The saga of the Trainorama 44 class split wheel-sets

 
  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)
Roachie,

Have you been in contact with NWSL to see if they actually received the 44 class gears? They may not have therefore there has been no progress.

Andrew
andrewstrains
Andrew,

Yes, early on a bloke called Dave Rygmyr acknowledged receipt of the package which contained a complete 44 class bogie (minus side frames).

I have since emailed him back and forth a few times asking for a progress report......but each time the answer has been similar...."too busy to have a look at it".

I've given up!

Roachie

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  Teditor Deputy Commissioner

Location: Toowoomba
Andrew,

Yes, early on a bloke called Dave Rygmyr acknowledged receipt of the package which contained a complete 44 class bogie (minus side frames).

I have since emailed him back and forth a few times asking for a progress report......but each time the answer has been similar...."too busy to have a look at it".

I've given up!

Roachie
Roachie
Same guy returned my email promptly with reference a gear replacement, I gave all the dimensions as requested but seemed to get a bit of a brush off of no real interest to look for what I requested.
  hosk1956 Deputy Commissioner

Location: no where near gunzels
There is probably a little man receiving Trainorama emails and wondering:- "why you want spare parts, we don' make spare parts, just throw away and you purchase new one please".
Trainorama may have good intention to fix the problem, I bet the same can't be said for the factory though.
Cheap stuff comes out of China at a price, this is the price.

Wayne
  andrewstrains Assistant Commissioner

Location: Townsville, Where else but QLD
Andrew,

Yes, early on a bloke called Dave Rygmyr acknowledged receipt of the package which contained a complete 44 class bogie (minus side frames).

I have since emailed him back and forth a few times asking for a progress report......but each time the answer has been similar...."too busy to have a look at it".

I've given up!

Roachie
Roachie
Cheers Roachie,

He seemed to been keen to help via they few emails I sent last year, I never ended up sending over any gears as David said you had sent some over already.

Andrew
  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)
It's now been 3 months to the day since anything was added to this post, so I thought I'd revive it. Wink

I've had 5 days of not working AND my better half has been away since 21/12 visiting her dad in Ulladulla; so I've had a good deal of uninterrupted time down in the shed/train room. Time to tackle some of those little "problems" that seem to accumulate.....you know what I mean; the rolling stock that needs attention to the coupler/s (height and/or replacement etc).....or that little section of track that always seems to be the spot where a particular loco/wagon derails etc.

Anyway, I decided that it could still be many months before BBB gets around to providing a "fix" for the dodgy wheels/muffs/bogies of the 44 class. Meanwhile I have 5x 44 class and 1x 43 class (with Trainorama mechanism)....all with "clicky wheels syndrome"!!! GGRRR!!!

Now, I consider myself a reasonably adept sort of bloke when it comes to mechanical things. But I'm still baffled by just how hard it is for me (dunno about anybody else) to remove the bottom cover/sideframes off these damned bogies!!! I've tried poking numerous new #11 Exacto blades in the sides where I think the little retaining lugs are.....and I've tried prising at various locations. It's got me stuffed how to "properly" remove these covers!!

Okay, so with that in mind and not wanting to buggar anything up, I decided that I would have another go at removing the lateral sideplay from each wheel set. Searching through my box of styrene off-cuts, I deduced that the best item I had on hand was the floor out of a Walthers 20 foot container. (I have removed the floor from a lot of shipping containers in order to add lead weight, and then decided the floor served no real purpose). These floors have a ribbed surface on one side. After filing the ribbing back, I cut sections about 3mm square and used Aileen's Tacky Glue (sparingly) to attach 12 pieces of this plastic to the sideframes. This stuff was just the right thickness to virtually eliminate any side play from the 6 axles of one of the 44s and the 43. Both of those locos now seem to operate smoothly with no visible/audible  wheel chatter/clunking.

I had previously tried this method on another 44, but it didn't cure the problem....I think the styrene was not quite thick enough.....so I will now re-do that one plus the others.

