Wear and Tear on my Favorite Locomotives

ModelRailroadForums.com 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.


Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
Maybe I'm not the only one, but I have several locomotives that I use almost exclusively on my layout. These are the early DCC locomotives that I started to run and are weathered. I started to notice that some of the weathering is wearing off from handling and some broken detail parts. In the future I need to be more careful in how I handle these guys and even handle them less than I do now.

I know I maybe be over reactive and most visitors will never notice what I've been observing with these locos, but it bothers me never the less.

I know John Allen had rules that operators should never touch the locomotives and if they had too, carefully touch the couplers or other parts not likely to break or show damage.

Are you experiencing the same wear and tear with your favorite locomotives and rolling stock?

Greg
 
N

NP2626

Guest
Greg, we live in a programmed obsolescence society here in the U.S. The modern engineers of today have the ability to design and build products that will last a lifetime. However modern business owners and operators have no interest in making products like that, as there is no future sales value in such products. They feel the right tack to take is provide the public with products that last a few years and then fail to such a degree that the costs of repair (which they control) make repair unfeasible and the purchase of new, makes more sense to the public!

I realize that the above seems a fatalist's point of view! However, I would ask for you to prove to me I am wrong! As a former manufacturer, my interest was always in making my products last! My thoughts were that by doing so, customers would know this about my products and come back to me when they wanted good products.

As far as loco life is concerned, I know that the more I use them, the sooner they will fail!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Genetk44

Active Member
Gregg...do you Dullcote your rolling-stock after weathering it? If not that might be part of the reason your weathering is wearing-off. As for parts breaking off...well yeah, some of them are small and fragile so will break off due to the 3-Fs....fragility,fatigue or fat-fingers.

As for the whole planned obsolescence thing...yes I think it is an attempt my manufacturers to force us to buy instead of repair,up to a point. I also think it is a factor of a few other things also....things like economics= globalization, modern material-handling(ie: automation of assembly-lines), modern materials and other factors that actually make it cheaper for the consumer to replace rather than repair.
 

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
I have been pretty lucky as I hardly have any wear and tear on my locomotives or rolling stock. As gene mentioned, after painting and weathering the locomotives and rolling stock, everything was given a coat of Dull Coat. I have also done quite well as not to have broken off many details. I did bust off a couple of firecracker antennas from the top of the cabs, but that is about all the damage I have done. Being that I am a lone operator and the only one handling anything, I am the one to blame.

Like you mentioned, John Allen would have a fit if anyone but himself touched a locomotive. I can remember on time while operating on the G&D when a locomotive stalled and I started reaching to give it a nudge and another operator grabbed my are before I got within two feet of touching it.
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
Chet, Gene and Mark....

I have a countless number of cans of Dullcote, in fact when I am at the LHS I usually purchase another can of Dullcote just so I don't run out. I always spray the model with a coat of Dullcote prior to using weathering powders and in between layers of the poders or washes and finish the model with a final coat of the product.

Thanks.

Greg
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
I have enough locos, and run them all seldom enough, that I only have one steamer showing wear. It's my first purchase, a BLI Hudson. It's sintered wheel coating is worn and the brass is now showing. Other than that, I have so few hours on all the others that I hope to be running them for years with little signs of wear. Even so, they're toys. Sorry, at the price we pay, they're toys. If we were prepared to pay for each unit what a decent mantle clock costs, say a German Kieninger movement made of quality brass, we could expect to get at least 25 years out of them. For the $200-500 we pay, we shouldn't expect too much AND still pay a salary to factory engineers, managers, machine operators, assemblers, ship container loaders, ship drivers and stevedores, truck drivers, BLI's staff, and the various discounting sellers like M. B. Klein and trainworld. It's just not gonna happen.
 
N

NP2626

Guest
"For the $200-500 we pay, we shouldn't expect to much" (snip) WOW, if I thought like this I would find some other way to waste my money!
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
My trains are hardly ever run except when I host group op sessions, and when preparing for them. I avoid taking my top-tier locomotives to modular club setups where they would be running in circles for hours-on-end. So I'm hoping that will slow down the wearing-out process significantly.

