Loco Maintenence

     Well the holidays are over, the acorns and oak leaves have quit
falling, and many are heading out to clean up their neglected layouts
and run trains.  The question now arises as to when was the last time you
performed routine maintenence on your locos?    With the amount of money
invested in garden railroad equipment, it is amazing how little time is
spent on preventative maintenence.
       Now is the time to do some routine checks to make sure wires are
securely connected, screws are tight, couplers work, sound system
batteries are charged, and most of all moving parts are properly
       I have read many posts on forums complaining about gearbox
failure and seized bearings and wheelsets.   It possible that some
lubrication before running could have prevented this situation.   There
are many products out on the market produced especially for use on model
railroad equipment.  Hob-E-Lube and LaBelle Products are two that come
to mind.  These are high quality products that are plastic compatible,
and are recommended by many train manufacturers.  Lubrication products other
than those sold for model train use will wind up costing you in repairs down the road.
       Since many of us run outdoors, we must be careful in what we
lubricate and with what product.  I generally choose graphite based dry
lubricant, teflon based dry lubricant, and some type of gear grease with
teflon.  Any oil used on your locomotives in exposed locations can pick up dirt
and grit, and will  eventually degrade its operation.  The Hob-E-Lube products I use are:
HL651 Dry Graphite which adheres well to many surfaces, HL652 Dry white lube with Teflon,
HL655 Gear Lube (Use on small gears at at high friction points), HL656 Moly Grease,
(High temp load bearing grease),HL653 Light Oil, and HL657 White grease with Teflon
(Super slippery properties with Teflon).
        Any new locomotive needs to have its gear boxes checked before it
is run.   In many instances I have found very little grease or dried grease when I
have opened up the gear case.  A healthy shot of plastic compatible
teflon-based gear grease or gear lube will do wonders to smooth out
operation and prolong the life of your locomotive.  This is especially true
with the plastic gears that they use in many model diesels. Bearings can also
added benefit from a very small drop of oil while the case is opened.
         Wheelsets on rolling stock can benefit highly from a shot of
dry teflon lubricant in the journals.  I prefer the teflon lube because
it does not cause as much of a mess as the graphite does.  Never oil
wheelsets, as the oil will become gummy and pick up dirt and grit over
time, which will cause a great deal of drag.
          Couplers, especially Kadees, need lubrication to operate
properly.  Kadee sells a product called "Grease 'em", but I have had
success with the dry teflon lubricant that I have used on wheelsets.
          Running gear on steam locos needs to be kept clean so it
operates smoothly.  Do not apply oil to exposed running gear for the same
reasons that you should not oil your rolling stock wheels.
           If you follow these tips you should be rewarded with smooth
opearting rolling stock and locomotives, and in turn it will gretly add
to the pleasure of your railroading time.