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Running in a new motor car / general advice

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GCS

Hi all,

 

Hope we’ve all had a good weekend?

 

Im getting back into my model trains and will be getting them out of storage soon, many are BNIB and have never been run in, a few have had less than an hour on track.

 

What do you guys recommend to run in a new or nearly new motor car?

 

And what advice do you have for general train maintenance?

 

Many thanks,

 

Guy

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katoftw

I dont think there is much to it. Just go a few laps slow in each direction. Speed up and repeat. Add resistence like carriages for a few more laps. Done in 3-5 minutes. Most should run out of the box perfectly fine anyway.

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GCS
34 minutes ago, katoftw said:

I dont think there is much to it. Just go a few laps slow in each direction. Speed up and repeat. Add resistence like carriages for a few more laps. Done in 3-5 minutes. Most should run out of the box perfectly fine anyway.

Thanks, do you ever use oil/lubricant initially with Kato models or steer clear?

 

Guy

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katoftw

Never had to for new.

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Cat
Posted (edited)

Ah, good questions.  I've been wondering the same thing.  Haven't broken in a new train in quite a few years (American, German, and UK), and those needed some light oil and a lot of running in way back when.

Edited by Cat

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roadstar_na6

I usually just let new stuff drive back and forth a few times and maybe send it on a lap or two around the club‘s layout before putting any carriages behind. Even some used locos from the 90's (my first EF65-1000), a dead stock 3005-1 EH10 from the first release or a used MicroAce D52 ran perfectly fine without needing serious breaking in or oiling.

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railsquid

Not sure what BNIB is, but in contrast to British N gauge powered units, Japanese  ones don''t come with manufacturer recommendations about lubricating/running in, and apart from a couple of exceptions I have yet to experience a new model which hasn't "just worked" out of the box. The two exceptions were a Tomix and a Kato model, both with physical defects which became obvious once they'd been on the track for a couple of minutes.

Regular lubrication generally is not necessary and possibly counter-productive as excessive oil will cause more problems than it is supposed to solve. In those cases where lubrication is actually necessary (typically older models which have been in storage for a long time and which have become very growly and/or screechy) just putting oil on the exposed gears usually won't be enough, often the motor bearings and/or bogie worm gear assembly will need specific lubrication.

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cteno4

Bought new in box? Bikinis needed in Boston? Boxcar now in back?

 

yes as kiha says usually new no lubrication is needed. Break in is some laps, but does not need an hour of burn time! 
 

the one caveat on lubing new is I’ve had a few (maybe 4 or 5 out of a few hundred) come with no lubrication. they squeezed and or growled from the get go and popping them open showed no grease or oil inside — they just got missed on the lube line... Then lubing was necessary new! once and a while new ones will be lubed but still growl a little and I lightly add a little lubrication and it usually quiets them.
 

Older ones you can usually start to hear them growl, squeal, etc, get hot, slow down, etc. then usually looking at how mucked up there gears look is the consideration of just applying a tad more or tearing things down and cleaning it all out and relubing once clean. Sometimes there is plenty of lubrication there, but along with a lot of schmutz and adding more lubrication at that point and things just get worse! Most of the schmutz is just dust and small fibers which a little vacuuming of tracks now and then helps prevent a lot!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Cat

I would vote for Brand New In Box, but Bikinis Needed In Boston is definitely a good idea with this week's weather and a tropical storm coming up the coast.

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GCS
6 hours ago, Cat said:

I would vote for Brand New In Box, but Bikinis Needed In Boston is definitely a good idea with this week's weather and a tropical storm coming up the coast.

Brand new in box lol.

 

And all good advice, thanks all!

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Ochanomizu
Posted (edited)

Hello,

 

Just to let you know ... I own 191 consists, spread across 284 sets and totalling 1225 cars (the joy of keeping it all in a spreadsheet).  With that amount of experience, I'd say this of Japanese N scale models (but I don't have any steam locos):

  1. 99.5% of my trains ran perfectly straight out of the box, including several MA models that arrived with bogies not clicked into the car body.  These models only needed 3-5 laps around the track in either direction, across turnouts, etc, and testing all lighting functions.  This includes some models I bought second hand in my early years;
  2. Only one train ever had a fault that needed a repair part to be sent out, but it also ran perfectly out of the box.

But ... ... ... if, like me, you have trains sitting in cases for 2, 3, 5 years without running them, THAT'S WHEN YOU NEED TO WORRY ABOUT RUNNING IN.  I recommend the following procedure:

  1. disassemble motor cars, turn the motor with your fingers, turn the bogie gear sets with your fingers, make sure all that stuff works BEFORE you put it on the track;
  2. clean off any hard, dried, or stiff lubricant (there was probably too much on there anyway), and reapply the smallest pin-head amount, if required after testing;
  3. test run the motor car on a set of rolling rails and make sure it runs quietly in both directions BEFORE you put the shell back on;
  4. then run the consist at about half-speed for 3-5 laps in either direction on the layout;
  5. never run them flat out.  I only run up to about 80% speed.

