Oiling rods & drivers on brass steamers

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Heath, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. Heath

    Heath Member

    Hi all,
    Need your help on a "should I" "shouldn't I" situation regarding oiling the external rods, joints and drivers on a HO brass locomotive.
    Surely metal on metal can't be good over a long time.
    Not that I'm running it at hi speed, never would, or for 3 hours of constant running every day.
    I've thought of using the Labelle oil, a very very small micro drop in the piston area, drive rods connecting to the wheels, etc....
    Wheels are painted so would do so only with extreme care and only after a few of the seasoned experts weigh in on the subject.
    The model I have is a Toby, 4-8-4 CN Northern.
    Thanks for all your help.
  2. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I use a "micro drop", as you've said. When they start dropping rods and crankpins, you usually don't have to look far to see why. A little---very little---bit of oil goes a long way.:thumb:
  3. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I've put a drop of oil on a plate (or the lid of a plastic bowl) then dip the tip if a pin or toothpick in there, and apply the small drop to the crank pins and other moving joints. You really want the smallest drop possible to avoid making a mess.

  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Another option for lubing siderods is PBL Neolube. It's a graphite in suspension, and can be (carefully!) painted on. The added advantage is that it gives a darkened look to the sometimes bright metal siderods. Drawbacks include that it can be conductive, and it is extremely slippery - so watch it on the wheel treads! Luckily, it can be cleaned with alcohol if you do get it somewhere you shouldn't.

  5. Heath

    Heath Member

    Thanks for your help everyone.
    I know the oil comes with the tiny needle applicator so will give that a shot.
    I've probably run the loco for a total running time of 2 hours total since I've had it.
    Don't think it's caused any due wear in that time so before I take her out for a run again, will make sure I lube all the friction points and areas.

    Think this forum is fantastic and do appreciate the help and guidance in enjoying the hobby:thumb:
  6. ed acosta

    ed acosta Member

    Heath, I would avoid putting any lubricant on the side rods or valve gear. These joints don't require lube since they are not weight bearing surfaces and there is no friction to contend with. Most valve gear is almost too loose!

    Not so with axle bearings and drive train gears which require routine servicing. I recently embarked on a mission to oil and grease all of my locomotives only to find that neither of the two train stores in Victoria had LaBelle oil and grease!

  7. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    I'll add my voice to the "no oil" faction. Initially it will lube the joints and bearings, but what will happen over time is it will attract dust and crud, and gum them up, and can wind up increasing wear.

    If you're really worried about friction in there (and you shouldn't, since they're not really working all that hard) puff in a little dry graphite, or use NeoLube like Andrew suggested. I like the teflon spray you can get from Crappy Tire - leaves a teflon coating on the surfaces that stays dry after the carrier evaporates, and it's non-conductive.
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    While it is true that they don't really bear much weight (as compared with journals, for example), many steamers do use the siderods to transfer the driving force from the one powered axel to the others. There can be some slight movement back and forth, and friction may need to be overcome...

    Squid... nice tip on the teflon lubricant!

  9. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    My grandfather (a former car inspector/shop worker, 40 years, N&W) showed me how to put a drop of three in one oil on an old lid then just barely touch a broom straw to it before putting the broomstraw on the joint. Just touch the oil then touch the spot, but never with very much oil on the straw. You shouldn't be able to see the oil on the straw, really. Hope this helps. It has worked for me although I have also used Singer sewing machine oil for this application.
  10. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Alas, the difference in models run:mrgreen:...most of my locs are 30+ years old, from a time when the drive rods actually did carry a load. Rivarossis and old brass especially are known for this. The Teflon idea sounds great but I'm not interested in coloring my rods either...my tastes run a little nostagic as I keep my rods silver. Makes it easier on these 48 year old peepers to see the action...:p:thumb::mrgreen:
  11. Heath

    Heath Member

    Great things to consider from all and I want to thank you.
    My side rods are painted flat black as I wanted my CN Northern as close to the historic excursion photographs as possible.
    I think the teflon sounds like a good idea, dry but lubricates.
    I'm a little concerned about the dry graphite though.
    Brass locos are notorious for shorts when running DCC and the fellow who did mine spent quite a bit of time ensuring there were no shorts.
    The bottom line is I want to enjoy this model for a long time to come and want to ensure it's longevity.
    I'd like to thank you all for your valued input.
  12. Fluesheet

    Fluesheet Member

    Shay, as far as I know, this is still the case - everything from my oldest brass locomotive to the most modern (Trix Mike) still drive their wheels the good old fashioned way - via the siderods.

