I just bought my first MTH loco. I have many Lionel, Williams, K-Line, Weaver but I’m new to MTH. I bought a Scale GG1 in Tuscan 5 stripe. The first thing I noticed was the casting for the body is complete garbage. It should never have been painted. It reminded me immediately of the Williams TCA 25th Anniversary GG1 I have. I had to fill and sand and fill and sand it before I could repaint it. The MTH didn’t come with any instructions so the odd noises it made upon startup had me worried. I’ve come to realize it’s normal for that model. I found the online instructions and printed a copy. This is where imageD04881DD-31CE-4325-BFE5-4EB4E4B29993 I am confused. I read that it has a battery, I assume it’s for the sounds. It said that if the battery needs charging to place the loco on the powered track for 16 hours. Who in their right mind would do this? Did I misunderstand the instructions or did it tell me to leave thousands of dollars worth of electronics powered up to charge one battery? I wouldn’t do that for 16 minutes. Let alone 16 hours. The seller said he put a new MTH battery it the model before I purchased it. How long can I expect it to last? Have these issues been resolved with new models or is this just the way things are done at MTH? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to bash on anybody. I really like my MTH rolling stock, buildings, & RealTrax. I’m just not sure if they are on par with Lionel Locomotives. 

American by birth. Southern by the grace of God.  

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If you provide us with the model number, it would help the experts on this forum to answer your questions.  One thing is for sure, MTH has resolved the need for a battery in the newer models.  You can also resolve this yourself by purchasing and installing a BCR.  

Chessie

Part of the forum since 2000.

Maybe you can share the exact model number you have?  FWIW, you obviously purchased an older model, it's been years since an MTH locomotive needed a battery, they use a supercap in the PS/3 units.

The pictures suggest you bought a GG-1 from the 1990's, MTH has come a long ways since those were produced!  Yes, those had a battery, and yes, you have to charge it.

When in neutral, increase the throttle to maximum and press whistle.  You'll hear the "coupler arm" sound.  The next press of the button will fire the coupler.  There is a switch on the bottom that selects which coupler is active, either the front or rear coupler.  This is all in the manual for the locomotive.

CoolHand posted:

It said that if the battery needs charging to place the loco on the powered track for 16 hours. Who in their right mind would do this? Did I misunderstand the instructions or did it tell me to leave thousands of dollars worth of electronics powered up to charge one battery? I wouldn’t do that for 16 minutes. Let alone 16 hours. The seller said he put a new MTH battery it the model before I purchased it. How long can I expect it to last? Have these issues been resolved with new models or is this just the way things are done at MTH? 

Based upon the catalog number, (MT5501LP) that is a very old engine. MT ("Mike's Trains") predates Premier or RailKing designations. It is likely from the late 90's.

They do have built-in battery chargers. So yes, you do power them up and let them sit. Batteries are good for at least 3 years. Part of the life depends upon how often you run the engine. The buyer said he put a new battery in it. Simple. Check it with a voltmeter. If it's dead, replace it before attempting to power up the engine. Otherwise, you may be introduced to the "Three Clanks of Death". Do a search here, it has been discussed ad-nauseum.

MTH has progressed a long long way since the engine you have. FWIW, it's probably a great puller.

I'll be very honest with you... I love 3rd Rail Engines the best... but MTH Ps3 engines are really nice too... I'd recommend trying one out before judging MTH prematurely... I think you might be very pleased with their newer offerings... 

Even Ps2 engines from 2005 are pretty darn cool! Trust me... the Ps2 20th Century streamlined Hudson is still a staple almost 20 years later, and the electronics hold up decent enough with a battery change, and you can always upgrade to ps3 later... 

David

You guys have been really responsive AND helpful. Thanks. I appreciate the explanation of the Proto-Coupler from GUNRUNNERJOHN (cool handle BTW). Yes, Gilly, it should be a great puller. It must weigh 9-10 pounds! I don’t think I wanna know about the “Three Clanks of Death.” I believe it IS the green battery, Tony H. David, I need one of those streamlined Hudsons you spoke of.  I like Hudsons and anything STREAMLINED! I’m using Lionel’s Legacy System. I honestly don’t know how compatible it is with modern MTH electronics. That’s one reason why I didn’t mind buying an older model. I knew it would be operated conventionally. Please, chime in if you operate PS3 with a Legacy System. 

The one thing that bothers me, is that nobody mentioned the DREADFUL casting. Does this mean it’s normal for MTH? Was the issue ignored because there isn’t anything that could be done? Has anyone seen such a rough casting on their MTH models?

American by birth. Southern by the grace of God.  

Hi Coolhand...

