Originally Posted by gimme30
Good morning gents!
I've been tweaking my track to accommodate my more finicky engines and have run across a small issue. I was cleaning the wheels on one particularly troublesome unit and noticed they had some minor scratches. If I run a finger over the rails I don't feel any bumps or misalignments so this is a bit of a mystery.
Any idea how they could have gotten scratched? No big deal but I'm definitely curious.
During my tweakfest I've discovered certain engines will behave as though they're hitting bumps in the road, and it turns out the flanges are riding up on the joiners. My plan is to use a flat bladed screwdriver the length of the joiner to kinda mash the unsoldered joiners down a bit, and to dremel the soldered joints if there are any that contribute to this behavior. Again, this is no big deal either but I wanted to pick your brains for any potential pitfalls before I make things worse!
About track.....how exactly do you add or remove a section once the rest has been glued down? Since you need some lateral movement to slide the joiners together there's got to be some trick I'm missing.
The HO guys have a device they can use to "true" their trucks. Nothing more than pliers with funny jaws to spread the plastic. Is that really all there is to it? I have some rolling stock that doesn't roll as well as others but spreading the plastic trucks (by hand) so far is a temporary fix-unless it's actually stressed/stretched it returns to original dimensions when it relaxes.
Finally, and this is just pure curiosity, how long do our little N scale motors last? Coming from the r/c world I know you can burn out a set of brushes pdq, or burn up a brushless motor just as quick with too much voltage, but otherwise I've never actually had one just wear out. I've been thinking since our tiny little motors don't turn anywhere near as fast or draw the same kind of amperage they'd surely last longer than I will!
But, they ARE small...so maybe not.
Gosh you ask a lot of questions! (Good for you)
If the scratches run parallel to the wheel tread's rotation, they may be the result of running the wheels of a stalled locomotive, or the use of a small file to clean the wheels by running them under power against the file. If they run side to side it was probably zombies.
Your wheel flanges should not be able to reach the rail joiners. If as you say, they are hitting the joiners, then one, or more, of these things is wrong.
1) You have some old "pizza cutter" wheels with grossly oversized flanges. (On your "certain locomotives" and, presumably, not on your other locos or cars?) You can check flange depth with an NMRA gauge. If you don't have an NMRA gauge, you should get one. Every model railroad needs one of these essential tools. You can order an NMRA gauge for N-scale, from www.modeltrainstuff.com
cost is $12+shipping.
If you find that the flanges on some of your locomotives are too deep. you can turn them down. This would be the real fix for the problem, rather than continued "tweaking" of the track to work with a bum locomotive(s) To do this, you could put the certain locomotive in a cradle (see photo) and use a miniature file connected to one wire from a power pack. The other wire would be connected to the wheels on the opposite side of the loco. This works fine with DC but I've never tried it with DCC.
2) You are using one (small) size of rail, and a different (bigger) size of rail joiners. What brand and code of track are you using? If I remember correctly, you are using Kato Unitrack, is that right? If so then you would be using the Kato joiners that came attached to the track. There shouldn't be any mismatch possible there.
Different sizes of rail joiners, are made for different sizes of rail. I use Micro Engineering code 55 flex track. The Micro Engineering code 55 joiners are a very tight fit, and lay very low on the rail. Atlas code 55 joiners are longer, a bit higher, and much looser. Code 70 joiners, or code 80 joiners, would be big enough that they might be hit by wheel flanges, if they were used on code 55 rail.
3) Your rail joiners are really, really, loose.
Soldering rail joiners on Kato Unitrack, shouldn't be necessary, and may lead to melted plastic. I'm thinking of that gray plastic roadbed attached to Kato track. If you do solder, use heat sinks. Something as simple as a pair of paper towels soaked in cold water, and laid over the rails on either side of the solder joint, should protect the plastic.
To remove a section of track it is necessary to slide the rail joiners back all the way onto the track sections on either side of the one you want to remove. Or onto the section to be removed. This may mean cutting a few plastic"spikes" or removing some ties. If, for whatever reason, you can't slide the rail joiners out of the way, it will be necessary to cut the joiners with a Dremel, or a fine-toothed razor saw. Then the pieces of cut joiner would need to be removed and clearance for a new joiner to be slid back would need to be cut.
As for removing glued down track, that depends on what kind of glue you used to fasten the track down. Many use latex caulk. That can be removed by sliding a putty knife coated with WD-40, under the track section you want to remove. This same method works for "Liquid Nails for projects", and most contact cements. If you used super glue you may have to blast, and good luck saving any track! (bits) If you used Elmer's white glue, you (or Carrie White) can probably remove the track by thinking hard about it from across the room! That stuff doesn't hold plastic any better than spit.
Spreading truck frames by hand works fine for me. As wvgca said, there are several different axle lengths used by different N-scale manufacturers. However the length differences are measured in tiny fractions of an inch, so spreading or squeezing, is usually enough. I have put several different brands of aftermarket wheelsets into my Micro-Trains truck frames. Most fit without any trouble. The most I've ever had to do was spread, or squeeze, the frame a little. I've also used DRY lubricant on the axle ends. Don't use oil or grease of any kind. It will pick up dirt and create goop that slows the wheels instead of helping them roll easier. Oil also gets on the rails and creates goop there too.
As your R/C experience has taught you, motors subjected to the wrong power will burn out very quickly. So if you wake up out-of-sorts one fine day and decide to see how fast an N-scale loco will go on 120 volts AC house current, the motor will last approximately .000000000000 nanoseconds!
Other than that, they'll probably outlive us both, or an old fart like me anyway.