Locomotive Repair and Maintenance

in2tech Feb 19, 2016

  1. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    I have already used the trick of cleaning the trucks, or wheels with the alcohol pad and it worked great and got the Life Like GP-38 running. I am trying to repair these very cheap loco's for my young family members to have something to run.

    It looks like springs where the worm gear would normally be on this loco which if confusing me although it is now running, but I would like to clean it up more. What and how do I do that. Take the trucks off and do what. Put oil anywhere? Have to buy some Labelle 108 oil for the loco's.

    Also, wow is the Bachman really cheap, and they get contact, lights come on, but won't move. Plastic parts a plenty. Anyway to test the motor off the track?

    Any ideas appreciated and the kids would thank you as I don't want them running what I consider my good locomotives :)

    BTW, I have never ever repaired, cleaned, loco's. That's why I figured I would try to learn now, and how to maintain them.


    Thanks,
     

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  2. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    If you're an N scaler, you MUST get used to opening up your locos for regular maintenance. I've learned that a big culprit is lint that can get into the truck gears and cause clicking noises or sluggishness. In HO scale, the gears are big enough to tolerate a little lint here and here but in N scale that little lintball is as big as a beach ball in the 1:160 world!

    Fortunately,the plastic that makes up the sideframes is elastic enough that it's not really easy to break and not as delicate as it looks. A jeweler's screwdriver set and a sharp tweezer are recommended tools to have. You can blow out lint with your mouth or a can of compressed air, or you can use the sticky side of painter's tape to get the lint out.

    Another culprit are the contact strips on the side of the locomotive for electrical pickup. Make sure both match in shape and form. Often times you'll have sluggish or inconsistent power pickup, or even derailments, because one of the strips is bent out of shape.

    Practice "reverse engineering" your locos by taking them apart and putting them back together again. Video or take pictures of the process if you're unsure at first. It's not as hard as it looks (though intimidating at first). You'll soon realize most locos, regardless of manufacturer, are built more or less the same way. Eventually, taking apart locos will be second nature.
     
  3. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    For sure N-Scale, and have the jeweler's set of screwdrivers ( that's how I got the Bachman open), and the tweezer's, and compressed air. Have to get the Labelle 108 oil still. The Life Like GP-38 I pretty much understand, but the Bachman and all it's plastic parts have me confused. That's why I am basically practicing "reverse engineering" as you call it on the really cheap locomotives. Of course all my loco's are cheap, but some are considered great in my mind :)

    That alcohol pad trick I found on Youtube is amazing to clean the wheels or trucks . Are the wheels called trucks or the entire piece with the gears and the wheels attached? You would think I know this after 40 years of modeling :)

    Yeah I am starting with the low end stuff and working my way up to running loco's one by one to clean and maintain.

    Thanks!
     
  4. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    A 'truck' is the whole part...wheels...gears...etc. Think of it like a pickup truck. You have the whole truck and that truck has a bunch of parts in it like wheels and axles and gears...;)
     
  5. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks that's what I thought. Results of the alcohol pad cleaning the wheels. Absolutely amazing job for such a cheap priced item you can get in bulk at Wally World and other places. Looks like one of the plastic gears is locked up on the Bachman. I am cleaning the wheels on the "good stock" locomotives now. I have to be shown things and YouTube is amazing for that. Loco runs really good now. Now I have to open up the "good loco's" and check the trucks, worm gears, and so forth. Gotta admit I am a little freaked out about it, as I am afraid a working loco, will not work if I take it apart :) But I have to learn to start maintaining them because they get stored so often.
     

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  6. ns737

    ns737 TrainBoard Supporter

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    HI I use the doller store bottle of alcohol and coffee filters to clean the wheels. you get no loose fibers from the filters. I cut the coffee filters in to strips.
     
    Martin Station and mtntrainman like this.
  7. rogergperkins

    rogergperkins TrainBoard Member

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    I do only limited maintenance myself. Recommend a Mike Fifer YouTube video on this subject as a very helpful guide.
     
