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Solving Electrical Problem With Locomotive

Dennis models in HO scale and asks readers:

“One of my locos is playing up and won’t work when it’s on the track. If I lift it up slightly from the rear with the front wheels still on the track, the wheels start turning like normal. I’m only having this problem with one loco, the rest are fine. Does someone know a likely cause? Thank you in hope.”

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4 Responses to Solving Electrical Problem With Locomotive

  • Newman Atkinson says:

    Hi Dennis I am taking it that there is no power on the engine and the motor is not running till you lift it up. You could have a loose wire inside Have you opened it up and looked? Also sometimes the contacts on the wheels tp the pick ups are not making up against the axle or wheels on some engines Lifting it up may shift the weight enough to make better contact on the front wheels Where there are contact brushes to the wheels these will get worn and not touch as well. Just shifting the engine at different angles might allow the brush better touch the wheels The motor on older engines are usually sitting on a metal frame. if that motor is not seated on the frame good it could be not making up the contact to get power to the motor when it is in certain positions These are some of my first suggestions. You may have to pull the frame apart carefully and lay your parts out so you remember how it goes back together. But those would be my first suggestions on where to look from Newman Atkinson

  • David Stokes says:

    Newman is right, but I’d be careful taking a loco apart if you are not confident that you’ll get it back together. If this is a problem straight out of the box, take it back to the retailer because there will be some warranty or consumer protect law that requires him to rectify the issue. If it is an older engine that you have used and it’s run well in the past then clean all the contacts, the wheel, even the rails. Check the wheel back to back to ensure it is in gauge. Check for visible loose wires and bits of fluff in the bearings of the wheels giving trouble and remove it. Model locos (at least modern ones, are precise as a Swiss watch, and don’t suffer fools gladly.

    If there is a railway modeller you trust in your area take it to his layout and see how it goes, if the problem persists ask him to “have at it” for you.

    Good luck

  • Warren Duncan says:

    Hi Dennis,
    The only suggestion I have is when taking anything apart I work at a clean area, no clutter to lose parts in, and I have my digital camera or cell phone to take pictures as I progress. Also I make notes if something is a bit unusual. I have two hobbies, trains and cars that I work on, using these “tools” have saved me from heart-ache on more then one occasion.
    Happy railroading, Warren

  • Ralph Tersigni says:

    Great advice above.One comment that may help is whenever taking anything apart I place the loco on a piece of bristle board on my work table in front of me and as parts come off they are placed at the top of the board and then back towards me in sequence taking pictures as I go. When the repair is complete the parts go back together in reverse order.The board is large enough to make notes beside the part on the board. If I am not sure I stop removal until I am sure what the next step is. Hope this helps.

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