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Discussion Starter #1
Santy brought me a couple new engines this season and the GG1 is the first Kato I've ever had issues with. By itself it won't make it one lap around my little layout without either the front or rear truck derailing, almost always on turnouts and randomly elsewhere. Add one car and it does fine, mostly. More than one and it's great, as long as the engine is pointing in the right direction! I'm thinking the trucks are just too light but I don't see how I could add weight to them anywhere.

Apparently no one else has this issue so I may be sol but any ideas would be appreciated!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
This is the other engine under the tree, man what a beauty! Btw, it takes two of these to pull what the GG1 will do all by itself!
 

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Santy brought me a couple new engines this season and the GG1 is the first Kato I've ever had issues with. By itself it won't make it one lap around my little layout without either the front or rear truck derailing, almost always on turnouts and randomly elsewhere. Add one car and it does fine, mostly. More than one and it's great, as long as the engine is pointing in the right direction! I'm thinking the trucks are just too light but I don't see how I could add weight to them anywhere.

Apparently no one else has this issue so I may be sol but any ideas would be appreciated!


maybe your corners are to sharp as it is a big loco just a thought:dunno:
 

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I agree. A GG1 is a long loco with exceptionally long trucks. It's not going to do well with tight curves and sharp turnouts. That would be my first guess if none of your other equipment has problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you gents! Could be you're right, contrary to what Kato claims on it's website: https://www.katousa.com/N/GG1/index.html

According to their info the GG1 should be:
"Able to go through an 249mm (9 ¾”) radius S-Curve
Shock absorber construction gives even traction and performance, even on the roughest track."

I do have one short S-curve but it hasn't derailed there, (yet) and I suppose it could be that what I thought was perfectly laid track isn't so perfect after all.

With the exception of a tiny little Bachmann 4-4-0 that simply refuses to go over turnouts nothing else has this issue. I'd read a bunch of horror stories about how accurate N scale track needs to be so I spent an inordinate amount of time making sure it was right before gluing it down. This is my first layout so there's a very good chance I've done something wrong even though the track appears to be smooth as glass.

The really odd thing is that it only does this when it's run by itself. Hook up a few cars and the problem goes away.

Yeah I know..."Don't run it without any cars dummy!":D
 

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Thank you gents! Could be you're right, contrary to what Kato claims on it's website: https://www.katousa.com/N/GG1/index.html

According to their info the GG1 should be:
"Able to go through an 249mm (9 ¾”) radius S-Curve
Shock absorber construction gives even traction and performance, even on the roughest track."

I do have one short S-curve but it hasn't derailed there, (yet) and I suppose it could be that what I thought was perfectly laid track isn't so perfect after all.

With the exception of a tiny little Bachmann 4-4-0 that simply refuses to go over turnouts nothing else has this issue. I'd read a bunch of horror stories about how accurate N scale track needs to be so I spent an inordinate amount of time making sure it was right before gluing it down. This is my first layout so there's a very good chance I've done something wrong even though the track appears to be smooth as glass.

The really odd thing is that it only does this when it's run by itself. Hook up a few cars and the problem goes away.

Yeah I know..."Don't run it without any cars dummy!":D

huh, thats weird never heard of something like that:confused:, then again i only have to locos and they are both short! :laugh:
 

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What brand of turnouts, and what radius curves?

maybe your corners are to sharp as it is a big loco just a thought:dunno:
gimme30;

The drag on the GG1 may help stabilize things, sort of like a tail on a kite. This would be even more likely if the GG1 has it's couplers mounted on the end trucks. There would be just enough drag on the rear truck/coupler assembly to keep the truck centered and held down a little bit. If your little 4-4-0 won't make it through a turnout, it may be because you're using turnouts with plastic frogs. What brand, and rail code, of turnouts are you using? Also what is the minimum radius of the curves on your layout?
Kato, and other manufacturers, can sometimes be "optimistic", to put it politely, about the radii their locos can get through. Key words being "can" & "get through". Words left out would be "or not." I found that my Kato 2-8-2 mikados, which were supposedly OK on an 11" radius curve, actually needed a 16" radius to reliably stay on the track.
This jolly little discovery required ripping up my 12" radius curves, which should have been quite OK, I thought, and replacing them with 16" curves. Surprise! :(

regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

PS. A tiny spring, fashioned from some .010" Dia. steel music wire, might help hold the end trucks down. Does the Kato GG1 have any springs on the end trucks now?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
TF your kite analogy is spot on-with weight the rear truck stays on track, and with a car up front the leading truck will stay as well.

