stiffness to dampen roll, or that can also become a problem.

    So, the real issue for this thread is whether using heavier metal wheels has any practical advantage for avoiding derailments with our N scale models.
     
  5. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    ". . . This becomes an issue when there is some change in the track from a straight, ungapped rail. Abrupt vertical shifts in the rail incline, switch frogs, etc. may make a wheel that is in contact with the rails "float" enough to go over a rail if the weight on the wheel is not enough to overcome the stiffness of the truck.."

    In other words, you got a track problem which you are trying to fix with different wheelsets. But the wheelsets don't address the truck problem (if there is one) or the track problem (which is more likely). You waste money for a solution (new wheelsets) that doesn't solve the problem and so the problem continues. I have been to many a N scale weekend at both Altoona/Bedford and Columbus and seen many a Ntrak layout where long trains are run over some pretty bad joiner tracks between modules. The most common causes of derailments are string lining and trip pins catching Trying to run through a closed switch is probably third. Sometimes when people put in the joiner tracks the rail joiner does not slide onto the rail flange but under it causing that rail to be raised above the level of the other rails. Trains can be seen to hop over the joint. Sometimes the train derails, sometimes it doesn't, but the fix is not to change out all the wheelsets. The fix is to fix the track.
     
  6. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    the fix is not to change out all the wheelsets. The fix is to fix the track.[/QUOTE]
    AS I said several pages back, that's the ticket. Let me put it in a different way, if you hear hoof beats, do you think horses or zebras? I've noticed that there is something about internet forums that encourage some to think exclusively of zebras.
     
  7. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    .

    Sometimes it is not our track to fix. Clubs, guests at op sessions, etc. So, it pays to have good equipment, too.

    The point of the discussion was whether the additional weight of metal wheels in trucks may have a beneficial effect. I proposed a possible way that it might, and asked if anybody had any data to show if it really helped.

    Comments like yours aren't actually answering that question. They seem to be implying that the question should never have been asked. You may be entitled to that opinion, but there may be others who don't share it. Please respect the discussion.
     
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  8. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    "Comments like yours aren't actually answering that question. They seem to be implying that the question should never have been asked. You may be entitled to that opinion, but there may be others who don't share it. Please respect the discussion."

    Wow! First. the other person's comments answered the question giving you his own opinion, you are just irritated that you didn't get the answer you wanted.

    Second, Your analysis that the response indicated that the responder thought the question shouldn't have been asked. The best I can say about that is you are overly sensitive. Please respect other's opinions.
     
  9. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    For what it's worth and I'm sure that's no more the .50 cents.
    Inkaneer has given some excellent suggestions. Possible resolutions to problems we all have on our train layouts.

    May I suggest we need to go back to the beginning and reread what the OP posted. We've answered his questions and at this point...well...allow me to say. Let's not poke the bear. We've already had one threat to lock this thread down.

    Unless otherwise needed, I'm out of here.

    BarstowRick - Out.
     
  10. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

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    To be fair to this thread, I do not have any problem with any Micro Trains wheelsets, I just prefer Fox Valley or the BLMA wheels.
     
  11. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    But will 'good equipment' negate bad track? If a building's foundation is poor will a beautiful edifice built on top of it make up for the foundation?

    I would suspect that no one has that data. I say that because if anyone had that data it would probably be the manufacturers and if the manufacturers of metal wheelsets had any empirical evidence of that they would be including it in their advertising. Thus far I haven't seen it. Thus far the advertising I have seen has stressed the cosmetic issue (it looks more prototypical).


    Well I would respectfully disagree. The first step in arriving at a solution to any problem is to, first, accurately define the problem. Get that wrong and you're off in a wrong direction and any solution you arrive at probably will not solve the problem and may add some problems that were not present to begin with. Plastic wheels have been around for at least 40 years and have given yeoman service the whole time. The only drawback to them is cosmetic in that they don't have a nice shiny wheel tread as does the prototype. But operationally they do just fine as evidenced by all the Ntrak clubs who have been running them since the early '70's. The overwhelming number of derailments are cause by poor track whether it be incorrectly installed rail joiners, too wide of a gap between rails, too tight radius curves, expansion/contraction problems, clearance problems in switches (older Peco C80 switches), etc. Second leading cause is trip pins set too low and catching on whatever is between the rails such as crossings, switches, guard rails, etc. Obviously different wheelsets, metal or otherwise, won't solve those problems. As for the weight issue, metal wheels do add some additional weight but is that weight of any real benefit? N scale rolling stock is usually lighter than NMRA recommendations but the addition of metal wheels still leaves the car weight under the NMRA recommendations. Light cars in the forward part of a train with heavier cars behind can cause string lining and metal wheels can't prevent that either. Metal wheels also introduce problems that plastic wheels do not have. Plastic wheelsets are one piece but because metal is conductive metal wheelsets, by necessity, have to be insulated they are a three piece fabrication. This introduces gauge problems and possible electrical shorting problems if a derailment occurs at a switch.

