How fast does it go?

“How fast does it go?” my friend Andrew cheekily asked when I posted those photos of 622 a month ago. At the time, I’d not powered the engine on as I was up to my elbows in the Railway Modellers’ Meet. Since then, virtually all my hobby time has been consumed either by wrapping up the meet, starting on the next one in May 2022, or organizing VanRail.

Through it all, Andrew’s question was nagging me because I knew there was a chance 622 wouldn’t go. Paint has a way of stopping electrical things from working, after all. Sure enough, when I did power it up, the decoder was clearly getting no juice. After an evening of trouble-shooting, I determined that the split coupling is not conducting anything, and one of the water hoses was broken. I replaced the water hose, and the decoder merrily sang to life when I powered up the track.

The wheels would need more cleaning attention, or at least some running, but the engine started to move tentatively down the track.

Almost a full revolution of the drivers, and then the motor stalled, and it stopped.

How could this be? 622 passed its trials late last year; how can it be that the drivers are no longer in quarter? I am so frustrated, that the engine has sat for weeks. I’ve stripped away all the body, and now the chassis sits on the test track awaiting some gentle tugging until it starts to run smoothly again.

I don’t understand this: there are hundreds of loco builders in the world who don’t seem to struggle with drivers the way I do. I even hear of some who quarter drivers by sighting through the spokes, and their engines run smoothly on the first go – in 2mm finescale!

Clearly the fact that I can revolve any of the drivers is a problem. I suspect what has happened is that the drivers may have initially been in quarter, but there was sufficient force even in testing them to push them out of alignment. I responded by easing out the holes in the connecting rods, which probably helped for a moment, and then the wheel moved again: I was likely chasing a moving target – the connecting rods getting looser and looser.

In retrospect, I think this is probably the issue for #10 as well. Now: what to do about it?

11 thoughts on “How fast does it go?

  1. That’s frustrating. I wish you the patience to keep at it and make it work. Good luck Rene.

  2. Do you have a witness somewhere on the axle to tell what moved where? If your frames were milled or at least spotted on the lathe cross slide I’d say to make new rods drilled to the same settings. Can’t remember how you bored the axle holes but it’s not many tenths between fits real good and the other two options. If you haved to make a new axle get a tenths mic. They’re cheap these days – even with a ratchet thimble.

  3. For a lot of different reasons. As I mentioned they are pretty inexpensive and they will let you know what your fit is either on the shaft or on a plug gauge that you turn to gauge fit. Your driver’s seem a bit precious and if they are moving then the axle is the easiest way to fix the problem. Personally I would make a key, a small cutter, a slotting tool and be done with it. But that’s a design stage item. If an item is etched I’d want to know where the holes are in relation to one another. I get your point about other people just do this or that and you just want it to run but chasing after a moving target is very frustrating. Having a few tools to diagnose goes a long way to fixing the problem.

  4. If you do not have a mic of any kind I have a spare 1″ mic you can play with for a month or so. I just remembered your setup is metric so you should probably get a .xx metric mic if you decide to purchase one. One other thought would be to look into the henkle line up of retaining compounds if you want to glue the wheels together on the next series of locos. If you turn all of the alignment features a tenth or two small and relieve the centre section to whatever you need for the loctite you’d have pretty good holding power. The axle or wheel would need a vent from the relieved section for them to go together. The stuff I use for built-up hubs calls for a thou gap and can only really be torched apart. Something closer to a threadlock would be better for a wheel that has to come apart but will likely require more clearance.

  5. I hear your pain. I have a 1/3 scale live steam chassis (running on 7.25″ gauge track) that is stumping me while trying to time the valve gear. No matter the scale or size, steam locomotives are just a whole lot of trouble. No wonder the might diesel easily knocked them into the deadlines. I wish you luck!

  6. Don’t give up! I shuddered when I read this post because I know the pain. I have too many locos “in the shops” because I decided to tinker and make them better, and these are RTR or kit engines that, as you say, performed well at one stage but now don’t. Or, in the case of the Bachmann Spectrum 4-6-0 lemon I got, never quite ran like it should because the dadgum third driver was out of quarter. Gets my blood pressure up just thinking about it. That thing is now fair game for parting out to other projects.

    Still, I persisted with my most recent 2-6-0 rebuild and am now very pleased with its performance. The journey was fraught with trials and setbacks. I learned a great deal about what to do and what not to do and the next one will be that much better as a result. Painting was one such setback, and I was surprised at just how non-robust my work was when I had to dis-assemble and re-assemble then re-test, clean, test again, clean, etc. just to get it to run well again. That was before I realized I had reinstalled the pilot truck upside down and the drivers weren’t making good contact (AAGH! Why isn’t this think pulling more than two cars!?!)

    Hang in there.


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