Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

New To Hobby....Need an Answer

8 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    October, 2018
  • 1 posts
New To Hobby....Need an Answer
Posted by JoeC on Saturday, October 06, 2018 7:44 PM

I just bought my first HO steam locomotive. A 4-6-2. It's also the first engine I ever bought outside of a set. I was able to find a locking screw and remove it. However, I'm still not getting power to the loco. (my diesel runs fine so it's not a track power issue). Is there something else I need to do out of the box before this loco will get power?  It is DC.


  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • 659 posts
Posted by snjroy on Monday, October 08, 2018 12:39 PM

Hi Joe and welcome to the hobby and the forum!

I assume you went back to the seller about this if it was bought new. If you bought from a hobby shop, return it and save yourself a hassle. If not, here are a few things you can try:

- Let's assume there is no short-circuit. You can check that by trying to operate both your diesel and your 4-6-2 on the same track at the same time. If your diesel works, then there is no short.  If you have a short-circuit (nothing works and your powerpack hums), then see if your tender wheels have not been reversed for some reason. If you still have a short circuit, you might have to open the loco and see what is going on (this is unlikely, by the way). Read on further about how to do this.

-A used loco can suffer from dirty wheels, which may prevent good power pickup. You can clean them with isopropyl alcool and a Qtip or brush.  You can do this by putting the loco on its back, with some foam under it (some manufacturers sell foam supports for working on locos and rollling stock - I suggest you put that on your list to Santa if you don't have one). You can also clean the metal pick-ups on the wheels of the tender (where they connect with the axles). 

-Does your loco have a headlight? Does it work when you apply power? If yes, then the power is not getting to your motor, or you have a problem with the motor or your wheels/power train. Your wheels may lock up if your wheels are not properly quartered. The little screws that connect the driving wheels and the side rods should all be aligned. And there should be a 45 degree difference between the right driving wheels and left driving wheels. A picture of both sides of your loco would help us here (there is a sticky about how to post pictures on the forum). You can requarter the wheels by hand - I suggest you ask someone who has done this before, like a hobby shop owner or a friend at a local train club.

-The motor itself could be seized due to a lack of lubrication. If all of the above have failed to fix the problem, you can check the motor by removing the boiler. Turn the loco on its back and remove the screw under the driving wheels (a mantua loco would have that screw from the top of the engine). Depending on the engine, there will probably be a screw underneath, near the cab, to remove. Do NOT remove the screws that hold the cover of your driving wheels... there will be two or three of those under your driving wheels. Anyway, with the other screws removed, you should be able to carefully remove the boiler - taking care to disconnect any handrailings and other accessories in the process. I recommend you take good pictures first... After removing the boiler, try to turn the motor with your fingers (not the drivers). If it is a can motor, you can try turning the shaft that connects the motor to the wheels. If all turns easily, then lubrication is unlikely to be your problem. In fact, if you can turn your shaft many times and see your wheels turn slowly without any resistance, then it is not a quartering or driveline problem. While your boiler is removed, check for loose or broken wires. If all looks OK, apply some 12V power directly on the motor. If the motor turns, then all is good there. If not, you may have a dead motor - very unlikely. A broken wire or bad contact is most likely. The motor might need a drop of oil where the shafts sits at both ends of the motor. A very small amount of oil can be applied. Get Labelle oil for model trains - it is worth the investment.

Well, try that and see. Good luck!



  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • From: 10,430’ (3,179 m)
  • 891 posts
Posted by jjdamnit on Monday, October 08, 2018 12:44 PM

Hello all,

It is DC.

That's a great question!

Is your layout DCC?

Is the locomotive "DCC 'Ready'!"?

If you did buy it at a shop- -locally or over the internet- -contact them and see exactly what you purchased.

Answering the above questions can help everyone trying to help you.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 10,777 posts
Posted by wjstix on Monday, October 08, 2018 12:48 PM

Hello and welcome!

First, if you could specify what you bought - the scale, the manufacturer, etc. - it may be easier to figure out what's up.

Just to start with an easily overlooked one - most modern (last 20+ years) steam engine models have one or two wiring harnesses that the buyer has to connect between the tender and the engine. Usually the wires come out of the tender, and have to be plugged into the engine. If yours has that, make sure they are attached and fully seated into the appropriate receptacles.

  • Member since
    October, 2006
  • From: Western, MA
  • 7,829 posts
Posted by richg1998 on Monday, October 08, 2018 1:05 PM


Never heard of a locking screw in a 4-6-2 before.

Since you say it is HO and a 4-6-2 I am assuming a Bachmann loco. Very few companies make a 4-6-2 that I am aware of.

Is it set up as DC only, or DCC ready? Some DCC ready, the DC adapter might not be installed.

Are there wires between the loco and tender.

More info in a question can really help.

Is it new or used?



  • Member since
    November, 2013
  • 659 posts
Posted by snjroy on Monday, October 08, 2018 1:17 PM

Mantua, Mehano, Rivarossi and IHC made some as well. 

  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 8,632 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, October 08, 2018 1:51 PM


Mantua, Mehano, Rivarossi and IHC made some as well. 

As did Athearn.
  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 3,163 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, October 08, 2018 2:51 PM



I just want to say Welcome to the Model Railroader forums. Your first few posts are delayed by the moderators, but that will end pretty soon.


The answer from SNRJOY is pretty much as best as anyone can do until we get more information.




Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

  • Member since
    December, 2015
  • 4,190 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Monday, October 08, 2018 7:33 PM

I'm wondering if the locking screw held the loco in the packaging.  If it is a used DCC engine bought on ebay(or anywhere else) it is possible that DC running was disabled. 

The rule is, you can't possibly give us too much information. 

Welcome to the forum.


COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!