Model Train Forum banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello,
i recently accuired a AF 312 steamer. It runs ok but I'm not familiar with model trains. My question is as it runs on the track I see sparks come between the tender wheels and the track. Is this normal or is something shorting?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,163 Posts
Jhig35, welcome to the forum! What you have is an S scale steamer; we have a strong S scale section in the forum, if you want to check it out and get to know more about your stuff. Depending on which variation you have, your 312 was made between 1946 and 1952.

The sparks are normal for a set with track and wheels that need cleaning. DO NOT USE STEEL WOOL OR SANDPAPER. Steel wool breaks into tiny fragments that are drawn into the motor because of the magnetic field and will eat your motor. Your track has a nickel plating on it for good electrical conductivity; sandpaper will remove that plating. What you need to work on is removing years of gunk from the rails, those tender wheels, and all the car wheels you have.

First, the how: go to Walmart and buy a bottle of GooGone (automotive or hardware), a bottle of isopropyl alcohol (90%, if they have it), and then look in hardware for a Scotchbrite pad, the coarser the better: they're all nylon or plastic and won't do any harm to your new toys. Q-tips and paper towels help, too. What you will want to do is use the GooGone to scrub the wheels and rails clean of the soot, oil, and crud that has built up on them. GooGone is a solvent that works the oil off; then use paper towels with the isopropyl alcohol to remove the Googone with it's load of disolved goop. You clean the rest of the wheels on the other cars because they have acquired oil, too, and you want it all gone.

Now, the why part. Sparks come from your electrical connection breaking and reconnecting as your wheels turn. This comes from scratches (remember the 'no sandpaper' rule?), dirty, nonconductive spots on wheels and rails, and so on. You want to polish and burnish the track and wheels smooth, not sand them and put a thousand new scratches in them. A smooth wheel rolling on a smooth track never disconnects, so there are no sparks. Every spark lays down a small bit of carbon and makes a tiny divot in your track and wheel. They also fry any oil, dirt and grease into a nonconductive surface that is baked onto the wheels and rails, making more sparks. Scratches make lots of sparks: if you want to constantly clean track instead of running your trains, cleaning with sandpaper is the way to go. I like to watch the trains go round and round, so I keep it away from the layout.

Best wishes on your new treasure, and come see us down in S scale!
 

·
Railroad Tycoon
Joined
·
23,982 Posts
Thank you! Quite a surprise, huh? :D

You learn well caterpillar.:D

You can add a box of toothpicks and some pipe cleaners too.:thumbsup:
They come in handy at times.

Why 90% IPA 99% is better.
A little more expensive but I like pure ethanol better then IPA.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,163 Posts
Bright Boys are definitely good, especially in tough areas. My only issue with them is they aren't large enough to do a whole section of track quickly. As for ethanol, Ed, there is nothing I like better! *L*

IPA vs Ethanol for track: I prefer the 90% Isopropanol over "Light Isopropanol " because I think it evaporates faster, having less water than the lesser mixes. 100% ethanol would be superior to my 90% Iso by 10% for the same reason.

IPA vs Ethanol for me: pure ethanol is what God gave us to deal with jobs, wives, girlfriends, politicians, and the vicissitudes of life. Too much leaves you catatonic, a condition occasionally sought after. However, there are times when we need just a little boost to deal with life. So, after cutting the grass: a beer. After cutting the grass and an argument with your lady: IPA (India Pale Ale). IPA was developed by the British to successfully transport ale to India during the colonial period. Normal ales would spoil because of the intense heat and long voyage; IPA has a higher ethanol content and could make the trip in good condition. The higher alcohol content provides a cold drink with a slight increase in numbness and geniality that helps your relationships to survive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
I took your advice and picked up a couple of Scotch Brite pads. The only problem was I thought my fingers were going to wear out cleaning all of the track. So I used my hook and loop mouse sander. The pads stick right to it. In about two or three minutes the track is almost perfect. Saved me alot of time and sore fingers. Will post a photo of the 312 soon. Another question I have is how to get more smoke out of it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
I found a dremel tool with pieces of scotch-brite cut circular and attached worked great for me for the loco's wheels.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,005 Posts
I took your advice and picked up a couple of Scotch Brite pads. The only problem was I thought my fingers were going to wear out cleaning all of the track. So I used my hook and loop mouse sander. The pads stick right to it. In about two or three minutes the track is almost perfect. Saved me alot of time and sore fingers. Will post a photo of the 312 soon. Another question I have is how to get more smoke out of it.
If you want more smoke, here's the deal. Rebuild the smoke unit, using a new wick and wire kit from portline hobbies. They will tell you how to do the rebuild, very easy. The kit will come with instructions. The wick will come with the wire already wound. Remove several of the windings from the wick and then install according to the instructions. The less windings of wire on the wick will create more smoke. HOWEVER, if you remove too many windings, the wire will burn out in very short time. I usually have about 10 windings on the wick, and believe me, that 312 will smoke you out of the house!! I know, I have a 312 that I rebuilt, and my wife complains all the time about the amount of smoke. I use either coffee or cinnamon flavored smoke to keep her trap quiet.I just got done doing a 303 and she's one of my best smokers. If you need help, just holler....


I took your advice and picked up a couple of Scotch Brite pads. The only problem was I thought my fingers were going to wear out cleaning all of the track. So I used my hook and loop mouse sander. The pads stick right to it. In about two or three minutes the track is almost perfect. Saved me alot of time and sore fingers. Will post a photo of the 312 soon. Another question I have is how to get more smoke out of it.
Great idea..


I took your advice and picked up a couple of Scotch Brite pads. The only problem was I thought my fingers were going to wear out cleaning all of the track. So I used my hook and loop mouse sander. The pads stick right to it. In about two or three minutes the track is almost perfect. Saved me alot of time and sore fingers. Will post a photo of the 312 soon. Another question I have is how to get more smoke out of it.
I posted my 312 rebuild on here a while back. Check it out. Check out "dissecting my 312AC". You'll see some pix of the smoke unit blowing out some good smoke.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
16,666 Posts
I took your advice and picked up a couple of Scotch Brite pads. The only problem was I thought my fingers were going to wear out cleaning all of the track. So I used my hook and loop mouse sander. The pads stick right to it. In about two or three minutes the track is almost perfect.
:thumbsup: I like that tip. Thanks for sharing!

TJ
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top