JERRY STEBBING E-Mail Bounces

    Hi all,

    I've just returned to n scale after a 30 year break from rail modelling and bought my first loco, a Lifelike BL2.
    I was amazed at its performance especially at slow switching speeds, so much so that I ordered another one.
    When I test ran the second loco, I was very disappointed. The slow speed running was uneven, and in reverse, the mechanism howled.
    I returned it to my supplier here in England for a refund.
    Did I do right or would the loco have performed better after running in for an hour or two?
    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Jerry Stebbing.
  2. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Jerry welcome to trainboard, good to see you back into the modelling.

    Lifelike has been one of the success stories in n scale over the last couple of years and the BL2 is one of the newer split frame models released by LifeLike.

    I don't own any but have 4 GP20's that are good locomotives although they can be a little noisy. I guess running for a couple of hours may have improved performance.

    The problem with the second loco may have been something simple like the worm drive being slightly out of alignment.

    Usually when a loco is running unevenly at slow speed i clean the track and wheels and that usually improves performance.

    Hope this helps with your problem. I look forward to seeing more of your posts here on Trainboard.

    JERRY STEBBING E-Mail Bounces

    Thanks for the warm welcome. I think your remarks about a worm gear being misalligned are probably the cause of the drive problems.
    As my first BL2 runs like a dream on the same track (brand new Peco 55) which I keep very clean, I ruled out track faults early on.
    The poor runner was new out of the box but I didn't think to clean its wheels.
    Oh well, at least I have one great loco to run. Now I need some box cars to hook it to....better start saving.

  4. Catt

    Catt Permanently dispatched

    Jerry,there are two versions of the BL2.The early version has a plastic chassis ,no flywheels and a coil spring drive.The second version is a splitframe like the ATLAS and KATO.There are still both versions on dealer shelves.Do yopu suppose you might have gotton one of each.

    The first one you got sounds like the splitframe (newer version) while the other one sounds like the plastic frame version.
  5. sp_train_77

    sp_train_77 TrainBoard Member

    Welcome to the World of N Jerry, you will have fun here.

    N-scale locomotive technology has improved dramatically over the last 10 years, especially in the last five. Many manufacturers, such as LifeLike, are re-introducing older models with new mechanisms that perform much better even though they look the same externally. This sounds like it could be the source of the difference you observed.

    JERRY STEBBING E-Mail Bounces

    Many thanks for your input everyone. I did a little research before I placed my BL2 orders, and yes, I chose the newer version with 5pole motor/flywheels and split frame metal chassis (BAR running numbers 56 and 50).
    I can only deduce that my poor runner was manufactured at 5.30pm on a Friday; thats assuming Lifelike give their Chinese workers the weekend off work!
    I have mixed feelings now over whether to purchase another Lifelike or to go for Atlas/Kato. Many posts on Trainboard seem to come from satisfied Lifelike owners. and I can't fault my own BL2. Others swear by the more expensive makes. Problem is, there don't seem to be many BAR locos to choose from.
    Maybe I will choose another road or even repaint a loco in BAR colours.
    Whatever.... its all a challenge and I am glad I have rediscovered n scale after so long away.

  7. Catt

    Catt Permanently dispatched

    Jerry one bit of advise for you(only works at shows and LHS's though).

    Never ever buy any brand of loco with out a test run first,be it ATLAS,KATO or LifeLike,or even Bachmann.

    If they won't let you test run it ,don't buy it.
  8. Alan

    Alan Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Jerry, welcome to Trainboard and back to N scale. Looks like you are just down the road from me [​IMG]

    My own experience leads me to only buy Atlas and Kato locomotives, but many have very good things to say about the newer Lifelike products.
  9. jacobmarley

    jacobmarley TrainBoard Member

    Jerry, with some manufacturers quality control can be an issue. Life-Likes consistency is a little spotty. As Catt says, it's always best to test run a locomotive before you buy it. Most hobby shops expect this and have test tracks set up. My advice to you (if you want it) is to be careful when purchasing. Research the model you are interested in. This forum or the Atlas forum are great places to find information about a specific model.

    The reason to be careful about the specific model is that certain manufacturers, like Life-Like and Bachmann have only recently gotten serious about building high quality products. So, it depends on the model and year it was made as to whether it was one of the new designs. Both Atlas and Kato on the other hand, have been making quality locomotives for a long time, and it is a lot harder to find a bad one of theirs.

    As far as the new BL2s, they are good. Not as good as an Atlas or Kato, but good. Your second one probably would have gotten better with a little break-in time, as do all/most locos. It sounds to me like a binding issue and lubrication. It depends on how willing to disassemble these you are to fix some problems. The howling in my opinion is caused by a dry motor bearing. If you disassemble the loco, taking the frame in half, you can put one very small drop of light oil on each bearing. I use a sewing needle dipped in plastic compatible light oil. I had some problems with a Life-Like GP 20 similar to what you are saying. I got tired of sending it back to LL for a replacement. So I completely disassembled it, down to its smallest parts. Cleaned out all of their lube, sprayed the motor out with TV contact cleaner, re lubed everything lightly , and now it is one of the quietest, smoothest locos I have.

    If you do this, just be extremely careful to note how all of the parts go in and what their orientation is. Although it is always best to start out with a model that runs well right out of the box. So, I'd say you did the right thing. If you buy a second locomotive, I would suggest going with an Atlas or Kato. That way, you will keep your frustration level lower while you get your bearings. Just note Atlas and Kato use accumate/MT style couplers. Bachmann and Life-Like use Rapido couplers. You will either have to buy cars with the appropriate couplers or get used to changing them. Good luck.

  10. Dwight

    Dwight TrainBoard Member

    I'm another BL2 owner (2 units). Both of mine performed impressively out of the box. However, the one I've been using the most has suddenly been making noise. Sounds bad, but still runs fine...I think it's an easy fix, just haven't had time to take it apart for a look. I think something is misaligned. Considering the price paid, I'm very happy with them even with this issue. I bought both BL2's for less than one loco of the other brands would have been. Add to this these are the first and only N locos I've ever owned you know I'm impressed with them (having come from HO).
  11. johnh

    johnh TrainBoard Member

    I have purchased several of these when M.B.woo woo woo used to list them on Ebay and they went for $15-$25. All of them ran as good as any Kato or Atlas, even on my poorly maintained track. They are heavy and pull great. But as with anything, you can get a lemon. I have had noisy locos from Atlas and Kato (among them, a C30-7 that sounded like a coffee grinder), and I have had noisy SW9s from LL. No manufacturer samples 100% of their product for defect. I would not discourage you from purchasing the new Life Like products, they are definitely a great value. DCC would be nice, but maybe it's in the cards.
  12. Tim Loutzenhiser

    Tim Loutzenhiser TrainBoard Supporter

    I own both the old and new versions - the older one is still a flawless performer. The newer model did seem to give me some trouble as if it was not making good contact. I purchased a wheel guage, found the wheels were too close in - spread them out on the axels and now it performs fantastically.

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