Noisy Atlas Geep

WM183 Oct 23, 2018

  1. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

    Hi hi folks.

    I have an older Atlas GP-9 (before they were DCC friendly) and it makes just a ton of gear noise; it also is nowhere near as fast as my other locos, and requires a lot more starting voltage to get up to speed. Anyone have any idea what this might be from? I have heard of "Beardenizing" these drives, what does that mean? And what sort of lubricant should I use on my locos? I am still new to the actual running of my trains, I guess.


  2. silentargus

    silentargus TrainBoard Member

    Labelle 108 is a good general-purpose lubricant for locomotives (and can be found in nearly any online or offline hobby shop). A very small droplet is enough for each truck; it'll spread around as the gears turn. Over-lubrication causes as many problems as not lubricating at all; all kinds of gunk and hair and dust will end up sticking to the excess lube, and eventually work its way into the mechanism.

    Older locomotives do tend to be noisy, as a rule. That doesn't necessarily signify any mechanical trouble, if the unit is otherwise working normally. Tolerances used to be looser, and the materials used to make gears have changed over the years, and a lot of older locomotives are just known to be loud. Some of the most notorious 'coffee grinders' out there can also be the best pullers; old Atlas/Kato and LL diesels have pretty good reputations despite being noisy.

    A higher starting voltage could be either just the difference between that and another mechanism, or it could be due to oxidation on your locomotive's various contact points (the wheels, truck-mounted contact wipers, motor brushes, etc). A thorough cleaning might be in order, especially if you've acquired the locomotive second-hand or taken it out after a long time in storage. If the locomotive consistently starts at the same voltage, though, smoothly and without any stuttering or jerking, it's more likely that it just needs a bit more juice to get going by design. Don't worry about it running slower than your other locomotives- nearly every N-scale locomotive is capable of speeds well in excess of the prototype, so slower is almost always better!
    JoeTodd, WM183 and Hardcoaler like this.
  3. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

    Thank you much! I will look for Labelle 108 here in Europe. I will use a tiny bit. I found a description of "Beardenizing", which essentially means removing the inner bearing blocks, and it made an immense difference; the grinding noise and high voltage draw are gone. I will lube it all up and let it run awhile! That should sort things.

    All the best!

  4. jdcolombo

    jdcolombo TrainBoard Member

    Don't forget to oil the motor bearings. Put a small drop on the shaft where the shaft exits the motor housing, then tip the motor to make sure the oil runs into the bearing while turning the shaft with your fingers. I actually use a drop of my wife's sewing machine oil for this, which is very highly refined and very, very light (it's meant for the sewing machine hook mechanism), but LaBelle 108 would work, too. Again, don't use more than a small drop, but sometimes these bearings get dry and contribute to noise issues. "Beardenizing" should be done with any Atlas diesel that uses the two-bearing-block design. The inner bearing isn't necessary, and just creates problems.

    John C.
  5. NtheBasement

    NtheBasement TrainBoard Member

    I had one that developed a sort of a screech. Fix was light oil in the same bearing blocks that you removed.
  6. SP&S #750

    SP&S #750 TrainBoard Member

    It's funny some of my "older" are far quieter than my new ones lol, my IM F3's make more noise than my LL C424's.
  7. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

    I like my locos to be as quiet as can be - I suppose everyone does. My Kato RS2 runs as quiet as a church mouse, and now so does my GP. All my Kato mikados are nice and quiet too! Now to fix the slight gear hum in my 2-6-6-2!
  8. pdavidson

    pdavidson TrainBoard Member

    I purchased a used Atlas GP and found it was making a lot of noise. Took it apart and found two major problems. Lots of fibers (pet hair) would around ends of gears and wheels so I cleaned that out and lubed it. In the process, I found a tiny rock wedged in one of the gears. Got that out and put it back together. Still made some noise but not near as much
    SD35 and Hardcoaler like this.
  9. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

    I've had many Atlas classics, low-speed motor intermediates, and the 'new' ones. The Atlas classics (I think I had five) were all over the map from whisper quiet to electric razor buzz. The problem is always in the alignment between the plastic hex-nut universal and the flywheel, and there are so many variables there that it's impossible to diagnose. Removing the inner bearing block with the Beardon trick removes the ability to clatter at that location, if that's the only problem. But even disassembling and reassembling them can trigger it. I have a whisper-quiet GP7 Classic that I won't even touch for fear of messing it up.

    The new ones (DCC cutouts on the lighter weight frames) have an entirely different universal design, and it has none of the noise problems. I converted my home fleet of CF7's to these mechanisms out of pure frustration trying to quiet down the other Atlas mechs with no success. So the "cure of last resort" is to buy another new unit, and swap shells around, and sell the original unit. Worked for me, except on a couple I have that need all the tractive effort I can get and the old Classics significantly outpull any of the new ones due to the higher frame weight. I have yet to try to swap over the universals, but I've been thinking about that approach as well.
  10. u18b

    u18b TrainBoard Supporter

    Another happy customer. ;-)
    WM183 likes this.
  11. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    One of the problems with Atlas motors, is Atlas during the 90's, played around with different electric motors and drive mechanisms in hopes of improving the performance. I have older ones that are quiet and others that are noisy. No apparent reason other then one came out with one engineering mind set or thinking. While the others were the product of re-engineering. In Analog DC, I also found I could run some of them together while others operated slower or faster. Atlas wasn't the only one fooling around with motors and types of drive mechanisms. They were all trying to catch up with Kato.

    Cleaning them and rebuilding them even changing out the motor to a new one can sometimes be the answer you are looking for. As I can afford it I've been changing my motors over to Kato's electric motors. Impressed as it works for me.
  12. WM183

    WM183 TrainBoard Member

    This GP is still loud, and the frame design is such that I cannot fit a lightboard back in after my chopnose mod. I will probably just look for a new, quiet, low-nose chassis to use, or maybe pull the guts out and have an N scale dummy...!

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