Mantua/Tyco problem

f2shooter Dec 15, 2020

  1. f2shooter

    f2shooter TrainBoard Member

    Evening everyone,

    Yes, this is a question about very old low budget equipment. I just purchased a Spirit of 76 locomotive made by Tyco/Mantua. I bought the locomotive and a caboose in that same theme a few days ago. The seller told me the loco doesn’t run and sure enough it doesn’t. I have two others in that theme as well. One will power up and the other is dead. I pulled out some SF war bonnet locos from the same time and they are fine. Is there a common failure issue in this era equipment? The War Bonnet locos have many hours on them but seem no worse for the wear. The 76 that I got new back in the day is a purposely low time unit as I didn’t want it to wear out. The two that don’t run I haven’t spent much time troubleshooting. Ideas? Thanks.

    Rick H.
  2. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    Hi Rick,

    If you look at the bottom of the power trucks on the ones that don't run, are there gears over at the side next to the wheels?

  3. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    Three ideas: Equipment that racks up many hours doesn't get a chance to freeze up. Shafts keep spinning in bushings and get their smidgeon of oil regularly. If lights come on and the unit hums, check for free rotation, particularly the motor.

    Improperly stored engines can get their motor magnets demagnetized, resulting in similar symptoms. Is iron or steel still attracted to the motor?

    Brass oxidizes, which is why you see a lot less of it these days. But it was often used in the 70s. If the unit lights no lights and makes no noise, find all the brass contacts and file them lightly--just enough to get a shine.
  4. minesweeper

    minesweeper TrainBoard Member

    Check if there is any stuck or cracked gear....
  5. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

    I do not have a lot of experience with Tyco models, but I would do a total disassembly just to relubricate all the parts and check everything over. If none of the gears are cracked, maybe it is a wiring issue. Use a multimeter or just a lightbulb to test continuity across wires and various components. Sometimes when working on older models, the solder joints or the end of the exposed wire just snap away. That electrical connection was probably pretty poor, so you may need to resolder some corroded or degraded wiring if the same thing happens to you.

    I have one F7 (pre-Consolidated Foods buyout) that has a metal plate covering the gears. It is riveted on, so I cannot get it off without drilling out the rivets. My first step with used locomotive is to simply clean the wheels. Sometimes a simple fix works wonders. Other than that, I have not investigated the locomotive that much.
  6. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

    That loco was in my very first HO train set I got for Christmas 1975 when I was 12. I can still remember that warm electronic smell after it ran for a few minutes. It was lighted which completely mesmerized me.
  7. IronMan1963

    IronMan1963 TrainBoard Member

    I work on quite a few of these older locos. I have seen several of these that had "zeemak disease" the motor frame is a pot metal composite that can start breaking down. Also the main drive gear on the motor shaft will work itself loose. You can hear the motor spinning but no movement. All above suggestions are good also.

    Later Richard
  8. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    I was trying to get him to look at the truck bottoms so I could determine whether they have the original Tyco MU-2 drive or the later "Power Torque" drive. The later drive is much more troublesome.

  9. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

    Tyco PT drives are very poor across the board. There are DIY videos how to take them down and lean them, also if you’re
    really clever, how to install CD ROM drives to replace the armature. Once all that is done, the plastic pinion gear is
    likely to crack. The MU2 motor can sometimes swap into the chassis, dependent on the mounting slots, and that older motor,
    If can be found, and the wheels not cracked or split can be used to good effect.
    Doug Gosha likes this.
  10. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    I had a few of these old Tyco engines back in the day. They had a “pancake” motor that was poor to say the least. The brushes were small and would get eaten up fast, and the brass commutator was pretty thin. To top it all off the gears were thin and prone to stripping just like most other Tyco products... yes I’m talking to you slot cars! The good news is these were simple assemblies that can be repaired easily, and the last time I looked there were parts in good working order on eBay. Another common failure on these was nothing more than a simple wire break. The trucks had a wire soldered to the pickup on the trucks, and the trucks could pivot and swivel on their frames. After a while this wire could break.

    I found the best way to take these engines apart was to gently pry the body apart in the middle first, getting the weight out, then work on the trucks. Only one truck will be powered the other just has a pickup on it. There will be black wires to the light and motor, and the motor on my old GP20’s was always the front truck.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
    Doug Gosha likes this.
  11. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    Yeah, the GP20's are MU-2. I have a couple of them. The 2-8-0 smoker I have is PT, tender drive and is noisy but the smoker works good. It has to be run pretty much top speed to smoke, however. The PT drive is akin to the N scale Lima locos.


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