Author Topic: Lemon Locomotives  (Read 6835 times)

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VonRyan

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Lemon Locomotives
« on: August 17, 2014, 11:22:28 PM »
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After just burning my finger on a motor in a brass F3, I am starting to realize that I cannot seem to catch a break in this hobby. So many locomotives I have purchased have just been complete, or at least near-complete, letdowns.
From the multiple issues with my Dapol 57xx, to the poor work that was done on my Graham Farish class 04, to the decoder in my Kato F3-B not working yet it worked before, to the compounding issues in my Key H10, and now these Key F3s that I bought at Chantilly.

I can't even explain how much all this bothers me.
I keep spending money, only to have nothing useable.


Now to specifically talk about the most recent discouraging waste of my hard earned money, the brass F3 A-B pair. Second-Run Hallmark, made by Samhongsa.
Perhaps someone reading this might have a solution. And yes, a sledgehammer is a reasonable option.

I paid $100 for the pair, but it isn't even worth the metal they're made from.
The two were electrically MU'ed together, which at first seemed like a great thing. I was also told that the had been remotored with Sagami can motors, which turned out to be a blatant lie.
I test ran them around one of CNJ's DC loops, and they seemed to preform well, although the decal lettering is sub-par.
Well, after running them without the shells for a bit at home, I noticed that the A unit's motor would start turning before the B unit but both units would ultimately start moving together once both motors were turning.
After about 30 minutes of casual circuits, I noticed that the A unit's motor was getting warm, but the B unit was still normal. Well after another 10 minutes of running, the duo randomly stopped. No short, no dirt, no derailment, no nothing. They literally sat like there was no power at all, yet the power-pack was on, and the knob was somewhere between 60 and 70. As I went to lift the two my finger touched the motor in the A unit and it was noticeably hot rather than warm. A cool damp rag touched the to metal motor frame removed some of the heat and whenI reapplied power, the pair moved again. This happened two more times, both randomly.

This time I decided to lube all the gears and bearings, but no improvements at all.
So at that point I decided to cut the MU wires. I reapplied power. The A unit moved a fraction of a second before the B unit and did so at a slightly quicker pace. Then the B unit just stopped altogether after only moving 5mm. A nudge did nothin. More power did nothin. A good deal of pressure from my finger got it to move, but at the slightest movement of my finger it would stutter or just stop all together. So clearly the MU wires were just a hoax to make people think the B unit worked while really it was only sorta working.

From there I decided to just run the A unit. It didn't even complete half a lap before it came to a complete stop and I burnt my finger attempting to check the motor temperature.


It's literally getting to the point where I just about want to just sell off everything and give up trying to have a hobby.


-Cody Fisher.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2014, 11:36:43 PM by VonRyan »
Cody W Fisher - Modeler of the PRR, PRSL, GWR, SZD, and DRG

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peteski

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2014, 11:51:04 PM »
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You could have either serious binding of the mechanism in the A unit, or some of its motor windings are shorted, or the slots in the commutator might be clogged with (conductive) powder from the brushes..  Just a guess...

EDIT: Why in the world did you buy couple of brass F3s when there are so many excellent plastic models of these available?  :|
« Last Edit: August 17, 2014, 11:52:55 PM by peteski »
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VonRyan

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2014, 11:59:30 PM »
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You could have either serious binding of the mechanism in the A unit, or some of its motor windings are shorted, or the slots in the commutator might be clogged with (conductive) powder from the brushes..  Just a guess...

EDIT: Why in the world did you buy couple of brass F3s when there are so many excellent plastic models of these available?  :|

I liked the details. The a unit has Trainphone antennas, the grills are actual grills you can see through, and they even have optional winterization hatches. Plus I got two units for the price of one. And I had been told they had been remotored Sagami can motors.
Plus I'm not to happy with my plastic F3 pair because the B unit is out of commission.
Cody W Fisher - Modeler of the PRR, PRSL, GWR, SZD, and DRG

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rsn48

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2014, 12:11:56 AM »
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You did check out your purchases at spookshow before you bought them, I'm sure:

http://www.spookshow.net/locos.html

Hind sight is always better than foresight, except for lost opportunity costs.

VonRyan

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2014, 12:17:06 AM »
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Yes. Although mine pair's internals don't quite look like the picture on Spookshow's article.
Cody W Fisher - Modeler of the PRR, PRSL, GWR, SZD, and DRG

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victor miranda

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2014, 12:20:26 AM »
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hi
oh boy I can write a looong book.

please tell me you live in baltimore.

one of the first things you have to decide is how you will spend your hard earned cash.
.... and whether or not to stick in N-scale.

I am assuming that n is a possibility as you are still reading.

the EASIEST path is to buy just a few locos you know you want
and that have a reputation for good running qualities.
this is recent Atlas and Kato and IM.

Plan on being able to return ones that display ANY slightly sour tastes.

In all my repairing random locos I'd state 90 percent failed due to fibers/hairs.
so CLEAN your layout and keep the pets out.
this will lower known causes of problems...

next realize that one of the facets of model railroading is maintaining the locos and rolling stock
(I hate cleaning car wheels) 
and then .... oooof....  there is the PET Loco. 
you know the one,  the one you love and that puts a Prima Donna to shame for want of attention.
Avoid them.

k all that obvious advice has to be said because some of what you are against is normal.