As for weathering, I try to only pick up my locos at specific "grab points", usually under the fuel tank or by the trucks. This decreases the probability of getting finger oil on the areas that are supposed to look dusty/faded.
 
N

NP2626

Guest
"For the $200-500 we pay, we shouldn't expect to much" (snip) WOW, if I thought like this I would find some other way to waste my money!
How many here feel that there is some basis for what Crandell is saying? Since when has $200.00 to $500.00 dollars become throw away money? I don't have a problem with calling a $200.00 to $500.00 Locomotive a toy, as after all I have 27 foot sailboat that I paid $18,000.00 for that can pretty much be called a toy. After all the difference between men and boys is the cost of their toys!

Crandell's statements have really got me thinking! However, I will say that I can't accept that we shouldn't expect much in the way of good service from something that costs $200.00 to $500.00! With this thought in mind, I think we can't let manufacturers get away with what Crandell states is happening!!!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
How many here feel that there is some basis for what Crandell is saying?
I look at it this way. Suppose one wanted to go out an make a locomotive that is going to be accurate scale wise, good detail (at least as good as Highliners, BLI, and or Proto-2000) and durable to last for a very long time lets say 30 years (like my G-gauge stuff). These days it would also have to have state of the art electronics for sound, lighting, and effects. How much would it cost to produce? How much would one have to sell it for to make any sort of profit? How much mark up would a retailer have to add for them to make a profit? Would anyone buy it at that price?

Lets take the original Lionel 700e Hudson. Greatly lacking in detail by today's standards, but was listed as $38.32. So adjusting for inflation that would be $661 today. Their current Vision Line Hudson is $1599. The electronics Lionel -> DCC/Sound is probably a wash cost wise. Would we need to upgrade from Lionel's steel wheels & drive technology or just switch to steel? Nylon or other polymer gears with steel worms? Definitely need something better than brass (which would wear out quickly). Maybe power to all driving wheels so the drive gear isn't really stressed. Probably need a reliable 9 pole swiss motor with heavy windings and ball bearings. Ball bearings on the drive axles with seals to keep gunk out. Adjust cost up for miniaturization. Adjust cost down for smaller quantities of materials in an HO model. Add some detail to bring it up to compete with today's BLI type models. I don't know, could we bring that in for the same $1600 MSRP?
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
I hope I made myself clear in my comparison between the works in an HO locomotive and a decent German mantle clock movement made of solid brass. My wife and I paid $800 for one at The House of 1000 Clocks in Trieberg in March of 1980. I won't convert that to account for inflation, but it should be near $2400 now, 35 years later. The clock moved several times with us, and only needed multiple-hundred dollars worth of repairs four times over the last 16 years. I figure the clock is worth $3800 by now, all up. It hasn't run in two years because we have an estimate for $800 to rebuild it.

That's for a mantle clock that sits on a mantle and that needs winding once a week and dusting once a month. It's market customer base is approximately what it is for any one HO scale locomotive you'd care to purchase. We want $330 sound-equipped locomotives to run for the same time, several tens of thousands of hours, as that $2400 new mantle clock? AND get all the decoder wiring, with sound via an added speaker? And all those added pipes and appliances that we want instead of molded on details? I just don't see it.
 
N

NP2626

Guest
I don't see your comparison. The works in a Model Railroad Locomotive are far simpler than the clock you are comparing. A motor, some gearing, side rods and that is it. With a MDC Roundhouse Steamer; or, Blue Box Athearn Diesel, the repair was inexpensive and easy to do and I don't need all the easily broken molded details, I added brass or plastic detail parts as I deemed necessary. If a $200.00 to $500.00 dollar locomotive has no longevity and will not last, I think I and everyone else should find a better hobby to throw money at!

