jerky engines

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Cookie, Feb 19, 2005.

  1. Cookie

    Cookie New Member

    Had to move 4x8 train layout (HO) out of room for about 2 weeks due to carpet being installed in that room. Layout was turned on the side and had to stay that way for the 2 week period. Layout back in the room now and I tried an engine a moment a go....... it is jerking all the way around the layout. I seem to have good electrical contact all around the track. I did not have this problem 2 weeks ago....dirty track?? What is the best way to clean the track and with what? I have used the eraser track cleaner and without much luck. Engine runs fine...just jerking.

  2. J&A_RR

    J&A_RR Member

    what engine is it?
    does yours make any noise when jerking?

    I have one also, an HO lifelike 0-4-0 that I need to send to them for a replacement but haven't done. Mine sounds like the two gears are skipping on each other. One gear on the shaft from the motor and the other on the drive axle.
  3. Cookie

    Cookie New Member

    J&A RR......sorry to mislead you....I guess I stated my problem all wrong......I don't have an engine problem.....I have a track problem and I think the track problem was created due to carpet dust. One of my engines is new and it was jerking and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the engine. I may have some type of electrical problem that I have yet to find but I would like to start with a clean track.

    Sorry for the confusion. JIM
  4. J&A_RR

    J&A_RR Member

    sorry 'bout that.
    have you posted any pics of your layout? I am doing my first layout right now. It is also 4X8 with HO scale. Our pics are in another thread you may seen already. I would like to see others 4X8 layout so I can get an idea of what I can do.

  5. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

  6. Cookie

    Cookie New Member

    John.......No pics....I am the type of guy that has a digital camera and a Dell computer BUT I fall into the catagory of "computer dumb" and "transfering digital pictures to the computer dumb". I am not sure dumb would fit but a definite "lack of effort" slides right in there.

    I have not seen your pictures but would like to find them.
  7. Cookie

    Cookie New Member

    Ralpf.........thanks for the will be done tomorrow.
  8. J&A_RR

    J&A_RR Member

  9. Cookie

    Cookie New Member

    Thanks to all for your suggestions........I have it bad switch....buckle in 2" foam and some dirty track.
  10. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Member

    Glad to here you're back up and running.
  11. douglasarcher

    douglasarcher New Member

    I'm not too familiar with this forum, so wasn't sure whether it's approptiate to just start a new thread or continue from from Cookies thread which has the same topic. I have the same problem with a jerky engine although I know for a fact that it's the engine and not the track that's the problem. This is because after letting the engine jerk its way around the track at various speed settings (starting from high to low) for about 30 minutes then it eventually starts to run perfectly and will even run smoothly under extremely low speeds. Almost better than all my other engines in fact. However, I have to go through this same procedure everytime I want to run this particular engine. Any information you may have would be most appreciated as well as the possible brand of train.

    Thanks, Douglas

    I can't tell much about the engine since I bought it off of eBay and only says "Made in Slovenia" on it and came with a dummy engine. I opened it up and the insides still look fairly new. It is front and rear truck driven (8 wheel drive).
  12. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    Just off the top of my head, but if it's the engine, I gotta ask if you've cleaned and lubricated it yet? Even though it looks new inside, it may have sat unrun for a long time and has dried out. I wouldn't run it too long that way because you're going to get unecessary wear. It could be that as you run it, things start to heat up and the dried oil may become liquid again because of the heat. This is speculation, but a good cleaning and lubrication may be just what it needs.

    Oh yeah, it's OK to bring an old thread to the top again, no use to start all over with the same issue.
  13. douglasarcher

    douglasarcher New Member


    Thanks for the tip. I opened the train and it looks perfectly clean around the engine can where the coils are. However, the axels are plastic and dry. Do they need oil too?

    When I opened up the truck box where all the gears are, I found that there was a very thick and almost sticky type of oil. more like the type which is used in automobile shock absorbers. Is this normal? I haven't opened many trains before, but have read others on this forum saying that sewing machine oil is a good lubricator and the stuff I found clinging to the gears is definitely nothing like sewing machine oil. It's not a liquid at all, but more like lard and appears to have been smeared on.
  14. KCS

    KCS Member

    Douglas, I have to ask for one. How is the motor mounted? (in the center with drive train to the trucks or right on the trucks)? This will help a little to find out what type of quality it is. The correct procedure for oiling. The gears really don't need oil on them. (something about it eats the plastic) The gears inside the trucks should be lubed with Teflon grease. LHS should have it in a small white tube with orange like writing called Labelle #106 Grease W/ PTFE*
    (Teflon grease).

