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2026  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: 9 pin decoders on: December 28, 2014, 11:03:55 AM
The 21 Pin MTC decoders are mainly used in European locos. They actually use a 22-pin connector, with one pin blanked out to force proper orientation during installation. The NMRA recognizes it as a 'defacto' standard, but stopped recommending it's use in 2010.

21 Pin MTC is slowly being phased out in favor of the PluX (PluX8/12/16/22) standard, which is being adopted by both the NMRA and NEM.

2027  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Spectrum GP30 noise on: December 28, 2014, 10:51:07 AM
M V Products makes an F7 headlight lens. Walthers carries them, but they're out of stock until mid-January next year. Mfg#: 516 Item#: 11.

You can also get the window set (ATH11016) directly from Athearn and use a piece of sprue to make your own headlight lens.

2028  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Spectrum GP30 noise on: December 28, 2014, 09:04:42 AM
The Athearn motor brushes (ATH90037) are out of stock until March 2015. They're $11.98 for a bag of 24. The brush springs (ATH84014) are currently in stock. They're $8.98 for a bag of 36.

2029  Discussion Boards / Williams by Bachmann / Re: Williams speaker on: December 28, 2014, 08:57:30 AM
You'll loose the announcements and diesel revs, but it's fairly simple to install a TrueBlast II Diesel Sound kit in the older units. Just a basic two wire connection to the pick-ups and ground.

2030  Discussion Boards / Williams by Bachmann / Re: GP-9 Grinding noise on: December 28, 2014, 08:54:51 AM
It sounds like you've got a dummy and upgrade kit was added to. If so, it's possible the installation wasn't done properly, or you've got an older loco with a lot of miles on it.

A couple of things to check:

1. Remove the screws at each end of the loco and lift the shell off.

2. Check the inside of the shell for any rub marks from the flywheels sitting too high. This is an indication the motors weren't seated properly when installed.

3. With the chassis sitting on it's wheels, check that the motors are vertical relative to the chassis. If there's a tilt to either motor, again it's an indication they weren't properly installed.

4. Lay the loco on it's side and remove the screw on the bottom of one truck assembly. This will free the motor so it can be removed from the truck.

5. Set the loco upright, then remove the motor from the truck assembly. Rotating the flywheel counterclockwise helps it come free.

6. Check the worm on the motor shaft for any excessive wear.

7. Check the pit in the truck assembly the motor was in for any debris. If it's full of shiny brass bits, the worm wheel is shot and you need to contact Bachmann service/parts for new motor truck blocks.

8. If there's no debris, the motor probably wasn't mounted correctly, so it wasn't making good mesh with the worm wheel.

9. While you've got it apart, clean out any dirt in the gear pit with a cotton swab. Add some white lithium grease, available in small tubes at most hardware stores, or Red & Tacky if you've got it.

10. Wipe down the worm gear on the motor shaft, and reassemble. Keep the motor vertical, and be sure it seats completely into the truck assembly. Check everything moves freely when you rotate the flywheel clockwise by hand. Reinstall the mounting screw on the bottom of the truck assembly.

11. Repeat for the other truck.

2031  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: bachmann to tyco couplers/controllers on: December 27, 2014, 02:32:34 PM
I use regular sewing thread with a bit of bee's wax rubbed in to stiffen it. You'll find the wax with the thread in most grocery stores. And I run it through the length of the spring, and never had any problem pulling it out after installing the spring. YMMV.

2032  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Spectrum GP30 noise on: December 27, 2014, 02:29:38 PM
Proto-Power West/A-Line makes can motor upgrade kits for 'Blue Box' locos with open frame motors.

You can find them here:

2033  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Spectrum GP30 noise on: December 27, 2014, 10:35:28 AM
It's probably the worm gear bearings. They're made of solid brass, rather than the oilite castings other mfg's use, and have to be lubed every couple of hours if you run a lot. Otherwise you get the squeal.

Working powdered graphite into the bearings, instead of oil, helps some.

2034  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: bachmann to tyco couplers/controllers on: December 27, 2014, 09:34:04 AM
The Kadee #58 is the scale replacement for the #5. If you have a lot of 'vertical transitions' from pier sets, or other grades in the 3% or greater range, I don't recommend them. Unless you like seeing your trains left at the bottom of the hill while the loco goes up. The heads are small enough to bypass each other on standard pier set transition points. They're fine on layouts with 2%, or less, grades.

In a break from their normal numbering scheme the #148 is the built in centering spring 'whisker' coupler equivelant of the venerable #5 with bronze spring.