Oh yeah, you'll definitely love the Streamlined Hudsons... Yes, I do operate both the PS3 engines with the legacy, and I also have some 3rd Rail engines with the good old classic TMCC still in them.. So I really enjoy running legacy with the PS3 engines - runs pretty smooth actually. You should definitely check out some cool PS3 engines that you like, both systems work great together, and I really enjoy running both types of engines. 

David

CoolHand posted:

Please, chime in if you operate PS3 with a Legacy System.

DCS and TMCC/Legacy play together at the same time, but you can't actually run a DCS locomotive (PS/2 or PS/3) through the Legacy system in command mode.  You'd have to also have the MTH DCS system installed.

CoolHand posted:

I just bought my first MTH loco.... The first thing I noticed was the casting for the body is complete garbage. It should never have been painted... I had to fill and sand and fill and sand it before I could repaint it. D04881DD-31CE-4325-BFE5-4EB4E4B29993

CoolHand posted:

....

The one thing that bothers me, is that nobody mentioned the DREADFUL casting. Does this mean it’s normal for MTH? Was the issue ignored because there isn’t anything that could be done? Has anyone seen such a rough casting on their MTH models?

To answer your question - No - I have never seen a casting defect on an MTH locomotive. Same goes for paint.

Here are pictures of my MTH Premier PRR GG1 #4876. The model has PS1 and dates from around 2000. I see no casting or paint defects on the body or trucks nor have I ever found such issues on any MTH product that I own.

Photos by:

MELGAR

MELGAR_01_PRR_GG1_4876_17MELGAR_02_PRR_GG1_4876_02MELGAR_03_PRR_GG1_4876_16MELGAR_04_PRR_GG1_4876_07MELGAR_05_PRR_GG1_4876_14MELGAR_06_PRR_GG1_4876_15MELGAR_07_PRR_GG1_4876_01MELGAR_08_PRR_GG1_4876_05

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I agree that powering up a locomotive and leaving it on the track for long periods unattended is risky at best.  For this reason I have invested in separate battery chargers (including the MTH chargers for engines with charging ports) for the 3V and 9V batteries used in MTH engines.  I have also used BCR's but have not found them to be trouble free.  The disassembly required to remove a battery is not difficult.  I have charged batteries on my workbench and just change them out so there is no waiting to run an engine if it has been sitting for more than a couple of weeks.

Rolland

I'm still trying to figure out what is wrong with the casting.

If you're talking about these spots, then I'd tend to agree with Clem, could be zinc pest.

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Zinc Pest? Do I call Terminix? 

Seriously though. Almost all my locomotives are zinc castings. I’ve not noticed any of the boilers bubbling under the paint, YET. Is “zinc rot” something that can be prevented? 

American by birth. Southern by the grace of God.  

Hmm.  Any sign that the loco or box were submerged, or stored in a damp, humid environment?  Could this type of defect be caused by putting the loco in the box directly against the foam, without the plastic sheet in between?

Creep, coast, and pull.  We're not talking about cold fusion here.

CoolHand posted:

I just bought my first MTH loco. I have many Lionel, Williams, K-Line, Weaver but I’m new to MTH. I bought a Scale GG1 in Tuscan 5 stripe. The first thing I noticed was the casting for the body is complete garbage. It should never have been painted. It reminded me immediately of the Williams TCA 25th Anniversary GG1 I have. I had to fill and sand and fill and sand it before I could repaint it. The MTH didn’t come with any instructions so the odd noises it made upon startup had me worried. I’ve come to realize it’s normal for that model. I found the online instructions and printed a copy. This is where imageD04881DD-31CE-4325-BFE5-4EB4E4B29993 I am confused. I read that it has a battery, I assume it’s for the sounds. It said that if the battery needs charging to place the loco on the powered track for 16 hours. Who in their right mind would do this? Did I misunderstand the instructions or did it tell me to leave thousands of dollars worth of electronics powered up to charge one battery? I wouldn’t do that for 16 minutes. Let alone 16 hours. The seller said he put a new MTH battery it the model before I purchased it. How long can I expect it to last? Have these issues been resolved with new models or is this just the way things are done at MTH? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to bash on anybody. I really like my MTH rolling stock, buildings, & RealTrax. I’m just not sure if they are on par with Lionel Locomotives. 

You have to leave it on the track for around 12-16 hours before you can run it. I have to do this with my PS SW1 and 2-6-0 from 1995 until I can get solid operation out of them. Put it in neutral and let it sit on a track somewhere. It won’t take off or move unless the power is interrupted and turned up again immediately. 

Modeling Enola PA in miniature

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“It’s a good thing to let another generation know what a steam locomotive is.” — Southern Railway Vice President-Law W. Graham Claytor Jr.

CoolHand posted:

Zinc Pest? Do I call Terminix? 

Seriously though. Almost all my locomotives are zinc castings. I’ve not noticed any of the boilers bubbling under the paint, YET. Is “zinc rot” something that can be prevented? 

