cp-forum.net
cp-forum.net
Home | Profile | Register | Active Topics | Members | Search | FAQ
Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?

 All Forums
 railroad, model railroad, electronics
 HO scale
 Athearn RTR Amtrak P40/P42... stuff I've tried...
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Author  Topic Next Topic  

swchief3
Passenger

USA
142 Posts

Posted - 07/05/2018 :  01:26:31  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I haven't posted in ages. Life has once again intervened, and not in a nice way. Thank God for model trains, to allow me to get away from the horrors of the real world.

I spent a few minutes looking at some of my posts from a few years ago, when I had those Kato HO P42s. Man, what a horrific experience that was! I mentioned in there that I was glad I'd hung on to my Athearn fleet. In large part, I still am glad I kept them, but there are times when I want to throw 'em out the window! Anyway, over these last few years, I've been trying different stuff with these Athearns, to try to improve their running characteristics and reliability. Some things I've tried have worked really well, while other things haven't. Some fixes held, and some didn't. These Athearn RTR locomotives are still fickle and temperamental, though, and will do whatever they want... WHENEVER they want. Here's a list of the maintenance protocols I've been playing around with lately, and I post this list in the hopes that anyone reading this... who's having trouble with Athearn RTR locos... might end up with another trick or two to try. Here goes... in no particular order:

1. Clean the wheels carefully, and spin the wheels both directions. I'd been using alcohol on a cloth, but then switched to using the brush tool that you clip to the tracks... the Standard Speedi-Driver thing. I spin the wheels full throttle, both directions. Cleaning both directions makes a big difference in running characteristics and current draw. I sometimes switch back and forth between the alcohol/cloth and the brush method.

2. Try polishing/cleaning the commutator with the corner of a Bright Boy. Spin the motor full power, both directions. Be ready to clean up any dust.

3. Clean the crud out of the commutator grooves regularly, and clean extra carefully if the loco is running erratically. I've found that the tiniest bit of crud in even one groove will make the loco run erratically. I use a flat-blade jeweler's screwdriver to scrape the grooves out, and then I spin the motor and polish/clean the commutator again. It's a balancing act. Cleaning the grooves requires a polish/clean, but the polish/clean generates more crud, so I have to go back and forth until I hit that magic balance point.

4. Spin the motor full throttle, and clean the interface between the front of the armature and the plastic casing. Carbon crud can build up there, too, as I found out recently. That same flat-blade jeweler's screwdriver did wonders. Just insert the tip into the interface, and let the armature spin against it. Really makes a difference. A toothpick works, too.
Sorry I don't have any pictures to illustrate.

5. Check the brushes for debris. May have to remove them and wipe them down. It's a pain, because you'll have to physically remove the motor. Worth it, though, if the brushes are fouled, and they can pick up crud, too.

6. Check the brush springs for tension. I had a few springs get crumpled up inside their housings, thus compromising the pressure exerted on the brush itself. I have no idea how that happened.

7. Lube motor shafts. I've been experimenting with a homemade lightweight lube/powdered graphite combination. The results were AMAZING! (Better yet, I didn't blow the place up doing this! ) However, the graphite solution does make a mess. The lube will foul the commutator, so you'll have to spin the motor to wipe off the excess. You may have to spin and wipe 2-3 times, before it's all cleaned up. Also, be careful not to get the graphite solution on the tracks. I had a few accidents with lube leakage, and had horrendous wheel slip, as a result!

Anyway, these are just a few thoughts. These tricks have been working pretty well. The graphite lube, in particular, did some amazing things. It dropped the current draw WAY down, and the locos had an amazing creep to them. Stops and starts were considerably smoother, with the locos almost behaving like they had can motors in them! And, lastly, the motor noise virtually dropped to ZERO! I have not been able to solve the Athearn "graunch" problem, though. I think it's magnet misalignment/shifting, and I have yet to figure out how to fix that, without taking the motor completely apart. (I don't have a flywheel puller, so I can't do that, anyway.)

