Page 1 of 1

Locomotive maintenance advice

Posted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 7:46 am
by abenn
Can anyone point me in the right direction to get instruction re. general loco maintenance? My kit is all GF and Dapol N-gauge. I'm reasonably competent at cleaning wheels and pickups, and lubrication, but I'm particularly concerned that some of my models sound like they've got gravel in the transmission somewhere. I remember aeons ago with my Dublo locos I had to adjust the end float on the motor rotors -- is there a similar adjustment on modern N gauge kit, and could it be the cause of rough-sounding (but otherwise smooth and reliable) running?

I've tried Dapol's and GF's web sites, but can't find the kind of advice I'm looking for. Presumably they'd prefer me to send them in for professional maintenance.

Re: Locomotive maintenance advice

Posted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 8:44 am
by Bigmet
There's no adjustment on modern motors, they are not called 'sealed cans' for nothing. (If a motor starts screaming then a minute dot of light oil on the shaft adjacent the bearing(s) is all that can be done, without some expertise. Very important that oil should not get inside the motor, as it will quickly ruin carbon brushes if present.)

That 'gravelly' noise you describe is more likely to be from the gear train in any case. Look for any dried lubricant residue and gently clean with propanol using a barely damp brush or non fluffing cotton bud or similar. Remove hair and fluff if present. If you can see evidence of wear by filings of the gear material or find gears are slack on the shaft they run on, or driven axles are slack in their locations, then it's best to get that sorted with new parts as a priority, as any worn part accelerates wear on everything it works with. Relubricate with a very small quantity of whatever light grease is currently approved for their models by the N gauge manufacturer.

Always better to underdo the lubricant application. I have seen more model mechanisms in trouble from over application of lubricant than I can quickly count, and the smaller the mechanism the more important this becomes.

Re: Locomotive maintenance advice

Posted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 1:00 pm
by abenn
Thanks Bigmet. There's no 'screaming' so, as you say, it's more likely the gears, so I'll pay attention to them. The main culprit at the moment is a GF class 37 where the the gear trains are easily accessible and replaceable.

Re: Locomotive maintenance advice

Posted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 10:33 pm
by Peterm
Bigmet wrote:There's no adjustment on modern motors, they are not called 'sealed cans' for nothing. (If a motor starts screaming then a minute dot of light oil on the shaft adjacent the bearing(s) is all that can be done, without some expertise. Very important that oil should not get inside the motor, as it will quickly ruin carbon brushes if present.)

That 'gravelly' noise you describe is more likely to be from the gear train in any case. Look for any dried lubricant residue and gently clean with propanol using a barely damp brush or non fluffing cotton bud or similar. Remove hair and fluff if present. If you can see evidence of wear by filings of the gear material or find gears are slack on the shaft they run on, or driven axles are slack in their locations, then it's best to get that sorted with new parts as a priority, as any worn part accelerates wear on everything it works with. Relubricate with a very small quantity of whatever light grease is currently approved for their models by the N gauge manufacturer.

Always better to underdo the lubricant application. I have seen more model mechanisms in trouble from over application of lubricant than I can quickly count, and the smaller the mechanism the more important this becomes.

Going off track (ahem) a bit, you've reminded me of something. Many years ago my sister needed a new timing chain on her car. It was an ohc engine. I was going to do the job and told here how much for the parts and she baulked at the cost. I wasn't going to charge her for my time, but she took it to a garage where they obviously simply connected the old chain to the new one and wound it on. A few months later she asked me to do it because it was rattling again, so another new chain, crankshaft sprocket, camshaft sprocket, tensioner and slippers and it was like new. Many thousands of kilometres later, she sold it, still running very nicely. I've written this to support what you said about old parts ruining new parts.