But one car on point with the rest behind just looks wrong!

In answer to your questions, (don't slap me, I know these are not your favorites!:eek:) I'm using Atlas code 80 snap track, #4 "custom line" turnouts, and yep it's mostly 9 3/4" radius curves. There are only 2 turnouts but to compound matters one of them is at the beginning of an incline.

That 4-4-0 I mentioned is what I used to ensure a "reliable" track. The thing doesn't even have to be moving to fall off if you do more than look at it sideways. :rolleyes: Once it would blast around the track at full throttle (until hitting the plastic frogs anyway) I figured I was good to go.

And I have been, until the GG1 came along!

Yes each truck is sprung, the leading/trailing trucks being double-sprung due to the very thin, floppy plastic that attaches them to the driven trucks. I'll get a pic up later so that will make more sense. There's really nowhere to add weight.
IMO they should have been made from metal, but I've done a lot of searching and have not run across a single complaint from anyone else having the same issue so I keep thinking it's got to be something else.

It's a shame, the pulling power this engine has is great but re-railing it every few feet is a PITA. (and it's not easy to get on the track to begin with!)
 

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Snap Track and custom line in N-scale??

TF your kite analogy is spot on-with weight the rear truck stays on track, and with a car up front the leading truck will stay as well.

But one car on point with the rest behind just looks wrong!

In answer to your questions, (don't slap me, I know these are not your favorites!:eek:) I'm using Atlas code 80 snap track, #4 "custom line" turnouts, and yep it's mostly 9 3/4" radius curves. There are only 2 turnouts but to compound matters one of them is at the beginning of an incline.

That 4-4-0 I mentioned is what I used to ensure a "reliable" track. The thing doesn't even have to be moving to fall off if you do more than look at it sideways. :rolleyes: Once it would blast around the track at full throttle (until hitting the plastic frogs anyway) I figured I was good to go.

And I have been, until the GG1 came along!

Yes each truck is sprung, the leading/trailing trucks being double-sprung due to the very thin, floppy plastic that attaches them to the driven trucks. I'll get a pic up later so that will make more sense. There's really nowhere to add weight.
IMO they should have been made from metal, but I've done a lot of searching and have not run across a single complaint from anyone else having the same issue so I keep thinking it's got to be something else.

It's a shame, the pulling power this engine has is great but re-railing it every few feet is a PITA. (and it's not easy to get on the track to begin with!)
gimme30;

"Snap Switches" and "Custom Line" are two completely different lines of turnouts made by Atlas. The custom line turnouts are much better than the Snap Switch turnouts. You get one guess as to which kind Atlas does NOT make in N-scale? Yes, what you actually have is really a #4 Snap Switch, the second-worst commercial turnout available. (Bachmann's EZ-Track turnouts just squeaked by to capture the highly-coveted "very worst" title!)

The good news is you only have two of these "wonders" (as in "I wonder who, or what, designed this ^%$#@ thing?, and/or "I wonder why I bought them?"
For your next turnouts I highly recommend Peco electrofrogs, or their new unifrogs. Both have metal frogs that can be powered, which will let your little 4-4-0 "test vehicle" make it through your turnouts.

On the GG1 issue, trying to get that big a locomotive to stay on 9-3/4" radius curves is somewhat akin to trying to make a U-turn with a semi in a phone booth! :laugh: Not terribly practical. Yes, it can probably be done, but it will always be borderline problematic. Have you checked the wheel gage on all the GG1's many wheels? Kato sometimes has their wheels a little tight.
If you have, or can get, more room, going to a larger radius curve will help. The bigger the better. Atlas makes code-80, 19"- radius sectional curved track pieces. If you can use them for your entire curve, great! If that's not practical then going to 11" radius sections with a 19" section at each end, to act as a crude "easement" is at least better than what you have now.

As for those errant front & rear trucks, can you add another spring, or substitute a stronger spring, for the original? If not, can you super glue a piece of lead underneath the truck, or on top of it? You might try winding solder around the axles in those trucks, as much as you can, without binding the wheels, or hitting the "precision crafted parts" of your "turnouts." :D
Short of building your own brass truck, and gluing the plastic truck frames on the outside, (I've made bridges this way) that's all I can think of.

