Magnetraction

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Magnetraction
Posted by Leverettrailfan on Saturday, May 26, 2018 9:32 PM

this little thought’s been bugging the heck outta me, even though I think I already know the answer, based on how these questions usually go. Lionel Trains have had magnetraction since 1950, but of course, not all trains were equipped with it. So, I just figured it’d be kinda neat to ask the foolhearty question, “can a train without Magnetraction, be fitted with it?”

Now hold your horses just a moment! I know that there’s a huge ammount of variables to consider, this likely depends on what the locomotive is, when it was made, and of course, it’s almost definitely not worth the trouble, vursus just buying a loco that already has the feature. But how can you learn, if you don’t ask? I mean, consider the 2026, with it‘s fat center drivers, which folks have often speculated were designed so, to help take advantage of the use of magnetraction. Could some clever individual make that “what could have been” scenario a reality?

And the 726RR- essentially a 736 without Magnetraction. If an idividual REALLY wanted, could they convert it to Magnetraction?

Just a question to prompt some brain picking, speculation, and maybe bring with it a little knowledge which wasn’t known to me before. 

That said, my hunch is that maybe there’s a few models you could convert, with some extensive work, but for the most part you can’t.

What do other people have to say on the matter?

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Can I fix trains? Mostly. How long have I been doing it? Took me years to get much success beyond the "taking it apart" step. Where am I at now? Well, does she run?

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Posted by rtraincollector on Saturday, May 26, 2018 9:55 PM

If I remember correctly, the actual magnatraction part is the axle, with that said if the axle would fit the hole for the axle I would say yes you can. But like you said the 726RR isn't, but if you did find a axle with manatraction ability, would you have to change the wheels also as they be made of a different alloy that isn't magnetic. You do have a good question here, but not sure of all the elements to do so. And to switch axles and wheels isn't really that big of a job, especially if you have the press and correct dies. 

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Saturday, May 26, 2018 10:06 PM

rtraincollector

...but if you did find a axle with manatraction ability...

 

I actually read up on this a little, and at least for the 736, but probably for other locos, the axle has to be made of stainless steel- it cannot be made of a magnetizable metal! 

I would assume that the wheels do not need replacing, since I doubt Lionel would need to change the alloy on the wheels during the korean war. Wheels are not made of different metals for magnetraction and non-magnetraction locos, as far as I can tell. Once they introduced magnetraction, it seems like it was all sintered iron drivers, magnetraction or no magnetraction. So the only parts you would need to replace, would be the axles. And of course, you would need to magnetize the rolling chassis. As far as I know, there were three ways of doing this. Magnets that went around the axle, magnetic axles, and magnets that would sit in the frame, near the axles. I have examples of at least two of these in my possetion. I seem to recall, the 736 utilized the latter of these methods, but I may be incorrect.

"If it don't work, then gosh darn it, get a' fixin!"

Can I fix trains? Mostly. How long have I been doing it? Took me years to get much success beyond the "taking it apart" step. Where am I at now? Well, does she run?

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, May 26, 2018 10:08 PM

If a retro-fit with Magne-Traction is possible I'm not sure it'd be really worth the trouble.  You'd have to find the requisite parts, then have the tools necessary such as the wheel press and dies as rrtraincollector mentioned.

And then there's the track you're running on.  I use MTH Realtracks which are nickle-silver.  Magne-Traction won't work on them.

Some of my post-wars have Magne-Traction, some don't.  It doesn't make any difference to me.  My 736 and 2056 are such bruisers they'll pull tree stumps out of the ground, Magne-Traction or not.

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Posted by cwburfle on Sunday, May 27, 2018 5:03 AM

To add magnetraction to an original postwar 726RR one would have to:
pull all the wheels
Add the magnetraction keeper plates to the sides of the chassis
Swap all the axle bearings
Swap all the axles
Add the magnets.

To add magnetraction to an original postwar 726 (pre-1950)
- would be a custom job involving all of the above, plus
milling the chassis to take the keeper plates and magnets.
replacing all the drive wheels

It could be done by a clever machinest.

IMHO, neither is cost effective.

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Sunday, May 27, 2018 8:09 AM

Thanks for all the replies!

