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MTH has made several versions of their dual pick-up rollers including the BD-0000090 with wide solid metal rollers and later the BD-0000097 which has plastic insulators on each end of a shorter roller. Both types can cause issues depending on the track type and locomotive being used. In my case, I use Super O track. The solid double rollers found on my Railking equipment short out on every switch. I don't have this issue with the BD-0000097 insulated rollers which came on a few of my Premier engines. 

I began considering an upgrade from solid rollers to the insulated type.  Unfortunately,  MTH parts are often difficult to find, or just plain expensive. In the case of the BD-0000097 insulated rollers, they aren't available from MTH, and only a handful of retailers offer them for $10.00 each. With shipping, that costs $50.00 to upgrade the rollers on my Railking Budd car set. With MTH going out of business, finding rollers is only going to become more difficult. So, I went looking for a better alternative. The goal was to find a repair that would correct the shorting issue and provide a method for future replacement if rollers become worn and are no longer available from MTH.

I searched through my parts bin, and realized that Lionel postwar roller type 2328-95 was a direct match in terms of roller length. The tapered ends of the 2328-95 serve a similar function to the insulators on the ends of the MTH rollers, preventing shorts as you pass through switches. In the photo below, you can see the original MTH roller (left), and the Lionel type 2328-95 (right).


I popped the MTH roller pins out using my rivet press tool which is normally used to remove knuckle springs. The pins can also be tapped out manually with a little more effort.


Once I had the roller assembly taken apart, I realized that the Lionel 2328-95 rollers were not a direct fit. The MTH roller pin was too large a diameter to fit in the Lionel roller. Clamping the rollers in a vice, I drilled out each roller using a 1/8" drill bit. Each one took about 15 seconds and it was an easy process.


Next, I reassembled each roller using the 2328-95 rollers. They snapped right back into position with pliers


The photo below shows the original double roller (left), and the modified assembly (right)


I reassembled both roller sets and tested the Budd set. My issues were solved. No more shorting. As a bonus, my issue with flickering of lights in the non-powered unit went away. However, on the powered unit one more minor adjustment was required. Because of the larger roller diameter, the pickup assembly moved further upward and reached its travel limit causing a slight loss of traction in one or two locations on my layout. By removing the relatively thin MTH tires and replacing them with thicker tires of the type used on a modern Lionel F3, this problem was also solved. For the first time, I am finally able to run this set without constant shorts. And, I have a reliable supply of rollers for future repairs.





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Last edited by GregR
Original Post

   I have an MTH Alco S2 switcher that craps out on my Fastrack 072 switches from time to time. I have tried a few things to rectify the issue, but still looking for a solution.

  Your modification looks like it may be the answer to fix the problem.

  Thank you for sharing!


There's no harm in trying. My cost was only $0.45 per roller purchasing them in bulk at the Train Tender. That's only $1.80 per locomotive. And it is a reversible modification. So, if it doesn't work out, you have a few extra rollers that are used in a wide variety of common postwar diesels.

Last edited by GregR

I had a similar problem with some wide rollers and put a 1/4" sanding drum on my Dremel tool then ground a taper on each end of the roller.  Took longer to remove the pickup off the loco than to grind the taper.  If you hold the axis of the grinder and the sanding drum at around +-75 degrees to the axis of the pickup roller it will rotate the roller as it grinds and take an equal amount off all around.   Might as well do one now I will have to do it before I put it back on the loco anyway.   Only did one end of roller so you can see before and after.  I could take more off and cut in closer to the center of the roller if need be.  I like to paint the taper black keeps it from drawing attention to itself.    j    


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Last edited by JohnActon

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