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I thought this might be a fun topic.

Recently, I ran every locomotive I have for at least one lap on my 40 foot long, 3 to 4 foot wide, layout with 2 main lines and reverse loops at the ends of each main line.

It took me several hours over a period of 3 days to run my approximately 50 locomotives.

I do this running of all engines at least once every 3 months because I think it is a good thing to do to keep them all in good working order. Do you agree?

How about you? How long would it take you?

And, Happy Thanksgiving Eve everyone.

Arnold

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Arnold, another innovative thread that’s actually a great idea. There’s many folks on the forum with lots of diesels/steamers that could take days or months even years to get back in the operation mode. If your locomotives have TMCC/Legacy/DCS electronics, by all means they need some run time, a little cleaning and lubricating. I can do this over a month and it’s always fun to see the different trains pulled by older motive power. Also, it’s always good to clean the wheels on all rolling stock as somehow they get grease build up on them and add a little teenie bit of oil. It’s also a good time to take inventory of all the engines and steamers and rolling stock. Happy Railroading Everyone, Happy Thanksgiving

Arnold you must be full time retired with not a lot to keep you busy to keep coming up with these wonderful topics. If you count taking the locomotives out of the display case and off the shelves and then putting them back. I am guessing it would take me maybe 3 to 4 days of doing nothing but running trains( that would be fun) as I have about 45 on my layout and another 40 or so on display. Now that includes everything Post War, MPC to modern MTH and Lionel. No sleeping, eating or going to the head just running trains !  This sounds like another retirement project to do it and track it just to see how accurate my guess would be!!! Somewhere in there I would need to service them as some have not been run in several years(Post War) mostly.

@MikeH posted:

I do agree that it's a good idea.  In my inventory spreadsheet, I have a column for "Date last operated".  That way I can see if one has been neglected.  There are 40 engines (some multi unit diesels counted as one).  I suspect they could all be run in one day, if need be.

I do the same with my engine inventory spreadsheet. I also have a column for last date of worm gear greasing and oiling.

Hmmm, let's see.

Since I only have two Beeps, an F-3 A unit, a large 44  ton switcher that slows down after 2 minutes, a new 44  ton scale switcher that is so nice that I am afraid to run, and a new K-Line A5 that won't run in reverse, the answer is . . . not long.

I definitely need to buy some additional engines, but for now, . . . I think I'll quit while I'm behind.

(Should have kept that 1950s Scout locomotive that I paid $60 for.  The most reliable locomotive I've had.)

Mannyrock

Not sure how long it would take to run every locomotive as many of my first ones after returning to the hobby in 1989 have essentially been retired and my Postwar locomotives only run over the holidays.

That aside, I typically change out trains on my layout every Saturday and MTH and Williams locomotives are my favorite runners. I normally run a train pulled by an MTH locomotive on what I term my “outside route” and a train pulled by a Williams locomotive on my “inside route”. I recently  realized (after ordering two more locomotives - 🤫 - wife doesn’t know…) that between my favorite MTH and Williams locomotives, I could run two different locomotives every week for 26 weeks without repeating any locomotive or combination of locomotives. I’d have to give it some more thought as to how many additional weeks I could stretch the “no repeat” if I included locomotives that have been retired. 🤔

Curt

Note to Rick; Arnold may choose to avoid incriminating himself but, I will plead guilty to having time to ponder stuff like this. 😉

Additional note to the “proto police”; after recollecting the recent thread over on Real Trains discussing the difference between an “engine” and a “locomotive”, I went back through the above and changed each engine reference to read locomotive. I did not want to cause any angst or indigestion the day before Thanksgiving. 😁

A very Happy Thanksgiving y’all! 🦃

Last edited by juniata guy

If I run each Post War engine I have for 5 minutes it would take just about 6 hours, not counting time needed to switch them out.

To better answer your question, if I ran two different locomotives every week it would take 35 weeks without repeating any locomotive or combination of locomotives to do so.

49 Diesels/electrics, 21 Steamers

Last edited by Lionelski

It just occurred to me, after reading the above replies, all of which I found very interesting, that if I changed "engine" (or "locomotive") to "motorized unit," it would take me another hour to run everything.

Motorized units would include trollies, gang cars, tie ejector cars, borrough cranes, and the like, as well as the engines/locomotives.

Everything that has a motor is even more expansive.

I believe it is a good idea to run everything that has a motor at least once in a while, maybe at least once every 6 months. Everything that has a motor would also include accessories.

Since I have a lot of accessories on my layout and more in storage, that would take at least several more hours for me to run every accessory for 2 minutes, especially since those in storage would need to be hooked up to a transformer to run them.

