Help with noisy Athearn GP-35's

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by planeshavings42, Aug 7, 2003.

  1. I have two Athearn GP-35's and while they have always run good they have always been noisy runners. I also have two Athearn F7A's and they run much quieter, any suggestions? I have lubed the geartrain's with light oil, but still the noise.. any help would be appreciated..
  2. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I personally like the growl that my '35 gives off. It drives the newbies with their high dollar Genesis locos nuts. I myself haven't tried this one but here's an oldtimer's cure I remember from some years back, when Athearn was still affordable.

    -Disassemble the locomtive's geartrain carefully, noting how they fit.

    -Check for and deburr all gears, bearings and axles. Clean all parts.

    -Reassemble and lubricate the gears and gear tower with --drum roll please-- Pearl Drops Tooth Polish or something similar. Do not put the body back on at this time.

    -Prop it up so that the wheels roll freely and apply power to the mechanism, allowing it to run forward and backwards for about an hour in each direction. Check the motor for any heat build-up periodically.

    -Disassemble the gear train again, washing everything with warm, soapy water. Rinse and allow to air dry, except for the sintered iron wheels. Towel dry them and then coat them with a light oil to prevent rusting.

    -Reassemble, lubricating the gears sparingly with a light grease and an appropriate oil on the axles and bearings.
  3. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Ok,Before tearing into the locomotive's drive train lets go for the shell chatter.Add some stick on weight to the inside top of the shell.I usually use 4-6 pieces.This cuts down on the shell chatter and as a bonus adds to the pulling power of the engine..Let me know how that turns out or if it helps..If not I will give you my tune up tips that will make those 35s crawl from tie to tie..Not boosting or bragging but I have tweak these drives for years.
    Simple and above all very easy to do.:D
  4. Blake

    Blake Member

    Are the flywheels brass? If not, you may want to convert them. They no longer make Pearl Drops Shay. Try silver polish. And Brakie, post your tips anyway, I'm very interested. Even though I'm into N scale, I do occasionally tinker with HO stuff.
  5. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Crispy Crinkles Blake, am I THAT old? Thanks for the silver polish tip, though. And keep those tips coming, Brakie. Now if you don't mind, I'll be takin' my teef out...
  6. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    be carefull with metal polishes some of them have solvents that attack plastic , jewelers ruge works well and dosn't have any solvents .
  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Make sure your motor mounts are well seated into the frame.
  8. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    This is the way I tune up a Athearn drive..

    1.I take the locomotive apart and check each gear for burrs and to insure they are not warp.Note:I am yet to find a warp gear but check them anyway.

    2.I then check the wheel bushings for any burrs or other deformities.I then reassemble both trucks.

    3.I proceed to check the drive shafts for any burrs and to insure they are not warp.Do this by rolling the drive shaft on a smooth surface.Note: I have never found a warp one yet but again I check them..

    4.I then check the flywheels and the smoothness of the motor-This I do my hand by turning the flywheels..

    5.I then reassemble the unit making sure all goes back together properly and the motor is seated correctly.

    6.I then add one tiny drop of oil to the flywheels bushings.I then slowly turn the flywheel by hand to work the oil into place..

    7.I add one small drop of oil to the drive shafts at the U Joints.I then turn the drive by hand by using the flywheel to work the oil in place.

    8.I add one small drop of oil to the wheel and drive shaft bushings on the truck,then one drop of oil on the main gear(the large gear) then turn the drive by hand to work the oil in place..Note at this time the truck side frames is not on the trucks.

    9.I then hard wire the drive for better electrical pick up.

    10.I then place the drive on the box lid and let run for 45 minutes forward and 45 minutes in reverse at slow speed.

    11.While the unit is being "ran in" I add the hand rails and truck side frame details..I then add stick on weight to the inside top of the shell to cut down on the shell chatter..You see some of the Athearn noise is not from the drive but the chatter in the shell.
    Note remove the shell from a out of the box unit and test run the drive and then add the shell see how the noisier the drive seems to be.Then add the weight. See the difference?