There is no stopping zinc pest.  It' caused by impurities in the casting, and it's "baked in" to the casting. 

All the manufacturers have had the issue at various times, I remember an MTH K-4 that had a swayback tender, it was quite literally falling apart.  I've had a number of K-Line passenger car trucks that we're turning to dust.  Of course, there's a more recent example, the JLC GG-1 side frames that have been talked about here recently.

If the casting doesn't have significant impurities, you will never see the issue.  If the impurities are there, it's coming.  Moisture and temperature can accelerate the issue, but there's no stopping it.

You can do some searches on this forum and get some answers to most of your questions.  Realize your criticizing a product designed in the 80s and made in the 90s.  If you do some research you will find that MTH put quality and scale back into the train hobby when they started back in the 90s.  Clearly a product you have has deteriorate.  Kind a like your 1990 car.   They did not paint it with rust on it, but it did rust later.  Hopefully you did not pay $1000 for that engine.

That method of battery charging existed when folks were still using Post War ZW to run their trains and rechargeable batteries were a REALLY new thing to O gauge railroads.  Most did not have a battery charger.  But one did come out shortly after.

Kind of like when I was a kid and we put our finger into a ring on a phone and rotated it to make a phone call...

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GGG posted:

Clearly a product you have has deteriorate.  Kind a like your 1990 car.   They did not paint it with rust on it, but it did rust later. 

That is not an apt analogy. The zinc rot/pest is due to impurities in the casting, resulting from poor quality control. The product will degrade regardless of how well you take care of it. On the other hand, in the right environment, and with proper care, a car will not rust. If it does rust, you can sandblast and repaint—if you catch it early enough—or excise the offending material. Not so with zinc rot.

Matt is correct, zinc pest is a one way street, no way to make it better!  It's like death and taxes, it's going to happen no matter what you do if the zinc has the impurities.

Matt_GNo27 posted:
GGG posted:

Clearly a product you have has deteriorate.  Kind a like your 1990 car.   They did not paint it with rust on it, but it did rust later. 

That is not an apt analogy. The zinc rot/pest is due to impurities in the casting, resulting from poor quality control. The product will degrade regardless of how well you take care of it. On the other hand, in the right environment, and with proper care, a car will not rust. If it does rust, you can sandblast and repaint—if you catch it early enough—or excise the offending material. Not so with zinc rot.

Well it is in the sense that the original poster implied MTH painted the shell with those defect showing.  They did not.  When the shell came out of the mold it did not have those bubbles and blisters showing.  They developed later. 

Second your jumping to the conclusion this is a complete zinc rot issue versus some surface impurities that have cause corrosion.  So yes it can be just like a car.  If the shell is not warping or crumbling, there is a good chance this is not a complete zinc rot issue.  It may be surface only, actually looks that way, and it can be sanded, filled and repainted too.  G

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To be fair, sanding, filling, and repainting will NOT be cheap George.   Obviously, we don't know for sure if it's zinc pest or simply a local issue, either way it's a significant cosmetic problem that won't be cheap to fix.

I'm certainly no expert but having had a couple issues with zinc pest, it may be isolated to the surface for now. As stated above, it isn't reversible & stripping & repainting will not cure that. The extra handling might even accelerate the demise.

While repainting an early Williams diesel (dummy engine), one of the trucks broke in half, possibly zink pest. I just re-glued it with JB weld & moved on, so far it's holding. This may be a dumb suggestion but since the shell is not crumbling, would it be possible to brush coat the inside with an epoxy like JB Weld as a reinforcement, and handle with care?

I don't know what you paid for that locomotive.  Rather than try to repaint it---if it does have zinc pest with its inevitable results---perhaps you can find out what a replacement shell would cost.  It may save you a lot of work, since you'd have to remove all of the accoutrements anyway to sand and repaint it anyway.

If you're into trying to reproduce the real world in miniature, then the rotting zinc pest could be perceived as regular wear and tear results from being exposed to the elements.

From, my experience with MTH repairs, and I have handled multiple of the same engines for the decade I have been doing this.  Has it really been that long already?  If there is a major zinc pest issue it is in a run.  Typically that model has many engine that experience it.  As examples: there was the chassis for an early RK that the drivers crumbled.  Also some of the Bantam  that had chassis swell and lock up wheels.  Not all of them, but many in that run.  Additionally, this engine is from late 90s.  If a major contamination, it would have shown up by now, fully.  With many other GG-1 owners complaining too.

The original post was more about a poor casting being painted as is and that moved into the Zinc rot discussion.  I believe this is more of a contaminated surface before painting issue, or possibly some localized impurities in the casting at the surface.  Unseen at the time, but has now shown up.

I am certainly not proposing a repaint, but if the defect bothers you, do not purchase.  If you bought new and it has surfaced I understand the disappointment, but it is 20+ years old. G

 

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