I just cant figure it out

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by hiscopilot, Jan 6, 2007.

  1. hiscopilot

    hiscopilot Member

    I dug through a box of HO stuff I picked up at a yard sale and found an engine- Rock Island. Its obviously a cheap-o (is there really such a thing) and its not in great shape, but figured it to be great to start my kid-o out with along with his thomas stuff.

    Anyway, I got it out and put it on the track, andit runs... BUT it seems to not move much. You can hear it running and running hard, but the wheels dont go much. They do move sometimes in spurts and sometimes steadily and slow. I took it apart and checked the wiring, cleaned the contacts, lubed up the gears and nothing is stuck... what am I missing? Is it just hopeless?

    Any advice helpful! Thanks!
  2. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

    The anser is easy

    One anser:Get someone else to fix it. If you can, get your local LHS to do it if they can. Or maybe you can send it to one of the many fabulos people here on The-Gauge:thumb: Maybe they know more about the workings of an engine's engine better than you do. I'm not trying to insult you, It's just that experience sometimes pays off in situations like this.
  3. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hey hisco, I admire ya for diggin' into it like you are!! That's the only way to find
    out what makes 'em tick, IMO.:thumb:
    Perhaps there is a gear spinning on a shaft. The plastic gears are notorious for
    cracking and loosening! It can be fixed! It would help if you could identify the
    make, and maybe someone here has a sheet with the exploded view and parts list
    which typically comes with a new loco.
    Best of Luck!:)
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    hisco: can you run it without the body on? Watch the drive train as it runs and you may be able to see where the power stops.
    There may be a problem at the axle level -- wheels with short axles pushed into plastic gears that no longer hold; can you turn the wheels with very little effort?
  5. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member


    I think you have one of those infamous pancake motored locos inflicted upon you. The description you gave sounded exactly like how those pieces of crap ran.

    Pancake-motored locos were indeed cheap, shoddily built and poorly-designed. It has the motor contained in one single truck tower (usually the other truck on the loco is unpowered), and the motor's armature is geared directly to the wheels with very little reduction, which means they don't have much pulling power and needs rubber traction tires, which means less wheels for electrical pickup. In addition, the lack of gear reduction means the motor needs a lot of juice to start moving, which means high starting speeds and jerky running. Low-end brands made these locos by the truckload back in the 1980s, when nobody cared about quality and wanted to make a quick buck.

    Open it up and see if it's a pancake motor-driven loco. If it is, use it as a skeet clay pigeon or something. :D
  6. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

    Better Idea

    Uh, I hope you mean just the motor part. The shell could possibly be salvaged and maybe put onto a new chassis:D :thumb:
  7. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    I've had more than 1 of those pancake motor jobbies screw up on me. Like they said, they are great to learn on. One thing that happened regularly to me is, on the motor shaft is a very small gear, generally metal. Many times it will start slipping on its shaft. I slid it off, touched the TINIEST bit of superglue, slid it back on, and never had that trouble again. It had forty-leven other problems, but not that one.

  8. hiscopilot

    hiscopilot Member

    ok, now that I have played with it more and done much of the above (except skeet shooting...lol) Here's the "new" problem. Which could have been a part of it before and I just couldnt tell. The wheels are turning, but the train just isnt going. is this a weight/ friction issue? How do I resolve it? No big deal, its just I am one of those people whi cant handle being defeated by machine- especially one seemingly so simple...seemingly
  9. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    It's a pancake motored engine, right? If it is, maybe it's missing its rubber traction tires.

    On really old pancake motored locos, the rubber traction tires tend to just dry-rot right off, leaving just the bare metal wheel underneath. Due to the shoddiness of the mechanism's design, it just can't get any grip on the rails without the rubber tires. The wheels will just spin in place and slip, without the loco moving anywhere.
  10. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I think Tom's got it. Look at the wheels and see if 1 or 2 look like pulley wheels---with a groove in the center, either flat or concaved inward. That would tell you if your traction tires are gone. While experienced modelers could tear down and replace them, it's just too complex a job that most don't bother with save for a sentimental favorite. The mechanisms simply weren't built to be repaired.
  11. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Maybe I'm wrong but I thought they made rings you can buy as replacements?
    Wouldn't they just stretch on over the wheel?
  12. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Are both front and rear trucks powered?? And/or are both sets of wheels spinning??
  13. hiscopilot

    hiscopilot Member

    Its like a cylinder I guess, is that what you are calling a pancake motor?
    It doesnt have a groove, the wheels are flat...
    only the rear truck is powered, the fromt wheels are touching a contact cinnected to wires that cnnect to the light and the motor.
    so maybe it just needs those wheel things???????
    where do Iget those>
  14. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Ahhh... I think I know the engine you are talking about... Is this the one?


    Just 4 wheels, right? If that's the engine in question, yes it does tend to spin its drive wheels a lot, but not because of weight. It's already jammed to the gills with weights-- It has a lead block in the engine cowling, and also a small lead block in the small box behind the cab. But it just can't get enough traction because only the two back wheels are driven. The two front wheels aren't powered.

    Better locos have all the wheels driven. Those tend to have more pulling power, same reason why 4x4s have more power than 2-wheel-drive sedans. :D
  15. hiscopilot

    hiscopilot Member

    Haha, no thats not it, I guess I could go downstairs and take a picture of it... right now I am uploading pictures of my scrapbook supplies--- I am selling them off to fund the new family hobby! ;)

    Later on I will take pics! Thanks for trying to help. I think its the same problem even though its not the same engine. Its obviously a cheap-o!
  16. hiscopilot

    hiscopilot Member

    ok, here's pics of the bad guy:
  17. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Good news! It does not look like a pancake motor. Which means it might have some hope yet.

    Bad news... Lack of all-wheel-drive is going to limit how far we can fix the problem.

    Ok, so here is the diagnostics checklist:

    - If the problem you are getting is no wheel movement (the wheels just sit there and do not move while the motor is spinning like crazy), then the gears inside the truck are probably stripped. This would be very difficult to fix since you will have to replace the gears, and replacements will be almost impossible to find.

    - If the problem you are getting with this loco is wheel-slip (the wheels are spinning, but the loco isn't going anywhere), then adding weight will definitely help. Pile on as much weight as close to the truck as you can. Keep in mind that adding weight elsewhere (like the front end of the engine) will not help at all. It has to be close enough to the motor truck to give it enough downward pressure to give the wheels grip.

    - Or it could be a mix of both problems -- Stripped gears and slipping wheels.

    Good luck! :thumb:
  18. hiscopilot

    hiscopilot Member

    I have disassembled the truck (and obviously reassembled) the gears are a-ok. no chips nor wear. The wheels seem to be spinning, so maybe its just a weight issue.
    I'll track down some weights and give it another try!


    Anyone know how I could identify who makes this thing? I swear its not stamped onn it anywhere... no model number nothing!
  19. nhguy

    nhguy Member

    Try looking at the wheel sets for cracked spur gears on the axles or a slipping main gear to the motor shaft. It looks like an old Lionel FA2 after they sold the Fundemensions Line.
  20. hiscopilot

    hiscopilot Member

    ok, i'll check that out... but the wheels do seem to be spinning well... thanks

    and thanks for giving me a direction to look for who makes it!

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