Here's hoping I have found the holy grail for this problem.

Note, this will not fix the problem of a cracked muff; that will require the bogie to be dismantled and for the stub axle to be glued into the muff after a thorough clean-up with alcohol or similar.

Roachie
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
On the subject of Muffs and axle's I seem to recall Bachmann years ago had this problem as well where the axles where forced into the muff and over time split it. Athearn ones have done it too at times, but Athearn one's usually the wheel and stub axle simply come loose in the muff and dont give you any traction or pull, a couple like this and it will not pull a sausage of of a greasy plate. It is all about what the muff is made from a cheap plastic and it splits, it might have been better in hindsight to have used the old method of one side insulated and used pick up strips with minimal movement in the axles etc. It seems to work well in those that are made well. Thus the gears on the axle could be metal and last longer, old Tri-Ang ones where and most still operate today on the old models even after 50 years or so.

But as has been said we are paying for what we get a cheap well detailed model that in less than ten years becomes a static show piece.
  a6et Minister for Railways

On the subject of Muffs and axle's I seem to recall Bachmann years ago had this problem as well where the axles where forced into the muff and over time split it. Athearn ones have done it too at times, but Athearn one's usually the wheel and stub axle simply come loose in the muff and dont give you any traction or pull, a couple like this and it will not pull a sausage of of a greasy plate. It is all about what the muff is made from a cheap plastic and it splits, it might have been better in hindsight to have used the old method of one side insulated and used pick up strips with minimal movement in the axles etc. It seems to work well in those that are made well. Thus the gears on the axle could be metal and last longer, old Tri-Ang ones where and most still operate today on the old models even after 50 years or so.

But as has been said we are paying for what we get a cheap well detailed model that in less than ten years becomes a static show piece.
David Peters
What the heck is the Muff?  It has had me intriqued since it was first mentioned. I understood a Muff to be something that was used to keep hands warm in cold climates, where you put both hands inside it, warmer than a pocket.

In the current AMRM there is mention that TOR has been working with their new factory & hope to have replacements here early in the new year.  

The thing is, & as David makes mention of that its not just a problem with the TOR products, but has been a problem in the U.S with Chinese made models, I think there was also mention of some early Austrains diesels having the problem as well, which would make sense as the two companies were using the same factory until recent releases.  Has the others looked at having replacements available, or is it just TOR?
  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)
What the heck is the Muff?  It has had me intriqued since it was first mentioned. I understood a Muff to be something that was used to keep hands warm in cold climates, where you put both hands inside it, warmer than a pocket.

In the current AMRM there is mention that TOR has been working with their new factory & hope to have replacements here early in the new year.  

The thing is, & as David makes mention of that its not just a problem with the TOR products, but has been a problem in the U.S with Chinese made models, I think there was also mention of some early Austrains diesels having the problem as well, which would make sense as the two companies were using the same factory until recent releases.  Has the others looked at having replacements available, or is it just TOR?
a6et
Muff is the (stupid) name for the plastic gear that joins the 2 stub axles together. One of the problems with the TOR bogies has been that the muff has been splitting, allowing the stub axle to be somewhat loose such that the wheel/s could spin independently of the muff and/or alter the gauge of the wheel set.

I recently bought a 2nd hand Austrains 80 class off ebay and one of the wheel sets had a gauge of about 18mm. I dismantled the bogie (relatively easy task compared to the TOR 44 class bogie), separated the 2 stub axles from the muff, cleaned the 3 components in isopropyl alcohol before re-assembling, with a small squirt of superglue down the muff. As I pushed the 2 axles "home" (and checked the gauge was correct), some of the superglue oozed out through the cracks. I have not had any issues with that wheel set again.

I mentioned above (and have also mentioned before) that the other issue (in my opinion) with the 44 class is that the width of the gear on the muff seems to be too narrow when you also take into account the amount of lateral/side play in each wheel set.