Oops! Forgot something. Check your wheel gauges. What I've found is that the wheels get out of gauge quickly. I have become less concerned about the wheels fitting the NMRA gauge that I have, and am more concerned about whether or not the wheels are making contact with the metal frames in the trucks. The wheel sets have to be spread far enough apart to ensure those wheels don't rub against that metal. That, too, will make the loco be erratic. Additionally, make sure the axles are straight. I've found a few that had gone just a tiny bit out of true, and even the slightest misalignment will rob the loco of power.

My results have been largely good, though some of my engines just won't behave, no matter WHAT I do to them. Your mileage may vary. Hope these tips help, if you're having motor issues.

Edited by - swchief3 on 07/05/2018 23:51:43

sschaer
Moderator

822 Posts

Posted - 07/15/2018 :  16:54:09  Show Profile  Visit sschaer's Homepage  Reply with Quote
glad to see you posting again :-)
hope life gets better again for you.
Go to Top of Page

swchief3
Passenger

USA
142 Posts

Posted - 08/22/2018 :  17:56:57  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sschaer

glad to see you posting again :-)
hope life gets better again for you.



Thanks! I appreciate that.
Go to Top of Page

swchief3
Passenger

USA
142 Posts

Posted - 08/22/2018 :  18:01:23  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Truly, some of my Athearns won't behave, no matter what I do. I've got about 4 or 5 "bad actors" that refuse to cooperate. Sometimes, it pays to just put the things on the side, and come back to them later. Attitude adjustment??? Time out???

One more point about spacing the wheels out, i.e., away from the metal side frames. Make sure the wheels are gauged and spaced evenly. Otherwise, you may get good running one direction, but lousy running the other way.
Go to Top of Page

sschaer
Moderator

822 Posts

Posted - 08/24/2018 :  20:02:12  Show Profile  Visit sschaer's Homepage  Reply with Quote
just a few comments.

using a bright boy to clean the commutator is like using an excavator to clean your teeth. way to rough !

a piece of leather with some tooth paste is more than good enoug. you want to polish the surface not sand it. using a bright boy will remove too much of the surface and leaves deep scratches. this results in more wear and crud. a piece of 2000-4000 grid sandpaper would be better.

using graphite on the shafts is most likely a bad idea. might help for a few days but i don't think that's the right place for graphite. i use a really tiny drop of atlas gear grease or labelle oil.
important : whatever you use should not dry out, fly off or be sticky. otherwise you will have oil/grease allover the inside of the engine. grease tends to be a bit sticky so it will attract dust and other small particles.

years ago i used oil for high-speed bearings. this special oil doesn't fly off even at very high rpm.
Go to Top of Page

swchief3
Passenger

USA
142 Posts

Posted - 08/26/2018 :  19:11:44  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sschaer

just a few comments.

using a bright boy to clean the commutator is like using an excavator to clean your teeth. way to rough !

a piece of leather with some tooth paste is more than good enoug. you want to polish the surface not sand it. using a bright boy will remove too much of the surface and leaves deep scratches. this results in more wear and crud. a piece of 2000-4000 grid sandpaper would be better.

using graphite on the shafts is most likely a bad idea. might help for a few days but i don't think that's the right place for graphite. i use a really tiny drop of atlas gear grease or labelle oil.
important : whatever you use should not dry out, fly off or be sticky. otherwise you will have oil/grease allover the inside of the engine. grease tends to be a bit sticky so it will attract dust and other small particles.

years ago i used oil for high-speed bearings. this special oil doesn't fly off even at very high rpm.




Thanks for the great advice! I loved the analogy about using an excavator to clean your teeth... had me laughing out loud with that! Good point, though. Your mention of a Bright Boy leaving scratches reminds me of why I'd quit using those things to clean my tracks. Same thing... it was scratching the tracks, and I could see very clear arcing as the locomotives ran over the track. Never stopped to think that that same Bright Boy would do the same thing to my commutators. Thanks for pointing that out. I'll try the sandpaper or the leather.

