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Re-lubing Athearn Genesis trucks

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Re-lubing Athearn Genesis trucks
Posted by Autonerd on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 11:50 PM

I've acquired some old-stock Athearn Genesis locomotives, and some aren't running smoothly. I've found goopy lube in the trucks, and I think I read somewhere the grease was better for its longevity than its lubrication properties (is that wrong?). 

What is the common wisdom on opening up the trucks, cleaning out the old lube, and re-lubing with plastic-compatible oil? I know that was considered a good idea in the blue box days, but what about with Genesis locos?

THanks

Aaron

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 8:31 AM

Not sure about common wisdom but these drivetrains need very little lubricant. The plastic driven gears and the plastic universal joints really don't wear. The metal worm gears basically cannot wear.

So, less gunk ls better. Very minimal lubricant is actually required. 

When I get a noisy twin flywheel drive I get in there and remove whatever visible gunk is present. I use Labelle oil to replace any grease. It sticks nicely to the plastic. Bonus, once the grease is gone from the worm gear you can relube the gear train in future just from the bottom without disassembly. The metal worm needs no lubricant, only the plastic gears need oil. Greasing the metal worm gear is just irrational in my view. The little square "journal" boxes or shaft bearings should get oil on the driveshaft where it sits in the hole in the bearing.

I tend to put a very small amount of Labelle grease into the cup part of the universal joints but I'm not really sure that matters. You can clean and relube these by just taking off the shell so using grease rather than oil makes sense to me.

Only once so far have I needed to add a bit of Labelle to the motor bearings to stop squeal. Very little oil should go there as you don't want it migrating onto the electrics. Electric motors run regularly should not get dry as the bearings they use are self lubricating.

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by snjroy on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 10:28 AM

I agree with Mike, less is more, and I would use Labelle grease only for gears, Labelle oil for the axle.  You can check for dried lubricant built-up, but I have never seen that on new old items. Are you sure lubrication is the only issue... If the locos don't run normally after a few spins, I would check for other problems. Are the wheels shiny? Are the wheels sitting flatly on the track?... Do you know the history of these locos? 

Simon

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 10:51 AM

I remove the worm cover and worm gear and use a tooth brush and 90% alcohol to clean the worm gear.  

I use a very thin bladed screw driver to lift out any blobs I can, then a tooth brush or small paintbrush and the alcohol or CRC to clean the gears from the top.

I will sometimes remove the bottom truck cover and attack the bottom side of the gears the same way.

I don't add any more lube since I can't ever remove all of the factory lube by this method, and the alcohol and CRC tends to thin the paste to where it flows well.

For a complete cleaning, I remove the truck and take it apart, but the Athearn Genesis locos are generally new enough to where the paste isn't completeley dried out, the above technique seems to work. 

- Douglas

  • Member since
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Posted by Spalato68 on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 11:09 AM

I have 5 Genesis diesel locomotives (3 x F7, 2 x FP7, probably released in 2009), and all of them had plastic worms (red or white) - some of them were cracked. I replaced all of them with new brass worms that are now available from Athearn as spare part (ATHG40063). So if worms are plastic, they need grease too. 

If you found hardened grease/lube in gearbox, this indicates that this is very old grease and the best thing would be to completely disassemble gearbox and clean everything - because there can be more hardened lube inside. 

Then use Labelle (or similar) grease for gear teeth and oil for any shaft (either worm shaft/bearing or gear shafts inside gearbox). No matter how much I try to apply it sparingly, I think I always add it too much. So just one or two drops and small part of grease is enough. 

When you clean worm, you can look if there is any sign of cracks - if there is a crack, this causes noise. In that case, worm needs to be replaced. 

Gearbox housing itself can cause noise, because I found some burrs inside that needed to be removed (scalpel or similar tool) - they were occasionally interfering with wheelset gears causing noise. 

Furthermore, I found that little square "journal" boxes or shaft bearings that Mike mentioned also can cause noise due to the fact that their bore is too wide for worm shaft. The good thing here is that original Genesis (in fact Roco) motor itself is usually louder than this noise. I was aware of it much more because I replaced Roco motor with coreless one, that is practically noiseless. Also, in some of mentioned locomotives (FP7's in first place) these square shaft bearings had play inside gearbox (with worm cap/lid in place). This is also cause for noise, because the whole wormshaft/bearing assembly vibrates while motor shaft is spinning at high speed. This can be rectified relatively easy - with small brass shim/sheet glued (with 2K glue for very strong and secure bond) on the worm cap/lid. 

This is my experience - I do not have much Genesis locomotives, but from these five I learned there is a nice room for improvement with these locomotives. After all these "upgrades" I mentioned, their running improved considerably - both in terms of smooth, continuous movement without any hesitation or jerkiness, and in considerably quieter running. It is amazing what Genesis drivetrain can offer with some tweaking (and investment - because new custom made worm shaft bearings are not cheap, and motor also has its price). 

Below are some pictures of what I mentioned above. 

