How to take care of my locomotives...

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by SLOW, Dec 11, 2002.

  1. SLOW

    SLOW Member

    I need advise on how to take good care of my new xmas steam locomotives. I have the desil engines and they are all pretty much the same as far as preventitive maintenance goes. But I've noticed that the steam engines are build a little differently. How much work can I expect encounter in keeping them in good working order in comparison to the desil engines? When I first got my set up I had one barring go on one of my engines go bad from lack of oil. I am very concerned about not allowing that to happen again, especially to these two new steam engines.

  2. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I dunno why you didn't get a response on this Mr. Michael, perhaps it just got covered up by other messages or maybe there isn't really anything else to do to steam that you don't already know from all your hard work on the diesel rigs. I only have small steam switchers, and althought they are setup differently, the service is the same, clean - oil - grease. We can aregue the details all day long; you'll get that whenever there are mechanicals and in particular with lubrication. MSH for example has a differnt point of view than most on lube, esp. when european models are involved.

    Hey guys, you steam gurus, Robber Barrons and such, what do we have to do to keep our steam power rollin smoothly down that silver rail?
  3. Hi Michael;

    I, too, am surprised at the lack of responses to your question. While certainly not a steam guru, or even a diesel guru (or any kind of guru, for that matter), there are a few simple points to keep in mind.

    First off, congratulations for realizing that you do need to take care of your equipment! You're already ahead of the game!

    Model steam locomotives, like model diesels, have a motor and a drive train. The hardest part of maintenance is taking the unit apart, and remembering how to put it back together again, without having any screws left over. Check the instruction sheet that came with your model. While not often the most helpful, they will usually have an exploded view that will help you visualize the assembly.

    Get a load of cotton swabs, and some paper towels. Use the swabs to wipe off any old oil or grease.

    The motor has bearings, which are at either end, and are where the shaft sits. Lubricate these with a good quality, PLASTIC COMPATIBLE oil, ONE drop ONLY!

    The drive train can be of many different types. There can be a worm gear driving a single geared axle, there can be a drive belt connected to a set of geared axles, and so on. The key here is to lube the gears with, again, good quality, PLASTIC COMPATIBLE grease, and only very lightly smeared.

    Often the axles will have their own bearings, usually sintered bronze or brass or something. You can also VERY lightly oil these.

    The most important point (if you haven't already figured it out) is do NOT over-lubricate; this can be just as harmful as no lubrication (awaiting some fresh remarks here...;-)

    There have been many articles in the hobby mags about this; by all means, look them up, or, if you don't have them, ask a friend. They will be most helpful. I will try and find some articles for you to look up.

    Best of luck!

  4. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Eyyyowie! :eek: :eek: :eek: That depends on the type of assembly we're talkin about. Never let a piston/cylinder type assemply run completely dry!

    Complete removal of all old lubricant is important when changing type. I like synthetics. They tend to be more compatible. A drop of sythetic oil on agreased gear makes a nice in between with a lower melting point; great for slow moving gears.

    Should never grease the cintered bronze/brass oil-light type bushings; the ones with the pores. The pores are to soak up oil and weep it out when dry. Grease clogs the pores. Oxidized oil will do the same, and once they clog, it's irreversable. So regular cleaning and lube is in order.
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I would just add that the "one drop only" not be applied directly from the lube container, but with a pin or toothpick or needle. Also watch for lint and other debris coming off paper towels, cotton swabs, etc. Those little "lint-free" eyeglass cleaning cloths are good.

  6. Railery

    Railery Member

    Hi Slow :) Your steam engines do take more maintenance than the diesels. u have to put a drop of oil on all the rod joints for the wheels. u have to grease the gears inside and a drop of oil on the armature. Usually there are instructions inside for the steamers on where to oil. Also u need an electric brush to clean the wheels. u can do it by hand too, but the brush saves alot of time and u need to do it to your diesels too. Steam engines need to be serviced more than diesels, alot more. i use Labele's grease and oil. And keep up your track maintenance as well. i know some modelers keep a maintenance record of their engines. its a good idea when your fleet starts expanding and your running some engines more than the others. You don't want to wait for your engines to start making funny noises before u service. :D
  7. SLOW

    SLOW Member

    "The hardest part of maintenance is taking the unit apart, and remembering how to put it back together again, without having any screws left over."

    So having screw left over is a bad thing?

    "You don't want to wait for your engines to start making funny noises before u service."

    So, funny noises are a bad thing too?

    You guys crack me up! But seriously, I know what you are talking about. My first engine made funny noises and by that time it was too late. Hopefully I can get a new motor for my engine. Thanks for all the info. I will take your advise. I will never neglect the care of any of my engines again.
  8. hoyle

    hoyle Member

    The Atlas C30-7 cant figure out how to lub it so i found little holes in the trucks and shot 102 oil in it.Might over done it but it runs fine.
  9. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member

    jon had a good point about removing the old lube before applying new. Also doesn't have to do with lubing but with the new steam engines the break-in running is important too.

  10. SLOW

    SLOW Member


    What is the break in proceedure? How much run time do you recomend for break in? How many runs between lubes? Should I lube it first...right out of the box or is it pre-lubracated? How many cars can I run on my disel engines and on my steam engines? I just picked up an engine at a train show for $ was used, and I tried to run it with 15 cars on it and it burned out. What is the limmit? Is there a difference between the cars that come with kits and the ones you purchase seperately? I have a Kato and an Minitrix that are real work horses. I don't like running my Minitrix to often because the company went out of business and therefore, I can not get parts for it. Is there a powerpack that determines amperage draw?


  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    What your engines will pull will be different for each engine; it will also be different with different cars in the train.
    You should check your locomotives when you get them to see that they will spin their wheels if you hold them by the back coupling.(does not apply to locos with rubber tires.) This should mean that you can't overload them.
    An ammeter (range a few amps both sides of zero) is useful here, but only if you know what the motor rating is. Look at the reviews in Model railroader and see what they describe.

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