Saturday, March 5, 2016

Atlas ALCo S-2 in the shop for repairs

I was so excited back when Atlas announced their new ALCo S-2 switcher in N scale, I could hardly contain myself as this is exactly what I was looking for.  An ALCo switcher for Malvern, this would complete my all ALCo fleet on the W&OV!   
I was really Jonesing for it and it seemed to take forever to get it to the shelves, and when I finally arrived I had several disappointments.

The first thing was it wouldn't run on the layout as a DC loco (I didn't go with sound).  It would just short the system out, so I had to wait for a chip to arrive. The second issue it had was after I got the chip installed it would only pull about 5-6 cars. Grrrrr!

Knowing it would do better from what others had said I began to do some research.  Several posters on a couple of forums mentioned they had the same problems, one said that both axles were spinning freely in one truck, the other said there was something on one of his gears that made it ran with a twitch and what he found was a "Mark" on one of the gears.

When I flipped my unit over to see if any of the axles were spinning freely, I found just the opposite. The outer axle on the truck under the cab was seized up and would not spin at all.  As matter of fact, there were also two small flat spots on both wheels because I had let run for a spell to help break it in!

As Wyatt said to me about this "Now you have a true to life sound: Flat spots!" Great!

So I began to tear the unit apart but got stuck when it came to removing the truck from the unit.  A little help from Chris333 on TRW with an explanation on how to unhook the wires from the board and drop the truck out and I was off and running.

Here is the unit with the shell and cab removed.

In the middle of the board on the both sides, you can see two little black clips that snap on to the board that pinch the wires to the board from both trucks and the motor.

The trucks come out similar to the way all Atlas trucks come out of the chassis, there are two little tips that hold the truck in the chassis.  If press slightly on one with a screwdriver, it pops right out.

Here is the truck removed from the chassis and the wires from the board.

The truck after you take it apart.  The wires are soldered to the axle cups.

It's kind of hard to see, but on the top wheels where the glare is, those are the flat spots I added.

Overall it wasn't too bad to tear down, but I feel it should be added as a requirement for the NMRA MMR achievement program just to get the trucks re-assembled, lol.  

Thanks again with help Chris!

After having it apart I inspected everything as closely as I could and didn't find anything that would make the axle seize up like it did?  So I re-assembled and put it back on the track to test it and hoped for the best.  Success!
Now it ran smoother and pulled more than 5 cars!!!

I also installed the chip in the second S-2 I picked up and MU'ed them for a quick test to see what they would do.  One note, in the video with the single unit you'll see the single unit slipping. This is because I also tried using some 4B graphite sticks to help with track conductivity that another member on NSN (Paul) mentioned, but I think I may have gotten a bit too much on the rails which caused it to slip a bit.  After wiping the rails quickly to remove some of the graphite, it did run a bit better without as much slippage.

So now my W&OV fleet of ALCo's is complete!  The W&OV job is going to be highly sought after on the next Ops session... 


  1. Pleased you were able to get it running better. Strange you could not find a reason for the wheels to be seized.
    Pity the manufactures didn't do a better job of checking it before packing.

    1. So am I Rod!!
      I was really getting worried that they wouldn't be what they were cracked up to be. it would have broke my heart. I did think about a Botchmann S-4 but not found of their DCC setup, to proprietary if the DCC went down.

      Seems like the Quality control is slipping in all types of manufacturing these days? So yeah, it's a pity.

      The more folks I talk to, the more I believe that the axle was wedged and out of line enough that the gears didn't mesh.