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Locomotive ID and New Parts

Started by riotinferno, July 23, 2023, 08:27:59 PM

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I'm new (again) to model trains, but not scale modeling -- I have an existing love for HO slot cars.

I had a train set as a kid back in the early 90s, fished it out of storage and set it up. As expected, the locomotive didn't run. I disassembled it and as expected, all the grease and oil had congealed and gummed everything up. During cleaning, I noticed that the gears on the geared drive wheels were cracked, allowing the wheels to spin independently of the gears.

So, my questions:
  • How do I identify locomotives? I have pictures of below for reference for this one, but I don't want to post every time I need an engine ID. Is there a master list somewhere? I originally thought this might be a GP 40, but after some googling I think it might be an U36. I don't actually know what these model numbers mean, just repeating what I found in my research.
  • Are replacement parts available? I see in the Bachmann shop they have listings for Universal HO Geared Drive Wheels. Are those really universal? I assume they're for a subset of locomotives, and probably newer locomotives. I don't know exactly when this one was made, but it's the early 90s. My guess is I probably got this around '93, as the newspaper I used to pack everything up with was dated '95.

Here's the pics, ignore the missing front drive-train and engine. I took pictures after I had already tore it apart for cleaning. It's a standard pancake motor. I saw on youtube that some of these models had a screw in the center of the engine to hold a clip on, it's not that model.



That is a GP40 with a pancake motor. You can try to get it running again, but it'll never be a good runner. You may want to go to a train show and look for a better locomotive. Sometime in the 1990s, Bachmann upgraded the GP40, and the upgraded units can often be found for well under $50. They are on ebay as well, but at a train show you will be able to test it before you buy it.

Very quick way to identify EMD locomotives like the GP40 is by the fans on top. On GE locomotives like the U36B the fans are internal and not visible from the outside.


Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA


Thanks, jward!

The GP40 schematics I had looked at looked mostly right, but had what appears to be can motors (maybe) instead of pancakes, which is what confused me.

I'll be using this to learn the ropes of tune-ups and maintenance, so it being a lower-performer might be a good thing -- I won't feel too bad if I break it.


Yes you are correct about the parts diagrams showing the newer can motored versions. It's been so long since the upgrade that I don't believe the parts department even has the pancake motored trucks anymore.

I own at least a dozen of the can motored GP40s, and I like them alot. These versions, there are several slightly different ones, have corrected the problems that plaguesd the pancake motored units: poor electrical contact, lack of pulling power due to only one truck being powered, rubber tires on the powered truck in an attempt to increase pulling power, a motor that didn't hold up under heavy usage.

If you decide to rebuild the one you have, you'll be able to find another one at a train show to use for parts. But you'll still be dealing with the drawbacks of the original design.
Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA