Intermountain quality?? Tunnel motors....N scale

peteyPab Aug 27, 2021

  1. peteyPab

    peteyPab TrainBoard Member

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    Anyone have any feedback on the quality of IM SD40T-2 engines? I've only owned Atlas and Kato. I've read somewhere about paint issues and lack of electrical contact with the track.

    Would like to hear anyone's feedback also on the low to medium speed smoothness and noise of how it runs before I bother purchasing one and installing a loksound decoder.
     
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  2. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have several and before packing up to move, I had no issues with them.

    I've heard.
    There is a problem with the white metal chassis. Tends to break down as in break up. I haven't seen that yet.
    Some problems with electrical contacts. Usually due to tapping the locomotive on top and pushing the contacts back from the wheels and etc. Loosening things up causing intermittent contact.

    No problems with paint unless you spill Rubbing Alcohol or Paint Remover on the shell.

    Regarding electrical contact: People use WD40 to clean the contacts. You'd be better off using Radio Shacks Tuner Cleaner. Shows my age. They have other newer electronics cleaners. As provided by other electronics companies.

    Hope that helps.

    Well, best of luck.

    Oh, before I forget. I really, really like my SD40T's. All four of them. Even if the cab is one scale inch wider then it should be. Did I say that?
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2021
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  3. Traindork

    Traindork TrainBoard Member

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    I have around 18 of them. If you're going to purchase one, make sure you run it before you buy it. A good running one will run really well, but unfortunately there's some bad running ones, too. If you're not afraid to take one apart and clean and relube it, you can usually get them to run well. If Scaletrains announces them in N before you buy the Intermountain version, definitely get the Scaletrains. Excellent quality engines! (No insider knowledge on my part, just wishful thinking.)
     
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  4. peteyPab

    peteyPab TrainBoard Member

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    Bought my first scale trains rivet counter dash 9 w/loksound 5. I'm blown away. I emailed scale trains asking if they will come out with any GPs or SD (preferably tunnel units).. Their response was generic and basically telling me no. I wish they had more N scale engines. I'll gladly swap out all my Atlas and Kato for them.
     
  5. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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  6. peteyPab

    peteyPab TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the review link. I gave up on looking for IM and am hoping Scale Trains will come out with them. There were some past posts on N scale tunnel motors and I noticed Shane the president from ST respond on several occasions. I think Scale Trains is now the Gold standard. Their detail and operability is top notch. Kato units require a lot of customized work. the dash 9 I have from scale trains already has separate controlled lights I can adjust with the lokprogrammer.
     
  7. freddy_fo

    freddy_fo TrainBoard Member

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    Did you ever get the light board issue sorted with the scaletrains?
     
  8. peteyPab

    peteyPab TrainBoard Member

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    Not yet. I was fumbling with another project and haven't gotten back to it. I'm sure it's an easy fix. I need to determine which output I need to select that controls them. Do you have one?
     
  9. freddy_fo

    freddy_fo TrainBoard Member

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    I don't. I believe they are wired directly to track power. When setup on the lokprogrammer and a diff address other than the loco the lights come on as soon as the track is powered. I also tied all the unused function outputs to F22 along with the headlight but only the headlight turned off and on with the button so that is why I think what I do.
     
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  10. peteyPab

    peteyPab TrainBoard Member

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    Freddy_fo You are correct. Got off the phone w/Scaletrains tech support. Numberboard lighting are and tied in with the track power. Oh well. Besides the number board lighting I can control just about everything else and have never seen a nicer N scale engine.
     
  11. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

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    I have a few of the tunnel motors and like them overall, especially my DRGW unit. There are some detail discrepancies here and there with the SP units. Some more glaring than others. That said all of mine run very nicely and I've converted a few of them to DCC/sound. I did have one unit that developed zinc rot in the frame (as someone mentioned earlier) and it had to be replaced, but all the others are fine. Should you decide to get some, it is very, VERY important to adhere to the following general rule with these.....

    NEVER, EVER ATTEMPT TO LIFT THE UNIT UP BY GRASPING THE SHELL!!!

    The shells are extremely loose on these models and the chassis will likely fall completely out if you do. I always lift these by grasping the fuel tank.

     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2021
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  12. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

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    I have had Zinc rot in one tunnel motor thus far. IM replaced the frame halves.
    Unfortunately, I have about 50 IM F Units with the Zinc rot as well. I do not think I will ever buy another IM locomotive again.
     
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  13. peteyPab

    peteyPab TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the tip on the shell. I also wasn't aware of the of zinc rot issue with IM. I may think twice about getting one. IM tunnels are almost impossible to find... especially SP or Cotton Belt, which are the ones I'd get. No one else makes them unfortunately. Too bad Kato or Atlas hasn't tried. A little frustrating how there are such pros and cons from each manufacturer.

