Author Topic: Squeaky HO Atlas Locomotives  (Read 309 times)

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davefoxx

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Squeaky HO Atlas Locomotives
« on: January 15, 2019, 12:08:29 PM »
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The problem: Three or four of my HO scale Atlas locomotives have squeaks (my daughter thinks they sound like a mouse) that are within the trucks.  The specific trucks seem to be four-axle trucks that are models of Blomberg trucks.  I took apart the trucks last night and cleaned out where the axles meet the metal electrical contacts.  The difference between these trucks and Atlas' N scale trucks are that the latter are needle-point axles into "cups" that are the electrical contacts.  On the HO models, the axle ends are not pointed.  They are blunt and each axle end passes through a "hole" in the electrical contacts.  It is the axle riding in the contact that squeaks.

So, I cleaned all of the contacts and axle ends last night.  Instant improvement, but eventually some squeaking came back after running the locomotives for ten or fifteen minutes.  I figure that if I attempt to add any lube that will cause a couple of problems: (1) a loss of electrical continuity due to the lube, and (2) the lube attracting gunk, potentially making the problem worse.  Should I consider something like dielectric grease?

Ideas?  I've searched the internet and have come up empty.  I could go back to Atlas, but they just saved me big time on two warranty repairs due to a manufacturer reselling damaged returned goods.  I would prefer not to bother Atlas again, if the experts here can offer some solutions.

Thanks,
DFF

General Counsel to the Laurel Valley Ry.
Member: ACL/SAL and Conrail Historical Societies
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peteski

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Re: Squeaky HO Atlas Locomotives
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2019, 04:00:35 PM »
+1
The problem: Three or four of my HO scale Atlas locomotives have squeaks (my daughter thinks they sound like a mouse) that are within the trucks.  The specific trucks seem to be four-axle trucks that are models of Blomberg trucks.  I took apart the trucks last night and cleaned out where the axles meet the metal electrical contacts.  The difference between these trucks and Atlas' N scale trucks are that the latter are needle-point axles into "cups" that are the electrical contacts.  On the HO models, the axle ends are not pointed.  They are blunt and each axle end passes through a "hole" in the electrical contacts.  It is the axle riding in the contact that squeaks.

So, I cleaned all of the contacts and axle ends last night.  Instant improvement, but eventually some squeaking came back after running the locomotives for ten or fifteen minutes.  I figure that if I attempt to add any lube that will cause a couple of problems: (1) a loss of electrical continuity due to the lube, and (2) the lube attracting gunk, potentially making the problem worse.  Should I consider something like dielectric grease?

Ideas?  I've searched the internet and have come up empty.  I could go back to Atlas, but they just saved me big time on two warranty repairs due to a manufacturer reselling damaged returned goods.  I would prefer not to bother Atlas again, if the experts here can offer some solutions.

Thanks,
DFF

Athearn and some other manufacturers use that same design in their N scale trucks. You have to lubricate any load bearing metal-on-metal bearings.  I would use light oil.  It should not affect electrical conductivity. The pressure at the minuscule point of contact between the axle and the hole is very high and should readily conduct electricity.

For another example, Kato N scale Amfleet cars, which have steel axles riding in phosphor-bronze inside-bearings (they pick up electricity for lighting), are factory-lubricated with a fairly thick cream-colored grease.  And they work well.   If conductivity problems do develop, it will be likely due to some debris/dirt accumulating in the grease, and the model will have to be serviced (typical maintenance).
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davefoxx

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Re: Squeaky HO Atlas Locomotives
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2019, 09:04:47 PM »
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@peteski,

Thanks for responding.  At the risk of causing a mess inside a locomotive (I still think oil is going to attract dirt), I may try as you suggested.  I also emailed Atlas to see what their response is.  I'll keep you posted.

DFF

General Counsel to the Laurel Valley Ry.
Member: ACL/SAL and Conrail Historical Societies
A Proud HOer

peteski

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Re: Squeaky HO Atlas Locomotives
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2019, 09:31:33 PM »
+1
@peteski,

Thanks for responding.  At the risk of causing a mess inside a locomotive (I still think oil is going to attract dirt), I may try as you suggested.  I also emailed Atlas to see what their response is.  I'll keep you posted.

DFF

Yes, oil and grease will attract some dirt - that is a trade-off for silent operation (and for longer life of the model).  And yes, dirt accumulates in those low-friction bearing cups too. And if you don't lubricate them, the axle point will eventually wear out a hole in the bearing cup. And it can squeak too.

