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2011  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Spectrum GP30 noise on: December 30, 2014, 11:30:42 AM
I know, for some inexplicable reason, Len is fixated on your buying a new motor which is totally unnecessary.  These gold can Blue Box motors are great and damn near indestructible.  So much so, it is extremely difficult and unlikely you can go wrong getting a used one.

I wouldn't say "fixated". The first time I mentioned replacing the motor was when you said parts that are no longer available were missing from the one you had. I suggested the A-Line, which I've found far superior to the 'stock' Athearn motors, but you thought it too expensive.

So I poked around, and discovered Athearn offered complete motors for a lower price, but they had the new style drive shaft connectors in the flywheels.

Then you mention finding the missing bottom clip for the motor you had, and it became a moot issue.

After that, someone else mentioned you have to replace the worm gears if you change to the new motors, and I just pointed out that's not necessarily true. There are drive shafts available to go from the new motors to the old worm connectors. Just be sure to get the right length.

At any rate, I'm just trying to be helpful.

2012  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: bachmann to tyco couplers/controllers on: December 30, 2014, 11:20:48 AM
Thank you Len.  That was my initial thought, thanks for confirming.  It is possible to use a hobby knife, #11 blade, to do some trimming after the initial hole is made?

You might be able to drill a hole in each corner, then score between the holes with the #11 blade and clean up with the files. Since I ran a train repair shop for 14 years, I invested in one of those mini-drill presses a while back. With that I just drill rows of holes around the edges, trim a bit with a knife, and clean up with the files.

Even when doing it by hand, I take the body off and use a block of wood as a "backer" when I'm drilling to keep the stirrup from snapping off.

2013  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: bachmann to tyco couplers/controllers on: December 30, 2014, 09:34:46 AM
The above Baby Ruth car is a perfect example of a car with filled/molded in stirrups.  It totally takes away any redeeming qualities the car may have had.  If anyone can tell me how to improve that look w/o spending as much as the car cost, I am all ears.

You need a pin vice, small drill bit, and jewelers file set. Combine with a bit of patience, and voila! Open stirrups.

If you're in a hurry, and have a lot of those type cars, a mini-drill press used at low speed is handy. But not absolutely essential.

2014  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Track grade on: December 30, 2014, 09:24:29 AM
Most standard 'Up-and-Over' type pier sets used for Figure-8 layouts on a 4x8 table give roughly a 3% grade. This is considered steep, and limits your operations considerablly. A 4% grade is extremely steep, and generally only seen in 'back woods' logging operation type layouts.

If you have the room, grades between 2% and 2.5% should be the maximum used. Most model locos can handle them, while pulling a decent size train, with no problems. Of course, on the prototype, a 2% grade would be considered a problem, as they try to keep grades in the 1% or less range if at all possible.

Oh, if you're wondering, '% grade' is just Rise divided by Run times 100, or 100(Rise/Run), where Run is normally specified as 100 to simplify the math, but could be any distance. So a 100" run of track that rises 3" would give (3/100)=0.03*100=3% grade. Simple.

2015  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: bachmann to tyco couplers/controllers on: December 30, 2014, 01:05:51 AM

For the old Bachmann cars with the odd size hole in the horn hook, drill out the Life-Like coupler mounting hole. There's enough extra plastic around the hole to do it.

I haven't done one in a while, so don't remember the drill size off the top of my head. If you have a set of 'number' drill bits, find the one with a shank that just fits the LL coupler mounting hole. Use the next larger size to drill out the hole, and the Bachmann mounting screws should fit. If not, go up one more size.

2016  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Spectrum GP30 noise on: December 29, 2014, 05:39:39 PM
Depending on the loco/motor combination, you should be able to use either the 1.76" Ball-to-Pin [ATH49060] or 1.39" Ball-to-Pin [ATH48060] drive shafts. Measure your old shafts to be sure which to use. They're listed for specific locos, but as long as the lenth matches they'll work with the new motors in old 'Blue Box' locos.

2017  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: tackle or tool box for train tools on: December 29, 2014, 01:02:57 PM
Before I was able to set up a dedicated work bench, I used one of these for many years. Picture for illustration purposes only, I got mine at a local craft shop.

2018  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: bachmann to tyco couplers/controllers on: December 29, 2014, 12:56:47 PM
jbrock27 - Unfortunately the LL knucles use plastic springs. So don't park a train going down hill, so the couplers are pushed open, and leave it over night. The spring will take a set, and not keep the knucle closed. Sort of like the original EZ-Mate couplers. Other than that, they work fine until you get around to upgrading to body mounted couplers. Even backing moves are less likely to derail than using horn-hooks.

