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Loco Stopping Erratically

Paul K asks readers:

“My 8 year old Bachmann engine HO goes ok but then stops or stalls. It’s doing my head in because it doesn’t stop in the same spot so its not the track. It will do a couple of circuits then plays up. Not sure what to do.”

26 Responses to Loco Stopping Erratically

  • Codysays:

    Could be an issue with lubrication, is it DC or DCC? Since you said it doesn’t do it in the same place it shouldn’t be track power unless your transformer is shot. More info please!

  • Petersays:

    You could have a crack in one of your electronic circuits and it parts when loco gets hot.

    • Neil Glennsays:

      Low voltage equipment is particularly susceptible to ‘cold’ solder joints, ones which were insufficiently heated, or were moved while being soldered. These can sometimes be identified by careful inspection of the ‘color’ of the joint. A shiny, smooth ‘flow’ of solder, tapered, is generally good. A grayish, matte finish should be suspect! A clean tip, hot soldering pencil applied with a small dab of flux can firm these up, with a swab with alcohol to clean. otherwise, look for a break in a circuit board, or wire. As you say, the track probably isn’t the fault.

  • Roysays:

    Check the pickup contacts they maybe loose

  • Lessays:

    Have you checked the wheels? Are they clean? Are there brass swipes, contacts on the onside surfaces of the wheels are they clean? If not clean them and then see how the engine works.

    • Sheldon Clarksays:

      The Wheel/Track interface was my first thought, too. How often do you clean your track & Locomotive Wheels? What about where the pickups contact the wheels? If you are happy with those aspects, try the loco on your track with a borrowed controller and try a borrowed loco on your track with your own controller. If the intermittent problem persists, try your loco on someone else’s railway. What you need to do is scientifically establish where the problem is without being invasive; don’t break out your screwdrivers & soldering iron until you’re pretty sure where the problem actually lies. As soon as you start interfering, you run the risk of introducing new problems, making diagnosis of the original problem more difficult.

  • Greg Bowensays:

    Hi Paul, Is this running on DC or DCC? If it is DC I would have a look at several things with this locomotive. Firstly the wiring and track pickups – are there any failed joints in the wiring or grime on the pickups. Are the track pickups loose? is there binding in the gear mechanisms above the trucks (track dirt, hair, fluff thick grime etc.) or in the truck gears themselves? If you have the confidence, I would disassemble the the loco, making accurate notes on each piece to enable correct re-assembly, give everything a good clean in 70% isopropyl alcohol, the check all soldered joints – over time, some of these can become loose or even may go “cold”…i.e: they are no longer conductive. If any are a dull grey, re-solder (after removing the old solder and cleaning). Give the wheel treads a good clean and finally check all other moving parts for obstructions, flywheels gear train etc.
    If it is running on DCC, I would also check the decoder connections to the motor.

    Hope this helps,

  • Lessays:

    Do all other engines work fine no matter how long you run them? If not then it maybe your power supply.

  • Gregory Foxsays:

    First off it’s a Bachman-not the highest quality loco out there and it’s probably been beaten up by your kid (just normal use and being a kid) and never maintained (cleaned or lubed). My advice is to shelve it and go purchase a quality loco. There are plenty of different brands out there in all scales both dc and dcc that are far better than your old bachman. Also, a good track cleaning is probably in order too. Good luck…

  • David Hensleysays:

    Eight years old is very old my friend. Save your money and visit a hobby shop and grab a newer loco! .

  • Steve Twiseltonsays:

    I wonder if this engine is steam or diesel and is it the only one that does it. It seems to me you may have a brush problem or just bad contacts to the track. If not a contact problem check with Bachmann about a new motor.

  • Walter Normansays:

    If Dcc pin connection between tender & loco may be loose

  • Ted Stapletonsays:

    I always hate to give up on something without giving it a good try to fix. I find problems like this are usually caused by electrical problems. Wheels on a loco pick up “crud” from the track and cause points on the wheels that do not conduct electricity causing the loco stall or other “not running smoothly”. So I would look for a electrical circuit cleaner (in a spray can at “Frys Electronic or Radio Shack or the like) I spray a portion of a paper towel, over each rail and run the engine on that portion of the track. You have to leave a portion of the engine (or tender for a steam loco) on uncovered track until it gets the electrical contact needed to run the engine-wheels. The paper towel will get dirty areas on it from this process. Move to a clean area of the paper towel, repeat until the paper towel comes out clean. Try the engine again.