It is my considered opinion that it is this second problem that is causing the nasty clicking sound. What seems to be happening is that wheel sets move to one extreme side of the bogie frame and because the muff's gear is too narrow, that gear is losing a large proportion of its contact with its adjacent idler gear. It gets to the point where only the very edge of the muff gear cog is meshing with the idler gear and they cease to be fully effective at transferring the torque.

So, by adding the plastic shims to the inner side of the bogie frame, the wheel set is kept in a fixed proximity to the idler gear and no more clicking. Well....that's my sincere hope!!!!

Roachie
  a6et Minister for Railways

Muff is the (stupid) name for the plastic gear that joins the 2 stub axles together. One of the problems with the TOR bogies has been that the muff has been splitting, allowing the stub axle to be somewhat loose such that the wheel/s could spin independently of the muff and/or alter the gauge of the wheel set.

I recently bought a 2nd hand Austrains 80 class off ebay and one of the wheel sets had a gauge of about 18mm. I dismantled the bogie (relatively easy task compared to the TOR 44 class bogie), separated the 2 stub axles from the muff, cleaned the 3 components in isopropyl alcohol before re-assembling, with a small squirt of superglue down the muff. As I pushed the 2 axles "home" (and checked the gauge was correct), some of the superglue oozed out through the cracks. I have not had any issues with that wheel set again.

I mentioned above (and have also mentioned before) that the other issue (in my opinion) with the 44 class is that the width of the gear on the muff seems to be too narrow when you also take into account the amount of lateral/side play in each wheel set.

It is my considered opinion that it is this second problem that is causing the nasty clicking sound. What seems to be happening is that wheel sets move to one extreme side of the bogie frame and because the muff's gear is too narrow, that gear is partially losing a large proportion of its contact with its adjacent idler gear. It gets to the point where only the very edge of the muff gear cog is meshing with the idler gear and they cease to be fully effective at transferring the torque.

So, by adding the plastic shims to the inner side of the bogie frame, the wheel set is kept in a fixed proximity to the idler gear and no more clicking. Well....that's my sincere hope!!!!

Roachie
Roachie
Bill,

Why not send your fix to TOR, for forwarding to BBB.  Would not hurt as well as ask as to developments.

The other thing also is to ask about getting instructions on how to dismantle the bogie for the replacements.
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
I personally would wait to see if the fix actually corrects it as others have tried similar and it worked first up but a couple of weeks later the clicking came back, not saying that Roachies will do it though. But better to be safe than sorry. The part I cannot fathom though is with all that room in the bogie why it was made like this in the first place. It would have been better to have made the gear part as wide as possible to take up any amount of side play etc. But then the Chinese are renowned for doing it as cheaply as possible and this includes the type of plastics used as well. Nothing would surprise me if it was found out that these muffs were made from the plastic scrapings from the floor or something!

A women's muff, not that one, get your mind above you belts. Is usually a fur made thing that they insert their hands into each end, this is essentially what these gear/axle's are except the stub axles take the place of the hands!
  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)
I personally would wait to see if the fix actually corrects it as others have tried similar and it worked first up but a couple of weeks later the clicking came back, not saying that Roachies will do it though. But better to be safe than sorry. The part I cannot fathom though is with all that room in the bogie why it was made like this in the first place. It would have been better to have made the gear part as wide as possible to take up any amount of side play etc. But then the Chinese are renowned for doing it as cheaply as possible and this includes the type of plastics used as well. Nothing would surprise me if it was found out that these muffs were made from the plastic scrapings from the floor or something!

A women's muff, not that one, get your mind above you belts. Is usually a fur made thing that they insert their hands into each end, this is essentially what these gear/axle's are except the stub axles take the place of the hands!
David Peters
I will resist the temptation to make any further comments in response to your last paragraph!!! Wink

I agree that it would be wise to allow these "fixed" locos to accumulate some serious miles on the layout before I make such a bold pronouncement such as: "EUREKA!!! I've fixed it!!!!!"

