cleaning and tuneup of locomotives

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by leon, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. leon

    leon Member

    I have gotten back into MM after a few years of just Armchairing it and have some problems arrive due to my locomotives just sitting around and not being run. I have found them to be dirty both inside and out and also found some in need of the brushes and the armature being very dirty! I would like to know which would be the best way to clean the armatures and also, just how easy is it to get new brushes and springs for the motors?wall1 If I am not mistaken, I did get some brushes quite a few years ago from a local HBS. Needless to say they have been out of buisness for about 10 years and no one else has opened another one that would be equiped to supply a scratch and/or model kit builder that I know of--the nearest being around 35 miles away. [​IMG]

    I would appreciate any advice.:confused:

    Thanks; leon
  2. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    There is a product called CleanSafe, a pressurized gas that can be used for blowing the dust out of electronic equipment and models. Try the eloctronics department at Walmart or some other store.
    As for the brushes, I haven't changed any in quite awhile. I'm guessing that you have some older equipment with open frame motors??
    Cleaning the wheels and track will help as well as lubricating gears etc.
  3. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    And don't know if it's still available, but I've found TV Tuner Cleaner to work well for cleaning brushes and armatures. It comes in a spray can. Try Circuit City or whatever Radio Shack calls itself these days. Use a rag to wipe away any excess grease or oil first. I have a product called Combat, from Moly-Slip, given to me many years ago by a friend. It works wonders for this job - a drop or two on the armature stops arcing, and increases motor rpm while making it run quieter. I have no idea if it's still available or where you could find it if it was.
    For motor brushes and springs, check with NorthWest Short Line and Bowser - they may stock such parts.
    Lubing gears and bearings is also a good idea, but check gearboxes first to ensure that they're not full of hardened grease. Metal gears can be cleaned with mineral spirits or lacquer thinner, and plastic gears with hot water and liquid dish detergent. The soap and hot water is also a good idea for the metal gears after the initial de-greasing, and a toothbrush is useful during this operation to remove any metallic residue from the gears and gearboxes. NWSL recommends a plastic compatible oil such as LaBelle 102 for all gears, including so-called "self-lubricating" Delrin gears, and a drop of the same oil is all you need for brass or bronze bearings.

  4. leon

    leon Member

    loco cleaning and tuneup

    I thank both Jim Kraus and Doctorwayne for your speedy replies. I have the TV tuner cleaner but was hesident to use it around the brushes since they are made of carbon. But I will give it a try. As for the Clean Safe, Jim, I will have to check our local Walmart to see if they have it in stock. Again--I thank the both of you for your advice and techniques to my problem.:thumb::mrgreen:

  5. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You haven't mentioned either the brand or the scale of your locomotives. If you have Athearn ho scale, replacement brushes are still available from Horizon, the new owner of Athearn. The best thing I have found for cleanint the armature of an Athearn motor is a #2 pencil eraser held against the armature as you manually turn the motor by the flywheels. Follow cleaning the surface of the armature with cleaning out the grooves between the segments or bars on the armature with a small flat blade precision screw driver. Here is a very useful web page with instructions on how to trouble shoot Athearn and similar drives, as well as a tune up & rewire procedure for better reliability.

    Tune Up for HO Athearn Drives

    Five Wire System
  6. leon

    leon Member

    Well Russ, I am finally replying to your advice on cleaning the motor armature and where to look for motor brush replacements. The pencil eracer worked fine but the armature gets really dirty very fast. This is why I suspect bad brushes. The loco I am refering to is the kit of the old General 4-4-0. I don't remember if Model Power or who produced it. But since my last blog there is a local variety store that has turned to MRR supplies and he is trying to locate the brushes for me. I thank you for all the advice and the trouble shooting chart; which already helped. Again; Thank You
  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The "General" was produced by Mantua if I remember correctly. If the brushes are depositing that much carbon on the armature, replacing them probably won't make much difference. Carbon deposits are normal and won't hurt performance too much. It is when the carbon build up gets to where the carbon starts to bridge the segments in the armature that you need to clean the armature off and clean out the spaces between the segments.
  8. leon

    leon Member

    I used the eraser on the armature and the General ranm better. Then I used alcohol on it with a cotton swab and also cleaned out segments and that did the trick! Thanks for your help.

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