What!? No Lubrication!?

Bill Winans learned from a factory that some engines (especially brass models) would be shipped without the gears being lubricated.

We all know that an appropriate amount of lubrication with the correct oil/grease/powder is necessary for smooth operation and to extend the life of the mechanism. So, why would a factory not apply lubrication right from the start?

What Bill learned is that lubrication might leak during the months (or even years) that models are stored in their boxes before the end customer actually places them on the layout. In the meantime, the lubrication could start to leak out and mar the brass or painted surfaces of the model. This is especially true with early brass models, as the intended audience of brass models, originally, was for the end customer to simply display the model somewhere.

Most brass models (again, especially the early ones) were not designed or intended to be runners. So, they neither received lubrication from the factory, and if/when the end customer did want to run them, they didn't run all that well, which was surprising considering the cost of these models.

So, when you buy a new-to-you powered locomotive, whether brand new or second-hand, be sure to inspect the trucks and gearing. Some models may have what might be an excessive amount of lubrication on them. In that case, it is recommended that you remove the trucks, open them up, and thoroughly clean and dry them. Then, based on the type of gearing (plastic or metal) that is in the truck, apply the appropriate lubricant to the truck. Remember, a little usually goes a long way, and too much can lead to splattering and/or attracting excessive amounts of dirt and debris into the trucks, wheels, gears, and the wheel wipers.

External Links

Lubrication is independent of scale, so below are some resources for you to consider if you have not yet developed your own method of lubricating.

Lubricating a Diesel Engine (difficult engine)

Lubricating a Diesel Engine (basic engine)

Lubricating a Steam Locomotive

Labelle Intro Video and Recommendations

Labelle's Recommendations for Lubricating

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