    12.This unit is now ready for service on your layout,quick and very simple to do.

    Guys,I know this maybe a hard pill to take..The Athearn drive I found does not like to grease as a whole and that is why I use light oil...Again one very small drop of oil goes a long way..DO NOT over oil!!!!! Use ONLY SMALL DROPS!!! I use a tooth pick..
    The more you run a Athearn unit the better it will run..

    Guys,I do the above to all my units regardless of brand name..For those that may not know I use Atlas,Athearn and P2K locomotives..I do have 3 Walther's GP15s as well.

    A small note about the P2K drive..I remove that ton of grease that Life Like uses and then I apply the above steps that I use for the Athearn drive.This does improve the running of the P2K drive..
  9. Blake

    Blake Member

    Great advice Brakie but you forgot the most important thing. Step 1). Hold your mouth as shown below.

    Attached Files:

  10. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

  11. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    I think that about covers it. I never realized the shell chatter thing. I'll need to check that on some of my growlers.
  12. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Ray,I did not think shell chatter might be a problem until my late wife pointed it out to me that the drive seem quieter without the shell then it did with the shell on..:eek: So after hearing her observation I added some stick on weight and notice the unit ran more quieter then it did before so since then I have added the weight..

    If you notice the Atlas,Kato,P2K Walthers and other quality brands uses a drive base on the Athearn drive but with improvements..One of those improvements is the added weight.
    The Athearn clone drive that is used by P2K has that added weight and thusly run more quieter then the Athearn drive.
  13. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    One of the biggest causes of noise in Athearn locos, that I've found, is the drive shafts universal couplings. Because of the rate at which they turn, any eccentricity (off center), will produce vibration noise. You might have to get some drive shaft parts from your LHS and swap them out.
  14. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    What can you do to fix the drive shaft vibration? Other than replacing them. That's something I've noticed but just learned to live with.
  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think the drive shaft vibration is probably a flywheel problem. There is a guy working at Arnie's Trains in Westminster, Ca (it may be the owner) who uses a #11 Exacto knife to turn Athearn flywheels to true them up. He removes the drive shafts, puts the loco on a live track and sets the speed he wants, then takes a slice of brass off of both flywheels full length. He makes one pass on each flywheel, and the mechanism smooths out. They used to have a listing in the directory in the back of M.R., but seem to have dropped it. The phone number is (714)893-1015. You might make arrangements to send the locos to him for flywheel turning. The other possibility might be to replace the flywheels with A-line flywheels.
  16. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    I used to run a machine that balanced crankshaft assemblies for racecar engines. Hmmmm, Interesting idea.
  17. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Guys,I never found the drive shafts to be that much of a noise maker in my units..I will till you this..There is a lot of crap out there about the Athearn drive and what makes the noise.:D

    Now after fooling with these drives for years I think I can safely say that if these drives see heavy use they have a tenancy to smooth their-selves out and quiet down..I Know this as a fact(most of my Athearn's is more then 4 years old) so I am a firm believer the drive shafts are not the problem as most claim..

    Now I am a firm believer that the light weight of a Athearn locomotive could be a factor also..This came to mind when I first tore down a P2K GP18 years ago and saw that Life Like had clone the Athearn drive.So says I how did they get that drive to quiet down?? Then I realized it had to be in the weight of the drive.DUHHH! So,I took a old Athearn GP7 and laid a piece of weight (a real railroad spike! LOL) on top of the shell and indeed the drive did quiet down.I am yet to figure out how to add that much weight to the inside of the shell...:eek: :D
  18. Thank's

    Larry, I think you hit the nail on the head, My F7A's and B's have molded heavy weights in them and run very quietly, so I taped some heavy weight in the top of the body and WaLaa, what a diffenence. You all have great suggestions, and I am greatfull to everyone and Sorry for the Delayed Reply, I've not been well, but now am able to play a bit. Thanks again to all


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