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Bachmann HO loco, 1970's EMD F9A Santa Fe w/ original old brass like track. The loco has been running fine on my layout for a couple weeks. It had been in storage for a few years. Light use since 1970, mostly run around the holidays every few years. There are two places on my layout where the loco slows down, and almost comes to a stop. The loco light goes dim at both those places. My immediate thought was a track problem so I replaced track pieces at those two places, but same problem. I don't have another loco to test. Also there are two different places on the layout where the loco makes a noise when passing. Two different places from the places it slows/stops. Weird. All this happened at about the same time. So now I think it is the loco since the sound is a bit like the sound a Thunderjet 500 car pancake motor makes when it needs oil. But I only have a little experience with train motors. I have oiled the loco in the two pin holes at the top of the chassis, plus a tad on the truck gears. Still slows/stops & makes noise at same places on the layout. One of the places the loco slows/stops is on/near the straight piece where the power pack connects. I've checked that connection and checked the metal tabs that touch the rails. All looked OK. The other place the loco slows/stops is near the straight car/train crossing track piece that came from Aurora Model Motoring years ago (for use with my Aurora Tjets/Bachmann train). It has always worked fine, and I use it as a rerailer too. Any suggestions or tips for trouble-shooting this further would be appreciated. Thank you.
 

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This is where a ,multimeter is the tool you need. The dimming of the light is usually a sign of
low voltage...but could be that the wheels are binding at certain spots. That would cause the
motor to draw extra current and thus dim the light. Be we can do some checking

If you have a meter, set it for DC voltage, (I assume your 70s loco is NOT DCC). Set the power pack speed
control about half way up. Get your first readiing at the point your power pack is attached to the track. Take a voltage
reading after every track joint. If your voltage reading drops at any point, the 'joiners' just before that spot
are conducting properly. Brass track needs a lot of maintenance, as do the joiners. The
rail tops must be clean to provide good electrical conductivity to the loco power pick up wheels.

The loco wheels must also be clean. The simple way to do this is to wet a spot on a paper
towel with alcohol. Place it on the track and run the front wheels of the loco onto the spot.
Hold the loco by hand and run up the speed control thus spinning the wheels in the alcohol
Repeat with the rear wheels. You should also check that the wires connecting the
wipers on the trucks are intact. In an old loco there may be power pickup only
on one set of wheels...this alone could cause some of your pausing problems. Newer
locos have all wheel power pickup and are much more dependable.

I hope you used plastic friendly 'oil' for the lubrication you report. ff not, you should clean
iout what you used, including any possibly gelled grease in the loco gearing. Hobby shops carry
liquid and gel plastic friendly grease.

Let us know what you find and we can go from there.

Don
 

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Bachmann HO loco, 1970's EMD F9A Santa Fe w/ original old brass like track. The loco has been running fine on my layout for a couple weeks. It had been in storage for a few years. Light use since 1970, mostly run around the holidays every few years. There are two places on my layout where the loco slows down, and almost comes to a stop. The loco light goes dim at both those places. My immediate thought was a track problem so I replaced track pieces at those two places, but same problem. I don't have another loco to test. Also there are two different places on the layout where the loco makes a noise when passing. Two different places from the places it slows/stops. Weird. All this happened at about the same time. So now I think it is the loco since the sound is a bit like the sound a Thunderjet 500 car pancake motor makes when it needs oil. But I only have a little experience with train motors. I have oiled the loco in the two pin holes at the top of the chassis, plus a tad on the truck gears. Still slows/stops & makes noise at same places on the layout. One of the places the loco slows/stops is on/near the straight piece where the power pack connects. I've checked that connection and checked the metal tabs that touch the rails. All looked OK. The other place the loco slows/stops is near the straight car/train crossing track piece that came from Aurora Model Motoring years ago (for use with my Aurora Tjets/Bachmann train). It has always worked fine, and I use it as a rerailer too. Any suggestions or tips for trouble-shooting this further would be appreciated. Thank you.
Obcbeatle;

You didn't mention cleaning the track. Have you cleaned the "slows down" spots? The fact that the motor slows, and the headlight dims, most likely means that the loco is getting less voltage at those spots than elsewhere. The most likely cause of less voltage is there is more resistance there. The most likely cause of more resistance there, and only there, and repeatedly there, is dirty track there.
If you have a multimeter, you should check the track voltage at the two "slow/stop" points against some "runs normally" points. It's possible that some rail joiners aren't carrying power into those areas as well as they should. If you don't have a meter, it would be a good idea to get one. Trying to troubleshoot electrical problems without one is like walking around blindfolded. You might be able to do it, but why? The meter in the photo #1 is a basic model from Harbor Freight Tools. It only costs $5 and is quite adequate for model railroad use.