Train motors sitting in cases for 2, 3, 5 years need manual stimulation before applying power.  NEVER put it on the track and crank up the power, hoping for the best.

 

Edit: Additional info on purchasing older stock or second hand items.

 

I'd do the same if I bought an item new, but it was older stock, or if I bought a 2nd hand item.

Edited by Ochanomizu
Additional info on purchasing older stock or second hand items.
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cteno4

Yep that mechanical tap on the top like smacking the side of the tv is always a tried and true solution! Sometimes just that tap gets something unstuck from sitting there in the box for years.

 

jeff

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nah00

I know I generally shouldn't have to but I run-in all my locomotives/motor cars for 15 minutes in each direction. I can count on less than one hand the issues I've found but especially on second-hand stock this will expose pretty much any problem. Also if you notice any 'sputtering' or slowing down and then speeding up don't try to 'fix' it by running flat-out, take the train off of the track because likely there's a grease build-up or contact problem. 

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GCS

All really good advice guys, really appreciate it. Going to pull out my V16 set at some point and give my locos some love 😍

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cteno4

I agree any sputtering is a sign of something gummed up or dirty contacts and won’t Be solved with running and needs some deeper attention.

 

over a couple hundred sets (I keep putting off the spreadsheet for fear I’ll give myself a heart attack or whine up dead if my wife sees it...) here and it’s a small minority that need some maintenance now and then. Probably could count on one hand out of the box issue new or used. Usually don’t see many either after longer storage needing anything. Most for me have been after lots of running at shows on club layout and usually just gunked up, handful of stripped driveshafts, and sometimes a bit of lubing after long running. When the parts get heated up from long run times the oil and grease gets less viscous and will tend to leave the meshing areas more and a tiny dab usually fixes this if not gunked up from sucking in other schmutz.

 

i keep meaning to so a double track test in the basement and clean with isopropanol on one and contact cleaner on the other to see if it cuts down on the black carbonization gunk that’s the most insidious getting into the gears along with dust.

 

jeff

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Welshbloke

I do put tiny drops of oil on the worm drive bearings. Even on new models if they've sat for years, as oils dry out over time. It makes them quieter and smoother. Leave the motor bearings alone unless it's screeching, as if you overdo the oil it'll find its way onto the commutator and cause all sorts of annoying flashovers (current draw goes vertical and model slows to a crawl while getting hot).

 

Kato mechanisms since the year dot are brilliantly simple to strip down and clean. Check the axle ends and the cups in the brass pickup strips which they run in for fluff, that and wheel treads seem to be about the only parts which get dirty. Check traction tyres haven't perished and try turning the bogie drivetrain (use the cardan shaft) and motor over by hand while listening and feeling for any tight spots, notchiness or clicking. I have a very elderly Kato 153 Series which will cruise happily as a ten or twelve car set, having bought it used and given it a clean/oil around.

 

Motors can benefit from a good blast at full speed. Helps fling any carbon gunk off and polish the commutator/brushes. Obviously work up to this gradually, but the advice to run a mechanism in at various speeds in both directions includes "flat out".

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GCS

Just out of curiosity guys, which oil do you use for Kato trains?

 

Aside from an old Farish Class 220, handful of Minitrix steam engines I inherited all my rolling stock is Kato.

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Ochanomizu

That's a good question.  Some oils will dissolve certain plastics or ruin paint jobs.

 

I use Peco Power Lube.

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railsquid
On 8/8/2020 at 5:57 AM, GCS said:

Just out of curiosity guys, which oil do you use for Kato trains?

 

 

Kato UniOil, though by volume most of it has gone into the motor bearings of screechy 2nd-hand MicroAce stock :D

 

Bought a bottle 5 years ago and still have about half left.

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Kamome
Posted (edited)

I think I’ve had my Kato UniOil for about 10 years and I still have about 3/4s of a bottle. It only gets used on the power bogies in my case and very sparingly. 
The maintenance information for Kato states to use the UniOil should you hear abnormal noise coming from the loco gears. As mentioned elsewhere in the posts, these things run beautifully from new without need for lubrication and often beautifully after 20 years with a clean up and light oil. 
 

A word of warning regarding Peco Power Lube and split chassis locomotives like some of the Tomix offerings. It can get thrown off and migrate which may cause a short so be aware its not really for general lubrication. Use it for areas with poor conductivity and it’s great. At least, that’s been my experience with it. 

 

Edited by Kamome

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GCS

All really good advice guys. I think I’ll go for UniOil on this occasion.

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