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I have had my share of issues. However do not misinterpret the zinc pest for paint issues. I have had bubbles and warping from a couple of different manufacturers. I have also seen misapplied paint that looks similar however the issue doesn't go down to the locomotive skin. I know my plastic shells aren't suffering from Zinc Rot and some of your die cast locomotives aren't either. If the surface is smooth and not warped below the paint; you have a paint issue not zinc rot.

Scott Smith

Last edited by scott.smith

What causes “paint rash”, i.e., tiny specks/ bubbles that appear in the surface of painted die-cast models? Is it a paint or metal defect? I have a number of older (20 to 25 years old) Franklin Mint and Danbury Mint models that developed “paint rash” stored in the box in climate controlled storage.

rex desilets posted:

With regard to quality control: Scott Mann of 3rd Rail makes regular trips to South Korea to inspect each item of a model run. If this relatively small outfit can do so, why can't Lionel or MTH do the same?

I know that Mike Wolf spends a lot of time observing and inspecting in China the manufacturing process. You cannot tell if the raw zinc is contaminated by looking at it. It only take a small amount of lead to destroy a finished product over time. 

Scott Smith

D&H 65 posted:

I've had zinc rot issues with some coupler knuckles on my Lionel I-12 cabeese. I also had the same problem recently on my Atlas"O" (first-run) F2/3 "B" unit's coupler knuckle which disintegrated when I coupled a train to it.

I’ve had the same problem with the couplers on an Atlas O SD35 from 2003 #6803-3 (B&O #7407). I was recently surprised when one of the electro-couplers seemed to not work. Upon closer inspection and trying the other end of the engine, they both had zinc rot and crumbled in front of my eyes. While I could have replaced these with new electro-couplers, I chose to convert this engine to Kadee’s to run with several freight cars previously converted to scale Kadee couplers. Looks far better and no zinc rot. 

John23 posted:

The 6 wheel trucks on a K-Line heavyweight passenger car crumbled to pieces when I took it out of the box.  I replaced them with Lionel heavyweight passenger trucks & so far, so good,

Wait what? I bought someone's old K-Line Heavyweights just for the trucks, and come to find out can use Lionel? Is it a part number like the Weaver trucks, or more like a repair part number?

scott.smith posted:
rex desilets posted:

With regard to quality control: Scott Mann of 3rd Rail makes regular trips to South Korea to inspect each item of a model run. If this relatively small outfit can do so, why can't Lionel or MTH do the same?

I know that Mike Wolf spends a lot of time observing and inspecting in China the manufacturing process. You cannot tell if the raw zinc is contaminated by looking at it. It only take a small amount of lead to destroy a finished product over time. 

Scott Smith

In a thread over on S Scale Groups.io, Brian Jackson made this comment: “Zinc pest is the result of impurities in the alloy. Usually, what happens is the casting company has trouble getting the cavities to fill, so it introduces lead into the alloy to get the die to work properly. The castings look great, until years later they disintegrate.  The NADCA standards prohibit such practices.”

I don’t know how true it may be, but this would not surprise me, simply because it seems too common of an occurrence in too many different items for too many years now (as long as I can remember, and I’m almost 73!) for zinc pest to be just a random accidental contamination.

Bill in FtL

 

Bill Nielsen posted:
scott.smith posted:
rex desilets posted:

With regard to quality control: Scott Mann of 3rd Rail makes regular trips to South Korea to inspect each item of a model run. If this relatively small outfit can do so, why can't Lionel or MTH do the same?

I know that Mike Wolf spends a lot of time observing and inspecting in China the manufacturing process. You cannot tell if the raw zinc is contaminated by looking at it. It only take a small amount of lead to destroy a finished product over time. 

Scott Smith

In a thread over on S Scale Groups.io, Brian Jackson made this comment: “Zinc pest is the result of impurities in the alloy. Usually, what happens is the casting company has trouble getting the cavities to fill, so it introduces lead into the alloy to get the die to work properly. The castings look great, until years later they disintegrate.  The NADCA standards prohibit such practices.”

I don’t know how true it may be, but this would not surprise me, simply because it seems too common of an occurrence in too many different items for too many years now (as long as I can remember, and I’m almost 73!) for zinc pest to be just a random accidental contamination.

