Pennsy H-3 choppy performance

Does anyone have a trick to getting the MTH H-3 2-8-0 to operate smoothly below 5mph?  Using the DCS system and remote, this locomotive runs very choppy from 2-5 mph.  It lurches, stops for a second, lurches again, etc. The operation is very bad when starting a train or trying to switch cars into a siding in forward or reverse. Above 5 mph it runs like a dream.  What am I missing here?  This unit was brand new in the box when I purchased it last week, although it was manufactured about 4 years ago according to the literature.

Thanks All!


Original Post

Many times you can do a little PM on these to give you better low speed performance.  Proper lube and insuring there is no binding of any kind in the drive train makes a big difference in low speed performance, that applies to both MTH and Legacy.  I have a couple of MTH locomotives that are problematic at low speeds, but most smooth out by 2-3 scale MPH.  You should be able to improve the performance with a little mechanical PM and perhaps some lube.

Check the side rods to assure that they aren't binding.  Often, locos run smoother after break-in.  I have many, each with lots of hours, that will crawl smoothly at 2 and some even at 1 smph.

Be sure to have 18 volts on the track.

Cadillac Mike posted:

Thanks Barry.  I think Lionel has much better performance using Legacy but they don't make a little 2-8-0 that represents the era between the world wars.  The MTH locomotive looks great, I just wish it ran better.  

Actually, the MTH H3 represents the era before any world war (even the Spanish-American War).  The prototype H3 dates from 1885.  The Lionel H9 and the MTH H10 represent the era between wars since their prototypes were first built in 1913.

Hi Bob, I actually have the Ma & Pa version without the Belpaire boiler.  While I know it is based on the Pennsy locomotive, the Ma & Pa #26 was built during the early part of the 20th century and was the main freight locomotive until the heavier consols came along in the mid-late '20s and she lasted until retirement in 1948 so it is the perfect model for "between the world wars." 

I have seen the prototype for the MTH Pennsy H-3 at the RR museum of PA in Strasburg and was excited to see Mike's produce this locomotive as I have admired it since the museum was built in the mid '70s.  Thanks for the prototype info on this engine, I always like to hear about the real trains we are modeling.  


Take Gunrunners advise. I have the same engine, same problem. I did a lube on everything moving then set it on my test track and had it running for over an hour. Then put engine layout and noticed an immediate difference in slower speed without any jerking or binding. Another hour on test track and she now creeps without a problem.

Good to know, thanks for the advice.  I really like this little critter but the performance has been terrible as you know.  Worst Premier steam locomotive I have purchased in the last 10 years and the only one that did not run well out of the box. Hopefully the "oiling around" will fix it.

Since the basic design of the prototype was used by so many different railroads, the model is an excellent starting point for bashing/re-detailing.  Joe Giannovario had an excellent pair or articles in OST detailing how he made one into a very credible N&W G1.  Some time soon, I plan to bash one into a Southern Ry G-2.

Add Reply

Likes (1)
This forum is sponsored by MTH Electric Trains

OGR Publishing, Inc. PO Box 218, Hilliard, OH 43026 330-757-3020