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Hello all, new here and had a couple questions! First Im getting my 6 year old into the hobby. Pulled my old track out of the basement I havnt used in years and it needs cleaned. Ive googled and found many options. I bought some isopropyl alcohol but wondered if anything else was better?
Second question I got my old engine out that hasnt ran in 15 years. Dont know the brand but know I saved a lot as a kid for it lol. Anyways I put it on the track and its dead, only the light turns on. Nothing is binded up and moves freely. Guessing the motor isnt getting power but Im out of practice where should I check first? The metal piece going over the top is rusted I could clean that off. Got a multimeter if that would help me
 

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Alcohol is good for cleaning, but do not get sloppy. It also removes paint.
Your locomotive looks to me to be an Athearn.
Clean the wheels first, most likely reason for not running is dirty wheels.

Also, clean the part inside the red circle with a pencil eraser, rotate motor by hand and clean all around.

Is that scotch tape on top of the motor?
The long metal strip must contact the short metal strip under it for motor to get power.

20191117_170316_1574030858400.jpg
Wait a minute, the long metal piece looks upside

down!
s-l1600.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Lol your right! Ill flip it around, guess my young self didnt know what he was doing. Ill clean that piece and flip that and retry thanks!
 

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Alcohol is good for cleaning, but do not get sloppy. It also removes paint.
Your locomotive looks to me to be an Athearn.
Clean the wheels first, most likely reason for not running is dirty wheels.

Also, clean the part inside the red circle with a pencil eraser, rotate motor by hand and clean all around.

Is that scotch tape on top of the motor?
The long metal strip must contact the short metal strip under it for motor to get power.

View attachment 515008
Wait a minute, the long metal piece looks upside

down!
View attachment 515010
I soaked that top piece in rust remover, flipped it around and used an eraser best I could. Now it runs! I greatly appreciate it, its still running a little rough and sparking from the wheels. Guess I didnt clean them good enough is what that means?
 

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Cleaning wheels

I soaked that top piece in rust remover, flipped it around and used an eraser best I could. Now it runs! I greatly appreciate it, its still running a little rough and sparking from the wheels. Guess I didnt clean them good enough is what that means?
Waffen06;

You can clean the wheels by attaching one wire from the "track" terminals of a DC power pack to a miniature file held lightly against the wheels on one side, and the wire from the other terminal to the locomotive's opposite wheels. Turn the power up and run the wheels against the file. As the wheels get clean and shiny the locomotive should run better and on a lower power setting. Then switch the file and wire so you can clean the wheels on the other side.
Another thing to check is the wiper contacts that press against the wheels. They may be dirty or corroded. 600grt. emery sandpaper will clean any dirt and corrosion off these contacts.

Long term, it would be a good idea to replace that whole Athearn metal strap system with wires soldered between the motor's terminal lugs and the wheel contacts. It's a much more reliable system. If you decide to install a DCC decoder in this locomotive, It will be necessary to isolate the motor from the loco's frame, (from the photos, it looks like that may already have been done) and solder wires from the wheel contacts to the decoder input, and another pair from the decode output to the motor.

good luck, have fun;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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I use rubbing alcohol on a strong paper towel and hold one wheel set over the alcohol at a time then set it to full throttle. As far as track goes if it’s old steel track you may want to consider using a scotch brite pad lightly on the rail heads to clean any really stuck oxidation on it. I bought an old athearn blue box loco at the train show about a year ago had the same wheels sparking issue. They’re just really dirty. The rubbing alcohol should do the trick. File will work too just can’t stress it enough that you need to be light with it or those wheels will wear down very quickly
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I dont think anything has been done for dcc, I bought it new probably 15 years ago. What looks like it has?

Also is this a decent engine? Should I be putting time into it or look for something newer?
 

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Dennis, great catch on the copper top contact being "Upsidedown". Waffen06, after its all running, you might consider some hard wiring to replace the slip contact that the upsidedown piece is now providing. Its an easy fix, if you your OK with soldering, if not, just keep the contact point clean.
 

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A file on the wheels? You gotta be kidding.
and I use sand paper to clean the surface of painting by Leonardo Devince.
Never, ever use a file on the track or the wheels unless your intent is to destroy them.
First, you are filing away the Nickle Silver plating that provides the better electrical contact. Second, you introduce small grooves in the surface that collect and hold grit and crud a lot better than the smooth surface.
You might also hear about using Acetone to clean track. That's another cruel suggestion by people who are most likely trying to destroy your track or model. Acetone eats engineer plastic. You track ties are engineer plastic and the Acetone will distort them, changing the gauge of the track. DID I MENTION ACETONE EATS ENGINEER PLASTIC? Don't use that or a file or sand paper on any electrical conducting surface.
To clean the wheels, take a single piece of paper towel and lay it across the track. Put a few drops of Isopropanol Alcohol on the paper then power up your loco and run it onto the paper. Hold it in place and let the wheels spin on the wet part of the paper. You will see the black lines from the crud coming off the wheels. Remember, one set of wheels must be on the track to get power to the motor to turn the other wheels.
Once again, NO SAND PAPER, NO FILES, NO ACETONE.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
A file on the wheels? You gotta be kidding.
and I use sand paper to clean the surface of painting by Leonardo Devince.
Never, ever use a file on the track or the wheels unless your intent is to destroy them.
First, you are filing away the Nickle Silver plating that provides the better electrical contact. Second, you introduce small grooves in the surface that collect and hold grit and crud a lot better than the smooth surface.
You might also hear about using Acetone to clean track. That's another cruel suggestion by people who are most likely trying to destroy your track or model. Acetone eats engineer plastic. You track ties are engineer plastic and the Acetone will distort them, changing the gauge of the track. DID I MENTION ACETONE EATS ENGINEER PLASTIC? Don't use that or a file or sand paper on any electrical conducting surface.
To clean the wheels, take a single piece of paper towel and lay it across the track. Put a few drops of Isopropanol Alcohol on the paper then power up your loco and run it onto the paper. Hold it in place and let the wheels spin on the wet part of the paper. You will see the black lines from the crud coming off the wheels. Remember, one set of wheels must be on the track to get power to the motor to turn the other wheels.
Once again, NO SAND PAPER, NO FILES, NO ACETONE.
Glad I didnt try that yet, Ill try the paper towel trick thanks!
 

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After you get the electrical systems cleared up you
might want to clean the lube from the trucks. It
gels as it ages and hinders gearing efficiency. Relube
using a plastic friendly grease such as Labelle's from
a hobby shop. They will also have a suitable
'oil' for the motor bearings.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Ill check that. I Dont remember seeing any grease anywhere but I could of missed it. Are these decent engines to keep around?
 

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I have a fleet of the Santa Fe war bonnet locomotives that are like that. I haven’t broken one yet. I give it a thumbs up and also for a kid that’s about all the better I would go because if it gets broken then you’re not out hundreds of dollars. My boy has a brass sd7 from hallmark I gave him but I’m making him rebuild it before he is allowed to run it so he hopefully will have more respect for it
 

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Thanks Ill check that. I Dont remember seeing any grease anywhere but I could of missed it. Are these decent engines to keep around?
Yes, they are. That is what is referred to as an Athearn Blue Box locomotive, so called because they were sold in.... blue boxes!
They can be cleaned up, relubed, and made into very nice running engines.
This guy really tears into one. You don't have to get as extreme as he goes, but it's a good video showing how easy these locomotives really are to work on. This is part one of a two part series he has.
 
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