ALCO0001 - Couldn't agree more. If nothing else, you don't have to worry about practicing your modeling techniques on a $1 Tyco car before getting into upgrading old Bachmann, Athearn, etc.

2019  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: bachmann to tyco couplers/controllers on: December 29, 2014, 11:34:19 AM
I've upgraded most of them with knuckle couplers, either using the Life-Like ones...

Life-Like makes knuckle couplers?


They are designed to be direct replacements for the horn-hooks with the small mounting hole use in old Bachmann, Tyco, Life-Like, etc. cars with talgo mounted horn-hook couplers. For Tyco, and a couple of others, you need to clip 1/16" - 1/8" off the end of the whiskers to fit the coupler box correctly and not bind.

2020  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: bachmann to tyco couplers/controllers on: December 28, 2014, 09:13:54 PM
A 'truck tuning' tool does a lot to improve the rolling performance of older cars with plastic trucks. Even if you leave the original wheels in. Micro-Mark also offers a similar tool. Replacing plastic wheels with metal ones also makes a big difference. And can effect how often you have to clean your rails.

I got into refurbishing old Tyco, Life-Like, Athearn, etc., when the uncle who got me into HO as a kid passed away several years ago. He left me three boxes of the stuff, and the first thing I wanted to do was add knuckle couplers. This was before Life-Like came out with their small mounting hole knuckles.

There was definately a learning curve at first. But know I can do the basics, body mount coupler, screw mounted trucks with metal wheels, in about an hour. Cars I decide to go all the way with, trim off the molded detail and install wire grabs, etc., take an afternoon. Not counting repainting. I don't do a lot of those, when the trains moving you don't really notice anyway.

Now I pick up the Tyco, etc., cars for $1 or so at the local train shows and refurbish them for kids who don't have the skills, or budget, yet.

2021  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Spectrum GP30 noise on: December 28, 2014, 08:54:15 PM
I've found the cheapest place to find what they call, Quick Disconnects, is the local autoparts store. Unlike Radio Shack, the autoparts place sells seperate packs of male and female connectors. And you save the shipping charge, which is often more than the cost of the connectors.

2022  Discussion Boards / Williams by Bachmann / Re: Ready to run sets on: December 28, 2014, 04:30:22 PM
Except a few years back Lionel, when they went completely to FasTrack in their sets, announced they were no longer using the the 'O' and 'O27' terminology. They switched to 'Standard O' and 'Traditional O' instead.

And yes, a lot of folks came into the LHS looking for 'Standard Gauge' (the prewar big stuff) track, locos, and rolling stock. Unfortunately, several other companies and retailers, as well as TCA folks, have also started using Lionel's new terminology. So it can get confusing.

Personally, I still prefer 'O' and 'O27' to differrentiate the 1:48 from the 1:50 (or there abouts) equipment. Keeping in mind that with the 1-1/4" actual gauge 3-rail track, we're actually operating on "1:48 scale" 5ft gauge railroads. Grin

2023  Discussion Boards / Williams by Bachmann / Re: GP-9 Grinding noise on: December 28, 2014, 04:19:22 PM

If that was an older loco, at some point they changed from a 3.0mm to a 3.5mm screw on the newer upgrade kits. That's probably why you had to drill out the mounting deck.

2024  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Spectrum GP30 noise on: December 28, 2014, 03:33:21 PM
So Len, will those still work for the purpose I am looking for?  If so, do you have a part # for that assembly?  Thanks again.

If you're just looking to fill the empty hole and get light out, no, the DW part's not what you want. They provide complete headlight assemblies, with shades, MARS light, etc., of specific road types, e.g., Southern Pacific, Nickle Plate, etc., that do not include the lens. You have to get the lens separate, and may have to do some surgery to allow a separate headlight/MARS light LEDs to be mounted.

DW's mfg# on Walthers is 229. Use keyword 'light' to see what they've got.

2025  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Spectrum GP30 noise on: December 28, 2014, 12:39:06 PM
The bronze clips on top and bottom are technically brush spring retainers. They come with replacement motors, and are no longer available separately. You may find them somewhere that carries parts for old Athearn locos.

Poke around the Athearn 'parts' page a bit, the new motors [ATH84086] aren't all that expensive. You will need the new mounting pads/screw kit [ATH84028], and the 'dog bone' end drive shafts [ATH49060] to fit the flywheels though. Other than that, they are a 'drop in' replacement for the old motors. Not exactly 'can' motors, but better than the old open frame stuff.

Details West makes headlight assemblies, and lenses for them, not the slip in lenses to plug directly into the F7A body.


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