    Your comment has me curious though - are there any HO locomotives in which the siderods are simply cosmetic?

    Put me on the side of the lubricators. I believe the the rod / pin journal is more highly stressed than the axle journals due to their much smaller surface / contact area.

  13. WReid

    WReid Member

    I think a little lubricant would be best. Either the dry graphite or some light oil. I am in the process of rebuilding two Van Hobbies CNR N-5-d class 2-8-0s I purchased used. Both had seen a lot of running time and showed signs of wear.
    Out of the two one had no lubricant on its side rods at all when I got it and the side rod screw holes showed signs of wear. A couple of holes were actually worn bigger in size than others and required repairing.
    The second locomotive had been oiled and showed a lot less wear. It also looked like it had been run or stored in a very dust place. There was a fair amount of grunge at all the side rod screw locations which most likely did not help. I would guess if the previous owner had taken better care of it the wear would have been next to none.
    Also seeing as the side rodes transfer power from the geared driver to the other drivers there would be some force there. A little lubricant would not only help with wear but would also help with smooth running.
    As for electrical shorts I do not think some carefully applied dry graphite should be a problem. I used some during the test running of my N-5-d chassis on the side rods and valve gear with no problems or electrical shorts. I was going to use oil once the locomotive is reassembled from painting but may just continue using the dry graphite. I had used it for testing because it would be easier to remove for painting than oil.

    Wayne R
  14. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    There have been occasional models - more typically smaller switchers due to fewer gears - in HO, N, and O where the drivers were linked together by a spur gear train. The problems with this arrangement are the spur gears are noisy, and binding due to timing problems if the gears and side rods get out of synch. With both gears and side rods, you have a closed loop mechanical system. Both legs of the closed loop must be kept in time with each other. Some early N scale steamers with all axles geared got around the timing issue by not connecting the side rod to all the drivers.

    A more typical cheap solution that does not use the side rods is an all tender drive. With no load on the engine itself - it is pushed by the powered tender - the side rods can be plastic. Model Power imported some beautiful looking Baldwin 2-8-0s and 4-6-0s made by Frateschi (sp?) that used a terrible all tender drive. Redoing the drive to the engine is impractical because the chassis, drivers, and side rods are all plastic. Don't ask me how I know this. hamr My next step: I have a Tyco 4-8-0 kit to build. The Tyco shell is over-size - especially the cab and stack. So I am hoping to use the Tyco/Mantua chassis with the Model Power shell. A way-too-expensive way to get the good running 1890-era Baldwin power I want. :cry:

    yours in having fun
  15. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Yeeees, an ally:mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen:

    It always erked me that more HO manufacturers didn't go the N scale route and gear all the drivers ala Atlas, Con Cor and MRC years ago. Yes, it is a little bit of a trick to line up the quartering but, once done, you have quite a puller. There are some fantastic tender drives out there on the high end European models. When done right, it leaves the locomotive free for all manner of detailing and a more realistic line of sight under the boiler. It's something of a pity that it never really caught on over here and that it's a pretty tall order for your average hobbiest to cobble together on their own.

    As for graphite, I don't use it in my locksmithing work as it is not a lubricant but a fine abrasive. The "lube" action is actually its abrasive quality honing the mating surfaces to a fine polish. My assistants learn rather quickly how to avoid the hairy eyeball by not reaching for it as they reassemble a lock in front of me. The damage it does to a lock mechanism over time tends to shy me away from using it on my delicate beasties. It's great on them sticky Kadees though...:thumb:

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