A couple of things to watch with Kadee's:

Some newer cars have "steps", what carpenters would call rabbets, around the coupler box lid. This lets them set lower into the coupler box so plastic couplers, with thinner shanks don't droop. When using Kadee's on these cars, flip the coupler box over, so it sits on the coupler box rim, instead of down into the box. This makes room for the thicker Kadee coupler shanks and springs.

Along those lines, Kadee whisker couplers shank are thicker than their standard couplers. This is so the shank equals the thickness of a standard coupler with bronze spring in older coupler boxes. Sometimes, even after flipping the cover in new cars, you have to hit both sides of a whisker coupler about 3 times with a fine file or emery strip to keep it from binding. Do both sides to keep it centered.

With Kadee's, EZ-Mate's, or other knuckle coupler using metal knuckle springs, sooner or later a spring is going to pop out. Run a piece of thread through the length of the replacement spring before trying to install it, long enough to let you hold both ends. That way if the new spring pops out during installation, 3, 4, or 10, times if you're like me, it will not go flying and get lost.

And here's the trick if you drop any parts and the floor and can't find them no matter how hard you look. After dark, walk across the floor in bare feet, with the lights off. Guaranteed you'll find the parts. Grin

2035  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: bachmann to tyco couplers/controllers on: December 26, 2014, 12:29:52 PM
If it wasn't for Tyco, I never would have been able to afford getting into HO as a kid "back when" and grow into the better stuff offered by Bachmann and others later. Don't forget, it wasn't that long ago even Bachmann's entry level offerings didn't have all that great a reputation either.

Tyco's car bodies weren't any worse than 'Blue Box' Athearn, the main difference being Athearn offered body mount couplers at an early stage. Personally, I enjoy upgrading Tyco cars to Athearn 'Blue Box' standards, but that's just me. I like upgrading old 'horn hook' Bachmann equipment too.

If that's not where your interests lie, fine. I'm sure there are other aspects of the hobby you enjoy. That's the nice thing about model railroading, there's an "interest niche" for just about everyone.

2036  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: bachmann to tyco couplers/controllers on: December 25, 2014, 05:09:38 PM

While I agree with the sentiment, and have converted many Tyco cars to body mount couplers and better trucks, some folks may not have the $$, or the skills, to do the modifications you suggested. While not in the same class as EZ-Mates or Kadee's, I've found the Life-Like's to hold up fairly well as an interim step. They are definate improvement on horn-hooks, even when backing up using talgo type trucks. Just don't park on a hill, since they do use a plastic 'knuckle spring' that can take a set if the knuckle is held in an open position too long.

2037  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: bachmann to tyco couplers/controllers on: December 25, 2014, 03:15:26 PM
The simplest way to convert your Tyco cars is to order a pack or two of Life-Like knuckle couplers from Walthers. They come in a pack of 10 pairs, item 433-1427, and a pack of two pairs, 433-1436. They are designed as a direct replacement for the small hole horn-hooks used in old Tyco, Life-Like, and other older cars.

This will get you running until you can do some of the upgrades mentioned by ACY, and body mount EZ-Mates or get some newer cars. The bodies on the Tyco's are comparable to older Athearn blue box kits, and Tyco did some paint schemes no one else has done. If you keep the original trucks, you can improve the rolling charateristics using a 'truck tuning tool'. They are available from Micro-Mark and Rixx, and even make the original wheels work better.

2038  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Couplers on: December 24, 2014, 04:44:28 PM
All of the pictures I can find of the Spectrum F40PH show it with 'Under Shank' knuckle couplers.

This would be the EZ-Mate model #78028 medium underset shank, which would be the easiest way to convert your loco.

If you want metal couplers, then it would be the Kadee #37  using a modifed 20-series coupler box. Instructions for doing the modification can be found here:

2039  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Most powerful HO engine/What are the engines with dual motors called? on: December 19, 2014, 03:24:13 PM
Going back to the original question, some time back we used a Bachmann two motor DD40AX to pull a 120 car train on a club layout at a local train show. Other locos used had some wheel slip before they started moving. The DD40AX pretty much went, "Train, what train?", and just went when power was applied.

2040  Discussion Boards / Thomas & Friends / Re: knuckle couplers installed on thomas???? on: December 11, 2014, 11:50:53 PM
I use a Hornby OO 'goods van' with NEMA coupler pockets as a conversion car. One end has a NEMA end Kadee knuckle coupler, the other has a hook & loop to connect with Thomas equipment.

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