Newbie - annoying problem, hopefully simple answer

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by indiansquib, Nov 28, 2004.

  1. indiansquib

    indiansquib New Member


    I can't figure this out. I set up a simple oval on the dining room table (HO scale), but my locomotives won't work. I have three from various old sets and can't get them to work consistently. One doesn't do a thing, one runs sporadically (seems fine during some sessions but won't work at all during others), and one doesn't seem to want to run if both carriages are touching. If I lift one end, it seems to work fine. But when I put both on the track, nothing. I've tried cleaning the track and locomotives with rubbing alcohol and q-tips to improve my conductivity but this doesn't seem to solve the problem. I have new track I bought today (Bachman nickle silver EZ track). Seems I have some sort of electrical problem but I'm too inexperienced to know what it is.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.
  2. Clark A.

    Clark A. Member

    Well to start, old locomotives, never can tell with old stuff. Also, my dad had some old track, cleaned it with sandpaper. Worked great. I dunno if its good ot or recommended but....
  3. Dick Elmore

    Dick Elmore Member

    If you lift one end and it runs fine in one direction and you lift the other end and it runs fine but in the opposite direction, then you have one truck backwards. Turn one truck 180 degrees and try it.

    Texas Chief
  4. indiansquib

    indiansquib New Member

    Thanks Dick. I'll give that a try.
  5. indiansquib

    indiansquib New Member

    Update: Success!

    Dick, worked like a charm! Appreciate the advice. My two year old daughter thanks you as well. She loves watching the train go around. She had inadvertently knocked it off the tracks a week ago and apparently reversed the truck, unbeknownst to me.:thumb: :D

    Any thoughts on reviving an older locomotive? My parents gave it to me with a Tyco set back in the mid-70's and I can't remember how long it's been since this one has run. When I put it on the track, I hear a faint humming sound coming from it, but no motion. Thanks again.
  6. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    If the loco is Tyco, put it on a piece of track on a shelf and leave it there. :( My experiences with a Tyco (from a train set) has led me to believe there is simply no hope for them. I fought with one for years, and finally relegated it to a box. Simply not worth the effort when my Athearn unit would work perfectly, all the time. :thumb:
    Sorta like the difference between a Taiwan ratchet that breaks every time you use it and a Craftsman that always works. You stop using the Taiwan one.
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    If you'd really like to try to revive the old Tyco, at the very least it should be cleaned and lubed. Take off the shell and get out all the dust and crud that has accumulated. Clean the wheels and anywhere there is an electrical connection (i.e. if there are wheel wipers for pickup, make sure they are not corroded). Lube with the appropriate lubricant (plastic safe, grease for gears, oil for bearings, etc, etc). Go very easy on the lube though - a little goes a looooong way.

    If it doesn't work after this, I am afraid you will have to go with ddavidv's advice... ;)

  8. indiansquib

    indiansquib New Member

    Thanks for your responses. Might try cleaning it - otherwise I guess it's going to become a display item. I noticed this loco is different than my newer ones in that most of the gearing assemblies are in the trucks at wheel level and not above them. Was this common for Tyco at the time?
  9. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    Here's What I Did...

    In my opinion, the best use for an old Tyco is as a testbed for painting, decalling, weathering, and anything you'd like to try out BEFORE you try something new on a more expensive piece of equipment. That's what I did with one of those old one-truck drive F-units. Even after getting the thing running, it still wouldn't pull much or be remotely quiet at all, so it became the test mule.
  10. indiansquib

    indiansquib New Member

    OK, so Tyco locos are apparently junk. Thanks for the tips. What are the quality locos? Which would you recommend for quality equipment at reasonable prices. I'm not looking for top of the line (my two kids are too young to treat them with respect at this point), but if I'm going to be buying new equipment, what should I get (and how much can I expect to spend?). Also, any suggestion as to which are the best sites to buy on-line? Thanks again.
  11. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    Well, there are many differing opinions, and you'll likely see most, if not all of them. :p I would like to recommend the basic Athearn diesels. (The so-called "blue-box" variety.) These run reliably, are inexpensive, and they're tough. They can handle smaller, less nimble fingers, drops onto the floor, and once back on the track, off they go.

    Yes, the Atlas, Kato, Proto 2K and such are great locos too...Most,if not all, have far better detail and are quieter, but the cheap Athearns are still way up there in my books. :) Have a gander in the older stock at your Local Hobby Shop (LHS), or try Ebay...I'd suspect you'll find a great deal on one.
  12. indiansquib

    indiansquib New Member

    Thanks Steve. How much is considered inexpensive? In south of the border dollars?
  13. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    Well, there's a good question. My suggestion is to start in your LHS. Have a look at what they have for all brands and levels of locomotives. I'd imagine that they'd have everything from old-stock Athearn blue-boxes to top-of-the line "Genesis", as well as the Kato, Atlas and others.

    Very important - Never go looking on Ebay unless you know what a good deal actually is. I suppose that a "good deal" would be less than what you'd have to pay locally...including shipping.

    Also - since you're in the 'States, you have access to some amazing deals through mail-order places like Trainworld.

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