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Replacement Athearn Wheel sets

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  • Member since
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  • From: Langley AFB, VA
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Replacement Athearn Wheel sets
Posted by Meyblc on Friday, November 07, 2008 5:29 AM

I have 2 of the newer Athearn RTR RS-3's. While I really like the detail work that was put into the body (shell) of the locomotive, the motor and frame are basically Athearn "Blue Box".

I've begun to have some pretty serious problems with the trucks on both of my RS-3's and have found that the wheels are spinning freely on the geared axles. They are also out of gage now. I have removed the wheels from the trucks and simply can't believe how easily the steel wheels spin inside the center geared axle.

The fact that this is happening to both of my RS-3's tells me that it may not be a isolated incident (but who knows).

Does anyone know of (outside of more Athearn wheels and axles) what I can use as a replacement? These wheels and gear sets look indentical to the Proto 2000 GP-7, GP-9, GP-18 wheel and gear sets that were known to crack along the teeth of the gear.

  • Member since
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  • From: Poconos, PA
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Posted by TomDiehl on Friday, November 07, 2008 6:05 AM

Meyblc

I have 2 of the newer Athearn RTR RS-3's. While I really like the detail work that was put into the body (shell) of the locomotive, the motor and frame are basically Athearn "Blue Box".

I've begun to have some pretty serious problems with the trucks on both of my RS-3's and have found that the wheels are spinning freely on the geared axles. They are also out of gage now. I have removed the wheels from the trucks and simply can't believe how easily the steel wheels spin inside the center geared axle.

The fact that this is happening to both of my RS-3's tells me that it may not be a isolated incident (but who knows).

Does anyone know of (outside of more Athearn wheels and axles) what I can use as a replacement? These wheels and gear sets look indentical to the Proto 2000 GP-7, GP-9, GP-18 wheel and gear sets that were known to crack along the teeth of the gear.

How "newer" are these locomotives? I believe Athearn has some sort of warranty on them. Without warranty returns, they'll never know there's a problem in the production.

Smile, it makes people wonder what you're up to. Chief of Sanitation; Clowntown
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  • From: Reading, PA
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Posted by rrinker on Friday, November 07, 2008 6:59 AM

 Sounds like they have the opposite problem from P2K - the hole in the gear is too big. Wierd. I only had a few older Blue Box locos and never saw that problem. Are they still using the sintered wheels? On my old Blue Boxes I repalced them with NWSL nickel-silver wheels. slightly reduced pullign power but greatly increased electrical pickup. Not to mention once in a while on an old one you'd find a small chunk missing out of the sintered wheel. In the past it was suggested to put a drop of white glue in the gear and then put in the wheels and adjust them to proper gauge. It should be enough to keep them from freely spinnign but not so strong a bond that you could never take them apart should they require it. CA would be pretty permanent, and if the gear cracked or something else happened you'd end up having to get a new gear as well as new wheelsets.

                          --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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  • From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
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Posted by cacole on Friday, November 07, 2008 7:13 AM

I have never heard of any Athearn product having this problem, so it may be something new that has recently cropped up with the Chinese made products.  Other recent Athearn RTR locomotives I have seen do not have a similar problem at all.

As Randy Rinker said, Athearn may be unaware of this problem.  I would like to suggest that you contact Athearn, explain your problem to them, and see what they offer to do about it.

Go to their web site at http://www.athearn.com/ and click on "Contact Us" at the top of the screen.  Send them an e-mail describing the problem as you have written it here, and they will probably offer to send you new trucks or take the models back.

Good luck.

 

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Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Friday, November 07, 2008 7:14 AM

 Randy: All the newer Athearn's I have came with what look like nickel silver wheels.

Running Bear, Sundown, Louisiana
          Joined June, 2004

Dr. Frankendiesel aka Scott Running Bear
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Posted by pike-62 on Friday, November 07, 2008 7:25 AM

I would look at these gears very closely under a magnifying lense if you have one. I suspect they might be cracked. The proto gears that cracked did the same thing as yours are and when the crack was new it was almost imposible to see. Only after the Acetel (plastic) shrank more would the crack open up more and cause the thumping noise that was the indicator they were cracked. Athearn was not imune to this problem. I have had several engine of theirs that had cracked gears. Acetel "moves" a lot with temperature changes. As the material goes thru these temp changes it somewhat stabilizes it. the unfortunate side effect is that it shrinks smaller which would explain the cracking of the gears. The acetel parts we manufacture at the company I work for are prone to the same movements. We run all of our parts thru an annealing process before anything get assembled. This annealing process is basicaly a large oven that we warm the parts to 275-300 deg.  We have to be very carefull as the flow temp for this material is 375 deg. The anealing process does stabilize the material to a point that it does not create any problems for us. It does not, however, stop all movement. It only speeds up the shrinking process to get it to a managable point.

Anyway, I would first contact athearn and let them know about this. As was said earlier, if they don't know about it they can not fix it. Lifelike/Proto was fantastic about addressing the problem when they had it. I have purchased several spare sets to upgrade the few athearn engines I have left on my roster as the gears are essentially the same

 

Dan

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  • From: Richmond, Texas
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Posted by RDG1519 on Friday, November 07, 2008 7:35 AM

I have five Athearn RS-3's. The detail is beautiful.