As for the noisy spots, are they in curved track? If so, is there any difference in those curves from other curves on your little layout? Tighter radius maybe?
Have you pulled the shell off the locomotive, and run the mechanism without the shell? Often you can see what part of the loco is making the noise. Have you checked the grease on the gears? A 1970s loco is definitely overdue for an "oil change." That means cleaning off the old grease and adding a tiny amount of new grease on the gears. It's possible that old solidified grease is slowing down the loco. Use only plastic compatible grease and oil. LaBelle is one good brand. Non plastic compatible lubricants can attack the plastic.

The Aurora crossing may be causing drag if it's a little warped. The part of the "road" between, or directly alongside, the rails may be high enough that the loco's truck side frames or "fuel tank" (The rectangular blob hanging down under the middle of the loco.) may be scraping against the road.

Finally, the track where the loco slows, and/or the spots where it makes a noise, may be out-of-gauge. If the rails are a little too close to each other at any of those spots, they could act like brake shoes on a bike or automobile. They could be squeezing the wheels just enough to slow the loco down, or make the mechanism work harder, and thus make noise. All of my suspicions about the gauge of the track, also apply to the wheels of the loco. If the wheels are a little too far apart from each other, they could cause the same problems. To check the gauge of both track and wheels (along with many variables on your Atlas Snap Switch turnout) you will need an NMRA gauge. (see photo #2 This is an important tool on any model railroad. It costs $12 and is well worth it. One source is www.modeltrainstuff.com

Good Luck;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the replies. I will go find my multi-meter to check the track connections. One thing I forgot to ask is how to take apart this old loco, to clean/check the trucks, etc? I just put a 9v battery on the front wheels and all the wheels turn w/ no squeeling noise. So maybe it is the track. Anyway, I can't find a video or old Bachmann manual that shows how to take apart this model loco (early 70's EMD F9A, I'm pretty sure). I've only taken the shell off so far. Thanks again!
 

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Sorry I didn't get back sooner to report. I live in Oregon & the fires/smoke here have impacted a lot of lives, including ours. Anyway, I used my multi-meter & tested every piece of track, which tested approx. 18.4v DC when the power pack was halfway throttle. So it seems the track voltage is consistent throughout the layout. I cleaned the loco wheels (they WERE dirty) using the alcohol/paper towel tip & now the loco does not slow/slow stop in the two previous places. So one problem fixed, thank you! The loco still makes noise consistently in two areas of the track layout, both places happen to be on the ends of the table where the table leaves are. And both those leaves are not flush with the middle of the table, thus the track does not lay flush to the table surface & when the loco/cars run the curves, the curve pieces move. So that's probably the problem (not a good surface for old ho track). I assume that could be why the loco makes noise on those two ends. However, this loco did not have this problem the first couple weeks I ran this layout. So I'd like to clean the loco gears that I recently oiled (gears between loco top & the trucks). But I've never taken this loco apart. Just the shell. Is there a video or manual that describes the process? I can't seem to find one. I need good access to the gears to clean out the oil I used. In case this is the problem. I used the red Aurora oil that I use on my Thunderjet 500 cars. Any suggestions/tips appreciated. And again, thanks for the help!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Forgot to mention that the loco light stays solid now (doesn't dim through any of the layout) since I cleaned the loco wheels. Loco continues to make squealing noise in spots on the layout, per my post above.
 

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18.4VDC, @ half throttle!? That can't be right. I know some older pretty packs are that high, but that's usually full throttle. What do you get at full throttle?