I'm not sure why you are so averse to using some lube. You don't need to use a lot of oil - just a tiny dab.  After all, any metal-on-metal moving surface needs to be lubricated.  Only Delrin plastic gears can be run dry. You didn't run all if your N scale models without any lubrication, did you?  :)
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Bendtracker1

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Re: Squeaky HO Atlas Locomotives
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2019, 09:32:16 PM »
+1
Just turn the volume up Dave!   :trollface:

davefoxx

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Re: Squeaky HO Atlas Locomotives
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2019, 10:05:11 PM »
+1
Just turn the volume up Dave!   :trollface:

My wife would nix that idea.  She just doesn't appreciate such angelic sounds.  ;)

DFF

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Member: ACL/SAL and Conrail Historical Societies
A Proud HOer

davefoxx

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Re: Squeaky HO Atlas Locomotives
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2019, 10:12:41 PM »
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Yes, oil and grease will attract some dirt - that is a trade-off for silent operation (and for longer life of the model).  And yes, dirt accumulates in those low-friction bearing cups too. And if you don't lubricate them, the axle point will eventually wear out a hole in the bearing cup. And it can squeak too.

I'm not sure why you are so averse to using some lube. You don't need to use a lot of oil - just a tiny dab.  After all, any metal-on-metal moving surface needs to be lubricated.  Only Delrin plastic gears can be run dry. You didn't run all if your N scale models without any lubrication, did you?  :)

It's not that I'm averse.  Lazy is a better description.  But, I see and agree with your point about metal-on-metal contact needing lubrication.

Thanks,
Dave

General Counsel to the Laurel Valley Ry.
Member: ACL/SAL and Conrail Historical Societies
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davefoxx

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Re: Squeaky HO Atlas Locomotives
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2019, 11:02:04 PM »
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I lightly lubed the axle ends with some Hob-E-Lube Premium Lite Oil.  The squeaks are gone at first, but I'll continue to let the locomotives run for twenty or thirty minutes to confirm that this fix is better than my first attempt last night.  Thankfully, I didn't overdo it enough to cause electrical problems, as the locomotives are running well so far and the sound is not cutting out.  These locomotives are stock Atlas GP40-2s and do not have Keep-Alives on board.

That's two locomotives down and two to go.  Interestingly, they're all Blomberg trucks that are squeaking.  My locomotives with FB-2 trucks haven't squeaked yet.

Thanks,
DFF

General Counsel to the Laurel Valley Ry.
Member: ACL/SAL and Conrail Historical Societies
A Proud HOer

peteski

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Re: Squeaky HO Atlas Locomotives
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2019, 12:04:44 AM »
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I lightly lubed the axle ends with some Hob-E-Lube Premium Lite Oil.  The squeaks are gone at first, but I'll continue to let the locomotives run for twenty or thirty minutes to confirm that this fix is better than my first attempt last night.  Thankfully, I didn't overdo it enough to cause electrical problems, as the locomotives are running well so far and the sound is not cutting out.  These locomotives are stock Atlas GP40-2s and do not have Keep-Alives on board.

That's two locomotives down and two to go.  Interestingly, they're all Blomberg trucks that are squeaking.  My locomotives with FB-2 trucks haven't squeaked yet.

Thanks,
DFF

It should be fine.  Even if you flooded the contact areas with oil, I don't think that would cause electrical connectivity problems until the oil started accumulating debris.

As far as the FB-2s go, maybe they were better lubricated at the factory? Or they have different design?  I don't know - I'm not a H0er, remember?  :D
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davefoxx

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Re: Squeaky HO Atlas Locomotives
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2019, 06:44:22 AM »
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It should be fine.  Even if you flooded the contact areas with oil, I don't think that would cause electrical connectivity problems until the oil started accumulating debris.

Yup, they're running fine and much more quietly.  I only lightly coated the axle ends.  I figured that if they start squeaking again, I can always add more.  I started light, but even after thirty minutes of running, still no squeaks.  I think they're good.


As far as the FB-2s go, maybe they were better lubricated at the factory? Or they have different design?  I don't know - I'm not a H0er, remember?  :D

I also think they were better lubricated from the factory.  Another side effect of a lack of lube is that I had to clean that black gunk from the axle ends and the electrical contacts.  You know, like that black stuff that forms on the railheads, i.e., nickel silver oxidation.  I would think that a light coat of oil might prevent this from reoccurring.

Thanks,
DFF

General Counsel to the Laurel Valley Ry.
Member: ACL/SAL and Conrail Historical Societies
A Proud HOer

davefoxx

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Re: Squeaky HO Atlas Locomotives
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2019, 07:57:17 PM »
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I received an email from Atlas this afternoon:

Quote
"Use conducta lube-cleaner Part #192 Atlas product. Bachmann makes one too."

Good to know!  Thanks, Atlas!

DFF


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peteski

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Re: Squeaky HO Atlas Locomotives
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2019, 09:29:13 PM »
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Good recommendation.
BTW, whenever conducta lube-cleaner is mentioned I like to state that as I understand it is a non-electrically-conductive lubricant which is supposed to improve electrical conductivity (probably by protecting bare metal from oxidizing).
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