I can only assume that the Chinese build their bogies with such a HUGE amount of side-play in the wheel sets to allow for REALLY tight curves. When you look at (for example) the Lima 12 wheel carriages; they have 6 wheel bogies with no side play in the wheel sets and they (and other similar 6 wheel bogies) have no trouble tracking on "normal" HO track because of the generous standards allowed for with regard to the "gauge" of wheel set/track.

So, the trials will continue each time I run my layout (usually daily for about an hour or more).

Roachie
  FirstStopCentral Chief Train Controller

Shouldnt that be "Trainorama, I've fixed it"?

Paul
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
One small caution Bill, make sure the centre axle is still permitted to move sideways, otherwise you may have de-railing problems on curves.
  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)
One small caution Bill, make sure the centre axle is still permitted to move sideways, otherwise you may have de-railing problems on curves.
TheBlacksmith
I did think of that mate....but the wheelbase of each bogie is so short and the "latitude" provided by the NMRA standards so forgiving, that I could not foresee any curve being too tight to cause a problem.

That "latitude" I mentioned refers to the fact that even a 3-axle bogie can be moved/twisted side-to-side between the rails; enough to ensure that the centre axle won't cause a derailment or adversely wear the flanges etc.

Cheers,

Bill
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Keep us posted Roachie, as I am sure there will be plenty of people me included that would like a simple fix for these models. I wish you success though!
  yogibarnes Locomotive Fireman

Good call Roachie.
Similarly, I tried to get at the offending axle but gave up in frustration.  I had already inflicted enough damage on the model getting to that point.  In the end, the thought of further dismantlment by "halving" the bogie and ending up with a hand full of parts deterred me from going any further.
The sideplay gap stopper you have suggested sounds attractive, at least in the short term.
  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)
Good call Roachie.
Similarly, I tried to get at the offending axle but gave up in frustration.  I had already inflicted enough damage on the model getting to that point.  In the end, the thought of further dismantlment by "halving" the bogie and ending up with a hand full of parts deterred me from going any further.
The sideplay gap stopper you have suggested sounds attractive, at least in the short term.
yogibarnes
It seems I am not alone in experiencing difficulties in dismantling these bogies!

It therefore intrigues me as to what the Trainorama "fix" is actually going to comprise of (if and when it ever finally arrives)?

If, for example, they agree to provide free muffs with a wider cog or even complete new wheel sets (ie: 12 wheels and 12 square bronze bearings mounted on 6 muffs), then I'm afraid there will be a lot of people (me included) who are still totally buggared!!!!

In my humble opinion, the only real fix will be to provide complete new bogies to every owner of these 44 class locos OR offer a free installation service of the new wheel sets or "muffs" that are provided by the factory. The model's owner could be asked to pay for return postage or even a partial payment for the labour involved with the dismantling/re-assembly of the bogies.

I, for one, would be willing to pay a sum of around $20- per loco for someone to competently replace the offending parts in MY bogies. This would require me to pull each of my locos apart and remove the bogies, to be posted off to the shop. I don't think I'd be too keen on sending them the whole loco/s (I have 6 all-up) as they are equipped with sound decoders etc. One is a brass 43 class too with a custom-built chassis and Trainorama motor/bogies.

Ideally they would post out the COMPLETE new bogies and I would fit them myself.

But, I guess I'm getting way way ahead of myself......I could be pushing up daisies by the time ANY fix is made available. TOR have been noticeably quiet with any updates of late; I think the latest news I read was that the new components would be available by the end of 2013 (today)!

Roachie
  kingfisher Chief Train Controller


TOR have been noticeably quiet with any updates of late; I think the latest news I read was that the new components would be available by the end of 2013 (today)!

Roachie
Roachie
Latest AMRM news section, 'drop-in replacement wheelsets hoped to have the first of these in Australia early in 2014.'
  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)
Latest AMRM news section, 'drop-in replacement wheelsets hoped to have the first of these in Australia early in 2014.'
kingfisher
Okay, I guess I must have missed that when I was reading my mag.