There is one accessory that I run for a few seconds almost every day: the #38 water tower with the water pump and real distilled water. Since I've done that, it has now worked like a charm for over 5 years. Before I did that, the water pump in it would stop working every month or two.

Do you agree that everything that has a motor should be run periodically and regularly to keep them in good working order?

If so, how often?

Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari

More questions come to mind:

is it more important to run modern locomotives on a regular basis than postwar locomotives? Or, is it more important to run postwar than modern locomotives on a regular basis? Or, it is equally important to run postwar and modern locomotives on a regular basis?

When we do run them, how long is optimum? A few seconds? A few minutes? 10 minutes? 20 minutes?

How often she we run them to keep them in good operating order?

I really don't know the answers to these questions. I have the notion, which I learned, perhaps on this Forum, that it is good for any machine to be run periodically for some minimum amount of time. Is that true? Do you agree?

What are your thoughts about the above?

More questions come to mind:

is it more important to run modern locomotives on a regular basis than postwar locomotives? Or, is it more important to run postwar than modern locomotives on a regular basis? Or, it is equally important to run postwar and modern locomotives on a regular basis?

When we do run them, how long is optimum? A few seconds? A few minutes? 10 minutes? 20 minutes?

How often she we run them to keep them in good operating order?

I really don't know the answers to these questions. I have the notion, which I learned, perhaps on this Forum, that it is good for any machine to be run periodically for some minimum amount of time. Is that true? Do you agree?

What are your thoughts about the above?

Arnold my only response tho this question would be what ever would float your boat. A lot would depend on several factors: 1. What are we running a single diesel is easy to move off a shelf onto a layout but say a modern ABA with tethers between each unit I would run them longer just so I do not need to handle them as much I would take that same position with a MTH PS3 Steam with the dry bar, The more you handle it the increase chances of damaging the draw bar. The older stems with a tether is a lot easier but still a pain. That is what I have everyone of my MTH Locomotives on the layout so as to keep handling to a minimum,

I totally agree, Rick, that it's best to minimize disconnecting and connecting tethers and draw bars, especially between tenders and steamers.

What I do is move tenders and steamers together, holding the tender in one hand and the engine in the other, when moving them from the shelf to the layout and back, without disconnecting them.

This is a trick I learned on this forum.

It would take me years and years.  The issue isn't the number of engines, rather it is one of being able to run them.  Since all of my operating layouts are Broadloom Conspiracy I have to get clearance from the CFO (Chief Floor Officer) to set up track, transformer, wires, etc. before I can run anything.

   The effort involved in just threading a simple loop of track around the living room furniture and powering it up is not minimal. Then there is the time constraint concerning the amount of time the O&O is allowed to exist in its most recent reincarnation and the time windows when it can be operated, etc.  So, will I ever get to run every engine - who knows?  In the mean time, I have a lot of fun with my trains setting up and photographing dioramas so - no complaints, no worries.  

As a collector of prewar trains, I can say that I like my electric engines to run, but typically I am not running the trains that are 95 to 100+ years old.  The 103 year old electric engines from 1918 do run, and I have run them in the past, but the brushes in these engines are brass fingers, with no carbon or other sort of brush between the brass fingers and the armatures.  So although these engines run, I choose not to run them regularly.

However, for your viewing pleasure, here are two c. 1918 American Flyer electric engines / sets running on the layout.

NWL

Last edited by Nation Wide Lines

As a collector of prewar trains, I can say that I like my electric engines to run, but typically I am not running the trains that are 95 to 100+ years old.  The 103 year old electric engines from 1918 do run, and I have run them in the past, but the brushes in these engines are brass fingers, with no carbon or other sort of brush between the brass fingers and the armatures.  So although these engines run, I choose not to run them regularly.

However, for your viewing pleasure, here are two c. 1918 American Flyer electric engines / sets running on the layout.

NWL

Outstanding, Nationwide!  For trains over 100 years old, they run like you bought them yesterday. I love how you didn’t hold back on the speed - just like a kid in 1918 would have run them. Fantastic!

It's my understanding that what is vital to run at least once every few months is MTH Proto 1 and 2 locomotives that have the original battery, not a BCR. That is because if one doesn't do that, the battery dies and the engine gets stuck in reset or neutral.

Do you agree?

All my Proto 1 and 2 locomotives now have a BCR. However, it's this problem with keeping Proto 1 and 2 engines idle for too long that got me into the habit of running everything at least once every few months.

Now, I thoroughly enjoy doing that and find it satisfying to prove to myself that everything works.

Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari

Another good discussion Arnold. I have about 50 loco's/ motorized units. I guess of I locked myself in the basement and plowed ahead I could run all of them in a day or so. More time consuming than running, would be cleaning and lube first so add a day for that.

