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Advice on improving Athearn RS-3 electrical pickup

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  • Member since
    October 2004
  • From: Richmond, Texas
  • 393 posts
Advice on improving Athearn RS-3 electrical pickup
Posted by RDG1519 on Saturday, March 15, 2008 4:50 PM

Guy's,

I am adding a LokSound to my Athearn RTR RS-3. This loco will stop and lose sound over some track spots (Clean) and over my DCC friendly Walther's number 6 turn outs. What have you done to improve this pick up? My ATLAS units do not stall here at the same spots. It is discouraging.

Thanks, Chris

Great grandson of John Kiefer, Engineman Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, 1893 to 1932
  • Member since
    June 2004
  • From: Orig: Tyler Texas. Lived in seven countries, now live in Sundown, Louisiana
  • 25,640 posts
Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Saturday, March 15, 2008 7:23 PM
I have two of the Athearn rtr locos and they both suffer from pick-up issues. My two best recommendations would be to tear the trucks down and clean them really good or replace them with new replacements.

Running Bear, Sundown, Louisiana
          Joined June, 2004

Dr. Frankendiesel aka Scott Running Bear
Space Mouse for president!
15 year veteran fire fighter
Collector of Apple //e's
Running Bear Enterprises
History Channel Club life member.
beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam


  • Member since
    October 2004
  • From: Richmond, Texas
  • 393 posts
Posted by RDG1519 on Sunday, March 16, 2008 11:07 AM

David and Jeffrey,

Thanks for the input, I may consider NWSL wheels and axles as well.

Chris

Great grandson of John Kiefer, Engineman Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, 1893 to 1932
  • Member since
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  • From: Eastern Shore Virginia
  • 3,290 posts
Posted by gandydancer19 on Sunday, March 16, 2008 2:02 PM

I have found that most electrical pickups and contacts are dry, and when they are, it causes these types of intermittent pick-up problems. What I am going to recommend may sound crazy, but you may want to try it before you do anything drastic. I am a retired electronics technician, and when working with barrier type terminal strips at my former job, we used to spray them once a year with a silicon compound similar to WD-40. What I have learned from this is that a very light weight silicone oil actually improves electrical contact. So, on my loco pickups, I apply a very small amount of WD-40. Don't spray it directly from the can on your loco. Spray some in a small plastic cup, then pick up some with a small metal or plastic pick of some sort and apply it to the areas that are used for transmitting the electrical current. For instance, I apply my standard light weight loco oil to the wheel bearings, then apply the WD-40 to the outside of the bearing blocks where they sit in the metal frame. I also apply some to the rails after I clean them and the loco wheels. I dip the end of my finger into the WD-40 and rub it on the tops of the rails for about a foot. I then run my loco through it and around the layout. This application is similar to using Rail-Zip, but without the big mess that usually results from constant use. In my trains, I try and run at least one boxcar that has a masonite track wiper pad. This is a perpetual track cleaning process. When the pad gets dirty, I sand it off with a medium grit sandpaper, blow off the resulting dust and put it back on the track. I repeat this WD-40 application process only when I clean my loco wheels and track with either a bright-boy or cleaning chemicals.

Elmer.

Elmer.

The above is my opinion, from an active and experienced Model Railroader in N scale and HO since 1961.

(Modeling Freelance, Eastern US, HO scale, in 1962, with NCE DCC for locomotive control and a stand alone LocoNet for block detection and signals.) http://waynes-trains.com/ at home, and N scale at the Club.

  • Member since
    May 2004
  • From: Conway SC
  • 222 posts
Posted by wmshay06 on Sunday, March 16, 2008 2:39 PM

Chris -- while I don't have this loco, I have observed some interesting interplay of walthers dcc friendly  turnouts at the frogs and diesel engine 3 axle trucks (such as the atlas RSD 4/5).  The one wheel set that floats (ie non geared) has enough 'slop' in it to cause intermittent shorting at some frogs.  I have found that flangeway depth and flangeway width's at the problem turnouts had to be adjusted carefully - mostly shimming was needed in the frog to get consistent flangeway depths through the frog.  I had to run locos very slowly through the problem areas and get my eyes at the wheel level to see what going on. 

