Contaminated metal on MTH Tender causes melted look

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Contaminated metal on MTH Tender causes melted look
Posted by cruikshank on Monday, July 16, 2007 1:01 AM
A friend of mine took an engine out of long term storage. I think it was an MTH N&W "J"  It was definately MTH.  Also about 6-8 years old.  Still in the plastic, styrafoam origional box ribbon etc.  He gets it out and the Tender is all distorted looks melted.  We look further and see it's made of metal not plastic. It was never stored near heat, was in a Gun type safe in a basement.   A local dealer said a few years ago there was a problem with contaminated metal.  Has anyone else experienced this?  Did MTH replace it?  Thanks,  Dave
Large 3 rail club layout (24x55' 6 mainlines) in Frackville PA looking for new members NOW ! Always interested in info and sites for Anthracite Coal Mines and Railroads. Looking for fellow modelers around Reading PA. Work in "N" and Hi-rail "0" scale
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Posted by chuck on Monday, July 16, 2007 8:09 AM
This can happen to zamac casting material if the alloy is contaminated.  The base alloy is primarily Zinc, Aluminum, Magnesium and Copper.  The main element is Zince (about 95%), followed by Aluminum (about 3%) with smaller amounts of Magnesium and Copper.  Other elements found in Zamac that can cause problems are Iron, Lead, and Silicon  These are usually asociated with the parent ores or with use of contamninated scrap and can cause problems with the casting.  The material can warp and spall over time.  I would suggest contacting MTH to see what they can do about it.
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Posted by lionelsoni on Monday, July 16, 2007 8:33 AM

I had the hatches on the top of my Big Boy start to disintegrate from this--"zinc pest" it is called.  The boiler itself was okay; but MTH replaced the entire shell for free, well out of warranty.

I have had numerous incidents of K-Line zinc castings, like trucks, disintegrating.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by DMUinCT on Monday, July 16, 2007 9:25 AM

    This was a BIG BIG problem with Lionel before WW II. In buying ANY cast Pre-War Lionel it's best to SEE the unit and check for damage.  (1934 to 1939)

    As for MTH, I had cast coulpers from 1998-99 production fail do to casting "swelling".  I bought 3 replacements at TCA York @ $5 each.   When I had more failures, I E-mailed MTH Service, they needed the casting number on the coulpers.  I was sent new replacements, no charge.  They didn't ask for the old ones back, but I sent them in any way.    Is this why they moved production to China???

  I would think they would want back a body casting, just to keep everyone honest.

Don U. TCA 73-5735

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Posted by phillyreading on Monday, July 16, 2007 9:40 AM

What year MTH seems to be the most affected?

I have an MTH T1 (Reading 4-8-4) Premeir Line steam locomotive from about two years ago, is it going to be affected?

Lee F.

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Posted by Dave Farquhar on Monday, July 16, 2007 10:01 AM

Pretty much all early diecast toys were prone to this. Collectors of vintage diecast vehicles run into it too. Zinc pest turned Dorfan from a promising up-and-comer to out of business almost overnight because their diecast bodies would crumble to dust, or at the very least swell to the point where the motor wouldn't run anymore.

American Flyer and Lionel diecast bodies and wheels are also problematic, but less so. I see a lot of swollen prewar wheels.

Sometimes you can patch crumbling diecast pieces back together with Bondo or a similar putty for metal repairs and repaint. I know someone who "fixed" a badly crumbled Dorfan locomotive by patching the body and modifying it to take a Lionel motor mechanism. Then he repainted it. The piece has little historical integrity but at least it runs. I guess it's like the heavily modified 1950 Studebaker I saw recently that had a Ford transmission and a Chevy engine in it.

Dave Farquhar http://dfarq.homeip.net
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Posted by sir james I on Tuesday, July 17, 2007 8:06 AM
Crumbled metal is expected in items made prewar, but it should not happen today. someone is not taking care of their business.

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Posted by DMUinCT on Tuesday, July 17, 2007 8:18 AM

And here is the problem!!!

When a company (Lionel, MTH, K-Line, American Flyer, and others) made there own products in America they had control of the raw materials.

When they order the product from a sub-contractor in Korea or China it will be years before an unkown problem starts to show up.  Sort of like the food supply comming from China recently.  When people or pets get sick, you know you have a problem with the import.

Don U. TCA 73-5735

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Posted by phillyreading on Tuesday, July 17, 2007 4:36 PM

I remember that MTH was using Samhonsa in Korea for their model trains before the Lionel/MTH lawsuit and have started using a compnay in China if I have my facts correct.  China has very low quality standards from the way it seems with all the recalled stuff from China in the past five years, Thomas the Tank Engine(children's toy), toothpaste made with trace amounts of antifreeze in it(on the news again yesterday), pet food contaminated with rat poisin a few months ago.

And now China wants to export automobiles to the U.S.A. What will the car do, fall apart after 10,000 miles?

Lee F.

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Posted by 4kitties on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 10:49 AM

Oh dear, my heart sank when I read this.  I thought zinc pest was a problem of the past, and I would never have to worry about my expensive modern trains crumbling.  I hope this is a limited problem that appears only in a few models.

Joel

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Posted by phillyreading on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 7:54 PM
 4kitties wrote:

Oh dear, my heart sank when I read this.  I thought zinc pest was a problem of the past, and I would never have to worry about my expensive modern trains crumbling.  I hope this is a limited problem that appears only in a few models.