Sorry I have run away with your thread Greg! However, Crandell has made some points that I wanted to discuss!
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
IWith a MDC Roundhouse Steamer; or, Blue Box Athearn Diesel, the repair was inexpensive and easy to do
That is where I depart with a definition of reliable. If I have to repair it, I don't think it is reliable. My prior post was done under the equation of "reliability" = "no repairs". In my way of thinking "easy repairs" is a totally different scenario.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
I don't see your comparison. The works in a Model Railroad Locomotive are far simpler than the clock you are comparing. A motor, some gearing, side rods and that is it. With a MDC Roundhouse Steamer; or, Blue Box Athearn Diesel, the repair was inexpensive and easy to do and I don't need all the easily broken molded details, I added brass or plastic detail parts as I deemed necessary. If a $200.00 to $500.00 dollar locomotive has no longevity and will not last, I think I and everyone else should find a better hobby to throw money at!

Sorry I have run away with your thread Greg! However, Crandell has made some points that I wanted to discuss!
I understand your points, Mark. I see them expressed by people who say that too much of what is available to them is more than they ought to have to pay for. For example, a person in DC who doesn't want DCC-equipped locomotives, but he will have to make his own or do without, or purchase brass he can afford if he doesn't want to pay for the all-singing-DCC/sound offerings in the commercial market. But, that's a bit of a straw man...don't you think? The dealer and importer have to make and offer what appeals to the bulk of it's prospective market or there's no use in being in it in the first place. It's no different for those who must adapt/bash what they can find so that they have the rendering they desire. But, they have to start somewhere if they can't/won't build their own from scratch.

The operating conditions between the clock and the locomotive are hardly comparable. The loco runs across dusty and cruddy rails that must be cleaned, and those contaminants may or may not end up in the works internally. Apparently, for some cases it happens. For most, it should not. Yet, while the clock must run for tens of thousands of hours continuously, we pay a premium for that reliability, including in properly sealed mechanisms protected by airtight doors at the back of the cabinet. That costs. Instead, we think our $250 toys should be able to scrub across crude nickel-silver rails for the same hours and not show signs of wear on their thinly metal-covered tires. Or that, by your admission, their simple and easily accessible and maintainable mechanisms, all comparatively more exposed and working under greater strains (hauling 16 trailing grams up 3% grades) should last as long as the sealed mechanism costing many times more.

As I said, the repairs for the clock, four times since about 1998, averaged about $400 each time. The last, indicating a thorough de-gunking, lube and reassembly, was coming in at an estimated $800. Two different mechanisms, so that is explained away...agreed. But, the clock has to move two hands whose total weight might amount to 2 grams when the indicated time is a quarter to three...maximum torque on the pivots due to gravity. Our locomotives must do work many times that taxing.
 
N

NP2626

Guest
That is where I depart with a definition of reliable. If I have to repair it, I don't think it is reliable. My prior post was done under the equation of "reliability" = "no repairs". In my way of thinking "easy repairs" is a totally different scenario.
By your definition, you have never owned a reliable automobile, as they need regular maintenance and occasional repairs!
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
By your definition, you have never owned a reliable automobile, as they need regular maintenance and occasional repairs!
I never said anything about regular maintenance either.

So where do you draw the line? If I can do occasional repairs, that makes every BLI, Bachmann, and Proto-2000 locomotive that I have reliable.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
N

NP2626

Guest
Iron Horseman, in my screwy world many times regular maintenance includes some repairs. In your world, it appears this is not the case! Mea Culpa!
 
Last edited by a moderator:
I have hour meters on all my locomotives. Every 25 running hours they get shopped which includes complete tear-down and cleaning, drive train testing, and touch-up of paint. The motor is removed and load tested to ensure proper current draw. If not, they are replaced until they can be rewound. The drive wheel diameters are measured for wear and I match diameters on all drivers, turning them on a lathe if necessary. All the electronics ....

Nah, I don't do any of that.

I replace stuff when it falls off and try to dull down the shiny spots on the sides of the boilers and tenders where I always pick them up. The shiny spots are love handles [sic].:rolleyes:
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
Look at the wear and tear on the locomotives running on the display the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Tese critters run for days without any attention.

Greg
 




Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)


ModelRailroadForums.com 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 amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - 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.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - 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.

Top