Is this NORMAL?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by PrairieTrains, Jun 19, 2008.

  1. PrairieTrains

    PrairieTrains Member

    Was testing this new set with some preliminary track and grades. As you can see below, I had to put a box of screws on top the loco - just to get it to begin this MILD grade without stuttering and slipping and requiring full throttle.
    I'm sure that part of the problem is a cheap loco (I bought it for testing and potential abuse) and the fact that the track is not secured. With the added weight it operates quietly and smoothly. Is that normal? What would you suggest. Thank you in advance for your advise. Pat
    :confused: :confused:

    Attached Files:

  2. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Looks like it might be lead weight time! :cool:
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    It's common. Whether it's "normal" is debatable.
    Lots of locos are underpowered. I had to add 1.5- 2 oz. to a loco to get it to pull the supplied 6 car train set around my layout with 2% grades. I had to add 1/2 oz to Emily to get her to pull 2 (count 'em, 2) cars up the grade, and I can't get inside her to hide it.
    Some of them will run better after a bit or a lot of running in; I think the sleekness wears off the wheel treads. And sometimes the traction tires do not add to smooth running.
    When adding weight, do not add so much that the loco cannot slip its wheels: if it stalls and cannot slip the motor can burn out. (burn out: the motor heats up enough that the soldered joints melt.)
  4. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Before the solder melts....the winding insulation burns & you get that "Oh, oh" smell....:curse:
  5. PrairieTrains

    PrairieTrains Member

    Thanks for the feedback

    I guess that gives a whole new meaning to ballast! As you can see I had to put the "Energizer Bunny" on top just to get it to run on its supplied track! No grades! I'm new at this but I guess you have to take the cover off and find some way to cosmetically add the weight? Can you pour BB's into a window? - just kidding:p Lead weights put toward the back? Thanks for the help to a real newbie - but glad I get a chance to test out some ideas before I get carried away with the layout. Pat

    Attached Files:

  6. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    This is why I like good heavy (usually expensive) locos. It's been my experience that the cheaper locos don't have much weight to them and those that do usually have cheap motors that can't take the extra weight. That's not syaing that there aren't pricey locos out there that are lightweights. I know, I have one. $150 and it wouldn't pull two specks of air until I filled every nook and cranny of available space in the shell with modeling clay. I've done this with some Athearn's also, one being a GP60.
  7. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    even my cheap train set locos did okay on level track with 5 cars. I suspect something else may be wrong. Maybe oil on the rails or track? Or perhaps extra friction on one of the car axles?

  8. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    A long time ago I learned that plastic train sets are not the greatest thing to buy when starting out in model railroading. I bought one for my son. "Marginal" probably describes them in most respects.
  9. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I do a lot of this type modifying as I prefer the cheaper locos over the expensive (simple economics and the joy of twisting heads at a train show with a Tyco "Golden Eagle" C 630 that can pull 25 cars:mrgreen:). I've found that flattening lead sinkers and applying them directly over the powered wheels in a model goes along way to improve running ability. The big rule would be to not weigh them out so much that the powered wheels cannot slip or spin in place. This will keep the motor from getting smoked. Just add enough to mount the grade with a decent length train and you should be fine.
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I can't tell which loco you have by looking at it, but you will have to take the body off and add something inside. If the loco is only powered by one truck, you add weight there -- inboard or outboard. If powered by both, add in the middle then the ends.
    There may be a problem finding space for weight. Often the motor fills the whole body.
    Your hobby shop should stock lead weights -- they may come with sticky tape for fastening or just be lumps and you need your own. Just be careful not to create electrical problems. Wheel balancing weights have also been used. Lead shot needs a container.
    Depleted uranium works if you have the lab for processing and machining.
  11. DeckRoid

    DeckRoid Member

    Depending upon who built the loco, you can find these kind of "weight skirts". I don't know what they are called, but that is term used at our club.



    These are really nice for weighing down engines for hauling 30+ cars. My 2 Stewart's have these and I pulled 53 cars up the 2% grade at our club layout, but at the 4% grade my wheels spun.

  12. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Is that loco a Life-Like FA? If so, it should have a mid-mounted open frame motor, but I can't remember if it's 4- or 8-wheel drive. You can easily pop the shell off the loco to check.

    If it's a Proto FA, I would definitely expect it to do better than you're describing. Again, I'd pop the shell off, see if it's driving all 8 wheels, and see if there's room for some more weight.
  13. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    If it's the cheap Life-Like FA it's 4 wheel drive. I have the Proto 2000 FA, it's 8 wheel drive and pulls real good.
  14. MidnightRR

    MidnightRR Member

    Yes, you really do get what you pay for.
  15. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    Be very careful when machining or even cutting uranium metal, depleted or not. The metal is pyrophoric, meaning the fine particles can ignite spontaneously. While that is kind of cool, it creates an inhalation hazard, and the one thing you do not want to do with uranium (or any actinides, really) is to inhale them. :eek:

    So, although uranium is often used for ballast, it needs to be handled carefully. It's also rather expensive, though not impossible to find. (United Nuclear - 5 gram Uranium Samples)

    Or... were you joking?
  16. PrairieTrains

    PrairieTrains Member

    Found The Problem!!

    Took a look inside - was able to do so because of an earlier message that professionally told me how --- thanks again --- AND a plastic drive shaft had fallen loose - was rattling around inside. Therefore only four wheels were actually working! It is an eight wheel FA. So CUDOS to the fellow that said something else must be wrong! :thumb: Once again, I want to express my appreciation to the many words of help and the jokes too! I will say it again - I would have NEVER undertaken this MASSIVE project if there wasn;t this community to lean on! I would have responded earlier - but the cable was out. (again!)I was able to put it back in place (the shaft) and found room for a couple of washers that will add some weight to the unit. Have a great weekend! Pat:wave:
  17. PrairieTrains

    PrairieTrains Member

    FOUND the problem!! I took the cover off (thanks to the help of an earlier post) and found a drive shaft rattling around! The FA was only using 4 of its eight powered wheels! I put it back and threw in a couple of heavy washers for luck and it is an ENTIRELY different machine. So, CUDOs to KEVIN for suggesting that something else might be wrong! :) I have suggested it before but will say it now: I would have NEVER undertaken such a massive project without knowing there is a supportive community like you guys. Keep up the good work - you make the problems seem like fun. Have a great weekend. Pat
  18. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    You've identified two sources of problem here. You have received plenty of advice on the loco, but don't forget about the track.

    A more permanent installation, with proper joints and soldered feeders running from a large gauge bus will definitely improve performance. Clean track and clean wheels are part of the equation, and are not guaranteed out of a trainset box which may have been sitting around in a store for some time.

  19. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I've always thought that the Protos, while looking good, were a bit "light in the loafers" ;):p - if you want an FA (of sorts) that really pulls well, the old Model Power units are pretty decent, especially considering their price. You can also add a lot of weight to them - the modified units shown below, both powered, weigh a combined total of over 50 oz. :-D


  20. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Ha! But others were also correct in that extra weight will help. The stick-on lead weights from a-line are easy to install under the shell.

    I had a pancake-motor life-like cheapo when I was a kid, and it could pull as long as a train as my 4x8 foot oval would allow. This was with train-set cars with high-friction wheels, too! One day, it wouldn't pull worth crud, and I turned it upside down to find a traction tire had fallen off.


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