Bill in FtL

 

No, not true. They do not mix lead with zinc to improve the casting process.  Lead can come with the source ore, and there have been a few older technologies in which lead has been a part of the refining process prior to the casting process.  In either case, there were steps in the respective refining process to remove lead... There are specified allowable limits for various zinc alloys...  Lots of info out there if one cares to search and read.  It is not really dark science or magic.  If processes and checks are not adhered to this can happen does not matter if it is Lionel, MTH, Quisinart, or Chevy... and because of the actual process and time involved in the actual failure, it does not manifest its self until after the component has been on a shelf for a period of time.  This is a metallurgy failure, not to be mixed in with casting process failures such as cold shots, poor flow and porosity, they are not necessarily related.

illinoiscentral posted:
John23 posted:

The 6 wheel trucks on a K-Line heavyweight passenger car crumbled to pieces when I took it out of the box.  I replaced them with Lionel heavyweight passenger trucks & so far, so good,

Wait what? I bought someone's old K-Line Heavyweights just for the trucks, and come to find out can use Lionel? Is it a part number like the Weaver trucks, or more like a repair part number?

It's not a drop-in fit.  I had to do some work on it.  Can't remember exactly what, as it was awhile ago.

Lots of discussion. BUT... How about we ask for brass, tin, aluminum or steel castings and forget about diecast all together. With the thousands of items being made and the potential for thousands in the future, cost increase should be negligible. We keep hearing how new items are not produced using old parts. How everything is costly due to "new tooling". 

How bout the mfg "new tooling" include new material. .....Hybrid,.... steel, aluminum, brass, and tin. ( all will have the desired effect of weight and metal...which is what is "required" by most hobbiests).

 

 

justakid posted:

Lots of discussion. BUT... How about we ask for brass, tin, aluminum or steel castings and forget about diecast all together. With the thousands of items being made and the potential for thousands in the future, cost increase should be negligible. We keep hearing how new items are not produced using old parts. How everything is costly due to "new tooling". 

How bout the mfg "new tooling" include new material. .....Hybrid,.... steel, aluminum, brass, and tin. ( all will have the desired effect of weight and metal...which is what is "required" by most hobbiests).

 

 

This is a reasonable thought or question, but there are reasons that zinc alloy castings are used versus Aluminum or brass for example.  The quick comments are that both are more expensive as bulk casting materials and the zinc alloys have much lower melting temperatures and due that the casting dies do have a much longer life span and the with lower casting temps, the material provides much less shrinkage, especially compared to brass.  I'd have to check but the AL and Brass may require higher injection pressures which could necessitate more costly machinery. It is all about cost here.

The other thing to keep in mind here is that honestly, as hard as it may be to recognize or accept, the actual percent of diecast parts that have or get zinc pest is a fraction of a percent of ALL the diecast components on all Lionel and or MTH trains.  If you think about it, it really is a batch here and a batch there but because a single component may be run from an individual batch, the effect is every like part on a loco for example is bad, like the GG1 truck frames in the other thread.

Sorry I am babbling, but it is interesting to learn about and hopefully a better understanding might prevent someone from being either blindly worried that every train they have will self destruct or falsely comfortable that this is a perfect technology and nothing like this is possible to happen again.

Toys made in the early 1900"s were tinplate or cast iron. I have seen many surviving examples of both. I have also seen the remnants of diecast toys from that era. More tinplate than diecast or cast iron seems to have survived. Musical instruments of brass, copper and tin from that era also seem to have withstood the test of time. Brass clock movements survive. Metal cylinder music boxes of steel tin and wood survive. Pot metal and some diecast seem to eventually disentigrate. Methods of production of "other" metals must surely have improved in 100 years. There are some beautiful o scale "tinplate" models made in Europe, at prices comparable to US imported diecast. I would bet some of the parts of those models might be imported from China. If we create a "need" China will find a way to produce and sell to us. Look at some of the lithograph embossed cookie tins " Made in China".  They know how to stamp and emboss steel too.

Not trying to grind an axe head. 