So, that brings me back to the original question/statement: How many among us will feel confident/competent to dismantle these bogies so that we can "drop-in" the new replacement?

It also begs the question: Will the drop-in replacement actually have a wider cog on the muff? If it is just a straight replacement muff (or even full wheel set) that is identical to the ones that are already in there, then it will be a total waste of time.

I think it might be time for me to email TOR/BBB and let them know my thoughts.....

Roachie
  a6et Minister for Railways

Okay, I guess I must have missed that when I was reading my mag.

So, that brings me back to the original question/statement: How many among us will feel confident/competent to dismantle these bogies so that we can "drop-in" the new replacement?

It also begs the question: Will the drop-in replacement actually have a wider cog on the muff? If it is just a straight replacement muff (or even full wheel set) that is identical to the ones that are already in there, then it will be a total waste of time.

I think it might be time for me to email TOR/BBB and let them know my thoughts.....

Roachie
Roachie
I think I suggested emailing TOR/BBB not that long ago.

I might be wrong but I doubt if TOR/BBB is going to the trouble of getting the problem resolved that it would mean the replacement is going to be problem, although I could well be wrong.

I still wonder how many other models from both TOR as well as the competition has this problem, & are the owners doing anything about it, or just laughing as the prospect of selling replacement models?
  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)
I think I suggested emailing TOR/BBB not that long ago.

I might be wrong but I doubt if TOR/BBB is going to the trouble of getting the problem resolved that it would mean the replacement is going to be problem, although I could well be wrong.

I still wonder how many other models from both TOR as well as the competition has this problem, & are the owners doing anything about it, or just laughing as the prospect of selling replacement models?
a6et
I've shot off a detailed email to Trainorama tonight.....I'll let you know if I get a response.

In the meantime, I thought it'd be nice to see out 2013 knowing that I've done all I can to cure my 6 locos......so I've just spent an hour or so in the shed, adding the little pieces of styrene to the bogies of all of them. That's 72 little squares of plastic, each one slid into position with a small dab of Aileens Sticky Glue to hold it against the inside of the bogie side frame.

Running a double-header (4429 + 4306) I could not see/hear any evidence of the jumping/clicking. These were the first 2 locos I added this styrene to a few days ago. I had previously added much thinner shims of plastic to one of the bogies of 44100 and it made no difference. But that was styrene that was left over from my kit building days; the plastic that is provided by DJH to glue to the underside of the fall plate between loco and tender for insulation purposes. On 44100 I left that thin styrene in place and added another layer of thicker styrene to it, so that the wheels have virtually no side play within the bogie, without being so tight that the wheels cannot turn.

So, 44100, 4473, 4494 and 4401 are sitting waiting for the glue to dry before testing tomorrow.

I will report my findings on those locos after I have a chance to give them a good shake-down.

Roachie

PS: In case anybody is wondering what I said to Trainorama in my email; here it is:

EMAIL:

G’day Bob and others,



I am one of the many modellers who own a number of your brilliant 44 class models and who has been experiencing substantial issues and frustrations with the wheelsets.



There has been a lot of correspondence on the “Railpage” web site in relation to this matter……initiated by myself on 23 June 2012:



http://www.railpage.com.au/f-t11369209-0-asc-s0.htm



In summary, my not inconsiderable investigations into the problems I have been experiencing has resulted in me coming to the conclusion that there are actually 2 distinct problems. I believe one of the problems is relatively rare, but that the other problem is likely to be universal.



The relatively rare issue is that some of the locos have cracked their muff/s. This, in itself, is not necessarily the cause of any failure of the loco to perform and it may not even be obvious that the loco has a cracked muff until the bogie has been disassembled. (see below)…..



However, the “other” (universal?) problem I speak of relates to the relationship between 2 factors: the width of the gear cog portion of each muff versus the large degree of lateral side play that each wheelset has available to it. There is far too much lateral play available to each wheelset, such that as the wheelset moves to either extreme side of the frame, the gear cog of the muff moves to the very edge of the corresponding idler cog, which is located in a fixed position between the frames. For example, I reckon the width of the gear cog portion of the muff is about 2mm wide….but the amount of lateral play in each wheelset exceeds that figure.



