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The 2-8-2 that wouldn’t run

by Carl on September 1st, 2013

                                                  The saga of the Mike

 Recently I bought a Mike’s Train House 2-8-2 from an estate. I had previously witnessed this locomotive in action on the Atlantic Shoals Railway and found it virtually unusable! The Loco was purchased for, are you ready, $438.95, I picked it up for $100.00 thinking it would be a good project to make it a good puller and stay on the tracks. Following is a list of flaws and how I fixed them:

The locomotive stalled due to poor electrical pick up.

The tender had good eight wheel pick up but the locomotive has a strange method of getting power to its drivers. Instead of wipers each driver is equipped with a pin emerging from the frame and pushing on the inside of the driver. Three of the pins did not move far enough out of the frame to touch the drivers.

The solution: add .008 phosphor bronze wire wipers. Time consumed four hours.

The front driver constantly derailed on curves and turnouts

This was due to the issue of a high number three wheel set (equipped with a traction tire and also the power driver connected to the worm gear on the motor) causing the locomotive to rock. There was more weight distribution on the rear of the engine causing the lead driver to ride off the rails.  All drivers are fully sprung.

The solution was twofold. First I removed the traction tire driver and found that the tire was not seated properly on either side. I carefully stretched the tires and they easily fit into the slot on the drivers. Test running showed that the front driver was still derailing! Examining the drivers indicated that the rear driver was down on its springs causing the lead two drivers to still ride high.  This problem was fixed by removing the rear driver and its suspension springs and blocking the void with brass blocks (very small brass blocks) causing the bearing blocks to be permanently even with the bottom of the frame. I also added weight to the front on the pilot under the boiler. Time consumed six hours.

The locomotive would only pull three cars up my grades.

Setting the locomotive aside I now looked over the tender. The trucks were free rolling, at least as much as the pickup wipers would allow. I then took the tender body off the frame, a simple task. Wow, the tender body was diecast and weighed as much as an entire eight car (my standard limit for single engines) train.

The solution was to replace the heavy metal tender body with a plastic one. It so happens that I had another tender from another locomotive that was a perfect match. I have since purchased a replacement on EBay for small money. Time consumed four hours.

Headlight to bright

There seems to be no solution as MTH is very protective about how they equip locomotives and don’t list the CVs necessary to make the change. They also seem to be full of themselves, just read the manual!

The bottom line is: I had all the material except the extra tender body and I had fun making over this locomotive which now operates nearly perfectly.

 Model railroading is, indeed, fun.


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