The Reading units and the CNJ unit have very poor and unreliable electrical pickup. Cold solder joints and too much paint. I also have CRACKED GEARS. The two undec units I have do not have this issue. I have replaced the chassis of the decorated units with undec chassis and now they run very smooth and quiet. Now I have to do something about the painted chassis that are useless in there current state. I am thinking about just replacing the entire truck assemblies.

 I will contact Athearn first to see if these three year old units might be covered under warrantee.

Great grandson of John Kiefer, Engineman Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, 1893 to 1932
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Posted by Meyblc on Friday, November 07, 2008 8:15 AM

Ah ha.....you guys are correct. upon closer examination under a bright light, I found a split across the entire axle. That would certainly explain why The wheels would never stay in gage and the gears would spin under power, but the wheels wouldn't.

 

I guess I'll be calling Athearn. ***.....I was really hoping that i wouldn't have this issue after replacing all my P2K wheel sets

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Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Friday, November 07, 2008 8:20 AM

 This problem is not confined to just one or two manufacturers. I've had locos with cracked gears from Life-Like (Proto 2000) that included a GP30, 2 FA's and an E unit. There were two from Athearn. An F7 and a PA2. There were several from Bachmann, mostly steamers, one from MDC and one from Kato. In all cases the gears split from one side to the other straight along the gear teeth with the sole exception of the MDC loco. The gear in it split on one side only and went around, not across, just as a stick would break.

Running Bear, Sundown, Louisiana
          Joined June, 2004

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Friday, November 07, 2008 9:13 AM

The problem may be split gears, since I've never heard of an Athearn axle being too small. Splitting gears seems to be a problem with Athearns almost as much as older Proto 2000s. If the gears are the problem, I'm sure Athearn will send replacements. If it somehow is the wheels, NWSL replacement wheels should work as well or better than the stock wheels (they seem to have pretty good traction, and roll very smoothly).

_________________________________________________________________

Darth Santa Fe, doing weird and challenging projects for the fun of it!

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Posted by loathar on Friday, November 07, 2008 9:58 AM

I had an old Athearn BB who's wheels spun pretty EZ and didn't have a cracked gear. I cleaned all the oil off of it and reassembled with a drop of super glue on the axles. Been working fine for years now. Might work for your problem too.

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Posted by Don Gibson on Friday, November 07, 2008 2:32 PM

ATHEARN 'BLUE BOX Engines had bronze beaings and half axles. REplacement wheels were made by NWSL and JayBee.Both companies have been sold, so I don't know what the new owners have done - presumably they want to keep their business'es going..

BOTH machine wheels to NMRA specs from brass or nickel-silver stock, and are superior to 'stamped' metal wheels. ALL my remaining Athearn BB engines have machined..brass or nickel-silver wheels and they run better at low speeds with little or no arcing...

Walthers is probably your best source, while new ownership 'culls' their line's, to see what to manufacture first..

http://www.walthers.com/exec/search?manu=369&split=30..

 

Don Gibson .............. ________ _______ I I__()____||__| ||||| I / I ((|__|----------| | |||||||||| I ______ I // o--O O O O-----o o OO-------OO ###########################
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Posted by Cisco Kid on Friday, November 07, 2008 6:59 PM

Yes, your axles are split.  I have had split axles not with just P2K and Athearn, but also Stewart and Kato. 

My parts box currently has a ready stock of replacement wheel sets or plastic axle gears for all 4 makes and I would recommend everyone order a few in to forestall downtime for your locos.  They can split at any time, even sitting on the shelf.

However, OP you do not need to replace the entire wheel set.  Your LHS should have, or be able to order, just the bag of Athearn plastic axle gears, (yes, they do fit the P2K as well and one other make that escapes my mind).

The bag of gears is cheap----mine shows $2.50 for six gears.  This is much cheaper than getting an entire replacement wheel set (which I did from Walters for my P2K until I learned better).  All you have to do is push the two wheels onto the new gear and then be sure they are set correctly with a wheel gauge.  I didn't know this was possible until I did several dozen split axle repairs in this way.  I had imagined the new ones had to be factory glued on or something----not the case.

BTW, I have had new locos arrive with 4 or 5 out of six axle gears split.

Cisco is the point in the Fraser River Canyon where CN & CP cross each other and the Fraser on big steel trestles.
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Posted by gjvjr50 on Friday, November 07, 2008 10:07 PM
  1. The mention of white glue or CA adhisive but would lock tite work  they make several types
  • Member since
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  • From: Orig: Tyler Texas. Lived in seven countries, now live in Sundown, Louisiana
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Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Saturday, November 08, 2008 3:20 AM

 Lock-tite can be used to secure an axle in a new gear but shouldn't be needed. If an axle is loose in a gear then that gear is either split or the axle is too small. Don't attempt to repair a split axle with ca/super glue. Take it from me, it won't work. I've tried.

Running Bear, Sundown, Louisiana
          Joined June, 2004

Dr. Frankendiesel aka Scott Running Bear
Space Mouse for president!
The spray can Rembrandt
Running Bear Enterprises
History Channel Club life member.
beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam


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