Joel

Joel(4kitties),

I felt about the same way as you when I first read this post as I have a Premeir Line MTH steam locomotive that cost almost $1000.00.  I just hope that MTH does the proper thing and will warrenty any & all repairs on these locomotives.

Lee F.

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Posted by Back2Trains on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 9:50 PM

This should be a problem of the past. It's just poor or nonexistent quality control especially when it shows up this quickly. This has been a problem with diecast items since the late 19th century. It shows up all the time in antique phonograph parts but the items lasted for decades, not just a few years before they fell apart, generally outliving their original use. You can also find both good and bad pieces made in the same time period, just from different batches of metal. First plastic diesel shells and now this?  

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Posted by lionelsoni on Wednesday, July 18, 2007 10:03 PM
This agrees with my experience.  The K-Line trucks I have had trouble with did not completely fall apart.  One casting type would break, but another be fine, for example, sideframes and bolsters.  I was able to salvage some by combining the good parts from different trucks.  I have a couple of K-Line semi-trailers with deteriorating roofs but otherwise sound bodies.  And on my MTH big boy, the main casting was fine.  Only the glued-on detail castings crumbled.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by phillyreading on Thursday, July 19, 2007 10:50 AM

With all this metal problems it makes me afraid to buy new stuff anymore.  I had atruck assembly problem with a K-Line heavyweight passenger car and K-Line mailed me a new truck(no cost to me other than mailing to K-Line) after I mailed in the old one.

Just read a post about a new Lionel ZW giving people problems, some kind of short circuit occurring in the ZW shell that has the variable power handles attached to it.

Glad I have a lot of post war trains!

Lee F.

 

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Posted by MilesWRich on Sunday, February 10, 2019 7:45 AM

I realize that this thread is 12 years old, but I have just encountered the same problem.  I purchased a number of MTH die cast steam locomotives when they first came out, and put them away.  For a while, they held their value but then the market collapsed.  I am finally building a large layout and selling off some of my collection.  If I am not going to run it, I am selling it.  (if I had only bought the S&P average and not trains).  Anyway, I listed a 30-1118-1 Pennsy Railking K-4 Torpedo, not scale size, but for operators without 72 inch diameter curves, and beautiful piece, or so I thought.  Fortunately for me, the buyer asked me to install the new 8.4 battery and test it before shipping it.  This morning, I carefully took the tender out of the box, read the instructions on where the mounting screws are, and unscrewed the four phillips head screws from each corner of the tender, took out the old white battery, installed a new full charged green one, and then went to put the screws back in and they would not line up or go in any screw holes.  I looked more carefully, and all four screw holes had broken off.  Looking further, I noticed the tender was bent and that the paint was cracking where the top is curved.  I photographed it and then wrote my buyer and said to him how sorry I was that he would not be receiving his locomotive, and sent him pictures.  Some paint on the inside of the die cast shell had already flaked.  I have written to MTH but I doubt they will do anything since the locomotive is a 1997 production model, but who knows, maybe they have extra tender castings (shells) available in their parts inventory.  Incidentally, the old white battery showed on 3.5 volts when tested, so I put it on a charger and will find out if it is bad or will hold a charge.  This locomotive was made by Samsahonga, which i thought had a good reputation.  

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, February 10, 2019 9:04 AM

The MTH Rail King "Torpedo" comes and goes in the product line.  I doubt they'd have any 1997 tender shells on hand, or even warranty something 21 years old, but they MAY have some recent production shells on hand that might fit or be made to fit.  

I'd stay in close contact with them, either by e-mail or phone.

One last thing.  I've replaced the batteries in my MTH engines with BCR capacitors.  They work great, 30 to 60 seconds of track power to charge it and the engines ready to go.  No more battery hassles.

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Posted by rtraincollector on Sunday, February 10, 2019 11:22 AM

I agree with Flintlock76. I have heard some real bad stories about the original batteries from back in the 90 - early 2000 time frame. If I remember correctly those batteries where not recommened for more than like 5 years. I have 2 proto sound engines which each have BCR's in them. When I bought them one tender showed some rust on the bottom, I feared the worst, When tring to remove the battery connection the corrosion had distroyed the connection. Yes the corrosion came from the battery. I'm glad I replaced the battery with a BCR. by the way to my relief the sound system stil worked fine. 

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Posted by lionelsoni on Sunday, February 10, 2019 12:46 PM

MTH is not a young company any more.  They have a reputation to protect, and they may well have a policy of fixing "zinc pest" problems from the distant past.  They did that for me, as I posted above, and may well send you a new shell if they still have them, as they did with my Big Boy.

The "new" shell has by now quite a few years on it and is holding up perfectly.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, February 11, 2019 2:46 PM

For everyone's information, this is the website for those BCR's I mentioned.

https://www.jandwelectronics.com  

I got mine at my local hobby shop, but it looks like you can order direct if you want.  I replaced all my MTH nine-volt batteries and I'm glad I did.

By the way, I purchased an MTH "Blue Comet" locomotive not too long ago, and my LHS guy told me that BCR's (or something similar) are standard equipment on MTH locomotives now.

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Posted by tarheeltracks on Monday, February 11, 2019 3:05 PM

I blew a capacitor on a PS2 engine because of a dead or weak battery. Replaced the battery and capacitor and by luck the engine still worked!!

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