    It doesn't take much because you don't want it to thick where dust and other objects can settle in it. These stuff is white in color and looks like "lard" but isn't sticky like you have mentioned. The lube being sticky in there is defiantly not good. For the worm gears (one on each truck tower {if any}) use either Labelle #108 Multi-Purpose Oil (Light Weight). How ever Sense I am in a club and I use my locomotives to pull 90+ (172 was the most we could) car trains I use #102 oil which is a bit heavier in weight do to the extreme pulling conditions.

    If your operating on a layout to pull no more than 30-45 cars then the #108 would be best for you. Sometimes you also have to watch for a motor slinging solder. I've have to replace two motor already because the tiny wires coming from the armature to the brush pickup. Best thing to do is take it all apart and wash it all off in a bowl of luke warm water and a mild soap or thinned alcohol. I do both to make sure the parts a clean and lightly run a very small flat head screw driver threw every tooth of every gear to make sure there's nothing that will obstruct the gear movement.

    Then I run the parts back into the bowl of thinned alcohol and run a tooth brush over every part (not the one you brush with) Go to Walmart and you can buy a pack of 3 or 5 for like a buck. I use a 75% alcohol 15% water mixture in a Glad bowl with a lid. Set it all on a paper towel, let dry, then wipe the insides of the trucks clean with paper towel and Q-tips or send them to the alcohol solution and gettum' clean.

    Let dry and put the gears back in on one side then add a little grease to them and make sure it gets worked in and put them back together. It only takes me about 45 mins to clean two 6 axle locomotives from off the track to back on the track. After that little bit of maintenance it'll run like new. I do my locomotives about every 6 months do to the serious hours and scale miles they get.

    I have now 3 (the forth one was wrecked a couple weeks ago) that have close to 3,000,000 scale miles on them from shows sense I bought them in early 01'. Our longest one runs anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 weeks where they run hard from 7am till 5 pm with occasional swap outs to let them cool. You should only have to do this every couple years depending on how dusty the house gets and how often you run. Hope this helps.
  15. douglasarcher

    douglasarcher New Member


    Thanks. The train has its engine mounted in the middle and two plastic shafts drive the forward and rear trucks. I have since been able to find out the make of it on the internet and think that it's a "Mehano" - made in Slovenia (that was the only company listing for model trains I could find for Slovenia anyway). I have one other of the same make and it runs as smooth as silk. The engines in both are configured the same way. The oil on the trucks are definitely a bit sticky. I'll try and buy some of the teflon grease you mentioned and see compare its texture to the one in my engine.

    Thanks for the advice. Douglas
  16. douglasarcher

    douglasarcher New Member

    I've taken apart the trucks and cleaned all the gears in a mixture of soap and water followed by alcohol and water. Then I tried running the engine again and it still jerks. However, this time I turned out the lights and observed the engine closer up and noticed that as it jerked its way along the tracks, sparks would fly out from the wheels where the contacts are. The engine has one set of contacts located on front left hand side, and another set of contacts located in the rear right hand side. Now I'm starting to wonder whether the jerky motion has something to do with the contacts. They are all spotless and so are the wheels. One thing I did notice was that the contacts on this engine are long and flat (actually extending past the edge of the wheels, whereas the contacts on all my other engines are short and somewhat coiled/rippled. It still doesn't seem right to me however, because once the engine has been run for about 30 minutes, it runs very smoothly and to me this doesn't seem related to the contacts. Now, I'm really puzzled !
  17. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Two questions:

    1) Did you remove any oxides from the contact strips (wipers)? They are often brass and can corrode/oxidize.

    2) Are the wipers making good solid contact with the wheels? If not, remove the wheels and bend the wipers so they will make good contact with the wheels once reinstalled.

    OK, three questions... After you washed and dried and reassembled the parts, did you add the recommended lube? Only very small quantities are needed!

    I assume that the track is clean...


  18. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    You will not get sparks if you are making constant contact. The sparks are the result of poor contact and the current trying to either break through some sort of corrosion, or trying to bridge a gap. As Andrew says, your contacts could by oxidized or they might need adjustment.
  19. douglasarcher

    douglasarcher New Member

    Good news. The problem was mainly with the contacts. I took the engine apart again and found out that the contacts weren't held in place firmly. They were a bit wiggly, so I used some super glue to fix them firmly to their base. Then I trimmed the contacts off so that they would brush against the inside of the wheel plate and not against the outer wheel as before (they were extremely long contacts). Then I used my fingers to bend the ends of the contacts towards the wheels. This seems to have done the trick and the engine now runs smoothly. I wasn't able to get the lubricant that Andrew mentioned for the truck gears because they don't have the same brands over here in Thailand so didn't know which lubricants to buy, so I used some old lubricant which I scraped off one of my burnt out engines and applied that instead. Thanks to everyone. One problem down and one more to go (engines serging through switch tracks).
  20. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    That's great. It always feels good to knock down one problem at a time. :thumb:

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