Also, using a very light application (1 drop) of conductive lubricant on any contact surface on the engine helps as well.

 Charles

  • Member since
    October 2007
  • From: ohio
  • 1,363 posts
Posted by rs2mike on Sunday, March 16, 2008 7:58 PM
 gandydancer19 wrote:

I have found that most electrical pickups and contacts are dry, and when they are, it causes these types of intermittent pick-up problems. What I am going to recommend may sound crazy, but you may want to try it before you do anything drastic. I am a retired electronics technician, and when working with barrier type terminal strips at my former job, we used to spray them once a year with a silicon compound similar to WD-40. What I have learned from this is that a very light weight silicone oil actually improves electrical contact. So, on my loco pickups, I apply a very small amount of WD-40. Don't spray it directly from the can on your loco. Spray some in a small plastic cup, then pick up some with a small metal or plastic pick of some sort and apply it to the areas that are used for transmitting the electrical current. For instance, I apply my standard light weight loco oil to the wheel bearings, then apply the WD-40 to the outside of the bearing blocks where they sit in the metal frame. I also apply some to the rails after I clean them and the loco wheels. I dip the end of my finger into the WD-40 and rub it on the tops of the rails for about a foot. I then run my loco through it and around the layout. This application is similar to using Rail-Zip, but without the big mess that usually results from constant use. In my trains, I try and run at least one boxcar that has a masonite track wiper pad. This is a perpetual track cleaning process. When the pad gets dirty, I sand it off with a medium grit sandpaper, blow off the resulting dust and put it back on the track. I repeat this WD-40 application process only when I clean my loco wheels and track with either a bright-boy or cleaning chemicals.

Elmer.

elmer great advice I am going to do that to my locos tomorrow!!

alco's forever!!!!! Majoring in HO scale Minorig in O scale:)

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: St Clair Shores, Michigan
  • 98 posts
Posted by steve58 on Sunday, March 16, 2008 8:49 PM

How old is this loco? You do state RTR, not BB.

I have a RTR RS3 also. After installing a decoder and sound, it ran pretty well for a while, then I started noticing the sound cutting out and the loco hesitating through some turnouts.

The RTR I have has 2 wires coming from each truck. I happened to notice that one of them had BROKEN where it was attached to the terminal on the truck. Actually, I ended up fixing both trucks, when I checked the second one and barely touched the wire, it broke right off. Fixed the wires, problem solved.

I have 2 RTRs, the RS3 and a Tunnel motor. Both run fine. I could understand if this was an older BB loco where you might need to tear the trucks apart and clean everthing and maybe change wheelsets, but a newer RTR?

**** 'course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong ***********
  • Member since
    June 2004
  • From: Orig: Tyler Texas. Lived in seven countries, now live in Sundown, Louisiana
  • 25,640 posts
Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Sunday, March 16, 2008 8:58 PM
 steve58 wrote:

I have 2 RTRs, the RS3 and a Tunnel motor. Both run fine. I could understand if this was an older BB loco where you might need to tear the trucks apart and clean everthing and maybe change wheelsets, but a newer RTR?

Not really surprising. The rtr line are basically BB locos with more details and soldered contacts on the trucks instead of the contact strip and frame grounded motor. Most of the truck assembly is the same. How do I know? I a rtr AC4400 that has bad pick-up issues. I'm going to have to replace the front truck completely.

Running Bear, Sundown, Louisiana
          Joined June, 2004

Dr. Frankendiesel aka Scott Running Bear
Space Mouse for president!
15 year veteran fire fighter
Collector of Apple //e's
Running Bear Enterprises
History Channel Club life member.
beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam


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