If you are dedicated/stubborn enough to keep your Atlas turnouts, the first file below explains how to improve them. The second file explains a lot about turnouts in general.

BTW what are you using for catenary to power your GG1?:smilie_auslachen:

Regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment Improving Atlas turnouts pdf version.pdf

View attachment All AboutTurnouts rev 5.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yup, you're right, they're not custom line. That may have been stuck in my head because...drum roll please....I bought another of these engineering marvels! In my defense, this was before I found this forum and no I wasn't drinking at the time.:D

Here's the exact unit:https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/atlas-n-2750-code-80-track-custom-left-hand-4-turnout/

The package says it's "custom" in the top right corner but I'll be darned if I can tell the difference between it and the two that came in the track pack.

It's intended use is more for continuity than actual function-in fact it may never get used at all-so it'll get installed despite it's flaws and I'll just lie and say it's a Peco if anyone asks. :laugh:

As for my test vehicle, that's more of a mechanical issue than it is power. As soon as the front truck hits the frog it stalls. You can see the front end dip and that's the end of any forward progress. Looks like this cowcatcher catches frogs!
No big deal, that little engine can't pull more than one car up the inclines so it's been relegated to shelf duty.

I would like to be able to run the GG1 though. Just to clarify, the 12 driven wheels do not derail, just those pesky lightweight trucks at either end.
Speaking of...which end is the front?

BTW what are you using for catenary to power your GG1?
Static electricity! Generated by the engineer scratching his head over why the darn thing won't get through turnouts!
 

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Speaking of...which end is the front?
For real-world diesels, per some ICC or DOT regulation dating back to the early road switchers; the "front" of a locomotive must be identified by the letter "F". I've attached an example. I don't know about double-ended electrics. :confused:
 

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49 CFR § 229.11(a): "The letter “F” shall be legibly shown on each side of every locomotive near the end which for identification purposes will be known as the front end." In the days of center-cabs and high short hoods, it was seen as a safety issue - and it's still on the books. :)
 

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I don't know about double-ended electrics. :confused:
I can't find it on a pic of a GG1, but I have found a little "F" at the lower edge of the body above the leading truck on one end of GN 5019 - one of those big W-1 electrics GE made for GN about the same time as the GG1's. :)
 

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Well played sir!

Yup, you're right, they're not custom line. That may have been stuck in my head because...drum roll please....I bought another of these engineering marvels! In my defense, this was before I found this forum and no I wasn't drinking at the time.:D

Here's the exact unit:https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/atlas-n-2750-code-80-track-custom-left-hand-4-turnout/

The package says it's "custom" in the top right corner but I'll be darned if I can tell the difference between it and the two that came in the track pack.

It's intended use is more for continuity than actual function-in fact it may never get used at all-so it'll get installed despite it's flaws and I'll just lie and say it's a Peco if anyone asks. :laugh:

As for my test vehicle, that's more of a mechanical issue than it is power. As soon as the front truck hits the frog it stalls. You can see the front end dip and that's the end of any forward progress. Looks like this cowcatcher catches frogs!
No big deal, that little engine can't pull more than one car up the inclines so it's been relegated to shelf duty.

I would like to be able to run the GG1 though. Just to clarify, the 12 driven wheels do not derail, just those pesky lightweight trucks at either end.
Speaking of...which end is the front?



Static electricity! Generated by the engineer scratching his head over why the darn thing won't get through turnouts!


gimme30;

Either end can be the front. Long electric locomotives like the GG-1, GN fan's Class-W, and Milwaukee Road "Little Joes", Bipolars, Boxcabs,& "Quill Motors" were either too long to fit on some turntables, or just too long to turn conveniently on them. They were controllable from either end.
Later lengthy diesel cab unit consists (A-B-B-A for example) and even modern Amtrak, commuter lines, and some trolleys, (AKA "light rail vehicles") "push/pull" operations use the same basic idea. The loco, or entire train has controls at both ends, and so doesn't need to be turned.

I love your "static electricity made by head scratching" response! :laugh:

Yes, Atlas deceived you! That "custom N line" label is not unique. The statement at the bottom of the package is at least as bad too!
I've seen some HO-scale turnouts that are physically identical to "Snap Switches" but are labeled "Custom Line" on the package.