    Look, let's be clear here, if someone wants to re-equip all of their rolling stock with metal wheels then Model Railroading Rule No. 1 applies and I have no problem with that. But let's not try to convert others to our thinking by using allegations that have no evidence to support them. Get the evidence by doing a fair comparison and let the chips fall as they may.
     
  12. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    Just not worth arguing with you. If you don't care whether metal wheels have any benefits because you don't want to use them, yourself, fine - that is rule #1. If you don't want anybody else even discussing the possibility, then you probably shouldn't be reading the internet. And, please don't accuse me of "trying to convert others" because I asked if anybody had any actual experience turning a car that frequently derailed into a good tracker by replacing plastic wheels with metal wheels.

    I am done, here. Have a nice day.
     
  13. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

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    Me as it applies to trying to figure out my golf swing!;)
     
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  14. Traindork

    Traindork TrainBoard Member

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    "Never discuss politics and religion at Thanksgiving dinner."
    "Never discuss DC/DCC and metal/plastic wheels at Thanksgiving dinner." :eek:
     
  15. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    It's not that I "don't care if metal wheels have any benefits". It's the false claims that are made by some. I say false claims because these claims are made with no empirical testing. This hobby has a history of the tail wagging the dog wherein a small but vocal contingent attempts to sway the hobby to their way with claims that this is better. The manufacturers follow and produce the requested product but the manufacturers themselves make no claim of any operational advantage probably because they have not done any testing themselves. Some of the false claims regarding metal wheels are as follows: 1. they replicate the clickety-clack sound of prototype that wheels make over rail joints when in fact the noise is more of a whrrrrring sound nowhere near the claimed clickety-clack. 2. they add weight to a car. Any weight added is minimal but this is offered as a panacea for other problems but is no real fix for any of them. 3. Cars with metal wheels roll easier than with plastic wheels. I've seen mixed results as reported by people on different forums on this and therefore I have to question the results. Besides, if I have a train that the locomotives can't pull I just add more power to it. Isn't that what the prototype does?

    The only real benefit that I can see is cosmetic. The metal wheels with their shiny tread look more prototypical but even here there is ,disagreement on which wheel looks more prototypical. So, like I stated in a prior post, Model RR Rule No.1 applies here and it is your call. I would just like people in this hobby to have accurate information to base their decisions on. That prevents a lot of situations wherein new people entering the hobby have unsatisfactory experiences such as wondering why their autoracks with metal wheels and body mounted couples and pulled by a SD70 won't negotiate their 9 3/4 in radius curves. This hobby loses too many of these people and quite frankly, I don't think we can afford to lose these people.
     
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  16. Rich_S

    Rich_S TrainBoard Member

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    WOW almost two pages of metal wheels verses plastic wheels. Now the issue above is not a metal wheel issue, that is a body mounted coupler issue on tight radius track. That would be the same thing as saying converting a poor performing locomotive to DCC will make it perform like a Swiss watch. I certainly hope people do not think metal wheels will solve every issue in the model railroad world. Unfortunately, some issues are unavoidable because of other circumstances. I'll use my layout as an example. I live in an apartment, my layout has to share space with a spare bedroom. I only have room for a 24" x 80" hollow core door layout. My tightest radius curve is 9.75". I've found truck mounted couplers on 60' rolling stock will negotiate my 9.75" radius curves while being pulled or pushed in trains with 10 cars or less without any incidents. The ultimate train size for my layout is 8 cars, because of the length of my passing siding. I cannot convert to a larger radius, I do not have any mismatched alignments and the track joints are all level. But if I try to run too long of a car with body mounted couplers, I'll have derailments. This is not a track problem, it's a space problem. The only thing that will fix this problem is more space which I cannot afford. If the above named person left the hobby because their SD70 pulling autoracks on 9.75" radius curves keep derailing, the true reason is the hobby was not doing what they wanted in the space they had available. But since you've opened the door, answer why Micro-Trains and other manufactures have started selling all their new products with body mounted couplers? Because people have bought into the notion that truck mounted couplers are inferior to body mounted couplers. Body mounted couplers will not work for the space I have available. Should I now leave the hobby because the products being sold no longer work for me? How many people are leaving the hobby because they can't afford the prices of new products? How many people simply leave the hobby because they were searching for a hobby, decided to give model railroading a try, then realized it just wasn't their cup of tea. Quite honestly, if the above person has the passion for the hobby, they'd ask question and experiment to find the best solution that works for the space they have available for a model railroad. When I got started in this hobby, all HO scale equipment shipped with the X2F coupler. It was horrible, most times when you backed your train, cars would come uncoupled or derail on good track work. Back then, the internet did not exist and I did not live near any clubs nor did I have any friends who were model railroaders. But by reading though the two magazines at the time RMC and MR, I discovered Kadee metal couplers. I had a passion for my hobby. I say if people are leaving the hobby, there's a good chance it could be for a number of reasons and one of them just might be, it's not their cup of tea. As for Metal wheels vs. plastic wheels, I've found in my personal experience, plastic wheels accumulate more gunk than metal wheels requiring more frequent cleaning. Also of note, I run a track cleaning car in my train and since my layout is very small, I clean my rails with a Cratex cleaning block before each running session.

