Fixing the 977 Caboose Flagman Buzz
Below is an article outlining how to quiet the caboose in answer to Cramdens' question in "Photo of the Day". J.B.
"Does your 977 caboose 'buzz'? Well this is normal, but if you want to eliminate that 'buzz' here is a solution submitted by Alex Mendelsohn. (Paul)
Start by carefully removing Mr. Rubber with a small pair of pliers. Gentle lifting will separate the lil guy from the swing arm. Set him aside.
The "rivets" on the 977 caboose are splined pins. They're easily removed by rapidly heating them with a soldering iron. I used a well tinned chisel-point soldering iron of about 75 W capacity.
If you keep the tip scrupulously clean by frequently wiping it on a wet sponge, it won't mark the splined pins with any solder. I simply heated the pins for about ten seconds each, and pulled each one straight out with a pair of needle nose pliers. Easy!
Next I placed the caboose on the bench with the solenoid assembly to my right. I then snipped the wire that leads from the uninsulated truck; I cut it about 1/4-inch back from where it's staked to the solenoid coil. That way, there's no strain on the coil termination itself.
By the way, Gilbert expertly left a tiny "service loop" at the truck. That's a nice touch which gives the stranded wire an extra measure of flexibility as the truck swivels. Don't pull the wire too tight and crimp that little loop.
I left the original lamp wiring in place and clipped the wire leading from the insulated truck (opposite end of caboose) where it terminated on the solenoid. This left the solenoid isolated; the original wiring has one end of the solenoid connected to the uninsulated truck.
Next I installed a "block"-style full wave bridge rectifier next to the lamp, using a small piece of double-sided tape to hold it in place.
The rectifier I had in my junkbox was rated at a hefty 15 Amps. It was originally intended for use in a power supply for a 100 W stereo amplifier! It measures about 1.25 inches square and perhaps 3/4 of an inch high--including the terminals. Overkill, but who cares?
You could substitute four discrete 1 Amp diodes (such as 1N4001 or 1N4002 types) for the preassembled bridge (I described this in my notes for the reversing handcar). But, if you purchase an insulated bridge, as mine was, so much the better. By the way, some bridge rectifier assemblies have a metal base. If you get one of those, take care to insulate it from the circuitry inside the caboose.
Now, solder the lead from the insulated truck to the "AC" input terminal (either terminal will do) on the bridge. These terminals are sometimes marked with a little squiggly sine wave symbol; sometimes they're marked "AC". Solder the stranded wire from the uninsulated truck to the other "AC" input on the rectifier block.
Then wire the (+) and (-) outputs from the bridge to the solenoid. Polarity doesn't matter.
That's all there is to it. Reassemble the caboose. It's not hard to do. I found that the splined pins simply press-fit back into place without the need for any adhesive or heat.
Put the flagman back on and press him into place. Place the caboose on the track and apply the throttle. You'll find that the flagman is now stable and quiet! However, there is a caveat.
You MUST now run your caboose on AC!
It will not work on DC trackage.
By the way, I initially tried using a simple single diode half wave rectifier and a 100-microfarad electrolytic filter capacitor, but the solenoid didn't like half wave DC. It chattered. The bridge is the way to go."