I think this is worth restating though:

I stated in the start of this thread, that I was certain it would not be cost effective, or practical. I’m just curious about what is physically possible, and what isn’t.

definitely some interesting thoughts. I figured the original 726 wouldn’t be anywhere near doable, since it’s almost a completely different design from the 736/726RR.

also, before anyone asks, no, I was not planning to attempt this kind of modification, nor do I own a 726RR. 

I do own a 2026, but the ammount of work that would take, plus the skills neccesary, kinda limits things to being tabled until I have machining skills, and proper quartering jigs, and so forth.

"If it don't work, then gosh darn it, get a' fixin!"

Can I fix trains? Mostly. How long have I been doing it? Took me years to get much success beyond the "taking it apart" step. Where am I at now? Well, does she run?

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Posted by cwburfle on Sunday, May 27, 2018 8:57 AM

I do own a 2026, but the ammount of work that would take, plus the skills neccesary, kinda limits things to being tabled until I have machining skills, and proper quartering jigs, and so forth.

I assume you have a 1952 2026, which has sintered iron wheels.
It's construction is almost completely different than a 726RR

They cannot be converted because the motor's metal sideframes are magnetic. The magnetraction version of that motor assembly has aluminum (nonmagnetic) side frames.
Most folks would do the conversion by swapping motors.

When making repairs or putting together one of those locomotives from parts, a lot of people do not pay any attention to whether they are using the correct motor assembly. It was made in non-magenetraction, magnetration, and tire traction models. The last locomotive to use it had a two position e-unit, so the field was double wound. This was a tire traction version. Don't know whether any tire traction locos had three position e-units.

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Posted by sir james I on Sunday, May 27, 2018 8:59 AM

It is said some loss occurs when you pull magnetic drivers. Lionel magnitized the axle after it was assembled to the drivers. A much easier way would be to buy a used chassis and switch cabs.

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Posted by cwburfle on Sunday, May 27, 2018 9:00 AM

I figured the original 726 wouldn’t be anywhere near doable, since it’s almost a completely different design from the 736/726RR.

I was thinking a 1947-49 726 Berkshire. They are very similar in construction to those made from 1950 and on.
I would agree, that converting an original postwar Berkshire from 1946 would be quite a challenge. It's construction is very different.

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Posted by sir james I on Sunday, May 27, 2018 9:05 AM

Yes the very early ones would not interchange.

"IT's GOOD TO BE THE KING",by Mel Brooks 

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, May 27, 2018 11:51 AM

As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" 

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Posted by lionelsoni on Sunday, May 27, 2018 3:05 PM

Lionel did magnetraction in three different ways:

o  Simple magnetized ferrous axles

o  Simple stainless-steel axles, with separate magnets' poles located near wheels or motor sideframes

o  Magnets encased in outsized stainless-steel axles

In all cases, the design had to avoid paths of permeable material, like iron or steel, from side to side, that would short the magnetic circuit, which is why magnetration motors had aluminum sideframes and cross-members.

When I could no longer quiet the bearings of my already heavily modified Korean War 2026, I simply replaced the motor with one from a 2037 and thus acquired magnetraction.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by traindaddy1 on Sunday, May 27, 2018 6:08 PM

Would you (or anyone) have a list of the Lionel engines that were made with Magnetraction?  As always, thanks.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, May 27, 2018 8:31 PM

I'm not sure of a master list of what had Magne-Traction, but you can try this site...

www.tandem-associates.com/index.htm

Select "Lionel Index" or "Identify Your Lionel Trains" and go from there.  You'll see a menu, select "Identify Postwar" and you'll be presented with a list of various products.  If you have a particular engine in mind look for that engine by model number, it will tell you if it was produced with Magne-Traction. Or not.

VERY handy site!

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Posted by traindaddy1 on Monday, May 28, 2018 5:17 AM
Thanks.
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Posted by Firelock76 on Monday, May 28, 2018 8:27 AM

You're welcome!  Hope it's useful to you.

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Posted by Deputy on Thursday, May 31, 2018 9:35 AM

Rather than going through the rather complex (and expensive) procedure of installing stainless steel axles, etc., if you have steel wheels, couldn't you just "magnetize" them by rubbing a magnet on the area that contacts the track? I remember as a kid "magnetizing" all kinds of stuff by rubbing it on a magnet (especially screwdrivers). Shouldn't be hard to set up a fixture where you could spin the wheel and hold a magnet against the area that contacts the track. Doesn't have to be held so hard it grinds the surface of the wheel. Just enough to maintain contact until the wheel is magnetized. And as a kid we had pretty weak magnets. Nowadays you can buy some super-powerful ones. So the magnetic transfer would be quite good. Granted, it wouldn't be the same as factory magnetraction, but even that gets weak over time. 

