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Discussion Starter #1
Yesterday I got out one of my NIB Atlas S-2 locomotives and ran it. I was surprised how well it ran right out of the box with no break-in. Quiet and tractable from 0 speed on up. Got to wondering if it was belt drive. Turned it over and took a look. No signs of a belt but I did not investigate further.

But I got on line and on ebay and found some information there but not near enough to satisfy my curiosity, so thought I would check here.

Anyone running locomotives with belt drives and your opinion?

Pictures of belts from ebay and my S2. Looks to be smooth, cogged, and steel wire wound.
 

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I don't have precisely that kind of belt drive, but I've got an Athearn "Hi-F" GP9 that runs pretty well.

I've also got several HI-F Athearn RDC's. A bit jumpy on the start, but they run fine, and seem to run a bit better when you run a couple together.

The Hi-F is an outdated mechanism, but for it's time it was a remarkably simple and affordable way to build 8WD locos.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Whew, for a moment I thought that no one on the worlds foremost model railroading forum had no experience with belt drive locos, or at a minimum no interest in them. Could you explain "Hi-F" or have a picture?

I have since found another belt drive, but this one more appropriately labeled as "Rubber Band Drive", perhaps the most interesting and complicated of the type.

Also found a better picture of the coiled spring drive type.
 

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I bought a Bachmann steamer with belt drive. I almost passed on it when I found out
it was belt drive. It is a higher line Bachmann and read reviews on the belt drive. The
reviews were good and I took a chance. It is DCC and sound. It runs so smooth. Very
happy with it. I have not had the body off so I have no idea how the belt works. As long as the belt holds up I think it will be fine.
 

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Your Atlas in the second photo was produced by Roco in Austria in the late '70's or early '80's. These are purported to be very high quality models with exceptional detail for the period.

It's essentially an Austrian locomotive with an American shell on top. It should be a good runner.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Your Atlas in the second photo was produced by Roco in Austria in the late '70's or early '80's. These are purported to be very high quality models with exceptional detail for the period.

It's essentially an Austrian locomotive with an American shell on top. It should be a good runner.
Being a Boston and Maine fan I bought a couple, at the time a great price. Now I find them asking around $100 for them NIB. Wouldn't give mine up.

Not used to great runners I was taken aback by how quiet and smooth it was. Although some of my Bachmann Spectrums run almost as well. BTW, that cog motor drive pictured above is out of a Bachmann Spectrum 4-4-0.

I made an offer on that coil belt drive Varney pictured above that was accepted. Die cast, I'm impatient to media blast and restore it.
 

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$100 is cheap for a NIB Roco locomotive. I wouldn't give them up either. None of my Roco locomotive have given me any trouble other than having to replace the tires on occasion and normal cleaning and lube.

They are extremely quiet and smooth running locomotives and the new price reflects that.
 

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Could you explain "Hi-F" or have a picture?

I have since found another belt drive, but this one more appropriately labeled as "Rubber Band Drive", perhaps the most interesting and complicated of the type.
The SF "Rubber Band Drive" you pictured is a Hi-F locomotive. Folks will often mistakenly call them Hi-Fi, but Hi-F is the correct term, referring to High Friction. It came out in the 50's and was pretty innovative at the time. For the most part Athearn abandoned the Hi-F system decades ago, but they continued to use them in the RDC's long after they had been replaced on all other locos. The system was largely unchanged over time but there were a couple different motors used and some have the rubber gasket connections to the drive and some have a universal joint.

It's a primitive system to be sure, but it works, and is incredibly easy to service. I find shiny old-school RDCs to be charming. I was looking through my locos and I think I may have sold off my last GP9 with HI-F. Kind of wish I hadn't.

If you'd like to own an Athearn Hi-F RDC, get in touch. I have several and can let one go quite reasonably. I might even have one or two in their original boxes.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The SF "Rubber Band Drive" you pictured is a Hi-F locomotive. Folks will often mistakenly call them Hi-Fi, but Hi-F is the correct term, referring to High Friction. It came out in the 50's and was pretty innovative at the time. For the most part Athearn abandoned the Hi-F system decades ago, but they continued to use them in the RDC's long after they had been replaced on all other locos. The system was largely unchanged over time but there were a couple different motors used and some have the rubber gasket connections to the drive and some have a universal joint.

It's a primitive system to be sure, but it works, and is incredibly easy to service. I find shiny old-school RDCs to be charming. I was looking through my locos and I think I may have sold off my last GP9 with HI-F. Kind of wish I hadn't.

