New Locomotive and Sirty Wheels is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


Section Hand
I just test ran a new Milwaukee Road Alco locomotive and on the test track it ran perfectly back and forth with sound.

Then I ran the unit on the layout with a string of cars behind it to break in the locomotive. It ran about 20 feet and stopped dead. I gave the locomotive a little push and it ran a foot or so and then stopped.

I took the locomotive to my workbench's test track and cleaned the locomotive's wheels.

WOW....were the wheels dirty. It was like they had run for a extended time on the layout. Once the wheels were clean, the locomotive ran perfectly.

All my new locomotives will have a wheel cleaning session before test running or break in runs.


Last edited by a moderator:

NH Mike

CEO & Wheel Cleaner
It sounds like there was some sort of preservative or lube put on at the factory to keep the wheels from oxidation and it picked up whatever minute dust, etc. that was on the rails. What brand is the loco? I can't ever recall having that problem with Athearn Atlas, or Proto right out of the box.


Whiskey Merchant
Although I haven't bought many new locomotives in recent years, I have never run across anything quite like this. I think Mile may have the reason for that problem. After cleaning, how did the locomotive run and how long did it run if it need the wheels cleaned again?

I just have been way too busy to spend the time I would like to in the train room and I don't regularly clean my track. Guess I should get a track cleaning car some time in the future, but don't really have much of a problem. Sometimes when I use a locomotive that hasn't been used in quite a while, I will notice the headlight flickering and a quick wheel cleaning will cure the problem, but I am also running DC only which is a lot more forgiving than DCC.


Section Hand
The loco was an new Atlas Alco release. I used alcohol soaked paper toweling on my test track to clean the wheels. The black streaks that were left on the paper towel equaled or exceed any locomotive wheel cleaning I have done in the past.

The track was cleaned just a week or so prior to this happening. I ran the locomotive for at least two hours since the wheel cleaning and it has run great.

I think Mike you may have hit the problem on the head with the preservative on the wheels or something used in the manufacturing of the wheels and it wasn't removed.

I'll clean the wheels again and see what comes off.




BN Modeller
Greg, here's one of mine that did the same, Atlas Geep.
I picked it up used, I'm guessing it was running on the Shag Carpet Southern!


Well-Known Member
Staff member
You didn't say who or where you bought it from, but new with wheels in that condition. I'd be very suspicious.

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.