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  8. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    I use a coffee filter too. I dont cut it though. I just turn the filter each time to a new clean spot.
    If you figure the cost of cheap dollar store alcohol and the price of each filter...you can clean thousands of locomotive wheels for just pennies. :D:cool:

    Using paper towels or any cloth material you will get 'fuzz' that can get up in the mechanism. You get ZERO fibers or lint from a coffee filter ;)(y)
     
    Martin Station likes this.
  9. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    Yeah, that's exactly the video I watched before starting to clean my locomotives, and a few others! Have watched it at least 10 times now. Both of his video's on the subject of cleaning and maintenance,
     
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  10. rogergperkins

    rogergperkins TrainBoard Member

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    I started in n-scale modeling in 1973-74 which means I have cautiously followed many cleaning and maintenance trends over the years. As regards, cleaning track, I have two of the vacuum cars sold by Atlas and Tomix. I use those for fine vacuuming after running the shop vac with micro tools.
    I purchased the Tidy Track tools for cleaning locomotive wheels and the ones for cleaning track. I like them.
    For about two years my home layout has been packed, so I now have a test loop of Kato Unitrack. I use the alcohol pads sold in the diabetes supplies in drugstore placed under a Bright Boy to clean the test loop periodically.
    My experience has led me to the conclusion that keeping the track clean from "day one" goes a long way toward keeping the debris out of the gears in the locomotives.
    In 2016, I am very hesitant about lubricating any new locomotives.
    Cleaning older locomotives is not at the top of my list of favor aspects of the hobby, especially it the cleaning process requires taking the locomotive apart.
     
  11. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Working on locos is much easier with the right tools.

    You can get a set like this at most hardware stores. It may be all you need. I have one of these around. Long story short, I misplaced my better tool set one day and needed to work on a loco.
    http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1339927

    I have a set I got in the 70's that is similar to this one, but slightly larger. I still have the entire set in its box. At the time I paid what might be about 50 dollars today, yet the use I've gotten out of the set has paid off as it's still my go to tool kit.

    [​IMG]

    Mine came with a couple of wrenches as well. Wrenches and nut drivers do come in handy on some models.

    Go to a thrift store and get some cheap containers...

    I have several small muffin pans. This looks like a larger one, but you can find them in all sizes.


    [​IMG] I use these for holding parts when I work.

    I work over small low sided baking pans. I have one that is about 6" by 6" that is my favorite. But a pie pan would work well as well.

    [​IMG]

    Get yourself a small magnet and put it in one of the muffin molds. It helps keep screws from launching into outer space if your pan tips over.

    I don't know how decoders do with being exposed to Magnets, so it's best to keep your decoders away from them just in case.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
  12. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    Does anyone know the link to the recommended video for locomotive maintenance?
     
  13. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    What are you fixing?
     
  14. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hemi.....it depends on what your doing maintenance on. There are hundreds of videos on youtube...just search for....n scale locomotive maintenance.
     
  15. IronMan1963

    IronMan1963 TrainBoard Member

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    Bachmann is notorious for cracked gears on these early loco's if the truck is locked up 1 or both of the axle gears a may be cracked. When the gear cracks it spreads the gear to the point it locks up on the center drive gear. Usually the wheel can be turned with your thumb while holding the other wheel on the same axle if it is cracked. I have many good motors for these and lots of cracked gears. Oh this usually only a problem on the White gears. Never had a black gear crack yet.
    Later Richard
     
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  16. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    I haven't done loco maintenance for years! I don't know where to start, and someone earlier suggested Fifer's video.
     
  17. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    Fifer does have a ton of 'how to' videos. I dont recall a locomotive breakdown and cleanng video. He does have a how to lubricate a locomotive video. Check out all his "How TO" videos and maybe there is something in there I missed....

    https://www.fiferhobby.com/how-to/
     
  18. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Newer locomotives do not require the maintenance that older models do, thanks in large part to the use of the new 'slippery plastics used today. I've heard arguments on both sides of the question of whether these should have additional lubrication and I see no clear consensus on that issue. Most issues I have experienced has been in the area of electrical contact issues especially with those locomotives that use a thin brass or phosphor bronze contact strip to transfer electrical power from the truck to the chassis. I will tape these strips in place to ensure they do not move out of alignment with the truck axle end wipers.
     

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