O scale 6 wheel passenger trucks are stamped metal assemblies with diecast sideframes and steel needle point axles with wheels. Why can't someone provide stamped metal sideframes? ( as replacements and new product).

Why do trucks have to be diecast? They are already more than half stamped metal. Knuckle Couplers are diecast, but the arms and springs are metal. Could a knuckle be cast in steel ? All the other parts are readily produced. We need to ask for a change and not continue to complain. Most accept a higher cost for bells and whistles. Maybe a "better" metal solution won't increase cost. Diecast as a model medium has continued due to hobbiests demand, percieved as "better". Maybe, maybe not.

I always liked die cast - I have Lionel 700 series and the MTH hudson in die cast.

The early 700T had a horrible record of disintegrating - fortunately, repros abound.

I now prefer lost wax or lost plastic brass, bronze, or nickel silver.  It is more expensive, but with newer 3 D printers costs may be coming down.

I am lusting after an MTH Bi-polar at the moment.  Any reports of faulty castings in them?

scott.smith posted:

I have had my share of issues. However do not misinterpret the zinc pest for paint issues. I have had bubbles and warping from a couple of different manufacturers. I have also seen misapplied paint that looks similar however the issue doesn't go down to the locomotive skin. I know my plastic shells aren't suffering from Zinc Rot and some of your die cast locomotives aren't either. If the surface is smooth and not warped below the paint; you have a paint issue not zinc rot.

Scott Smith

Scott can explain this issue about thee paint with little more detail.  Looking at the photos posted concerning the MTH P5a and looking at mine it does appear that there is no deformity in the shell/body casting of the locomotive but it has those hairline cracks all over it. I am afraid to do anything with it for fear it will crumble. 

Last edited by RJT
@chris a posted:

I don't have the Atlas O Item # for these 40 foot boxcars, as some OGR forum member sold them to me without the boxes and "chose not to mention" that zinc pest rot had destroyed the ladders, grab irons, stirrups and all the wheel trucks.... thanks !!!  I am pretty sure he knew what was going on as when the box arrived, all the disintegrating detail parts were floating around in the bottom of the box.... 

These were the WM 40 foot, XAR double door boxcars....  I ended up finding some replacement ladders, maybe Weaver, and then weathered them as I wasn't going to resell these "problem children" to some other person...   Managed to save two of the four trucks with some metal parts and JB Weld.  what a mess....

Dave C:  that's a pretty neat idea using  JB Weld to epoxy in the the blind "T" nut and the "shoulder screw" to make a threaded mount for the truck.    

DSC03273DSC03289DSC03281

I have these same cars with the exact same problems

 

I may have a couple of MTH scale boxcars that I bought 15 to 20 years ago with couplers that may have this zinc rot problem.

This is probably a stupid question: is there anything that can be done to eliminate the zinc rot or minimize its effects?

My recollection is that when I encountered it, I sprayed some WD 40 on it. 

Arnold

 

This is probably a stupid question: is there anything that can be done to eliminate the zinc rot or minimize its effects?

Arnold

Unfortunately, no. It is an  issue within the metal itself caused by impurities in the zinc. You can patch them up, but that is a short term solution because the corrosion effects will continue. I repaired some pesty items a while back. I expect them to fail again at which time hopefully some affordable, quality parts will be available to repair them properly.

I purchased approximately 14 pairs of Lionel "O" Scale 2 Spring Sprung Bettendorf Trucks and 3 Spring Sprung Roller Bearing Trucks and put them in a closet and forgot about them around the early 2000s.  About 2 years ago, I had need for several of the Roller Bearing Trucks and got them out of the closet.  Yep, 5 pair of the roller bearing trucks were disintegrating.  Anything that was made out of pot metal was falling apart.  I called Lionel up in North Carolina and talked to someone in the warranty dept and the person told me "it was out of warranty".  I asked would they exchange them -- the answer was NO!  I asked if they would fix them, I would pay the bill for it -- The answer was No!  That was the last time I ever bought a Lionel Product.  

