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Lionel’s postwar 681 pulling power

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Lionel’s postwar 681 pulling power
Posted by James Huff on Thursday, October 26, 2023 1:25 AM

I just bought a Lionel postwar 681 without the tender or box. This engine runs, smokes and lights up like it was made yesterday! I bought it mainly because of the feedback I heard online saying this engine has lots of pulling power. I seen a video on YouTube where one guy pulls 24 modern boxcars with his 681! I am curious as to how many postwar operating cars my 681 can pull without any signs of struggling. If anyone has a 681, how many freight cars do you put behind your 681? Are they postwar, modern or a combination of both postwar and modern freight cars?

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Posted by James Huff on Thursday, October 26, 2023 1:53 AM

My 681

thats my 681! 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, October 26, 2023 10:23 AM

That's a little tough to say, it's a real "It depends" issue.

I've got a 681 myself that'll pull seven MPC Era 2400 Series streamline cars with no problems.  It does struggle with more than ten modern scale or semi-scale freight cars, I suspect due to the fact those cars are heavier than the old 6464 Series Lionel freight cars Lionels engines were made to pull.

Two things for certain, the 681 Pennsy Turbine is a classic and a good one to have and if it's having trouble pulling it'll let you know by spinning the wheels. You'll just have to experiment.

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Posted by pennytrains on Thursday, October 26, 2023 7:30 PM

Also important to consider is whether cars have coil couplers, a large amount of die cast parts and/or heavy operating mechanisms like the ones in the milk cars and cattle cars.

If I wanted to take a guess, I'd wager that Bob Keller has measured the drawbar pull of the 681 and can give us the measurements to the ounce.  Wink

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by Road Foreman of Engines on Friday, October 27, 2023 4:47 PM

The 681 is my favorite Lionel engine that I own! I don't run it all the time, because I don't want to wear it out, but I am currently running it for the last month or two.  It pulls best on tubular track, due to the Magnetraction. You can feel the magnetic pull when you try to lift the engine off the track.....

 I am currently pulling 12 cars; 10 postwar and 2 modern. No sweat, I'm sure it can pull more easily.

Paul

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Posted by James Huff on Saturday, October 28, 2023 12:53 AM

Road Foreman of Engines

The 681 is my favorite Lionel engine that I own! I don't run it all the time, because I don't want to wear it out, but I am currently running it for the last month or two.  It pulls best on tubular track, due to the Magnetraction. You can feel the magnetic pull when you try to lift the engine off the track.....

 I am currently pulling 12 cars; 10 postwar and 2 modern. No sweat, I'm sure it can pull more easily.

Paul

 

I got rid of my fastrack completely mainly for that reason. My prewar 253 and 150 kept spinning their wheels when only pulling one early lighted orange 603!

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, October 28, 2023 9:05 AM

James Huff
I got rid of my fastrack completely mainly for that reason.

Interesting.  I'm curious, what brand of track did you go to? I'm assuming that solved your pulling problems?

In my case I use MTH nickle-silver RealTrax which works well with everything I've got but obviously Magne-Traction's useless on it.

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Posted by pennytrains on Saturday, October 28, 2023 4:55 PM

My 259 won't run on anything but RealTrax.  It just wobbles off of anything else l.  Sad

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by trainlivebob on Saturday, November 18, 2023 4:05 PM

My 681 is a great puller.  I pulled 15-16 PW cars.  (can't remember the number for sure.  It was limited by the straight length of my track. Curves add significant load. You do need to order the cars favorably and hope a coupler doesn't open.  Stringlining is usually my limiting factor for my best haulers.

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Posted by Road Foreman of Engines on Saturday, November 18, 2023 5:08 PM

Very true! I can't say enough good about the 681. I have never tested it to it's full capacity  due to layout limitations. Any longer than 12 cars will have a train parked on actuating track section, actuating a semaphore.....

Paul

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Posted by James Huff on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 11:18 AM

Flintlock76

 

 
James Huff
I got rid of my fastrack completely mainly for that reason.

 

Interesting.  I'm curious, what brand of track did you go to? I'm assuming that solved your pulling problems?

In my case I use MTH nickle-silver RealTrax which works well with everything I've got but obviously Magne-Traction's useless on it.

 

I use Lionel 0 gauge tubular track prewar and postwar. What I mean by prewar track is my 711 switches!

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 3:30 PM

James Huff
I use Lionel 0 gauge tubular track prewar and postwar. What I mean by prewar track is my 711 switches!

OK, thanks.

Personally I run on closed loops with no switches at all.  I've got no interest in switching and when I do swap cars out it's by the (ahem) "Hand of God" method. Angel

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Posted by Bob Paris on Tuesday, March 26, 2024 11:28 PM

[quote user="Road Foreman of Engines"]

The 681 is my favorite Lionel engine that I own! I don't run it all the time, because I don't want to wear it out [quote]

 

I don't think a Lionel 681 has ever worn out!

 

 

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Posted by James Huff on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 11:43 PM

Flintlock76

 

 
James Huff
I got rid of my fastrack completely mainly for that reason.

 

Interesting.  I'm curious, what brand of track did you go to? I'm assuming that solved your pulling problems?

In my case I use MTH nickle-silver RealTrax which works well with everything I've got but obviously Magne-Traction's useless on it.

 

 

I switched over first to o27 than got rid of all my o27 for lionel 0 track. I have 031, 054, and 072 radius track. Finally back after having login issues here.

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