If you'd like to own an Athearn Hi-F RDC, get in touch. I have several and can let one go quite reasonably. I might even have one or two in their original boxes.
Thanks, I had made an offer on that one $15 vice an asking of $18 (I'm cheap and usually make an offer :)) and he just responded that he has three other Hi-F locomotives for sale and I made the connection that Hi-F was actually rubber band drive.

I think he would like me to make an offer on all three, but really all I want is one as I'm curious about that drive system. Trying to obtain at least one of each type.

Let me see what happens and I will get back to you via PM..
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, it looks like I'm set on all four (so far) band drive type Loco's.

Just got an acceptance on my offer of $15 vice $19 asking on this Hi-F Locomotive which looks to be Athearn. Fortunately it's in B&O markings a road name that I tend to collect.

I still have some of those old "put together yourself" Athearn locomotives.
 

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I had a very similar loco to that B&O. Do you have bands for it? Goody "ouchless" hair bands work pretty well and come in a pack with 3 sizes for a couple bucks.

$15 is a pretty good deal. I'd let a clean, boxed RDC (might have a B&O) go for not much more than that.

If you want to part with one of those SF's pictured above I'm sure we could come to a favorable arrangement.

No pressure, just some options to consider.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I had a very similar loco to that B&O. Do you have bands for it? Goody "ouchless" hair bands work pretty well and come in a pack with 3 sizes for a couple bucks.

$15 is a pretty good deal. I'd let a clean, boxed RDC (might have a B&O) go for not much more than that.

If you want to part with one of those SF's pictured above I'm sure we could come to a favorable arrangement.

No pressure, just some options to consider.
Thanks for the tip. I see drive bands for sale on eaby, but I'm sure they are much more expensive plus shipping. Maybe Walmart carries those, I will have to check.

I honored my commitment to the other vendor and accepted his $15 offer even though I don't really need it. Let me see how (if) this B&O runs, maybe we can do something. I appreciate the offer.

Those NIB SF's are a powered and a dummy so I don't want to break them up. My son tried to put the rails on one, but gave up. Not all the parts there Dad. :( Despite my shaky hands guess it's my job. Double groan face.

Years ago I put several together. Tedious.
 

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Thanks for the tip. I see drive bands for sale on eaby, but I'm sure they are much more expensive plus shipping. Maybe Walmart carries those, I will have to check.

I honored my commitment to the other vendor and accepted his $15 offer even though I don't really need it. Let me see how (if) this B&O runs, maybe we can do something. I appreciate the offer.

Those NIB SF's are a powered and a dummy so I don't want to break them up. My son tried to put the rails on one, but gave up. Not all the parts there Dad. :( Despite my shaky hands guess it's my job. Double grown face.

Years ago I put several together. Tedious.
The rails can be a bit of a pain. I put together an AC4400 and it took a bit of frustration but wasn't too bad. If you decide to part with the pair, let me know, but I wouldn't get between you and your son if he wants them.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The rails can be a bit of a pain. I put together an AC4400 and it took a bit of frustration but wasn't too bad. If you decide to part with the pair, let me know, but I wouldn't get between you and your son if he wants them.
I find that just a dot of red tube testors applied with a tooth pick at the base then the rail pushed in helps.

Same for the top of the rail if the crimp doesn't do it, just CA again with a toothpick. Almost invisible and it's a fix for life. Still a pain. :)
 

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HO Drive Belts:
Synthetic bands are the best. Bought 25 on eBay a few years ago and still on first pair.
Pack of 25 was $5 or less. I tried to send a photo but the gremlins are in my phone tonight.
I found that powdered graphite was the best lube for driveshaft on the Athearn RDC.
Edit: Tried a link. It does not work and gets a scam website message. Great!

The company is Scalerailroader
PO Box 2307
Hagerstown,MD. 21740
 

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Yep, that’s the ones. Good. Not sure what the different colors are all about lol.

A parts diagram is good to have for those things too, if you don’t already have one.
The bands go on in a specific way. The diagram shows it.
If you don’t have one you can find and print it from HOSeeker.
Happy railroading.
Dan
 

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Hi-F

Hey. I have a few of those! :) 6 to be exact. Plus at least 8 A and B dummies too. I actually kinda like them now that I've revamped them and used surgical rubber tubing n the drive shaft joints.
I purchased the very same replacement bands you're showing.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Got the "Gold" Athearn steel coil belt drive and the rubber band drive locomotives yesterday and ran them both. The Athearn has a set of pulleys similar to what you find on your drill press that allows adjustment for speed.

I sandblasted the old gold paint off it and found layers of green and red. Not sure how I will repaint it.

Also did an old diecast 4-4-0 Genoa while I was at it.

I was afraid that I had lost one of the axle bushings during sandblasting but was relieved to find it still on the axle.
 

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