The "Care & Feeding" of Steam Locomotives - Aristo Pacific

       The Aristo Pacific is a locomotive that people either swear-by or swear-at depending on their experience.  I have two, and they are quiet and smooth and will run over rough track without derailing.  The models can pull quite a load, and look real good pulling the Aristo heavyweights.  They do not do well on 4' radius curves, and will not negotiate the 1200 series turnouts.  Since they have more moving parts than a diesel, there are more parts to break or wear out through use.  As with the prototype, they require more preventative maintenance than a diesel loco.
       The wheels are one of the weakest parts of the Pacific.  They get real dirty fast, and this  causes power pick up problems.  In speaking with Lewis Polk when he was in town, he recommended that power also be picked up from the tender wheels using a plug and jack to connect the units.  In this way you have eight additional wheels for pickup. 
       His newer versions are supposed to have this arrangement, along with drivers that are not as prone to dirt pickup.  The other problem with the drive wheels, is that the set screws tend to fall out.  This can be cured by using 222 Loctite (the blue stuff at Home Depot).
       One of the most important operating considerations for the Pacific and other steam locomotives is to keep your track and right-of-way clear of debris (leaves, mulch, twigs, acorns, etc).  Anything that can be caught in the drivers or rods wil cause major operating problems and ruin a great railroading day.  Some model locomotives have plastic parts in their running gear, and these parts can be easily snapped if debris is picked up while running.  A classic case is a Bachmann Shay that picked up a piece of mulch at one of our meets, the mechanism got bound up and snapped the plastic running gear.
       Check your wheels, set screws, side rods, etc. periodically for tightness and excessive wear.  Keep your locomotives lubricated and their wheels clean and your steam locomotive experience will be fun and rewarding.