Another possible and easier option, would be to Crazy Glue a magnet TO the axle. Axle doesn't have to be stainless steel to transfer the magnet abilities. Just carbon steel. Actually, stainless steel isn't all that magnetic because of the numerous alloys included in it's construction. Pure steel is much more magnetic. 

Just some thoughts that popped into my head. Wink

Virginian Railroad

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Posted by lionelsoni on Thursday, May 31, 2018 11:03 AM

The reason for using stainless steel is that a common variety of it is not magnetic at all.  The idea is to make the magnetic flux pass through the wheels on one side, into the steel rails, through the steel ties across to the other side, and back to the magnet through the wieels on the other side.  Steel axles will defeat this concept by providing an alternate flux path between the magnet's poles--a magnetic short circuit.

Lionel's first try at magnetraction tried to solve this problem by combining functions:  The axle was the magnet.  The problem with this idea was that the best material that they had was soft iron, which made a not-very-permanent magnet.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by Deputy on Friday, June 01, 2018 12:16 AM

lionelsoni

The reason for using stainless steel is that a common variety of it is not magnetic at all.  The idea is to make the magnetic flux pass through the wheels on one side, into the steel rails, through the steel ties across to the other side, and back to the magnet through the wieels on the other side.  Steel axles will defeat this concept by providing an alternate flux path between the magnet's poles--a magnetic short circuit.

Lionel's first try at magnetraction tried to solve this problem by combining functions:  The axle was the magnet.  The problem with this idea was that the best material that they had was soft iron, which made a not-very-permanent magnet. 

I dunno, all that passing through and moving around seems like it would lose a lot of power in the process. Why not just magnetize the wheels themselves? And I don't know what "common stainless steel" is, but the stainless steel in my Smith and Wesson guns is quite magnetic. Just having "the axle as the magnet" makes for a very small magnet. If you attached one of the super-powerful magnets available today to the axle, I would think it would be a heck of a lot more effective. If you could find a tubular-shaped magnet, one that reached from wheel hub to wheel hub, slot it so it would slip around the axle, and attach it with crazy glue, you would have a magnetrction that put the original version to shame. Or alternatively, a cylindrical magent with a hole drilled through the center that slides onto the axle. Like the ones here:

https://www.kjmagnetics.com/products.asp?cat=16

Considering the ratings for these magnets, they should be way more powerful than anything Lionel ever installed. I am in the process of restoring a bunch of #50 Gang Cars. I may just experiment on one and see if I can give it effective magnetraction. CoolYes

Virginian Railroad

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Posted by lionelsoni on Saturday, June 02, 2018 4:04 PM

Stainless steels are alloys of iron with various other elements, including at least 10.5 percent chromium.  There are many varieties, in three families of alloys:  Ferritic and martensitic stainless steels are magnetic; austenitic stainless steel, by far the most common type, is not.  Austenitic stainless steel is the kind Lionel used, because of its non-magnetic character.  The steel in your guns is obviously one of the other types.

(I'm afraid magnets don't work the way you think they do.)

Bob Nelson

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, June 02, 2018 8:37 PM

Deputy, you came to the right place.  Having worked for a gun company (Navy Arms Company) back in the 80's I can tell you exactly why your stainless steel S&W's will attract a magnet.

Stainless, that is pure stainless in it's various forms is an absolute nightmare for a machinist to work with, for a number of reasons.  So, what Smith and Wesson (and other firearm manufacturers did and do) was use a stainless alloy with just enough chromium in it to give the steel stainless properties, i.e. rust resistance, but not so much as to make the steel hard to work with.  Pure stainless would also not be able to withstand the pressures generated by the cartridges.

The ONE exception to the rule was a stainless steel replica of an 1858 Remington revolver that Navy Arms put out at the time.  That one was 100% pure stainless steel.  The individual components were investment cast, not machined, and it was made for use with black powder, not modern smokeless, so pressures weren't a problem.

And that Navy Arms Remington wouldn't attract a magnet.

Hope this made sense, and I didn't bore anyone.

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Posted by cwburfle on Sunday, June 03, 2018 5:12 AM

Not bored at all. Thanks for the explanation.

