Locomotive Problem

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by spaus001, Jul 16, 2003.

  1. spaus001

    spaus001 New Member

    I recently purchased 2 Proto-2000 PA1 locomotives and they aren't running very well. The problem is they don't run smoothly; they surge and jerk down the track. It's most noticeable when going down a grade and at medium speeds. I've tried a number of things suggested by friends and online forums - making sure there is no play in the worm gears, cleaning off old grease and re-lubricating the mechanism and even trying a DCC decoder with back-EMF however nothing seems to work. Has anyone out there had this problem or something similar? A friend of mine is having the same problem with his PAs, so I don't think this problem is limited just to me!

  2. DanRaitz

    DanRaitz Member

    Check the axle gears, they could be cracked (a reccuring problem with P2K). This will cause a binding in the drive train. If they are cracked you can replace them with Athearn axle gears.

  3. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Have you looked up their web page? I was having problems with a Spectrum loco and the folks at Bachmann took me right thru the correction.
  4. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    had same problem with a E6 and it had a cracked gear as Dan stated r&r gear unit runs fine
  5. spaus001

    spaus001 New Member

    Firstly, thanks to all for your thoughts and replies; being new here I'm impressed with how quickly people started replying! :)

    I've checked the axle gears and they all appear fine; I've had that problem with Proto 2000 GP18s previously. I've also looked through Proto's website and even emailed them a few weeks ago, but didn't receive a reply.

    The thing that puzzles me is these units are brand-new (purchased in the last month) but since these were released by Proto in 1999, they must have been sitting in a warehouse somewhere for the last few years.

    One suggestion was old grease in the drivetrain had become sticky causing binding however I removed all the old grease (which had become sticky) from the gears, axles and worm-gear which helped, but didn't solve the problem. I'm wondering if there could be more grease in the motor or flywheel, but I don't know how to get all that apart yet. Does anyone know if there should be grease in there from the factory?

  6. BillB

    BillB Guest

    I have discovered that LL is more responsive over the telephone - I suggest you give them a call. I had a problem drive, and they sent me a new one!

    They may do the same for you, or they may ask you to send it back for repair - either way, they should fix the problem!

    Good luck!
  7. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Welcome to the-gauge Bill!

    I can second that one, they sent me warranty parts without any proof of purchase. I told them they were wrong so they sent me a whole loco. It was just a junky $5 e-bay deal and I ended up with a new one and got to keep the old one with a cracked gear.
  8. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    First there should be no grease around the motor or flywheel.

    1.Does the head light flicker when it runs?

    2.Have you checked the armature to see if it was dirty?

    3.Is the flywheels loose/to much play? Test by trying to move the flywheel by hand.

    Turn the drive by hand by using the flywheel to see if it is turning freely.Check for any binding while doing so..

    Without seeing this unit I suspect there may be a intermittent short perhaps in the light board..I had 4 Atlas GP38s that had that problem.:(
  9. spaus001

    spaus001 New Member

    Thanks again for your replies and support.

    The headlight doesn't appear to flicker but I will try it without the circuit board. I will also pull apart the motor and flywheel and take a good look around those parts. How do you get to the armature, or will it be easily visible once flywheels are removed? I've run the motor with the worm gears disconnected and it sounds and appears to run fine, although that doesn't mean it isn't the problem :) I'll also try connecting 6V directly to the motor (bypassing all pickups and circuitry) to make sure the problem isn't related to electrical pickup.

  10. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Ken,Since the motor runs fine with the worm gears disconnected I suspect all is well with the motor and the flywheels and light board..If you haven't already check the pick up wires to see if they are solder properly and not loose.Recheck the drive train for any slop or anything that looks out of place..Check for warp gears and/or axles as well...Also check the drive shafts to see if they are true and not out of round or warp.
  11. spaus001

    spaus001 New Member

    I'm now pretty sure it isn't an electrical pickup problem as I've connected DC voltage directly to the terminals on the motor and the problem persists; I've also tried removing the flywheels totally but that hasn't helped either. The flywheels did, however, turn freely on the shaft so that may be a contributor to the problem.

    There are no warped or cracked gears or axles that I can see.

    I noticed that the motor binds a small amount every 1/4 of a turn or so when the shaft is turned by hand, and I'm wondering if this could be the problem. (Reattaching the flywheels to the shaft smooths this out though.) But if that is the cause, I would have thought the loco would shudder much more than once a second or so.