    Now back to the OP's question, I've purchased two 60 packs and a 12 pack of Micro-Trains metal wheels and have not encountered any manufacturing defect as shown in the photos posted by the OP.
     
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  17. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    For what it is worth, I have had no problems with MicroTrains plastic wheels or BLMA metal wheels. All others have had at least one issue in my experience, but that doesn't mean that I don't use them at all.

    For instance, I bought some of the new Atlas "shortie" passenger cars with plastic wheels, and found that they rolled with much more friction than other Atlas cars. Looking at their wheels' surfaces with a 10x loupe, I could easily see that the ones that were not rolling as well had much rougher tread surfaces than the others that rolled better. Swapping wheels between those Atlas cars proved that whichever car had the rough wheels rolled less freely. So, I am convinced that tread surface matters, but not necessarily convinced that all Atlas plastic wheels are inferior. My MicroTrains plastic wheels look much smoother than both of those Atlas sets, so I would like to have tried MicroTrains wheels in those same cars, but with the Atlas axle length being 0.574" and the MicroTrains axle length being 0.540", that is a no-go. So, I tried Fox Valley metal wheels of the proper axle length in the Atlas cars, and they did roll more freely.

    In another instance, I received some used Roundhouse Overland cars at the same time as a new, small steam locomotive. While checking out the new locomotive on a test loop, I decided to put those Overland cars behind it. To my dismay, the loco could only pull one of those cars without its drivers slipping and spinning. Roundhouse trucks are notorious for being high-friction, so I thought I would replace them. But, since I had a package of BLMA wheels sitting there, I stuck them in the Overland cars. I was amazed to see that the locomotive could pull all 5 Overland cars without slipping at all, once those cars had BLMA wheels in their notorious trucks.

    Incidents like these prove to me that wheel sets matter a lot for rolling resistance. Of course, the wheel sets need to have the proper axle length to roll freely, so it is not possible to put just any manufacturer's wheels into just any other manufacturer's trucks. But, for everybody's trucks, there is typically at least one alternative set of wheels. But, some may be plastic and some may be metal. I am not committed to either material, but I am interested in finding a good rolling combination for each of the cars I intend to run. So, I have a mix, at least for the moment.

    There is precious little objective, quantitative information about rolling resistance comparisons between various wheel sets in various trucks. A while back, I designed and started to build a test rig that will give me actual force measurements for rolling resistance of individual cars. But, at this time, life events have intervened to prevent me from completing the test rig and performing the tests. When I get it done, I will be able to say with some real basis what wheels and trucks are the best rolling.

    But, for now, my less quantifiable observations indicate to me that MicroTrains plastic wheels in their Delrin trucks seem to almost always be very free rolling. But, the picture of their metal wheels did not look that promising to me for rolling characteristics nor "looks", so I am not about to jump on some "metal wheels" bandwagon. But, when I get a chance, I will test to see if Fox Valley or BLMA metal wheels roll even better in MTL trucks than those nice, smooth looking MTL plastic wheels.

    It is nice to have the options. For one thing, the competition makes the products better.
     
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  18. tracktoo

    tracktoo TrainBoard Member

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    Here's a test stand that I made that provides a repeatable comparison test, metal wheels to plastic. :cool: You could make one very easily.



    And here's at least one way to do it. :)

     
  19. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    Question:

    Couldnt the results be skewed by how hard you 'tap' those trucks to get them moving downhill ?o_O

    I like the rig but think a 'nonhuman' release of some sort might give better unbiased results....JMO:whistle:

    ** ok I looked at it closer and see that you arent actually bumping the truck. Looks like some kind of a release uphill there. (y)(y)(y)(y)(y)
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  20. tracktoo

    tracktoo TrainBoard Member

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    Yes, there's a bent wire catch that catches the axle and is then depressed to release the truck, no external forces applied, just a uniformly repeatable release. And there are no actual measurements of force involved but is a very repeatable and unbiased comparison measurement especially with all of the same components involved in the test assuring identical weights, and then swapping the wheels between the two truck frames to eliminate that variable.

    What it seems to demonstrate, 10- 11 or so cycles for the plastic wheels and 13- 14 or so cycles for the metal wheels, is a 20- 40% range of improvement in roll resistance.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
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