Added this on 07/07/2020--I received an email from someone saying that I was bashing LIONEL with my commentary above.  This is the honest truth what happened when I called Lionel's warranty department about 2 years ago.  I was not the one at fault, this was Lionel's Problem in which they put zinc rot car trucks onto the market.  The sad thing about this is that Lionel uses Chinese Companies that could not care less if there pot metal is contaminated with lead or zinc.....and we the buyers get the Rot if we buy something contaminated.   The same thing goes for the MTH stuff that comes from China.   So what are you going to do?  Examine your Chinese made trains for zinc rot every week?

I have had trucks from MTH that had Zinc Rot also.  I had sold several "O" Scale UP Tuscan Gondolas to a gentleman and he reported to me that several of the Pot Metal Coupler Armatures on some of the cars were disintegrating.  Lucky, I had several extra of the trucks and sent them to him.

The latest incident of Zinc Rot took place about 5 weeks ago.  I had bought a N&W Railking Streamline J and it had a beautiful die-cast engine and tender plus 4 freight cars.  I just took it out of the box after purchasing the set way back around 1998.  The engine had a small problem with the smoke unit, but the tender was a disaster.  I wanted to put a new battery in the tender and took the item apart.  I got the metal base off the tender, separated from the top shelf with no difficulty.  I checked out the tender and as I held it in my hand, one of the side frames to one of the trucks broke off.   Then another side frame broke off and finally all 4 side frames broke off.   I just sat there and looked in dismay at the mess that just occurred.  I got out my Trusty Dollar Store Tube of superglue and worked for over 4 frustrating hours, but I was able to get the trucks back together.   I took the engine/tender over to a gentlemen that use to repair trains at Davis Trains (now defunct) in Milford, Ohio.   He told me that he has seen a lot of the dreadful zinc rot over the years.  He sees a lot of Railking  "stuff" and he will try to get me some new side frames.

Lesson Learned by these incidences......Inspect your trains regularly.   The reason why we have Zinc Rot in pot metal used In our toy trains is that the country were the die-casting is done does not really care what kind of metal they use.  They just take it in on recycling and could not care less if it is contaminated with zinc/lead or not.  Remember, we are over 3000 miles from there country and they could not care less what is being sent to us.

I wonder if they are putting out $2000 dollar engines and sending them to the USA that have contaminated pot metal casting? 

PS--Of all the Toy Trains that I have bought from South Korea, I have never had a problem with them nor had I ever had a case zinc rot.

Added on 07/07/2020  ----  The real answer to not having a zinc or lead "ROT" in our trains is to make the trucks and any extra parts of hard PLASTIC.   How many people are going to visit your layout with a magnifying glass to check to see if the trucks or add on parts are made from plastic and not metal.  Toy trains should be fun to operate and we should not have the worry that the side frames, coupler armatures, etc will decay due to contamination from lead or zinc.  Axles and wheels of freight/passenger cars should be steel and extra add on parts should be made from durable plastic.....enough said and done --- sincerely yours     railbear601    

Last edited by railbear601

"Inspect your trains regularly"

Unfortunately, I don't think there is much one can do once the rot appears.  The only thing is to make sure the pieces you are running don't fall apart while they are being run.

I've been buying used rolling stock recently and this thread made me check each piece (specifically the couplers and trucks).  So far so good!

I used to get a warm fuzzy feeling while working at the LHS in the Trains Dept..  The R/C guys...airplanes, drones, helicopters, cars, trucks, etc., etc., blah, blah....all spent the better part of their days selling replacement parts for their customers whiz-bang items.  I mean, customers proud-as-punch taking their recently completed (MONTHS of passion poured into this gorgeous replication) airplane out for a grand demonstration.....only to have it yield to gravity from a few hundred feet up.....or even power auger it's way into the ground!...know how to deal with these sort of disasters.   It's simply part of their.....'hobby'.

Well, welcome to our version of choo-choo mayhem, folks......Zinc Pest!  Yepper, not too many zinc die castings in the R/C corner of the hobby world.  That's OUR Achilles Heel.  Oh, goody.

I have many of the items mentioned above marinating in their boxes in the basement.  I haven't decided whether I'm ready to have yet ANOTHER bad day by inspecting them....and finding 'Zee Pee'...or whether I should let them quietly R.I.P......for the manager of my estate to deal with someday.   

More deliberation and libation are clearly in order here.

(Pshhhhhh!)

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