Cleaning old HO Locomotives/Engines

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by davera, Jul 9, 2004.

  1. davera

    davera New Member

    I have my engines from my childhood which I want to get running again. I have a broad variety and wondered if anyone had advice on how to go about giving them a little service to getting the best performance out of them. The locos I have are by Lima, Bachman, Mantua to name a few.

    If this topic has been covered in another thread, please refer me to that.

    PS. first post
  2. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    While this topic does come around from time to time I will give ya a had.

    First thing to do is to carefully disassemble the locomotives amking sure to note where all the parts come from.

    Then carefully clean out all the gunk and old lube from the gears, also carefully cleaning the commuator on the motors if they are open frame as well making sure to clean the gaps in it to prevent shorts from crud build up.

    Then carefully reassemble things and relube with a liht , plastic friendly oil or light greaase. The thing to remember here is use it sparingly, no more than a drop or two at most will do.

    Next before final assembly, clean all the pickups and wheels with alcohol or similar, using a sanding pen (those ones with the fibreglass type sanding thing work great) to get the really caked on crud off of the contacts.

    Then put it together and test it out.

    One thing you may want to get is a gauge for the wheels to make sure they are all in gauge.
  3. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    Welcome to the gauge davera. Fred
  4. davera

    davera New Member

    thanks for the feedback. any recommended brands for the cleaning supplies you mentioned....

    when you suggest testing to see if the wheels are in guage, in essence should the distance between wheels on the same axel measure exactly the width of the track? is that in essence they key test or is it perhaps something else?
  5. Allstate81140

    Allstate81140 Member

    Hi all. David, welcome aboard. I am new to this forum too. Joined sometime back, but never posted until recently.

    I replied to one of your posts and used Davera, as I didn't see the name David.

    You will like this place. Great people on here and very willing to help as I have seen in many posts already.

  6. DT1967

    DT1967 New Member

    An NMRA gage is a highly recommended piece of equipment and costs about 8-10 bucks.

    I use a good dish soap like Dawn to clean the old gease out but others recommend alcohol. The major piece of equipment is a good brush like a toothbush.

    As for reassembly I would stick with a plastic compatible product. Labelle is a popular brand and pretty safe choice.

    Of course the staff at the LHS may more ideas.

  7. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Welcome to The Gauge, Davera. You'll find and have found many a helpful and knowledgable hand.

    Before you turn one screw though, go to WalMart or somewhere similar and pick up a cheap mini muffin pan. Number each little cup and place your parts in as they come off. Once you gain some experience, then you can disassemble them "on the fly" Click your heels together three times during reassembly while saying, "There's no hobby like this one,...there's no hobby like this one..."
  8. pdt

    pdt Member

    My grandpa had maybe two dozen Rivarossi locomotives he kept on display in his living room for more than twenty years. He was a prolific smoker to say the least and these locomotives became very dirty over the years. A few months before he died, he purchased the Rivarossi "1930s Super Chief" passenger car sets to match his twenty year old Blue Goose locomotive. It was immediately obvious how much damage had been done to that and the other locomotives when the new blue cars were held up next to the grungy old blue locomotive.

    I inherited the entire collection and after some time had passed, I decided to see what could be done to improve the appearance of some of these locomotives. The first thing I did was disassemble the Blue Goose and separate the parts that could be immersed in water from the electrical parts. I dunked the shell into a pot filled with water and scrubbed with a toothbrush. I tried a number of different cleaners before trying out some orange cleaner (can't remember the name, maybe "Citrus Magic"?). The built up cigarette smoke crud was removed easily when nothing else worked.

    Of course, the locomotives I applied this cleaner to were factory decorated, so I suspect they'd be less susceptible to damage as opposed to custom painted and decaled models. It's a good idea to test any cleaner before using it.

    As for the running gear of these models, I simply clean everything out and replace the lubricant with a minimal amount of Labelle oil and grease where appropriate.
  9. Alan B

    Alan B Member

    David, if the engine runs, put some WD-40 on a clean paper towel and lay it on the tracks. Roll the loco over the towel and grip it tightly . Run your power to maximum for a few seconds. Repeat for the other trucks. This will clean most of the accumulated dirt and gunk off of the wheels. If you still have some gunk on the wheels, try a product called ACF-50. (Expensive and a last resort.)

    Next, disassemble the locomotive and the trucks. Keep track of the parts and where they come from. Clean the gear lube, it may be dried by now. Reassemble the trucks. Use conducting lube on the journals where the wheels sit. Check the wheels for gauge. Use conducting lube on the king post. (Atlas has a conducting lube available, it's the red stuff in a bottle. Put the trucks back on the frame and put some grease (Again Atlas sells a plastic compatible grease.) on the worm drive. This will work its way throughout the transmission. Lastly, put some non-conducting lube (Yet a third Atlas product) on all bearings and joints. Reassemble the drive train. Now your locomotive should run smoothly. If you are reluctant to disassemble the drive train, the first step, cleaning the wheels will get you the most improvement. The rest is just for long time health.

  10. stanC

    stanC Member

    I was interested to read your question especially as I have an old Lima engine which is still running. I was thinking about going all the way and changing to DCC instead of DC. If anyone has any suggestions especially with adding the decoder to the Lima I would much appreciate it
  11. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    What lima do you have stanc?
  12. stanC

    stanC Member

    Roger I checked the engine but could not see any special marking. It is a Blue SAR HO locomotive has a made in Italy stamped on it and has a yellow logo E444.
    I hope this helps. If not sufficient perhaps you could suggest where to check
  13. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    When disassembling, try to make sketches of the gear, part and especially the wiring. You don't want to re-assemble the engine and discouver it runs backwards from the others, or doesn't run at all.

    Maybe a little off topic, but where do you pick one of these up? I've heard they're great for weathering.

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