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Posted by lionelsoni on Monday, June 04, 2018 12:15 PM

 

Unlike electrical charge, no example of isolated magnetic "charge" has yet been found or created.  Nevertheless, a magnet behaves like it has a quantity of "north" magnetic charge at one pole and exactly the same quantity of "south" magnetic charge at the other pole.  The two polarities attract each other according to the same inverse-square law as electrical charge, but with considerably greater force than practical amounts of electrical charge do.

If you put a bar of magnetic material close to the magnet and between its poles, the magnetic field induces quantities of magnetic charge at the ends of the bar, each end of the opposite polarity of the nearby magnet pole.  The closeness of the charge on the ends of the bar to the charge on the poles of the magnet then strongly pulls then bar to the magnet.  Replace the bar by the steel rails and ties of the track, and you have "magnetraction".

But the bar, or track, distorts the magnetic field, pulling the field lines into and through itself and away from the surrounding space.  So if you put some other piece of magnetic material between the magnet poles, closer than the track, the field lines will go through it instead, leaving little magnetic field to induce charge in the track and attract the train to the track.

Avoiding such magnetic "short circuits" is the reason for using non-magnetic metals and (non-magnetic varieties) of stainless steel close to the magnetraction magnet(s).  An ordinary steel axle down the middle of a cylindrical magnet would be such a short circuit.  Likewise, simply sticking a magnet, however super it may be, to a wheel would be futile, since both poles of that same magnet would be connected immediately through the iron wheel, leaving no magnetic field to induce magnetic charge in the track.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by Deputy on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 1:02 PM

I could be wrong, but I think Williams had some FM Trainmasters produced where they used magnetic wheels, not axles. I had a green Pennsyvania FM Trainmaster from Williams that I am pretty sure was equipped that way. It was very powerful magnetraction, and even at full speed, stayed glued to the tracks. I would think the simplest way to have magnetraction would be to just use magnets in the shape of wheels. If that isn't possible because of cost, then I would say magnetizing steel wheels would be the second best bet. Happily, I found that the wheels on my #50 Gang Cars (I have 4 of them) are made out of steel. I plan on magnetizing at least one of them via powering them and allowing the power wheels to rub against a powerful magnet. Heck, it won't cost me a penny to try it out as a long time ago I bought some powerful magnets for the wifey to use to hang messages on the fridge. And they are still very powerful. 

LOL...imagine having the wheels of a Lionel loco made out of neodymium magnets! BTW...most commercial sellers of magnets will make them in any shape you want. Just depends on how fat your wallet is. Laugh

And yes, I read what Bob wrote above. I am a doubting Thomas. I gotta see for myself. Smile

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 3:01 PM

Deputy
I could be wrong, but I think Williams had some FM Trainmasters produced where they used magnetic wheels, not axles..

Not axles, correct, but wheels, no.

The early Williams FMs & GG1s had bar magnets cemented into a slot in the motor block casting. That slot is still there, empty.

Rob

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Posted by Deputy on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 2:53 PM

ADCX Rob

 

 
Deputy
I could be wrong, but I think Williams had some FM Trainmasters produced where they used magnetic wheels, not axles..

 

Not axles, correct, but wheels, no.

The early Williams FMs & GG1s had bar magnets cemented into a slot in the motor block casting. That slot is still there, empty.

 

Thanks Rob! I knew they did it differently, and man, it really worked great. Any idea why they stopped? Lawsuit or too expensive?

 

Virginian Railroad

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 3:04 PM

Deputy
ADCX Rob

 

 
Deputy
I could be wrong, but I think Williams had some FM Trainmasters produced where they used magnetic wheels, not axles..

 

Not axles, correct, but wheels, no.

The early Williams FMs & GG1s had bar magnets cemented into a slot in the motor block casting. That slot is still there, empty.

 

 

Rob

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Posted by Deputy on Friday, June 22, 2018 10:13 AM

ADCX Rob

 

 
Deputy
ADCX Rob

 

 
Deputy
I could be wrong, but I think Williams had some FM Trainmasters produced where they used magnetic wheels, not axles..

 

Not axles, correct, but wheels, no.

The early Williams FMs & GG1s had bar magnets cemented into a slot in the motor block casting. That slot is still there, empty.

 

 

 

 

 

My Williams FM Trainmaster with their magnetraction begs to differ. Laugh

Virginian Railroad

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