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

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Sorry I didn't get back sooner to report. I live in Oregon & the fires/smoke here have impacted a lot of lives, including ours. Anyway, I used my multi-meter & tested every piece of track, which tested approx. 18.4v DC when the power pack was halfway throttle. So it seems the track voltage is consistent throughout the layout. I cleaned the loco wheels (they WERE dirty) using the alcohol/paper towel tip & now the loco does not slow/slow stop in the two previous places. So one problem fixed, thank you! The loco still makes noise consistently in two areas of the track layout, both places happen to be on the ends of the table where the table leaves are. And both those leaves are not flush with the middle of the table, thus the track does not lay flush to the table surface & when the loco/cars run the curves, the curve pieces move. So that's probably the problem (not a good surface for old ho track). I assume that could be why the loco makes noise on those two ends. However, this loco did not have this problem the first couple weeks I ran this layout. So I'd like to clean the loco gears that I recently oiled (gears between loco top & the trucks). But I've never taken this loco apart. Just the shell. Is there a video or manual that describes the process? I can't seem to find one. I need good access to the gears to clean out the oil I used. In case this is the problem. I used the red Aurora oil that I use on my Thunderjet 500 cars. Any suggestions/tips appreciated. And again, thanks for the help!
obcbeatle;

I don't know any specifics about taking an HO-scale Bachmann F9. (I'm an N-scale guy, and I don't buy Bachmann.) Perhaps Bachmann has info on their website for this? However, most model locomotives, especially old diesels, are pretty simple mechanisms.
When I have to take any locomotive apart I usually just go by instinct. I do have a lot of experience at taking machines apart to repair them though.
I suggest you take photos of each stage of disassembly. Taking notes is also a good idea. Once you have done it I think you will find it less daunting than you thought.
I would also suggest using a parts container like an ashtray or saucer, or a small box. Ziploc bags are also good for keeping parts where you can find them.
Use plastic compatible grease on the gears, and very little of it. Labelle is one good brand.
Use the tips in this file that you think apply to the job you're doing. You might also find a locomotive cradle (see photo) handy, though if you have the shell off, and are dissecting the mechanism, you may not need the cradle.\

Good Luck;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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18v DC is too high for half throttle. Might be because its no load, but I would be cautious about its use.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
18.4VDC, @ half throttle!? That can't be right. I know some older pretty packs are that high, but that's usually full throttle. What do you get at full throttle?

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
Yeah, probably user error :) Hobby Transformer Model #6604 Output DC 18V, AC 19V (this is one of Bachmann's early transformers, I think early 1970's). I probed both rails simultaneously on 20 DCV (on multimeter) w/ the power pack throttle at stop 0 volts, half throttle 18.4V, full throttle 18.4V. So when throttle engaged, always measures around 18.4 volts DC. No variance from slow to fast when measuring, but train observes throttle when running. So maybe I'm not measuring correctly w/ my meter?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I forgot to mention this transformer has always run hot when running my loco, particularly with a full load if cars, running slowing on the layout. I've always given it a rest to cool down after running awhile.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
obcbeatle;

I don't know any specifics about taking an HO-scale Bachmann F9. (I'm an N-scale guy, and I don't buy Bachmann.) Perhaps Bachmann has info on their website for this? However, most model locomotives, especially old diesels, are pretty simple mechanisms.
When I have to take any locomotive apart I usually just go by instinct. I do have a lot of experience at taking machines apart to repair them though.
I suggest you take photos of each stage of disassembly. Taking notes is also a good idea. Once you have done it I think you will find it less daunting than you thought.
I would also suggest using a parts container like an ashtray or saucer, or a small box. Ziploc bags are also good for keeping parts where you can find them.
Use plastic compatible grease on the gears, and very little of it. Labelle is one good brand.
Use the tips in this file that you think apply to the job you're doing. You might also find a locomotive cradle (see photo) handy, though if you have the shell off, and are dissecting the mechanism, you may not need the cradle.\

Good Luck;

Traction Fan 🙂
Thanks traction fan. I just removed the top 4 screws off the chassis, then removed one of the shaft worm gears to try to clean it. Was able to clean that one gear but not the gear below it (probably need to remove the trucks, but still haven't found out how it do that). Anyway, after reassembling, the loco stopped squealing. So it's definitely the loco w/ the problem, & perhaps a non surface mounted track exacerbates the problem. Can't do much about the track right now as this small table is my only surface available to me. Eventually I want to remove the other worm gear, and get to the other gears below, to the clean out the rest oil I recently used. Glad I didn't use much oil on those gears. I'll get a proper loco grease. Thank for the Labelle tip. BTW, I've been using that red gel Aurora Model Motoring oil for years on my Tjet cars. In fact, I still have an original bottle from around 1969, I think. I've used it sparingly in the pin holes on the top of the loco chassis for years. Since I also occasionally oil the Tjet pancake motor gears, I thought I'd try a little on the loco gears. That apparently was a mistake!
 