Atlas's real custom line turnouts (not available in N-scale) have no curved route like snap switches do. Instead, like all other brands of turnouts, they have two straight routes, that diverge from each other at the angle indicated by the frog number. They also have the frog number printed on the package, as in, "Atlas custom line #6 turnout." Atlas custom line turnouts do not have a switch machine included, which given the "quality" of the Atlas switch machine is probably a mercy.

The "cow catcher that catches frogs" * is a dramatic example of the "frog drop" built into nearly all commercial turnouts. It can be easily corrected by gluing plastic shims into the bottom of the frog until the new, shallower, depth of the frog matches the depth of the "flangeways" tab on an NMRA gage. While you're at it; check the width of the guard rail, and frog, flangeways too. It's made too wide, as well as too deep. The "too wide" part, especially on those guard rail flangeways, is a very common derailment cause.

This file explains the flangeway width issue further.

View attachment Improving Atlas turnouts pdf version.pdf


I just checked my own Pennsy GG1 and saw the spring arrangement on the pilot truck. The fact that the pilot trucks are attached to the main trucks presents some challenge but I'll work on it and see what I can come up with.

regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

After riding on an early American train, Mark Twain wrote that he felt the "cow catcher" might be better employed if mounted on the rear of the train. At the slow speed our train is making, there seems little chance of catching any cows; but at the back there is nothing to prevent them clambering aboard!" :laugh:
 

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GG1 end trucks

gimme30;

I partially disassembled my Kato GG1 yesterday and found that it is quite possible to replace the spring and add a tiny bit of weight, The truck just pulls off, straight down, and the spring comes off with it. By N-scale model standards, it's not that small a spring. You could replace it with a stronger one, or add a second Kato spring on top of the original. You just want to keep things reasonable in this area. Too much spring pressure at both ends, will tend to lift the loco slightly and reduce traction. So, those garage door countersprings you may have had in mind, after all your truck troubles, might be a bit extreme! :laugh:

The beam that connects the two axles of the pilot truck is hollow on top and some "Low Temp" bismuth alloy could be poured into it. It would also be feasible to replace the plastic beam with a solid brass one, which would add more weight.
Ithink your tight curves and Atlas turnouts are also part of the problem.

regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

P.S. I tried making a brass chanel replacement for the pilot truck beam mentioned above. It had to be cut up so much to fit inside the truck that it wasn't really stronger, or heavier, than the Delrin plastic original, so not worth the effort.
I did manage to mount a Micro-Trains coupler in the pilot truck. It wasn't easy, but it is possible.
I suggest you pull one of the pilot trucks off your GG1 and replace the spring with something a little more powerful. You can also add the bismuth alloy weight stuff to the two small square open spots in the top of Kato's pilot truck beam. The weights will be small, but the stuff is heavy enough to make a difference that you can feel when you hold the truck in your hand.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Traction you always go above and beyond. Thank you, again!

When I googled "bismuth alloy weight stuff" one of the top results was "How to entirely empty your bowels every morning (revealed)"

Gotta love the interwebs!

Anyway I took your advice and pulled things apart, and you're right about the various little spots weight can be added. Since I have no idea at what temperature the plastic might melt I don't know that I'll risk dumping molten metal all over the trucks. I shoot black powder on occasion so I have an abundance of lead balls I can cut into little pieces and glue into place.
You were also right about the gauge spacing...the rear axle on the front pilot is just a hair tight.(IE the gauge will fit, but I've got to force it) The rest are within spec. Short of filing down the outside of the flange some I don't know how to correct that issue.

I did try a stiffer spring with no luck. It may work better if I can stiffen up that floppy thin plastic beam, maybe tape a small length of bamboo skewer or the like to it...

Since I had the pilot trucks off I ran the little beastie and it handled my sharp curves fine at any speed in either direction. If it didn't look so wonky I'd just leave it like that!


Great Twain quote! One of my favorites: " Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.":D
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I can't find it on a pic of a GG1, but I have found a little "F" at the lower edge of the body above the leading truck on one end of GN 5019 - one of those big W-1 electrics GE made for GN about the same time as the GG1's. :)
GN I've done a little poking around myself and can't find an "F" on any of the pics I've seen either. However several show the engine pulling various cars and in most of them what looks like a grill or vent of some sort (No idea what to call it but it's the L shaped thingy above the number) is oriented towards the front. Maybe that's the answer?

 

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I copied your photo into Paint, "blew it up" by a factor of 3, and look what I found! :D
 

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