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diesel locomotive tires

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  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: US
  • 429 posts
diesel locomotive tires
Posted by train18393 on Monday, May 06, 2019 3:35 AM

Do modern North American Locomotivess, ie SD-70 ACe, AC4400 ect. have tires on their wheels? If not how many times can they be reprofiled berore replacing (and yes I know that will vary somewhat.)



  • Member since
    August, 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 8,578 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Monday, May 06, 2019 4:56 AM

Hi, Paul

The newer locomotives you mention have single piece, wrought steel wheels.

 EMD_traction-motor by Edmund, on Flickr

The tread and flanges can be turned several times until at the "condeming limit" per the standard stamped on the back side of the wheel or the railroad's standards.

Some freight car wheels are "one wear" wheels and can not be turned once past the condeming limit. A car or locomotive inspector carries a gauge to measure flat spots, flange and tread wear and will mark the car or locomotive "bad order" to be shopped.

 Rails_0006 by Edmund, on Flickr

The most "recent" locomotive I can think of that has separate tires and hubs was the GG1 electric locomotives built by and for the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by NHTX on Monday, May 06, 2019 7:30 AM

      The only railroad I have ever heard of to have wheels using tires on diesels was the Belt Railway of Chicago, in their early days of dieseldom. Today?????????? 

  • Member since
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  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
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Posted by dknelson on Monday, May 06, 2019 9:17 AM

A 1966 article in Trains, which can be found here as a PDF

has a wonderful John Gruber photo showing the process of changing a tire on a Belt RR of Chicago switcher.  Perhaps they still do this? But at some point the costs of special ordering wheels with tires could grow so as to make it uneconomical.  Off-the-shelf is always cheaper.  But it remains an intensely busy railroad.

Dave Nelson

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
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Posted by rrinker on Monday, May 06, 2019 9:32 AM

 I'd be very surprised if they still did this today. Modern diesel trucks with their various 'steering' mechanisms are much better at reducing flange wear than the early designs, so this may not be an issue like it once was.



Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's


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  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Huntsville, AR
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Posted by oldline1 on Wednesday, May 08, 2019 3:00 PM

Really good question and at first read I would have said they didn't have tires on diesels and just changed the whole wheels out. Then the Belt article! Very neat and very understandable in their situation. I knew the G-motors used tires so I wonder about the P5's and other older Penny motors?


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  • 8,227 posts
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, May 19, 2019 2:15 PM

Single-piece wheels have been mandatory for a long time -someone with even a shred of patience more than me will find it in the eCFR.  Belt Railway might have grounds for waiver given large local and interchange traffic at restricted road speed and locomotives never straying far from shops or people watching treads and flanges for wear.New power couldn't be built with tires, and as the old power 'wore out' even used replacements would come with one-wear wheels... my doubts about how long they could recycle the old axle and wheel sets in any event.

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