New brass worms for F7 and FP7 locomotives with custom made worm shaft bearings:

https://up.picr.de/41000968gd.jpg?rand=1620230119

Brass sheets glued on worm shaft cap/lid, to prevent vibration of shaft bearing:

https://up.picr.de/41001019ie.jpg?rand=1620230119

Here you can see and "hear" Genesis F7 running at moderate speed after such tweaking:

Slow speed performance is visible here (flat DC):

Hrvoje

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Posted by selector on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 11:19 AM

Autonerd

I've acquired some old-stock Athearn Genesis locomotives, and some aren't running smoothly. I've found goopy lube in the trucks, and I think I read somewhere the grease was better for its longevity than its lubrication properties (is that wrong?)... 

Yes, it's true.  The issue is two-fold: contamination with foreign materials over time, but also the loss of volatiles that keep the grease fluid-like. It is often just the loss of volatiles in the grease that makes it go waxy and less helpful as a lube, but even water molecules will eventually work their way into the working, churning, grease and turn it into a saponified mess.

Autonerd

...What is the common wisdom on opening up the trucks, cleaning out the old lube, and re-lubing with plastic-compatible oil? I know that was considered a good idea in the blue box days, but what about with Genesis locos?

THanks

Aaron

 

Aaron, you should do this, even once per lifetime of the model (or your own), both for the experience and to extend the useful life of your prized locomotives. I know, I know...it's a daunting prospect, at least it was for me just swapping out a traction tire on a tiny Life Like Proto 2000 SW8 switcher for an all-metal tire axle to help the diesel to get across my #8 DCC-friendly turnouts.  But, I did it, and it accomplished what I set out to do...restore the utility of my locomotive.  Clearing the gummed-up trucks on your locomotive, if done with patience and determination, will have it back running smoothly in no time at all. Mind you, that's assuming what you think is the problem really is the problem. 

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 7:22 PM

I did not notice Athearn Genesis motors use plastic worm drives.

I'd use just Labelle oil or equivalent on any plastic geartrains.

The trouble with grease is it tends to dry out. Also, if you oil the geartrain and grease the worm then the oil will soften the grease on the worm gear anyway. 

Alyth Yard

Canada

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    August 2015
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Posted by Autonerd on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 10:56 PM

THANK YOU ALL -- Man, do I love this forum. Most of these locos were shelf queens and some had some mechanical issues (I think those you are mentioning here). At least one is a slow runner. It sounds like I cannot do any harm in disassembling, cleaning, and replacing the lube, clearing out burrs and checking for cracking in any plastic worm gears I might have. 

Fortunately I have one F-unit that's a "parts" loco (it's already donated its sound board to my ex-NH CR GP9, so now I have a proper Hancock air whistle!). I think I'll start with truck removal and refurbishment on that loco and see how it goes, then maybe unit-exchange them with one of the other F units and so on and so on.

THANK YOU again!

Aaron

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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Saturday, May 8, 2021 8:32 AM

Very helpful thread. Big Smile

A portion of the info is applicable to LL P2K units.  I haven't touched my fleet in a while.  I'm "cautiously imagining" what I'm going to encounter as I start taking trucks and mechanisms apart for maintenance / lubing in preparation for adding DCC-sound.

"I like my Pullman Standards & Budds in Stainless Steel flavors, thank you!"

 


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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, May 8, 2021 10:06 AM

P2K units come apart fairly easily. The axle retaining clips require careful manipulation and they pop right off. If you feel you are applying too much force or bending them too far then you are definitely doing it wrong. Don't break the locking tabs. The clips either pop off easily or you're doing it wrong. if you pry the clips outwards by quite a tiny amount that's enough. There's a  trick to it easy to show but hard to describe. I use toothpicks or tiny flat blade screwdrivers to hold one locking tab in the released position after a gentle pry outwards  while I then pry out the opposite side. Once one end is uncoiled it's easier to reach and pry out the third clip. The fourth clip tends to release on its own so be prepared for it to spring up and away.....

If you plan on dropping the trucks out anyway I highly recommend you  just drop out the trucks and only then remove the axle retainer clips. Far, far easier to do it that way. Probably you don't even need to remivevthe axle retaining clips at all, 

The same plastic is used for the worm gear covers, that also double as truck retaining clips. This is a very clever design. Be very careful prying up the quite similar clips that fasten those truck retaining clips. Those worm covers retain the trucks only by those extensions that sit on top of the metal frame. Once the clips pop off the trucks drop out (disengage the universal joints on the motor drive axles as the trucks drop out, of course).

Once the trucks are out you can easily lubricate the gear train WITHOUT taking off the axle retaining clips if you wish, which I also highly recommend. Unless you need to replace split gears and you're taking out the trucks anyway you can lube everything without even taking the trucks apart. The problem area is petrified (or even crystallized!!!! ) grease on the worm gear. I've seen the Putty like peanut buttery stuff and also a weird transparent hard green stuff on P2K worms. One reason I'm a convert to just using Labelle oil on these gear trains including the worm. No grease on my worms please. 

Alyth Yard

Canada

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