    Mechanically Kato units are amazing, but lack the detail in today's standard. Kato also doesn't really have a selection of GP units as those are my favorite. Hence all of my GP units (30,35,38, 39-2, 40-2 etc..) are Atlas. There are old out of date Kato GP units out there, but they are tough to look at.

    Atlas has great detail and a great selection, but they are hit and miss on their mechanical performance....clicking, grinding, one direction is noisier etc.. I do have a couple of outstanding Atlas engines though. A GP35 and a U23B. They perform exceptionally well as any engine I've ever seen. The other Atlas units I have are pretty decent. I had Atlas units that I've returned or sold off in the past because they were not worth the time & money to install a loksound w/ custom speaker enclosures ...let alone extra lighting .

    I had a FVM GP60 cotton belt once and returned it. I was a little hesitant getting it after reading a few sources that they are a bit noisy. I took a chance and wasn't impressed with the performance and yes.... it was too noisy. Details were top notch though.

    Broadway limited.. eh.. I've heard a mountain of bad reviews with them, so I've steered clear.

    Scaletrains is the way to go, but.... they have zilch on their selection of SD and GP for us N scalers.
     
  14. brokemoto

    brokemoto TrainBoard Member

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    At one point, I had several IM F-units: FTs, the Penn late phase F-3s, some WM fireball and B&O F-7s, NYC F-3s, Old and Weary FTs and a single F-3A (late phase, as well!).

    I sold the B&O FTs, as I liked the MTs better. I was one of the few, but perhaps it was just me. I also sold the NYCs, WMs, the Penns and all but two of the B&O F-7s. I kept the Old and Weary units. You just do not find the Old and Weary units anywhere, these days. None of the units that I sold showed the zinc rot, at least not while I had them. If they developed it subsequently, I have no way of knowing that. I still have two A-B pairs of B&O F-7s plus the three Old and Weary units. None of them have shown the zirmac rot Y-E-T.

    I expect that eventually they will, as most of them do rot, eventually. Every RR steam locomotive that I ever had with the zirmac chassis eventually came apart. I even had one 2-8-8-0 chassis crack, break and turn to powder in my hands. I am surprised that IM allowed the factory in China to use zirmac, as the problems with it were well know by the time that IM went into business.

    I did have problems with some of the FTs that were overgreased at the factory, which severely compromised the electrical contact. At first, I did not realise that it was the problem. IM replaced one A-B pair of FTs. When I bought the Old and Weary FTs, they showed the same problem, so I opened them up and the grease was everywhere. I cleaned up the mess, put them back together. They ran well after that. I let IM know about it. They told me that they would not void the warranty; that they had received several complaints like mine. They added that one of their officials had scheduled a trip to China, anyhow, and that he would be blessing out the factory supervisors for overgreasing. None of my IM purchases sine then have shown the overgreasing problem.

    Like you, I will give it serious consideration before I buy another IM locomotive. If they are going to continue to use zirmac, despite its being common knowledge that this is begging for trouble, I must wonder about the thinking at the top. To be sure, when I have had problems with IM products, they addressed said problems immediately and more than to my satisfaction. The customer service from that firm is top-drawer, make NO mistake about it. Still, problems and the complaints that they generate are to be avoided.
     
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  15. 308GTSi

    308GTSi TrainBoard Member

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    What is an SD45T-2 with zinc rot worth ? I'm wondering if a new chassis could be milled out. It's not a financially viable option if you don't have a milling machine .......... but I have a milling machine !
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2021
  16. showme

    showme TrainBoard Member

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    Several years ago a guy was selling tunnel motor shells on Ebay and I got 20 or so of them. Been a while since I've done one, but the extended nose units will fit on an Atlas SD50-60 chassis without much milling if I remember correctly. I believe the only milling I did was on the plastic shell and nothing on the chassis.

    Bob
     
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  17. 308GTSi

    308GTSi TrainBoard Member

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    I was wondering about the SD60 chassis ..... you've fast forwarded the conversation , Excellent !

    SD45T-2 shells or locos seem to be extremely rare ..... where as the SD40T-2's still appear often enough.
     
  18. showme

    showme TrainBoard Member

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    I did remember that the air reservoir tanks have to be milled off the Intermountain shells because the tanks are molded into the SD60 fuel tank. I think there was a cross member at the back of the nose that I milled out. Maybe. I'm working away from home presently and can't look at one. Every bit of a half hour with a Dremel. When you get finished, they still have to be picked up by the fuel tank or the chassis will drop out. Plus, you will have a tunnel motor that will play well with the rest of your Atlas locomotives. There was something about the standard nose shells that would not let them fit on the SD60 frames though.....
     
  19. peteyPab

    peteyPab TrainBoard Member

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    I finally got my hands on a tunnel motor. Noisy and a bit choppy. I read somewhere that it's a good idea to swap out the wheel sets with Kato wheels? Any other tips/advice on how to smooth out the engine? I tried cleaning and lubing already.
     

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