Athearn Short out!

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by D.R.Rosser, May 25, 2009.

  1. D.R.Rosser

    D.R.Rosser Member

    Maybe someone can help me with a frustrating problem. I have an old (10-15 years is my guess) Athearn Trainmaster that will run fine on straights, normal curves and grades. However, I have one spot that is a result of bad design on my part, where the track has a grade of about 6% and a curve, all in a space of a few feet. The loco will get part way around the curve and something shorts. The lights that are connected to to power pack will dim and then the circuit breaker shuts down the track area. All other locos, diesel and steam, any number of axles or drivers, any and all brands, will round the curve and pull a train into the upper yard. Not this one loco! Are there any Athearn experts that can help me out. Old Athearns can be noisy, but are usually reliable. This seems to be the exception. Any ideas appreciated. Dave
  2. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    They have metal framed trucks. Yours is coming in contact with the frame as it approaches a particular spot on the grade/curve. Look for a spot on the frame near where the corners of the trucks are that looks like some arcing has happened. If not obvious, swivel and pitch the trucks slowly until you see a contact point. Lightly file off the point of the truck that makes contact and you should be good to go.
  3. D.R.Rosser

    D.R.Rosser Member

    No Solution yet

    Sir: I tried your idea and found no contact spots that would cause a short. But, there is no problem if I run the loco without the plastic shell in place. I can go up and down the grade/curve, forward, reverse, with heavy cars attached, etc., etc., and there is no problem! Put the plastic shell back on the chassis and it is "Short-out Time" on the first try up the hill. With the way an Athearn is built, I can not see why this happens. I am stumped. Dave
  4. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I would cut narrow strips of masking tape and fit them to the frame between the trucks, then run it w/ and w/o the shell on...this would show if it is frame related or if it comes from something compressed inside the shell.

    I own one and have been looking it over to see if there is any other way for it to short out, I just can't find a reason on mine beyond the trucks shorting on the frame.

  5. NSSD80MAC

    NSSD80MAC Member

    are the wheels coming in contact with the frame? Also can you provide pictures of the shell off so that we may have a good look at the guts to see if we may find the source.

  6. D.R.Rosser

    D.R.Rosser Member

    Shorting TM

    I will try to remember how to post a picture ( I have problems with this in the past). But, I have sat at the bench and looked at the shell and just can't see a problem. I have another Athearn Trainmaster used on another part of the layout with no problem. The shell might (maybe) press on the electrical connection to the light and cause it to rub on the front flywheel, but that would cause drag, slow running, but not a short, I don't think. Still stumped; will work on it tonight. Dave
  7. ed acosta

    ed acosta Member

    I own an Athearn Trainmaster and I had problems running it on a poorly made modular setup that had sharp curves and suddenly pitched elevation changes. A set of Athearn PAs was no different. No electrical shorting that I car recall, but a problem we noticed with KD couplers is that as the loco would suddenly pitch nose-up for the elevation, the rear KD coupler would rotate downward causing it to uncouple from its train.

    Wouldn't it be easier to work towards a smoother transition to the hill climb? The only locos I could run on that modular layout were 4-wheel truck diesels and Rivarossi steam. Ease the bend, ease the elevation. Someday you may find yourself with larger locos and you certainly don't want to limit the type of equipment that will run on your layout.
  8. D.R.Rosser

    D.R.Rosser Member

    Ed, You are correct, an easier curve/grade would help, but it would require a MAJOR rebuild of a lot of track, and scenery that is wire mesh and plaster of paris, about 20 years old. I shudder at the thought! Also, there are at least 10, maybe more, locos that use that hill and curve on a regular basis, diesel, steam, 4 axle, 6 axle, and steam up to 2-10 -0. Some are not pretty doing it, but they all work. I used another approach last night and put strips of electrical tape on all the frame edges and corners that could possibly contact the trucks. So far, it WORKS!!!!! We shall see. Dave
  9. D.R.Rosser

    D.R.Rosser Member

    I spoke too soon. After running the loco all over the layout, up and down and down and up the hill/curve, there was no problem. When I went to finish the test by running it into one of the stub sidings beyond the hill, it slowed down, stopped and the yard lights dimmed and quit as the circuit breaker kicked out. New spot - same short! For now it is parked so I can start on a "Blueprint" kit of a heavyweight PRR car. It think it will be more fun and less frustration. Thanks for ideas from all of you. Dave
  10. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Dave...When you get back to it, check to see if there are any "wear" marks on the electrical tape, or if a hole was rubbed through...That could show you where the short is occurring.
  11. wjstix

    wjstix Member

    Since you had the trouble with the body on, could it be some wires or metal tabs are coming into contact because of the body being in place?? Could be when the trucks move "just right" something inside the engine is coming in contact with something causing a short. Maybe without the body in place, the wire or whatever has more room to move around and doesn't cause a problem.
  12. D.R.Rosser

    D.R.Rosser Member

    Stix,,,You may be correct, but unlike my childhood hero, Superman, I do not have Xray vision, so when I put the shell back on............. I really have tried to figure this out, and the crazy thing is that I have another TM, seems identical, with NO problem. Will try again when I finish some projects that are not pure frustration! Dave
  13. stuart_canada

    stuart_canada Member

    put masking tape on the fuel tank
    see if it is rubbing on the track
    check the frame for anything hanging down
    i had a PK2 short out , it was a broken wire touching the frame
    see if all the wires are coated in plastic
  14. Gtrains

    Gtrains New Member

    YOU NEED HELP i have the expert .

    my best friend can fix your problem because he fixes his own and my trains and all of our ho club members loco 's we trust him with them

    here's his name & number Larry Dempsey 1 (209) 303-2351 after 3pm pacific time he' an athern expert tell him matt fisher recomeded him to you.

    give him a call

  15. D.R.Rosser

    D.R.Rosser Member

    On my post of 6-27 I may have had the answer. I believe that I noted that another TM, used on another part of the layout had no problems. Let me explain. After being fully frustrated by the problem loco I parked it to work on other matters. One day I was moving a Baldwin switcher in the same area and it died, street lights went out, circuit breaker kicked! First reaction was &*%$#@*, another problem loco. The, I got smart and ran another loco that NEVER gave any problems and after a minute or two it quit, lights out, breaker..... It did not have to be the Trainmaster, it did not have to be on the 'Hill", it just had to be somewhere in the section of the layout powered by he same MRC powerpack. The final test was to start up the Pennsy 4-8-2 with sound. They pull a lot of volts as they go through the sound sequence; it quit before it even moved! I have replaced the power pack with a new one that seems to have solved the problem. Fingers crossed; thanks for all the help and ideas. Dave

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