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It just occurred to me that if your engine has only one contact on one side it might be possible to hesitate at either a dip in the track or a frog on a switch?
 

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Thanks traction fan. I just removed the top 4 screws off the chassis, then removed one of the shaft worm gears to try to clean it. Was able to clean that one gear but not the gear below it (probably need to remove the trucks, but still haven't found out how it do that). Anyway, after reassembling, the loco stopped squealing. So it's definitely the loco w/ the problem, & perhaps a non surface mounted track exacerbates the problem. Can't do much about the track right now as this small table is my only surface available to me. Eventually I want to remove the other worm gear, and get to the other gears below, to the clean out the rest oil I recently used. Glad I didn't use much oil on those gears. I'll get a proper loco grease. Thank for the Labelle tip. BTW, I've been using that red gel Aurora Model Motoring oil for years on my Tjet cars. In fact, I still have an original bottle from around 1969, I think. I've used it sparingly in the pin holes on the top of the loco chassis for years. Since I also occasionally oil the Tjet pancake motor gears, I thought I'd try a little on the loco gears. That apparently was a mistake!
obcbeatle;

What do you mean by "non-surface mounted track?" I thought you were using Bachmann EZ-Track, if I remember correctly (I seldom do anymore! :cautious: )
If that is the track you're using then, like any "roadbed track" (with the plastic roadbed piece under each track section) the plastic roadbed will act as a sounding board and amplify train noise. Is that what you meant?

You can sometimes do a partial job of cleaning old grease off gears by using a fairly stiff bristled artist brush soaked with alcohol.
With the worm gear removed from a truck, you should be able to hand turn the wheels, and thus the spur gears that the worm gear normally meshes with. This should let you clean the teeth, and possibly the axles, of those gears without removing the truck. A squirt of canned air from one of those keyboard dusters will help blow the old gunk out. Obviously, once you have the first truck reassembled, you can perform the same cleaning and lubing procedure on the other truck. That should give you a smoother & quieter running locomotive.

Your old Aurora model motoring* oil may not have hurt anything. The gears in your cars are probably plastic too. However, that oil is just over 50 years old, and may not be as effective as it once was. (Like me. 😕)
Also, grease is usually better for gears than oil since it stays in place better. You will only need a tiny dab on each worm gear. Running the locomotive will distribute the grease onto the other gears.
Labelle # 106 grease is what I use. It's very expensive, but the one small tube should be a lifetime supply. I use one drop of Labelle # 108 oil on each motor shaft bearing. One drop is plenty. So again my little bottle of grossly overpriced oil will last for many years.

Another possible bad thing about oil in a model locomotive is that some may end up getting on the wheels, and thus the rails. That acts as a very effective "dirt magnet" and tends to interfere with electrical pickup, traction, and even the roundness of wheels, since gunk will build up on the wheels in a less-than-perfectly-round fashion. Thump thump thump! 😄

Have fun

Traction Fan 🙂

* Yes, I had one of those model motoring sets long ago, including the railroad crossing. Lots of exciting train/car crashes!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
It just occurred to me that if your engine has only one contact on one side it might be possible to hesitate at either a dip in the track or a frog on a switch?
If one contact on one side refers to the wheels, I think all 6 pairs of wheels of this loco conduct electricity, thus when I touch a 9v battery to the front truck wheels all wheels spin, and same on the back truck wheels. But I may be mis-understanding this.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
obcbeatle;

What do you mean by "non-surface mounted track?" I thought you were using Bachmann EZ-Track, if I remember correctly (I seldom do anymore! :cautious: )
If that is the track you're using then, like any "roadbed track" (with the plastic roadbed piece under each track section) the plastic roadbed will act as a sounding board and amplify train noise. Is that what you meant?

