Tuesday, September 27, 2011

10/5/09 Repairing and Re-powering

 Well here I am, two days shy of four months into this project. At any rate I’ve been noticing the lower line has been running quite squirrelly lately. All I had to do was run my finger over the rail to see what the problem was: dirty track. At any rate I cleaned it using the tried and true rubbing alcohol and a rag routine. This would help for a day or so and the track would be filthy again. Things got worse when my Atlas GP-9, which normally inhabits the lower line started making a high pitched squealing noise. “Uh oh,” I thought to myself. And headed down the hobby shop for some grease and a “Bright Boy” eraser.

Weapons of War:

In addition to chemical solvents, one can also use abrasive “bright boy” erasers on especially stubborn track dirt. These things are a bit spendy at $7 a pop but they do a phenomenal job. Or so I thought. I cleaned the lower loop with said bright boy and well, my Atlas Geep was just as squirrelly as ever. I then tried lubing it with LaBelle 106 plastic compatible grease and it still shrieked when running. I then put my Bachman F-7 on the lower line and it ran fine. This led me to suspect dirty wheels. I painstaking flipped the geep over, and applied power to it and took the bright boy to each wheel. After all that, it ran fine.

While I was at it, I decided my layout had outgrown its cheapie trainset power packs and while at the hobby shop I came across the reasonably priced MRC Tech 4 Model 280 controller.
This bad boy features dual throttles, each equipped with direction switches and a 300-degree control arc giving me much more precise control. It can also detect changes in load and keep a train a steady speed. The lows speed creep on this one is much better and the control is much more precise. Also, while my trainset power packs would get so hot you could fry an egg on them after an hour or so, this thing can power the two upper lines and all the lights without breaking a sweat. I still have a trainset powerpack on the lower loop but it has only one train to power and that’s it.

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