I usually have about 4-5 locos on the layout at any one time. I like to switch power out when I run trains, using a switcher to build/ break down a train, and then a road diesel or steamer to take the consist "out of town"

All of my locos have BCR's where equipped, so no worries about dead batteries. It's a small simple investment that I put into any new to me loco.

I usually change power and rolling stock about once a month, so that helps with rotating power on and off the layout. I'm currently running ATSF and will be swapping out to PRR and steam for Christmas.

I like the comments about inventory spread sheets including lubrication and service details. Easy enough to do but trying to remain vigilant about updating the spreadsheet would be a challenge. I just checked mine and the last time I opened the file was 12/31/17. See what I mean?????

Happy Thanksgiving.

Bob

I totally agree, Rick, that it's best to minimize disconnecting and connecting tethers and draw bars, especially between tenders and steamers.

What I do is move tenders and steamers together, holding the tender in one hand and the engine in the other, when moving them from the shelf to the layout and back, without disconnecting them.

This is a trick I learned on this forum.

Arnold I would agree with that thought process but when it is a scale Big Boy or N&W A holding the locomotive with one hand makes me very nervous same with my T1, Q2 or PRR  J1. At 8 t0 12 pds for each locomotive one hand can be dangerous and to easy to lose a grip.

@RSJB18 posted:

Another good discussion Arnold. I have about 50 loco's/ motorized units. I guess of I locked myself in the basement and plowed ahead I could run all of them in a day or so. More time consuming than running, would be cleaning and lube first so add a day for that.

I usually have about 4-5 locos on the layout at any one time. I like to switch power out when I run trains, using a switcher to build/ break down a train, and then a road diesel or steamer to take the consist "out of town"

All of my locos have BCR's where equipped, so no worries about dead batteries. It's a small simple investment that I put into any new to me loco.

I usually change power and rolling stock about once a month, so that helps with rotating power on and off the layout. I'm currently running ATSF and will be swapping out to PRR and steam for Christmas.

I like the comments about inventory spread sheets including lubrication and service details. Easy enough to do but trying to remain vigilant about updating the spreadsheet would be a challenge. I just checked mine and the last time I opened the file was 12/31/17. See what I mean?????

Happy Thanksgiving.

Bob

Bob.l, the way I operate my trains and layout is almost identical to yours.

Never made an inventory/maintenance spreadsheet, which is certainly a good idea.

Like you, I got a BCR in every PS 1 and 2.

I also have 4 to 5 locomotives on my layout at any one time. Two of them never come off the layout because they are so outstanding IMO: my one and only Lionel Legacy with whistle steam (NY Central 4-6-0 steamer) and an MTH PS3 Long Island B6 steam switcher).

I also have not taken my MTH Railking PS2 Blue Comet steamer together with its Blue Comet passenger cars off my layout since I had the locomotive serviced by one of our highly esteemed Forum train doctors. Just live the way this Blue Comet sounds smokes and looks.

These 3 trains are either on a main line or parked on sidings at all times.

By the way, I am now enthralled with MTH PS 2 and 3,  DCS, Legacy, LC+ and LC+2.0.

I run my PS1 and postwar a lot less than in the past, but occasionally get in the mood to run them. Arnold

Arnold as usual a great discussion starter. I run an engine when it comes in, replacing the battery with a BRC if its a PS2.  I must admit, there are a few that got onto the layout (lubed of course), run, boxed and have not seen the light of day. My excuse is that I have rebuilt my layout so many times already, I did not have time to "time" to put them back on the layout. Not really an excuse, is it?  If my count is decent, I have around 30 engines so it should not take that long to run them all.

I do keep one engine on the layout all the time.  This EP is heavy and not all that easy to connect. I suppose she is my "track queen".   A work of art IMO ; ) I really have fallen for the electrics.

EP2r2

My goal is to build the next layout so that all the engines can be on the tracks, some in a staging area. I have sold off ones that no longer fit with my objectives.  Sometimes I think I will create one large engine lash-up and run that with no other cars.

When I box up the engines, I pop a sticker on the box, shows date serviced, which end is upright (prevent spilling of smoke fluid) and date BCR installed. No spreadsheet to manage or forget about.

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  • EP2r2

I think an engine needs to run at least 15 minutes to count as being run. The oil and lube need to loosen up. Batteries charged etc.

I run everything on my layout at least every 6 months. I do it organically just by running what I feel like that day.

Also I clean the track every month with a centerline track cleaner. Any neglected engine gets that task.

Every engine gets the once over every 4 years from the year I purchased it. Lube and oil, tires replaced, batteries replaced, wheels cleaned and whatever else I find.

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