How to Fix locos...(prima donnas)
plan to spend money on it.  (this is TOUGH to get around)
you can hire the work done.  you can buy parts.
If you think of a random Atlas GP-7 as buying A part (one part, the chassis) to slap under
one of those brass shells, then you can have the pair on the rails with only a little work
and a few squares of RC servo tape.

Keep the old brass chassis for when you meet an optimist who knows he can fix anything.
and sell him the danged headache.

getting good value for your money is tricky.

victor


« Last Edit: August 18, 2014, 12:24:09 AM by victor miranda »

peteski

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2014, 12:27:55 AM »
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How to Fix locos...(prima donnas)
plan to spend money on it.  (this is TOUGH to get around)
you can hire the work done. 

Yeah, Ron Bearden.  He put his pet project on hold - good time to see if he is for hire.  ;)
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alhoop

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2014, 12:39:15 AM »
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How much current does each unit draw when running alone?
Al

daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2014, 02:23:30 AM »
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Cody, your purchases seem to be favoring quintessential yard queens. Brass had always had a boat load of problems in N no matter what you get. When I purchase a brass engine, I go in assuming I will need to strip, rebuild and repaint EVERYTHING. One Hallmark U23B literally took a year to rebuild into a good engine. Everything from cracked gears to paint to wires to the motor had to be replaced.

N scale is very small, and there needs to be a certain level of tinkering required to get perfect running equipment.
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brokemoto

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2014, 09:07:33 AM »
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I have one brass locomotive, a B&O torpedo boat GP-9.  I forget who manufactured it.  After buying it, I swore that I would never buy brass, again.  I have stuck to that, even though I have seen some tempting pieces. 


To be sure, the detailing on brass is consistently good.  As you mention, the paint and lettering is inconsistent.  The real rub on these things is that the running quality is consistently bad.  Sometimes it is the exacting scale to which they are built which makes then unsuitable for mediocre, or, at times, even professional grade trackwork.  Sometimes it is simply a case of inferior mechanisms and/or motors.

You are much better off buying the plastic models and adding the details.  While see-through grillework is nice, the price that you pay in runnability is too great.  I do not know if any of the detail part manufacturers sell see through grilles in N, but if they do, you could buy the parts, cut out the grillework on the plastic locomotive and add the see-through.  As you are a SPF, you will have to add the Trainphone antennae.  Somebody does sell the brackets.  You can buy stiff wires or use something that Woodland Scenics sells for the Antennae.  IM does sell the late phase F-3s that PRR ran (unshrouded fans and F-7 type grillework but dynamic brake grids).   Kato F-3s are early phase.  I do not know if PRR had early phase F-3s.  Whatever the other PRR details, I have little doubt that you could either buy them, make them, or both. 

Buy the plastic and add the details.  To be sure, it take more time to get your locomotive into service, but consider where you are now.  You have few, if any, serviceable locomotives, I am guessing (from what  you have posted, that is).  If you have the funds, the thing to do might be to buy an A-B pair of  F-3s and a pair of GP-7s.  Run the undetailed F-3s while you change the number on one of the GP-7s and add the details to the pair.  When they are finished, run them, take the F-3s out of service and add the details to them.  Once you have two operating pairs, you can buy new power and add details at your leisure.

davefoxx

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2014, 11:34:16 AM »
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I'm not sure what's wrong with your Kato F3B, but I had a problem with a Kato F40PH that turned out to be electrical continuity between the motor contacts and the decoder.  The plastic clip that's supposed to hold the leads to the decoder wasn't doing its job.  I ended up soldering the connections and have had no further issues.

See the next-to-last photo on this site which shows how to solder the leads to a TCS decoder in the Kato F40PH: http://www.tcsdcc.com/Customer_Content/Installation_Pictures/N_Scale/Kato/EMD_F40PH/EMD_F40PH.html

I wonder if you have a similar problem or possibly a bad decoder.

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mmagliaro

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2014, 11:50:32 AM »
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Cody,

I will say that in my experience repairing brass for people, I do agree that one should not buy a brass locomotive unless you
are a determined and skilled tinkerer.    While the design of these engines is often okay,
the execution of the design is almost always lacking: weak motors, misaligned gears, short circuits everywhere,
electrical pickup problems, paint all over the moving and conducting surfaces,... and that's on a GOOD one like the Key/Samhongsa stuff.
Did I mention cracked gears, thrown crankpins, broken frames, ... 

Many times, the design of these engines is NOT okay.  They are often disasters that need a total driveline gut-and-replace to
make them work right.  Since you are starting a fledgling loco collection, you should stick to solid, well-proven
engines so your dollars get you some real value.

The only ones in your list that hit that mark, in my view, are those Kato F units you have, and I don't know what's happened to them.  They
are usually very solid performers.



VonRyan

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2014, 12:42:10 PM »
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How much current does each unit draw when running alone?
Al

Not a clue. I don't own any electrical test equipment.
Cody W Fisher - Modeler of the PRR, PRSL, GWR, SZD, and DRG

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jnevis

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2014, 12:46:03 PM »
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Not a clue. I don't own any electrical test equipment.

MUST. GET. MULTIMETER.

You'll just chase your tail with ANY wiring without one.
Can't model worth a darn, but can research like an SOB.

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Re: Lemon Locomotives
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2014, 12:52:42 PM »
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please tell me you live in baltimore.


I'm back in Baltimore. Hope our paths cross!
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