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How Many Cars Can An Engine Pull

Bill asks:

“Hi there just wondering, I don’t have a big layout so am not in any position to set any records, but I am kinda curious of how many cars can be pulled around a big layout with one or more engines. Has anyone put this to the test or set any records? If so how many cars, scale, how many engines deployed, and what model numbers, any gradient and curves etc? I doubt I would be the only one who finds this stuff fascinating?”

You can contribute your comments under this post.

8 Responses to How Many Cars Can An Engine Pull

  • Rick Guercio says:

    I have pulled up to 20 cars with my old 50’s American Flyer S scale model 336 (4-8-4) loco.

  • Deon Zeelie says:

    2x GP 9 MTL z scale 20 box cars with 5 GP’S 60 box cars, this was also done just to see how well speed matching worked on the locos

  • Adam Young says:

    As a general rule, I use 10 per engine running DCC with 2-percent grade. Take into mind, there are a lot of variables involved. Grades, curves, weight of individual cars, and traction obtained by engine, and cleanliness of track.

  • Joe Graffi says:

    One big factor is how freely the rolling stock actually rolls! There can be a number of factors but for my situation, 40+ rolling stock, I have determined the biggest factor is the trucks. Mass produced plastic are not always perfect.
    I have replaced 100% od the wheels with Kaydee metal wheels. When I replace them, I always apply a bit of powdered graphite and then place the car on the tracks on a grade and see how far it rolls.
    I have had to change trucks about 20% of the time.
    How many cars? Depends on the loco and, if you have grades, the % of the grade. I recently had to add weight to my 2-6-0 loco to pull 6 cars up a 2 ½% grade. After making sure the cars all rolled easily, it still had an issue.
    Adding weight was tricky but I was able to cut/file down some stick-on weights and add them to the cab as well as the body over the front truck.
    I painted them flat black and added modified engineer and fireman figures to the cab and it looks and pulls great.

  • Ed Laskos says:

    I have pulled 26 coal cars with one H.O. scale Norfork Southern Locomotive.Only one locomotive was used. But later on I plan on adding 2 more locomotives to make it look more real.

  • Morgan BIlbo says:

    I’ve seen where a modeler had one diesel on the front of 100 cars. But that modeler had tweaked all the cars and locos with extremely smooth rolling wheels, and well cleaned and lubed locos. The HO BLI PRR H10s Consolidation has been known to pull 50 cars. So, as mentioned, it depends on how well those cars are maintained and weighted.

  • Andrew Luchsinger says:

    I have a few Blue Box Athearn locos that can pull a full size bus, but I don’t normally put more then 20 cars behind any of them. Just for the sake of looks. I am running a Small DC layout. The club I belong to is DCC so on that track I try to keep it under 20 cars per loco.

  • Ray says:

    This is llike asking how long is a piece of string.
    You really need to experiment with your own layout and engines and cars etc to ascertain what you actually require.

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