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My son and I are beginners with an HO set but have a problem. We have some track laid out on a 4x8 board. The current layout is a long oval about (4x7) with a smaller internal loop, including a powered switch and a manual switch. The track is not nailed down. When the set was new, the locomotive would start and run great. Now, it is erratic, and "jumpy", sometimes requiring a slight hand push to get going, but it does not run well. We have the same problem with two different locomotives. We have tried a new power supply/controller, but get the same result. We even took the locomotive to a good hobby shop and the repairman said there is no problem with the motor. We have used a track cleaner on the rails. What should we try?
 

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Yard Master & Research
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I hope you bought a larger capacity transformer. Ho Toy engines tend to be figgity if not run regularly. A warm up usually solves that. They tend to go or not with not much for speed control. If you running a track section that is stubborn feed another set of wires off the transfromer to that section of track. The engine could have a mess on the axles too. Use some pliers and tighten your connectors.That is, it without knowing any particulars.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thank you. We did purchase a better quality and larger transformer.

It seems to be working better. We used a track cleaner and rubbed pretty hard to remove some dirt. My son noticed some small sparks at times between the wheels and track. Is that normal? or a result of dirty track and poor wheel/track contact?

How should we clean the wheels of the locomotive?

It is indeed less jumpy, but still seems to work better in one direction than another. What causes this directional difference?
 

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Yard Master & Research
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Fine sandpaper 320 or more,but be carefull of traction tires. Poor direction could be a worn gear or dirt. What's the engine? Little lube on some moving parts wouldn't hurt. If you are up to it you can clean the armature of the motor.
Running it should improve the performance.
 

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Thank you. We did purchase a better quality and larger transformer.

It seems to be working better. We used a track cleaner and rubbed pretty hard to remove some dirt. My son noticed some small sparks at times between the wheels and track. Is that normal? or a result of dirty track and poor wheel/track contact?

How should we clean the wheels of the locomotive?

It is indeed less jumpy, but still seems to work better in one direction than another. What causes this directional difference?
I found a nice gadget for cleaning wheels at my model railroad shop. I'm not sure of the exact name, but it's a device with a bristles and a set of alligator clamps. You attach the alligator clamps to your track, crank up your transformer, and then press the bristles against the wheels. It sends the current through the engine and forces the wheels to turn. The bristles clean the wheels of any debris build up and corrosion, and has worked wonders for a lot of my engines, even my old Tyco's. I picked mine up for about $10. Give me a while, and I can find the exact name for you.
 

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HO engines are indeed cantankerous. I would suggest, as those before me, maintenance. I use oil on the axles, track and wheel cleaning is also a high priority.

We, the grandson and I , have nearly 70 different engines. Maintenance is a job unto itself. There is no way that we can run them all regularly as it seems the favorites are on the line constantly. We have 5 different track cleaners that are run during every session. The tunnels are the hardest areas to maintain.

Three of the track cleaners are like no other I have ever seen. They are powered and have a "buffer" type mechanism. Two of which are gear driven and the third uses a rubber band-like deal to drive the cleaning wheel. I don't even know the manufacturer as I bought them at train swap meets. The fourth unit is a box car from the Walthers catalog. It may, in fact be a Walthers unit. The fifth is a Ford Motor Company tram from Walthers that "works" many of the industrial sidings on our layout.

Just like the real thing train and rail maintenance is paramount. Don't forget to lean the wheels. I picked up a wheel cleaner some years ago from my local, now non-existent, hobby shop.
 
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