  • Romeosays:

    You seem to have a gear problem, Bachman are known for having issues with gears, It appears to me that a gear my be jamming up when running at a slow speed. You need to replace them soon because the stress on motor could cause a problem. I did that to my older Bachman models and no problems after I replace the gears.

  • Steve Rileysays:

    Have you tried another Train of your Track?, or have you tried your Train on someone else track?, go to your local Model Railway Club and see if hey have a test track and see if it runs ok on this, if it does then you know the train is ok

    • Sheldon Clarksays:

      The simpler suggestions are always the best ones to start with. Don’t go changing motors & gears until you’ve ruled out dirty track/wheels/pickups.

  • Tom Osterdocksays:

    I had that happen to me one time. I was just running along and just left the yard after filling with water. All of a sudden my loco just instantaneously stopped. One of my passengers went sliding forward and squished her son against the tender. I went flying thru the air over the stack and landed in front of the engine. The beam pump, similar to a crosshead pump, broke and when it did it jammed the main beam so it could not travel as normal. Took several minutes to figure out what happened and remove the beam pump arms so that I could then proceed on. I thought I was going to be in major problem but once the beam was removed then I just had to fill the boiler with my injector. Worked quite well.

    • Tom Osterdocksays:

      here is the picture of my train after I rebuilt it.

    • Sheldon Clarksays:

      Problems like this tend to be catastrophic rather than intermittent.

  • Skipsays:

    Bachmann engines are covered with a sweet warranty. Call them for the specifics . 215-533-1600. You send them the defective loco, you pay shipping. I don’t recall, it’s either $15 or $30 for HO. They repair or replace the loco. Might be worth looking into before investing your time and money. Good luck! Skip.

    • Ron Scannellsays:

      I had a Bachman 2 truck Climax with stripped gears. I sent it to Bachman for repairs. They called me and said that the 2 truck model was no longer available, but for $10.00 they would send me a 3 truck Climax. Bachman is very good about that, give them a try.

  • KEITH BROWNsays:

    I had this issue with my oo gauge class 37 I changed
    The brushes in the motor and where the cog pin is
    Just put a little machine oil ie sewing machine oil
    Working like a dream

  • Steve Hayessays:

    Hi it could be a fault in the motor, since you did not say what Loco it is I can not help more. I had a simular problem with my old dock yard shutter. After I’d striped the motor cleaned all the metal contact it ran fine. Hope this helps

  • Jeff Tsays:

    HI Ted, I have a similar problem with some of my Bachmann stuff. I’m only an amateur hobbyist, something that keeps me busy on cold snowy days. I found on of my Bachmann DC controllers was a culprit the diode bridge would heat up and die. Once it cooled off it would work again. I’ve eliminated that controller.
    But, my 4-8-0 On30 still does this, right from new. I don’t expect too much from the Bachmann locos, so I haven’t spent much time on it. But, my plan is to pull the cab off the loco and go through all the electrical connections, clean/lube everything the best I can and see what happens.
    We’re expecting snow over night Friday into Saturday, so that might be a great time to spend on this guy and get it running good.
    Keep us posted and good luck.
    Jeff T

  • Leonsays:

    So far they have virtually covered all. What you need to do is get an Amp meter and insert it in series with your power. I had a Bachman loco (steam) and the motor gave problems. It drew nearly 1,5 amp when it stopped. I contacted Bachmann and they replaced the motor free of charge.
    If this is not your problem, contacts on the wheels and solder joints or brushes. I would not exclude gears, but this will be a last resort. If the loco stopped and you hear the motor run, but no movement, I would say gears.

  • Robertsays:

    If you have an open frame motor check that the gaps in the commutator segments haven’t filled with carbon crud from the brushes. Clean them with a fine pointed toothpick and a spray of alcohol or electrical cleaner then re oil the bearings. As for age, I have tri-ang/Hornby locos that are 40+years old and still running well.

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