    Also, the motor can move about on its base a bit - is that normal?

  12. spaus001

    spaus001 New Member

    Update - I tried removing the motor from the chassis, lying it on a table and connecting it to 9V DC. At the moment of connection, the motor jumped as the shaft spun up, after which it was completely smooth and quiet. If the motor was binding, I would expect it to vibrate and move around on the table as the shaft increases and decreases its speed due to binding - does this make sense to anyone?

  13. billk

    billk Active Member

    Yeah, kinda.

    I was ruminating on your earlier post re: the "binding" you felt every 1/4 turn - could that just be the rotor passing through magnetic fields - i.e. normal??
  14. scoobyloven

    scoobyloven Member

    here is somthing i do with all my loco's new,used or when just fully cleaned i have a test loop i take the loco and run it at 1/2 speed for 5 min in both forward and backwards and then i turn up the power to 100% for two or three laps both ways agin and then when finshed i open it up and blow the motor off with a quick shot from the air brush or a good hard blow i found that doing that right out of the box makes it run better i had a loco that every 1/4 turn on the motor did the same thing to come and find out it was the brushes some times when they make the motor the burshes goes in one a little harder than the other so that is why i do a good run on a test loop to even out the brushes
  15. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Ken,I am banging my head against the computer desk on this one..:eek: Your PAs is beginning to sound like my Atlas GP38s did!!! :eek: Can you by pass the light board and temporally hard wire the units by using alligator clips? If so test run that unit that way to see if the problem is solved...If it is then the problem is in the light board..
  16. spaus001

    spaus001 New Member

    Larry, I feel like I'm banging my head against something too with this problem!! I've been working on it for two months but haven't gotten anywhere.

    I'm certain the problem is not in the circuitry. In an attempt to eliminate components, I removed the circuit board, weights, lights and flywheels and connected 9V DC directly to the terminals on the motor and the problem was still there.

    Which leaves only motor, worm gear, spur gears and wheelsets as possible causes, and I don't think the problem is with the motor. I hope to eliminate worm gear today by substituting an Athearn worm gear and seeing what happens.

    I tried scoobyloven's running-in tip however this hasn't helped, but thanks to all for your ideas. We're eliminating causes one-by-one so the solution has to come around some time!

  17. Wat Rauscher

    Wat Rauscher New Member

    Is it that the worm to worm gear is too tight (ie. no gear clearance)? My Bachmann ten-wheeler ran like yours until I increased the gear clearance. Might be worth a try.
  18. fire-man-jason

    fire-man-jason New Member

    Proto loco problem

    The only thing i can think of that can be causing your problem is slack between the worm and wheel gears in the bogie. If the loco is performing o/k up hill, than it can't be a pick-up problem as it would most likely do it under load. If the loco is surging only down hill, this would suggest to me there is some slack in the gears as it has no load and is hunting between gears as it free wheels.

    Have you taken the loco back to Life Like importers in Adelaide to have a look at, i found them most helpfull with a problem i had with a few older proto 2000 loco's last year ?

  19. BillB

    BillB Guest

    While I understand that fixing your loco yourself has an element of fun, the loco was UNDER LIFETIME WARRANTY and you could have had a new one (or that one fixed) by LL by now!

    As I said before, LL DOES respond fast to a telephone call!

    The question is, if tearing into the loco voids the warranty!?!

  20. spaus001

    spaus001 New Member

    I've taken my locos to the Adelaide importer and they had a look at them and said their smoothness when running was roughly comparable to an E6 they had; I have to admit I haven't seen an E6 in action so I don't know how they run. I do know that my E8 is the nicest running loco I've ever seen and that the PAs run much worse than my E8.

    The surging seems worse at middling speeds, not low speeds, and the test track there isn't very big so it may have been hard to notice at those speeds. Also the test track doesn't have any grades, which is when the problem is at its worst.

    With regards to voiding warranties, the local importer told me to pull apart the locos (right down to gears etc) and remove and replace all the lube, so I'm guessing pulling it apart can't void the warranty.

    I've recently received an email response from LifeLike who have offered to replace the 2 chassis; they have been sent to a friend I have in the US and they should be on their way to me some time soon.

    My first email to LifeLike went unanswered, but the second brought a response from a very nice person there who has been most helpful in recent weeks. Hopefully these 2 chassis will be fine so I can figure out what the initial problem was.

    If I find a solution, I'll definitely let everyone know!


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