Stop! Please read this before unpacking your new locomotive! While we primarily developed this supplement for three rail O gauge locomotives, some of these tips can be applied to other scales as well.
In order to ensure the proper operation and maintenance of your new locomotive, please follow these steps when setting up your new locomotive.
READ THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL! This is not the same old toy train you had when you were a kid. This is a new product that features advanced electronics, finer detail and new construction and operating techniques. Take the time to read through the manual and then follow the manufacturers directions.
The following notes are given as recommendations in addition to the instructions given in the manufacturers operating instructions. These additional instructions should not be used to supercede any instructions given in the Operating Manual and are offered only as additional information. When in doubt, follow the Manufacturers Operating Manual or contact the manufacturer’s service department at the appropriate number listed below.
1) Examine the packing material carefully. Use the straps, plastic wrapping or handholds provided to remove the locomotive from the box. Do not attempt to pull the locomotive out of the box by grabbing a piece of the locomotive and pulling on it! You may break or bend small detail parts or bend the side rods. Save the packing material for when you need to repackage the locomotive. You may void your warranties or return privilege if you return a locomotive that it is not packed in the original packaging.
2) Your locomotive needs to be lubricated. These units are shipped dry from the factory to prevent oil or grease from spilling out onto the factory paint. Just like your automobile, your locomotive needs a few drops of oil from time to time. It is usually best to lube your locomotive after every 40-50 hours of operation. NEVER use WD40 or 3-in-1 Oil on your locomotive. You need to use a plastic compatible synthetic oil or grease. Most hobby shops carry the Woodland Scenics brand or the Labelle brand of hobby oils. A light to medium weight oil will work on gears and metal-to-metal parts. A white lithium grease or Teflon grease works well on gears and gearboxes. DON’T overdo it. A little oil or grease goes a long way.
3) The smoke unit may also need to be refilled. Most smoke units require 10-20 drops of fluid to properly lubricate the wick in the smoke unit. DO NOT OVER FILL. You must keep the smoke unit saturated with fluid or the wick will burn up and have to be replaced. If you do not want to operate the smoke unit, there is usually an on/off switch located under the locomotive, which you can turn off. See your locomotive instruction sheet for the location of this switch.
4) If you have an MTH locomotive that has a sound system, the NiCad battery which stores the program on the circuit board may need to be recharged, especially if you have not operated the unit for some time. This is also true of old locomotives which have sat on the dealer’s shelf for many years before being purchased. If you hear a scratchy, distorted, or incomplete sound when you initially start up the locomotive, charge the battery. You can charge the battery by cycling the unit into the neutral position (not the RESET position) and applying 8-10 volts of power for 20-45 minutes. Some batteries may require a longer charge. A full charge may take 6-8 hours. The battery will usually recharge through normal operation. If the battery fails to charge, you may have to order a new battery from the manufacturer. You can temporarily use a regular 9-volt battery to test the system or to operate the sound system for a short time. The newest MTH locomotives have a charging port built in that you can use with an external charger (sold separately) to charge the battery without having to power up your track. MTH also sells retrofit kits to add this type of charging port to their older locomotives.
5) These locomotives feature the newest technology available to the electronics market today. Many new locomotives have 16 bit digital sound systems, circuit boards and other advanced electronics. It is very important that you take precautions to avoid sparking or other electrical damage to your locomotive.
A) Clean your track. Dirty track will cause intermittent operation and sparking at the pickup rollers. Usually a wipe with a clean rag and a little denatured alcohol will clean up any residual oil or gunk off your track.
B) Check the pickup rollers from time to time to ensure that they are rolling and not dragging across the center rail. Sometimes a tiny little drop of oil on the ends of the pickup roller will free it up and help it roll smoothly. Also check the pickup roller springs to make sure they are providing enough tension for the pickup roller to make good contact with the center rail.
C) We strongly recommend that you use a spark guard or power guard of some kind on your track. These devices absorb voltage spikes which might burn out your locomotive’s circuit board.
D) Use a recommended power supply. Do not use home made transformers or old WWII surplus power supplies. Send that stuff to a museum and buy the recommended power supply or you may burn up your locomotive (or your house).
E) Do not use sandpaper or steel wool on your track. This creates little pits in the surface of the rail that promotes accelerated corrosion of the surface of the track. Small pieces of steel wool will also get caught up in the gears and motors of your locomotive. If you have a badly corroded piece of track replace it, or use a product called “Rail Zip” made by Pacer to chemically clean your wheels and track. This product is also available from most hobby stores.
6) Approximately every 25th locomotive is tested on the assembly line to ensure that everything is working correctly with the units that are being produced on that assembly line. It is possible that you might receive a new locomotive that shows minor usage. Usually, the locomotive has been lubricated and there is a little bit of fluid in the smoke unit. This is necessary to ensure that everything is going okay on the assembly line. If everything checks out, the locomotive will be cleaned up and then factory wrapped and packaged for sale. These units are randomly included with all shipments and dealers and importers have no control over this, nor do we know which units were tested. The manufacturer considers these to be factory fresh units. If you receive one of these units, don’t worry. This is normal. Everything should be fine and you probably have a better unit than one that has not been test run at the factory. Lube it up according to the owner’s manual and go have fun with it!
7) When storing your locomotive, make sure to keep the silica gel or moisture absorbent package in the box with the locomotive. These packages absorb moisture in the air, which prevents corrosion or rusting of your locomotive. Keep these packages and oil products away from small children and animals.
8) Don’t modify your locomotive without consulting the manufacturer first. If there was a better way to make this locomotive, the manufacturer would have tried to incorporate these changes in the assembly process. All of these newer locomotives are built to exacting electrical standards. Don’t try to reengineer the components. You may permanently damage the components and void any warranty on the product.
Toy trains provide hours of family fun. By following these simple steps, you should eliminate many of the common problems experienced with these new locomotives and spend more time enjoying them.
For your reference, these are the phone numbers of the manufacturer’s customer service departments. Please help them out by having the product number of the item, the type of transformer you are using, a description of the problem, and the steps you tried to correct the problem with before calling them. This will speed their ability to help solve the problem.
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