The result is that as the wheelset moves to either side of the frame (most noticeable as the loco negotiates a curve), the cogs cease to mesh properly, causing the much-talked-about “clicking”.



I believe I have solved this latter issue by cutting small squares (about 3mm x 3mm) of suitable thickness styrene sheet and gluing them to the inner side of the bogie frame, adjacent to the end of the axles. Each loco requires 12 of these pieces of styrene to be glued in position (I use Aileens Tacky Glue for this task). By using black styrene, the presence of these bits of plastic is not really noticeable.



Adding these styrene pieces effectively prevents the wheelsets from moving from side to side, so that the muff stays on the same plane as the idler cog that drives it; IE they stay properly meshed.



This brings me to your long-awaited proposed “fix” from the Chinese factory…...



I have 2 questions:



(1)    Will the cog portion of the muff be wider than the width of the cog portion of the original muff? If not, then I put it to you that you are wasting your time providing these new wheelsets, as (unless they have some other built-in means of preventing the sideways movement of the wheelset inside the frame such as a protruding extension of the steel axle that will effectively do what I have done with my method above), the clicking problems will just continue unabated. If the width of the COG is doubled from about 2mm to 4mm or so, then hopefully the cogs will stay enmeshed even if the wheels retain their overly generous amount of side play.

(2)    Will you be providing some sort of subsidised service for those modellers who are unable to cope with the dismantling of the bogies? I consider myself to be a reasonably competent modeller, having built around 260 DJH steam loco kits in my younger days. However, try as I may, I’m stuffed if I can work out the correct way to dismantle one of these 44 class bogies without causing major damage to it. It seems I am not alone in this frustration.



I do hope you have had the patience to read this long-winded epistle…..it is my only method of venting my frustrations. I was hoping that your factory “fix” may have been to provide complete new bogies that we could “drop-in”. I would have no problem with that type of “fix”, as removing and re-installing the bogies is a relatively easy (if somewhat time consuming) task. I have a total of 6 locos that require these “fixes”; one is a Mansfield 43 class to which I have fitted a pair of bogies and motor from a 44 class I cannibalised.



Hope you have a Happy New Year and that during 2014 we can look forward to the 48/830 and the 44 class “fix”.



Cheers,



Bill Roach
  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)
As promised in my previous post (above), I have been running these locos today. I had a quad lash-up of 4429, 44100, 4473 & 4401 hauling a goods train consisting of 32, equal to 64.

The only loco that is now causing me any level of concern is 44100 which has some sort of annoying gear "whine"....but NO clicking or wheel hopping.

Given that I recently took delivery of a shipment of NANO oils from the states, I reckon my next step will be to remove the body of 44100 and add a single drop of this (supposedly) magic potion to the worm gears and see if the running of the loco manages to clear the "whining".

By the way, I got a response from Ray Zhu (Trainorama) last night. His opinion differs to mine in that he and the staff are convinced the clicking is caused by the cracked muffs. The replacement wheelsets they are currently evaluating will be complete and ready to "simply" drop in to the bogies. They will be identical to the existing wheelsets as far as the dimensions are concerned. IE: the gear cog will not be any wider than the current one and there will be no alterations done to prevent the excessive lateral movement of the wheelsets.

Accordingly, I feel they are probably wasting their time by providing these wheelsets at all. They will NOT be providing a service to modelers for the replacement.

I respectfully requested Ray to have their expert repairer/s prepare a Youtube video, showing us how to successfully separate the bogie components to facilitate this "drop-in" fix.

I can see an opening for an enterprising modeler to undertake the wholesale replacement of these wheelsets ....what do you reckon: $20- per bogie? Nah, more like $50- per bogie I'd say!!! Wink

Roachie

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