Lionel General on O31 track?

6 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    March, 2018
  • 3 posts
Lionel General on O31 track?
Posted by Eagle86 on Sunday, March 11, 2018 5:47 PM

Hi Folks,

First time poster here with probably a dumb question...

I have a small O31 layout with a mix of old and "modern" track.  Modern pieces were purchased new, turnouts, crossing and operating/uncoupler section.  My 8701 General does not like these at all, derailments, shorts, etc.  Do not have the same problems with any other loco that I operate.  Have had this 8701 since I was a kid. Do not remember having same problems with it years ago, but also operated on O27 back then.

Does anyone have similar experience or advice for this combination?



  • Member since
    April, 2006
  • 6,295 posts
Posted by fifedog on Monday, March 12, 2018 7:35 AM

E86 - First off ----> Welcome.

I run a fleet of Lionel Generals on my new layout, over a mixture of Atlas/Industrial Rail, Lionel O, and Ross, with Lionel O-72 switches on the main, and O-22 lever style switches for the sidings.  I even run a small loop with a mix of O and O27.

That being said, the front end a General is a bit light, and they all will bounce a bit going through switches.  I run my switches off of track power, and need 12 volts applied for the points to throw properly.  The speed of the engine, along with the consist it's pulling, can affect performance.  Gotta play with those variables to determine how better the engine tracks.  Clean and properly lubricated wheels also help in better performance.


  • Member since
    March, 2013
  • 423 posts
Posted by BigAl 956 on Monday, March 12, 2018 9:09 AM

Have you ever replaced the front truck spring? Over time truck springs wear out or break causing derailments.

  • Member since
    September, 2010
  • From: Parma Heights Ohio
  • 2,657 posts
Posted by Penny Trains on Monday, March 12, 2018 6:24 PM

Welcome aboard!

Can you better define "modern" track?  (Is it Lionel tubular, Atlas O, MTH Realtrax, Lionel FasTrack or something else?)


Big Smile  I'm Cuckoo For Choo Choo Stuffs!  Big Smile

  • Member since
    August, 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,955 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Monday, March 12, 2018 7:14 PM

Welcome aboard Eagle86!

And the only dumb questions here are the ones you're afraid to ask!

You gotten some good answers here, but unfortunately I don't have one for you, my 4-4-0's are MTH engines, built like tanks and just as heavy.  They run on anything I put them on.

  • Member since
    March, 2018
  • 3 posts
Posted by Eagle86 on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 2:56 PM

Thanks to all for the replies!

To be more specific about the track, it's plain ol' Lionel tinplate tubular.  O-31 and O-72 turnouts, a 90-degree crossing and 2 uncoupler sections.

I have not made and repairs or mods to the 8701.  It seems to track OK.  It seems to act like more of a clearance/interference problem between the the frogs and check rails and the bottom of of the loco between the drivers.

My layout has actually been disassmbled for the past couple of years while moving house.  I am planning to put it back together in the next few weeks.  Was asking the question because this seemed like a good time to plan for any fixes or changes to trackwork.

Thanks again, y'all!





  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • 1,790 posts
Posted by 8ntruck on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 9:37 PM

Welcome to the forum. 

I've got a General that does not like my Fastrack switches when the switch is set for the curve. 

Digging through old service manuals, I ran across an exploded diagram for one of the high end Generals - the Super O version, I think.  That diagram showed a weight that fit inside of the boiler just ahead of the front driver.  I've never found one of these weights, so when I get around to it, I plan on making a lead casting to install in my General.

I also found a zinc casting on e-bay that duplicates the plastic cow catcher and cylinder casting that came from the factory.  No, I have not made time to install that, either.

Good luck.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community


Get the Classic Toy Trains newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a month