Engine lubrication cycles

This has probably been asked before but I missed it.  How often should modern, semi-scale and scale locomotives be lubricated?  In the case of MTH engines with DCS, a notice flashes up on the hand held that says: "Maintainance Required".  I assume that that would mean lubrication, right?  So, is that triggered by hours of operation or "scale miles" moved.  What about other makes of engines, particularly brass, short run locos.   My DCS engines seem to flash that notice about every 1,000 scale miles.

Also, this begs another question:  What do you lubricate, periodically on the engine?  Certainly driving wheel axle bearings, perhaps the journal box bearings on pilot, trailing or tender trucks.  Also, some instructions say to lube the pickup roller bearing as well as the "hinge" for the pickup roller.  How about side rods on a steam engine:  like on the main driver with several rods connected to it including main rods, side rods and valve gear.  Do you also attempt to lube the armature shaft bearings of the motor and the worm shaft bearings of the gear box.  This, of course, would require some disassembly of the engine.  Finally, the worm and gear, itself, which would require a different type of lube.  Diseasels, which may be easier to lube, also would require some lubrication.  What parts, besides the obvious axle bearings and side gear bearings, do you lube?  In the case of those brass steam engines, some of the newer ones actually have "sprung" driving wheels.  I would check and lubricate the vertical slides that the bearings can move up and down, in.

For myself, I have been using a 5W-20 synthetic  motor oil for most items requiring oil.  I actually have been using a Teflon based oil with that additive.  (Slick-50, T-Plus or other brands.)  My theory on that use is that the Teflon, which has almost a zero coefficient of friction, just might make the parts last a bit longer.  For the "grease" used on the worm and gear, my choice has been a Teflonated white, or Lithium grease.

Okay, so with about 50 engines, or so, on the layout and the shelves, maintenance becomes a PITA routine.  How many of you do it at all?  If so, how often?  Do you keep records of when you lubed certain engines?  Do you do this  maintenance yourself or do you take the engine in to a repairman for service?

Paul Fischer

Original Post

I grease all of my engine gearboxes when I first receive them with 0.5-1.0 mL of Red N Tacky. This measurement is recommended by MTH and I have found it a good guide no matter what make.

I have no plan on adding any more grease anytime soon, especially when I can see a small amount ooze out of the axle shaft bushings on the chassis. Red N Tacky's "Tack" keeps it on the moving parts.

Excessive grease from frequent "regreasing" will ooze out heavily and make things a mess.

I use Labelle 108, which is a thicker "light oil" so it stays on things like the siderods and other moving parts better and lasts a bit longer.

I probably "re oil" once a year. I do this based on whether or not I get a drop of oil on my finger when I touch the rod pivot points. If my finger is dry, time to oil.

I will also oil other parts like any axle bushings/bearings at this time as well.

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Alan Mancus

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