You can sometimes do a partial job of cleaning old grease off gears by using a fairly stiff bristled artist brush soaked with alcohol.
With the worm gear removed from a truck, you should be able to hand turn the wheels, and thus the spur gears that the worm gear normally meshes with. This should let you clean the teeth, and possibly the axles, of those gears without removing the truck. A squirt of canned air from one of those keyboard dusters will help blow the old gunk out. Obviously, once you have the first truck reassembled, you can perform the same cleaning and lubing procedure on the other truck. That should give you a smoother & quieter running locomotive.

Your old Aurora model motoring* oil may not have hurt anything. The gears in your cars are probably plastic too. However, that oil is just over 50 years old, and may not be as effective as it once was. (Like me. 😕)
Also, grease is usually better for gears than oil since it stays in place better. You will only need a tiny dab on each worm gear. Running the locomotive will distribute the grease onto the other gears.
Labelle # 106 grease is what I use. It's very expensive, but the one small tube should be a lifetime supply. I use one drop of Labelle # 108 oil on each motor shaft bearing. One drop is plenty. So again my little bottle of grossly overpriced oil will last for many years.

Another possible bad thing about oil in a model locomotive is that some may end up getting on the wheels, and thus the rails. That acts as a very effective "dirt magnet" and tends to interfere with electrical pickup, traction, and even the roundness of wheels, since gunk will build up on the wheels in a less-than-perfectly-round fashion. Thump thump thump! 😄

Have fun

Traction Fan 🙂

* Yes, I had one of those model motoring sets long ago, including the railroad crossing. Lots of exciting train/car crashes!
So my track is the old track used in the early 1970's that I believe was designed to be nailed to a surface. Not EZTrack. The layout sits on a small 4x3' table (for now). The table is not completely level because of the end table leaves sag a bit. Thus the track on two ends moves a tad when the loco/cars roll by. Not ideal I know but I have no other surface for awhile and I'm too old to set it up on the floor :) The noise I was referring to was the loco kind of squealing, particularly when on those two ends of the layout. However the loco no longer squeals since I cleaned that one worm gear. But the gently moving tracking on those ends may have contributed to the loco squealing a lot there. I will definitely try an artist brush to clean those gears. Thank you for that suggestion! Also, I will now go back and clean all my track pieces. They look clean to the naked eye, but after the suggestion here to clean the loco wheels using alcohol on a paper towel I see just how dirty those rails probably are! BTW, what is the best way to clean the track pieces? Also, I seem to have brass like & silver like pieces of old track (Bachmann & Tyco). Is the silver better than brass? I think the connectors are also either brass or silver. I plan to tighten all the connectors a bit. Thanks for the reply! PS: Yep, some of my cars & trains have broken/missing pieces from those childhood days of "lets beat em' to the pass" RR crossing mishaps :)
 

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That silver track is possibly steel rails, check with a magnet,
If magnet sticks it's steel, if magnet doesn't stick it's nickle silver track.
Nickle silver is the best, the brass is much better than steel but will need frequent cleaning.
Steel track is the worst as it will rust.
Whatever track you have probably needs a good cleaning with alcohol on a rag
or Scotch Bright cleaning pad.

Magic
 

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If one contact on one side refers to the wheels, I think all 6 pairs of wheels of this loco conduct electricity, thus when I touch a 9v battery to the front truck wheels all wheels spin, and same on the back truck wheels. But I may be mis-understanding this.
That sounds like all-wheel pickup. which is a good thing. Some early locos picked up power from the right-hand rail with only their front truck & power from the left-hand rail only with their rear truck. Many early model steam locomotives picked up power from one rasil with the loco wheels and from the other rail with the tender wheels.

Traction Fan
 

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There's an easier and better way to clean loco wheels.
Put a spot of alcohol on a paper towel. Place that on
the track. Run the front wheels of the loco onto the wet spot.
Hold the loco by hand, run up the speed control so the
wheels will spin in the alcohol, thus cleaning them. Repeat
with the rear wheels.

Track this is moving is a likely cause of bad electrical
conductivity between sections. Try to 'shore' it up to be
more stable.

don
 

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Lots of people recommend alcohol. While it is a good solvent, it doesn't do anything to protect the rails or wheels from further corrosion, especially from microarcing. A better cleaner is kerosene, WD-40 Contact Cleaner (not the same as the regular WD-40), CRC Contact Cleaner and Protectant (again, they make several products; this one is the best), or even ATF (yes, automatic transmission fluid).
 
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