The graphite experiment was kind of a last resort. I've heard good and bad both about using graphite in a motor, so I thought I'd try it. I've had good lubes and bad lubes over the years, and I've had to overcome some lubes which did leave a sticky residue. Seemed sticky enough to gum up the mechanisms. I'm gradually transitioning back to conventional lube. I've had the best luck with Woodland Scenics lubes. I've never had good luck with Labelle lubes. The original Excelle lube was wonderful, but I don't like it now.

Thanks, again, for your thoughts and suggestions!
Go to Top of Page

swchief3
Passenger

USA
142 Posts

Posted - 08/27/2018 :  15:33:19  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Right on cue, three units I was running last night started acting up. I don't have any sandpaper, and the stuff I have in my Dremel kit is even worse than the Bright Boy, so I grabbed an eraser to use on the commutators. Initial tests were excellent. I'll run these same engines later today, and we'll see how they do. Gotta run some errands this morning (Monday), including visiting a friend at the hospital, who's going in for back surgery.

Tried the eraser on three of my four "bad actors" last night, as well, and two of the three shaped up. Still one rogue unit to make behave, but I'll deal with it later. It's been warned! Behave... or else!
Go to Top of Page

swchief3
Passenger

USA
142 Posts

Posted - 08/28/2018 :  05:10:58  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The locos I hit with the eraser last night ran great tonight!
Go to Top of Page

sschaer
Moderator

822 Posts

Posted - 08/30/2018 :  19:23:04  Show Profile  Visit sschaer's Homepage  Reply with Quote
you might need to use the eraser several time to get rid of the scratches left by the bright boy.

just been googling around. found a few hints that coca cola on a qtip cleans commutators quite well...
Go to Top of Page

swchief3
Passenger

USA
142 Posts

Posted - 09/03/2018 :  00:27:25  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sschaer

you might need to use the eraser several time to get rid of the scratches left by the bright boy.

just been googling around. found a few hints that coca cola on a qtip cleans commutators quite well...



Wow! Sounds interesting. I'll have to try that. I've always heard of people using Coke/Pepsi to clean off caked up acid on auto battery terminals. Never thought about using it on a commutator. Any thoughts on those brush seater/commutator cleaner sticks? Would a soft grade stick work, or would that still be too rough?

UPDATE: Tried the coke trick on two units. They ran great... for about 15min... then failed. Don't know what happened. Can't blame it on a full moon, because that was last week.

Edited by - swchief3 on 09/03/2018 05:17:09
Go to Top of Page

swchief3
Passenger

USA
142 Posts

Posted - 10/21/2018 :  17:49:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
No updates with these Athearns. Been running other power, as well as dealing with persistent health issues. My mom goes in for hip replacement surgery tomorrow, too, so I've been pretty preoccupied.
Go to Top of Page

sschaer
Moderator

822 Posts

Posted - 10/28/2018 :  10:52:42  Show Profile  Visit sschaer's Homepage  Reply with Quote
take care and a speedy recovery for you mom. from what i've heard hip replacement are an easy and routine thing nowadays.


regarding that commutator sticks i thing it they should be very fine and not too hard. also pressing them exactly to the commutator at a right angle is important. you'll find them on ebay occasionally :

https://www.ebay.com/itm/TEAM-ORION-41602-ELECTRIC-MOTOR-COMMUTATOR-CLEANING-STICK/382583075478?epid=2157031791&hash=item5913ba7296:g:2RkAAOSwFyhaIvcL

Go to Top of Page
   Topic Next Topic  
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Jump To:
cp-forum.net © 2010- cp-forum.net Go To Top Of Page
used electrons created this page in 0.16 secs. Powered By: Snitz Forums 2000 Version 3.4.06