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Strange Locomotive Problem

Wayne posted this question to readers:

“I have several steam locos in both N and HO gauge and they run poorly forward but run MUCH BETTER backwards. Any Ideas, cause or cures? Thank you.”

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6 Responses to Strange Locomotive Problem

  • Docsays:

    They need brushes

  • David Stokessays:

    This appears to be a perennial problem with locos driven from the rear driving wheel, or the tender. My take on this is that in reverse these loco set ups appear to be pulling the loco, and so the motor finds it easier to drag the loco rather than propel it. I could be wrong. If you can, remove the connecting rods and see if the offender will run forward better without them. If it does then it might confirm my theory.

    How to cure it? With the rods on, and on a rolling road (so that the loco stays put and the wheels spin), run the loco at its slowest possible speed and see it there is any binding. A multi meter in the circuit will show whether electrical resistance caused by binding of the rods if it is not noticeable by eye. If there is, judicious filing of the con rod hole might help.

    If the poor running is on track with lots of winding bends, and many locos on the layout suffer then it might be the track, not the locos. Using a track gauge, check the areas where the locos stall, and adjust it as necessary. Tight track might grip the wheels enough to cause issues.

    It’s a silly suggestion I know, but most of us have fewer wagons in a train we are reversing than pulling so locos perform better in that direction, so try running shorter trains in the forward direction.

    Put together your “normal train” and drive off – note how the loco performs, then remove one or two wagons and check again. Continue to remove wagons until the loco, hopefully, behaves itself. All this does it confirm suspicions that the loco is not the problem, and you might find the shorter length train is more appropriate to the loco and your layout anyway.

    Good luck.

  • Bobsays:

    I think Doc is right. Motor brushes tend to seat one direction and wear badly after awhile. Spinning the motor backwards often makes them change that seat and work better.

  • N/Asays:

    Found a similar problem on Facebook for a DCC locomotive. Ended up having to replace the decoder…

  • Anthony Germagliottisays:

    There might be a problem with the brush springs in the motor L have the same problem with some of my o scale locos and found by adjusting spring tension on the brushs the loco runs better in the forword direction,

  • Robertsays:

    It could be a brush seating problem, swap them over and see if that changes the slower running direction.

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