I have done a lot of reading regarding how to maintain my locomotives and I am very confused. Most of what I have are Lionel and MTH starter sets, all bought new, with basic diesel or steam engines (I don't have any of these really high-end scale engines, etc.). I am not comfortable at all with taking apart the loco or even taking off the shell, as I am not very mechanically inclined (ask me how I became a private pilot at another time!). Anyway, is taking these appart really necessary? Outside of lubing up the axels and what not, how much do I really need to do? I want to keep these running for a long time but I feel that I will most certainly screw something up if i start taking things apart. Also, I always see in the descriptions things like "dual maintenance-free motors" which I hope really means something. I am curious as to what all of your thoughts are on this. Thanks in advance!

Cheers, Pete

Original Post

The motors are can motors, and are "maintenance-free" in the sense that there's no need to open them up to clean/replace the brushes/springs or tend to the commutator, like one would occasionally do with postwar-style Lionel open-frame motors (can motors are built to be "maintain-able" in this sense within the R/C car hobby, but such motors have not crossed over to model trains).

The worm gears beneath the can motors are already greased at the factory, but this lubrication doesn't last forever and will eventually need to be replenished. The detailed instructions are for when that comes to pass, since the motors are attached to the trucks via an adapter casting that passes through the sheet-metal floor of the body to engage a screw that comes up through the bottom of the truck block.

You need not remove the body shell to remove the truck, but it's usually necessary to be able to hold the motor steady while re-attaching the truck, and for that, removing the shell alleviates the frustration that task would otherwise cause.

---PCJ

RailRide posted:

The motors are can motors, and are "maintenance-free" in the sense that there's no need to open them up to clean/replace the brushes/springs or tend to the commutator, like one would occasionally do with postwar-style Lionel open-frame motors (can motors are built to be "maintain-able" in this sense within the R/C car hobby, but such motors have not crossed over to model trains).

The worm gears beneath the can motors are already greased at the factory, but this lubrication doesn't last forever and will eventually need to be replenished. The detailed instructions are for when that comes to pass, since the motors are attached to the trucks via an adapter casting that passes through the sheet-metal floor of the body to engage a screw that comes up through the bottom of the truck block.

You need not remove the body shell to remove the truck, but it's usually necessary to be able to hold the motor steady while re-attaching the truck, and for that, removing the shell alleviates the frustration that task would otherwise cause.

---PCJ

Absolutely.

As an addendum, though, skills can be learned, and removing shells from locos and tenders is not a horribly complicated task. Steamers tend to be easier than many diesels, oddly enough. If you practice a hobby involving machines, it would be advisable to become comfortable with them in some basic ways. These are just little machines. 

But - mostly you oil the axles and valve gear (steamers), grease any exposed gears occasionally, check the grease in accessible gearboxes once in a while, follow the instructions, if any (if you don't read instructions, well....), don't over-lube.

Really, just get familiar with the things - turn them over, look at them, poke at them. Common sense and exposure. They won't bite. Usually.

From the description you gave of your starter set engines, some of your diesel locomotives most likely don't have the can motors mounted as listed above. The one's not vertically mounted will be horizontally mounted to the truck or trucks depending upon how many motors it has. The gears are exposed to access for cleaning and oiling or lubing them ivery easily.

Its not that tough. Use a piece of an egg carton top to hold the shell, place the shell in the carton jig to hold everything in place, Take off the shell and then unscrew the trucks one at a time from the motor. I use a q tip dipped in alcohol to clean the old grease out, let the alcohol dry, put a little light type grease in the motor gear, do the same for the other motor if it has two, reattach the trucks, put just a little grease in the truck gears and your on your way. Take your time the first time and you'll be an expert!

Generally under normal conditions, it takes a long time before you have to worry about re-greasing your worm gears.  Most manufactures say every 25 hours of operation.  However, that suggestion isn't always accurate.  Unless you are running your engines every day for long periods of time, I wouldn't worry needlessly.  If you see your engine skipping, and not operating as smoothly  as usual, then some lubrication may be necessary.  The main concern with engines is to avoid dampness.  That can have an adverse effect on your engines.... If you lubricate, remember, a little goes a long way...less is more'....

 Quarter Gauger 48'

 

Td 

 Image result for us army insignia Colors Don't Run Decal

That is a good idea.  They may want to service it for you though, rather then show you how.  The good shops would do a service for 20 bucks.  Not sure now days if that still holds.  Let me say this Pete.  When I first got into the O gauge hobby, I used to goto a very good, but small shop.  They would install a BRC in my MTH locos for $25.  The thing is once back home and checking the engine I would find the cab windows would be missing, or smudged from oil, scratches on the body, etc.  The gentleman that installed the BRC was no spring chicken, and probably didn't realize he had done some damage.  So, I learned how do things myself.  I found, just like scratch building, each new build you do, is better than the last one.  

Most of the trains built today especially the Williams locomotives are real work horses, and inexpensive compared to the competition.  You can purchase sound boards, and other details and dress them up.  I recently installed a ERR, (electronic railroad) soundboard for an SD-40 WIlliams.  First time I did this.  I followed the directions, and asked some questions here on the forum, and was successful.  The engine sounds great, better than I thought it would'...  Like you, I would have never attempted this when I first started in the hobby.  But as you move along, you get comfortable doing these types of projects, and they are fun to accomplish'.... Good luck with whatever you decide to do.  If everything is running fine, I wouldn't worry too much...

 Quarter Gauger 48'

 

Td 

 Image result for us army insignia Colors Don't Run Decal

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