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 Life-Like Alco S2 Wheel Cleaning Ideas Needed

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
slimrails Posted - 12/13/2018 : 5:11:59 PM
Good Evening, Crew! Earlier I was at the bench and took my old Life-Like Alco S2 shell off of the frame, lubricated the gears and bearings, and gave it a test. It runs well, but needs more running time because its been in moth balls for so long. Although it's on the quiet side, I was up close and wearing my hearing aids, so I could hear everything. First, I need to access the power wires going to the motor so that I can hook up my power source. The wiring is tucked away under and inside the weight, so I may have to take that off. There's also a small PC board that controls the directional lights attached to the weight as well. Any ides concerning getting the weight off? I'll need to check for hidden screws. Second, once I have the power jumpers in place and the loco is running, I need to clean the wheels. In the past, I've used fine grit wet/dry sandpaper. Any other ideas? Thanks, Guys!
13   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
cajon Posted - 12/15/2018 : 11:06:28 PM
The easiest way to clean wheels on an electric loco is to put folded paper tower on powered track. Put isopropyl alcohol on that & put one set of wheels on that. Put other wheels on track & turn power on holding loco. Once 1st wheels cleaned, turn loco & run it again.
slimrails Posted - 12/15/2018 : 11:58:42 AM
Thanks, Louis! I'm going to work on the GP7 next and then the Kato NW2. I'll post what I find out about the Kato after I get down to the bench later on.
desertdrover Posted - 12/15/2018 : 10:16:10 AM
If you want to remove the couplers, place a screwdriver under the coupler box, and pry up until it separates from frame.
To remove the shell, first step is from underside, release and pry up the cab side tabs, and lift cab off of shell. Then from rear of shell, pull out the sides of the shell to release it from the tabs on the weight that lock it into the shell insides. Then do the same at front of shell. Pictures show steps and tab locations. Hope this helps you.

desertdrover Posted - 12/14/2018 : 7:27:26 PM
Good job Russ, glad it worked out for you. Here is a wheel parts assembly if you need it showing the pick-up brass bar, and how to get to it.
Also, more information on your Kato NW2 model and year, or model number, maybe I can turn up something you can use to work on it. The Kato NW2 that I am aware of, has two locking tabs on each inside of the weight and shell sides that must be separated. I can tell you in detail once I know the one you have.

slimrails Posted - 12/14/2018 : 5:22:59 PM
I found a way to power the motor without much trouble. The ends of the wires from the trucks to the motor are simply inaccessible, but I found that each side frame has a brass bar that spans the axle points and acts to ensure good electrical pick-up. The brass bars are just visible behind the side frames in the chassis photo at the bottom of Louis' first post.

Since the side frames are flexible, I simply used a small screwdriver to open up a space wide enough to insert a lead from my power source. I did the same thing on an opposite truck and the motor now runs. It seems smooth and quiet enough and I used the trusty Q-Tip and alcohol method to clean the wheels. No gunk, just a wee bit of grey residue and that was all. I now have it running in the foam cradle to give it a few hours of break-in time. Success! I now have the shell off of my Life-Like DL&W GP7 and that'll be next for cleaning, lubricating, and some break-in time. The real project will be getting the shell off of the Kato NW2. I looked at the how-to info on Kato's website, but it appears to be for newer models and mine is an older one. But that's another story.
desertdrover Posted - 12/14/2018 : 08:09:32 AM
Originally posted by cajon

The easiest & cheapest way to clean loco wheels is put some isopropyl alcohol on folded paper towel. Put that on power track. Put one set of wheels on the towel & other set on the rails. Turn on the power while holding loco on the rails. After a bit stop the power & check the wheels. When first set clean turn loco & repeat till 2nd set clean.

Here is a fancy version of what Andy suggested above. A neat homemade jig for cleaning locomotive wheels.

cajon Posted - 12/13/2018 : 11:41:35 PM
The easiest & cheapest way to clean loco wheels is put some isopropyl alcohol on folded paper towel. Put that on power track. Put one set of wheels on the towel & other set on the rails. Turn on the power while holding loco on the rails. After a bit stop the power & check the wheels. When first set clean turn loco & repeat till 2nd set clean.
slimrails Posted - 12/13/2018 : 8:33:40 PM
Thanks, Louis! That illustration shows me exactly what I'm looking for. As for using any sandpaper, I've decided to take the advice given and not use it, although I have in the past. It doesn't sound like it's a "best practice".
desertdrover Posted - 12/13/2018 : 8:14:24 PM
Russ, myself, I stay away from any kind of sand paper, no matter how fine it is, it still is subject to scratching your wheels. Any source of scratches on your wheels allows gunk/Kurd to become imbedded into the wheels making things worse, and makes electrical pickup hard to control. I've always used 91% alcohol with a Q-tip.
The Kadee 236 'Speedee' wheel cleaner that Jim suggested is used by friends of mine for their locomotives, and they like how it works. I'm still concerned about the brass brush bristles and think of possible scratches, but that's just me being me. I'd rather soak, or give a good running of the wheels onto 91% alcohol cloth or Q-tip. Just my 2 cents worth here!
As far as taking off the weight, I'm not sure how old your S2 is, but mine has two screws that you have to deal with. See exploded parts drawing.

slimrails Posted - 12/13/2018 : 6:08:06 PM
Originally posted by BurleyJim

Russ, I've used a Kadee 236 'Speedee' wheel cleaner for years.


Thanks, Jim. Never heard of it before, so I'll have to check Kadee's website and see what it is.
slimrails Posted - 12/13/2018 : 6:06:10 PM
Thanks, Karl! I'm planning on leaving the wheels in the trucks and try cleaning them while running the mechanism in a foam cradle. That's why I was thinking of fine grit sandpaper or coarser grade micro sanding film.
BurleyJim Posted - 12/13/2018 : 6:03:59 PM
Russ, I've used a Kadee 236 'Speedee' wheel cleaner for years.

k9wrangler Posted - 12/13/2018 : 5:57:18 PM
Everybody has an old home remedy for wheel cleaning. Have seen a neat unit by Trix that uses track power and fine brass brushes, https://www.trixtrains.com/clean.html. Have used one at Andy Keeneyís. It works well, appears that it would be a bit abrasive.

Woodland Scenics has a product that clips on the track. https://woodlandscenics.woodlandscenics.com/show/item/TT4561 i have one, itís ok, in lower case. Little abrasion compared to Trix. A bit fussy.

Iíve seen a paper towel across the track and alcohol. You rev up the engine and hold it with each axle scrubbing in the alcohol. http://mrr.trains.com/videos/expert-tips/2013/06/video-how-to-clean-locomotive-wheels
Works well, little if ant abrasive. Some use the Swiffer mop towels for the same process.

Others use Goo-Gone (Hear that leaves its own goo).

I might try a microfiber towel and some alcohol as long as you have the wheels out.

Iím sure this will attract other recipes.

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