Help! Problem with new Athearn Blue Box loco

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Hey gang,

Some you "Blue box veterans" may be able to help! I just got in the mail a supposably brand new Athearn FP45 motorized unit...DC, analog only.

I put it on the track, and nothing--no power. However, after testing, I found that if I lift up the FRONT truck--the back truck gets power. If I lift up the BACK truck, the front truck gets power.

Thus, from deduction I get this: the motor is good, the headlight comes on when going forward so thats no problem, the gearing works (the loco runs as long as only one truck is on the track) and the direction switch when applied seems normal.

So, something is "shorting out" when BOTH trucks are on the track at the same time. There definately is a SHORT---because while the loco was on the track, I put another loco on the track nearby---the other loco (which works fine) did not get power either--until I take off the FP45.


I hope I explained the problem clear enough...I am at a total loss as to why its shorting. I looked at both power trucks and nothing seems amiss.

Please any suggestions welcome!

you can email MetzgerTrains@aol.com direct
if you wish
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
I'm guessing j-w will probably have a more detailed answer, but I do know that older-style BB's were grounded to the frame. Obviously something from the "positive" side of the pickup circuit is touching the frame.
 

sushob

Entrepreneurial Teen
Check to make sure both (+) connections are wired to the same side of each truck (the same rail), and both (-) connections are wired to the same side (the other rail). It almost sounds like they were wired opposite, so it shorts when both trucks pick up power.
 
Sounds like something is installed backwards. Which is kinda what everyone said. Can the truck be installed 180 degrees out?
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
Make sure the metal tabs the look like a bent upside down L-shape point the same way. If one points left and the other points rt. There is your short. They should point the same direction. Pop the worm cap off, and turn the truck around.
 
Thanks for the help!

Make sure the metal tabs the look like a bent upside down L-shape point the same way. If one points left and the other points rt. There is your short. They should point the same direction. Pop the worm cap off, and turn the truck around.

Thanks for all the help guys! Okay, I have never done this before so I need to confirm the steps.

If I have to turn the truck around (as I do not see any + or - wires that I can rewire visible) I can dissassemble just one truck and flip it around then put it back the same way?

Could you also clarify what you mean above about the polarity causing a short? I think I know what you mean by the bent L shaped metal strip, but I don't understand "if one points left and other points right there is your short"?

Thanks again!
 

jeffrey-wimberly

Dr Frankendiesel
If it's a BB loco, the positive tabs from the trucks will face the same direction. Mine come up with the tab on the right side of the truck, making a 90 degree turn at the top and go horizontal to the left. It's not easy to short out a BB unit, but a turned around truck will do it, though I don't know how it would be driven. All the Athearn trucks I've seen have the worm assembly at the far end and will only connect to the drive shaft one way.

I remember now that a F7 unit I bought back in 86 had a problem like the one you describe. One of the wheelsets was pushed too far into the drive axle gear and the axle studs were touching and shorting out.

Remove the contact strip that bridges the motor and trucks and test the wheelsets with a continuity meter. Touch one lead to the left while and the other lead to the right wheel. If the meter shows a connection, that's your short.
 
Blue box woes

If it's a BB loco, the positive tabs from the trucks will face the same direction. Mine come up with the tab on the right side of the truck, making a 90 degree turn at the top and go horizontal to the left. It's not easy to short out a BB unit, but a turned around truck will do it, though I don't know how it would be driven. All the Athearn trucks I've seen have the worm assembly at the far end and will only connect to the drive shaft one way.

I remember now that a F7 unit I bought back in 86 had a problem like the one you describe. One of the wheelsets was pushed too far into the drive axle gear and the axle studs were touching and shorting out.

Remove the contact strip that bridges the motor and trucks and test the wheelsets with a continuity meter. Touch one lead to the left while and the other lead to the right wheel. If the meter shows a connection, that's your short.

Well, I thought the problem could be solved by removing the rear truck and turning it 180 and reinstalling. WRONG! It won't go the other way (you are correct) which is a shame, I was hoping to get this working the easy way. It must be something wrong with the axles/contacts , something to do with the trucks and not anything above those.

However, I just ordered a brand new pair of power trucks for this FP45 on ebay, so I should just be able to pop the new trucks in (now that I know how to get the others loose--that was an experience!)

Does anyone know if Athearn is still distributing these power trucks and other repair parts? Lots of them on Ebay but I dont know if they are just backstock.


I just called a local Athearn retailer that said he had "all blue box" BUT he has all the blue box kits, but no locomotives. He made it sound like no one stocks the bb locos (which I infer that they are no longer being made available thru Athearn).

Here is where a local hobby shop loses out because on ebay I can find a dozen or so FP45s for sale , some brand new, plus I can find new parts for them.

I rather drive 15 miles and pick up the parts or loco RIGHT NOW, and pay DOUBLE from a retailer what I would pay on Ebay (it seems that the average local hobby store price is DOUBLE or higher than what I would pay ebay ).

Its not that price drives the hobby for me its convenience and "instant gratification" of getting the problem solved, and the train working as soon as possible!

But sadly local hobby shops just can't satisfy me , even when price is NOT a consideration, they still fall short.
 

jeffrey-wimberly

Dr Frankendiesel
When I need something that the LHS can't provide, I order straight from Walther's, or in the case of Athearn, straight from Athearn. Very rarely do I order from Ebay. I've had too many bad experiences with them.
 
Ebay

When I need something that the LHS can't provide, I order straight from Walther's, or in the case of Athearn, straight from Athearn. Very rarely do I order from Ebay. I've had too many bad experiences with them.
Ebay is great for a lot of hobby purchases. But, with online transactions, you have got to be very weary. So, for model railroad purchases, I usually only purchase from Ebay stores, hobby shops that sell online. I have found great savings and great products that are in new packaging this way.

From private sellers, yes, at times, it can be a hit or miss. I have had few problems though since I became a member in 2000.
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
Athearn still sells these trucks; if you go to their site, there's a listing of all the parts that are 'available'. Since this truck is common (I Think) to the SDP40, etc., it should be listed.

There is a place that sells replacement Athearn parts, but I can't find the URL offhand...

Kennedy
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Athearn still sells these trucks; if you go to their site, there's a listing of all the parts that are 'available'. Since this truck is common (I Think) to the SDP40, etc., it should be listed.

There is a place that sells replacement Athearn parts, but I can't find the URL offhand...

Kennedy
The Horizon Hobbies site that I linked carries it all.
 
Hey guys,

Update on that FP-45 that gave me problems. I really don't know what the cause (for shorting out) is yet, but I have ordered a gear assembly from Athearn and sent the order out the other day. Thanks to your help, I saw the parts list on the website and found what I needed.

I was told by a local buddy at Hobby Warehouse that if you order direct from Athearn and live close by their company, the turn around should only be 1 week. Lets hope so! Athearn is just a 15 minute drive from my residence (Carson, Calif.) Sad to say, they don't have a showroom! I already called them and asked! Rats!

I really love the Athearn BB F/FP-45s series machines! They are sooo brutish....and don't forget about that Athearn "GROWL"! Matter of fact, Athearn period is becoming one of my favorite brands. I love the Ready to Roll stuff, both locos and stock, and have my eye on a Challenger and Big Boy down the road.

My recent purchases have been (and I could not be more pleased with them):

2 x Southern Pacific drop end gons ..RTR line
1 x SP boxcar ...Genesis line

The gons are incredible, and the boxcar has a real "see thru" catwalk.
For the gons my first job is to get realistic loads together for them, I was thinking of one a scrap metal heap (as seen in that Model Railroader article a couple months back) and ...any ideas for the other gon?
 




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