Athearn contacts

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Kevinkrey, Dec 13, 2007.

  1. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    I have an Athearn GP40-2 with some pretty rough looking contacts. I saw an article in an MR mag. but cant find the particular one. I would like some advice on how to clean or restore it. I have never done this before so dont know what to do. Can I just take a rotary tool to it?
  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    i believe the contacts are steel. Many people replace conacts with flexible wires to each truck. If you just want to clean the contact, I would suggest very fine sandpaper. 600 grit would probably work fine.

  3. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Kevin is right, the fine sandpaper will work well, but the preferable solution is to replace them with wire.

  4. diesel

    diesel Member

    yes, replacing those is great, also if you ever get to a point where you have to tear down the trucks for whatever reason, cleaning the brass contact/bearings with WD-40 will also provide great new conductivity. Not to drive up your budget, but if this is a blue box you can also replace the wheels with jaybee wheels and you will notice a great reduction in stalling, and again better conductivity.
  5. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    I replace the contact strip in ALL of my Athearn diesels with 18 to 20 gauge wire at the earliest opportunity.
  6. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I've put can motors in most of mine, but the wiring is mostly the same as it would be for the stock Athearn motor. You can get away with replacing only the contacts that use the long strip atop the motor, but you'll get even more reliable contact by also using wires on the truck mounting bolsters.


    I soldered a short piece of rail to the free end of each of the wires, and mounted a small piece of circuit board atop the frame. I cut an insulating gap in the copper cladding, running lengthwise, then soldered cut-down rail joiners to the board, one for each wire from the trucks and one for each wire to the motor. If necessary for maintenance or repair, I can simply unplug the component (either truck or the motor) to work on it free from the loco.

    To mount the wires, you'll need to remove both trucks and, if you're also adding bolster wires, the motor from the frame. Mark the components as necessary or make a diagram so that you can re-asssemble everything properly. The trucks are not interchangeable from end-to-end, and the motor must face in the proper direction.
    A pair of side-cutter pliers will remove whatever part that you wish of the upside-down "L" contact on the trucks. Don't use a cut-off disc in a Dremel tool unless you completely disassemble the trucks, as the cutting residue will quickly destroy the gears. To solder the wires to the truck contacts, clean them with fine sandpaper is necessary (watch the residue!:eek:) then degrease the area with a wipe of alcohol. Use a hot iron, and a touch of flux where you're placing the solder - you want to do this quickly so as to not melt the plastic components to which the contacts are riveted. I find that it's best to tin the contacts and wires first, then quickly solder them together. To attach the wires to the motor, first remove the long steel contact strip and discard it. Beneath it you'll find a copper strip - use a small screwdriver to carefully pry up one end of it. This strip also retains the spring for the motor brush, so take care that it doesn't fly out and get lost. There's no need to remove the spring and it's actually better to leave it and the carbon brush in place, as the end of the brush is arced to match the circumference of the commutator. Clean the copper strip as required, degrease and solder the two wires in place, then reassemble to the motor. If you're also using wires from the truck bolsters, repeat these steps on the bottom motor contact strip. The reason for removing these strips before soldering is to avoid damaging the plastic ends of the motor. When you get everything properly back together, you'll have much more reliable performance from these dependable locos.

  7. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    Thanks for all the help. I think I will stick with sandpaper, because it is just for my uncles racetrack which has a train that goes in a circle pulling a few cars, nothing fancy, and he can easily sand them again if they need it.

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