New Challenger Challenges - Frozen Front Truck

kverdon Oct 21, 2017

  1. kverdon

    kverdon TrainBoard Member

    I just received my brand new Athearn SP&S Challenger and it seems to be majorly challenged out of the box. the front power truck just freezes up with none of the wheels turning when entering a turn or even on straight track when under load (14cars). This seems pretty serious. I can't see the valve gear binding. I can see it happen at slow speed where the front struck will just stutter at slow speed. Under load it just freezes up.

    Any suggestions except request a replacement / refund from my the shop I purchased it from?


    Kevin Verdon
  2. kverdon

    kverdon TrainBoard Member

    Update: I placed the locomotive upside down in a cradle and verified that when any pressure is applied to the front power truck driver wheels, they all stop, you can feel the motor spinning but the wheels don't turn. I suspect that it is a case of a bad worm gear. I've contacted the shop I purchased it from to discuss options of replacement or refund. I don't fancy a multi month long dance with Ahtearn over a brand new locomotive. For what they cost, they should work out of the box or money back.


    Last edited: Oct 22, 2017
  3. Boilerman

    Boilerman TrainBoard Supporter

    Did you witness the shop you purchased it from test run it before paying, lesson learned, always have the shop test run a loco before executing the purchase.
  4. kverdon

    kverdon TrainBoard Member

    I purchased it from a well known and trusted on-line shop. The owner promised he test ran each one, which was the delay in the shipping. I do believe he tested it. The issue is not readily apparent unless the engine is under load. When I first tested it it looked ok running on it's own until I connected it to a train and then things went south in a hurry. I may suggest he test locos with a ~15 car train in the future.


  5. MRLdave

    MRLdave TrainBoard Member

    Not looking good for the new challengers...........I know mine doesn't have the same problem as yours.........because if I put more than 20 cars behind mine it just sits and spins.....all 12 drive wheels. No slipping driveline for me. But it pulls about like my Kato Mikado (with no traction tires). Virtually every other steamer I have will outpull it, including my little Bachmann 4-6-0.
  6. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

    Could be the worm, could be a flywheel. Either way, fixing it yourself will void your warranty.
  7. Keith

    Keith TrainBoard Supporter

    Ran mine at a train show many years ago.
    Had a decent size coal train behind it.
    Stopped suddenly, with no warning. Front driver set
    locked up. Rear drivers trying to push/pull train.

    A quick inspection showed the gears in the Front truck
    had seized. Nothing in the gears. Actually had to lightly PRY
    the gears from the tower. Contacted Athearn, had new gears
    within the week. Installed those, and test ran. Within 30 SECONDS
    the front driver set seized again!

    Have locomotive boxed, but have never sent it back for repair.
    Not really sure if I’d trust running it again.
  8. jlundy46

    jlundy46 TrainBoard Supporter

    Sorry to hear folks are having problems with the new Challengers. I thought about getting the SP&S version but didn't get around to it. I have an older Clinchfield version that I re-did in SP&S. No enclosed cab, but it runs like a charm. SP&S 910a.jpg

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