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I recently took over the duty of maintaining a pretty large g scale train set up at a museum. The volunteer that was in charge of the exhibit has retired. Between 7 tracks there are several hundred feet of track. The trains run on average 50 hours a week, 6 to 7 days a week, year round. The track is all indoors. Most is in a small room behind glass. (I think the circulation in the room leaves something to be desired)
In the past the museum had a large collection of trains (LGB, Bachman, Piko), but overtime the collection has dwindled. The overwhelming majority are in a state of disrepair.
I have several questions and welcome any and all advice that seems pertinent.
a) As we are about to invest in some new engines, I'm wondering if anyone has any recommendations, considering our set up and the amount we are running them. Any replacement parts I should preemptively buy?
b) What sort of general maintenance should we be doing and on what sort of schedule? Other forums I've read mention maintenance schedules that are just unrealistic for the amount of labor the museum is will to spend on the trains. Another consideration is that they've accepted that this is pretty heavy use and the trains need to be replaced/repaired somewhat regularly. (how regularly??)

Thanks,
L
 

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I have a friend that has run the old LGB stainz engine for many years and it originally came from a store that ran this engine for Xmas holidays for many years. Never been serviced and is over 25 years old!!

On a further note, the slower you run them the longer they will last, tight curves can wear out wheel flanges esp at high speeds.


Also for coupling, double hooks with the loop type couplers stay together better than any others.


And watch out for companies 'going out of business' such as HLW. Parts will get sparse. Delton, Aristocraft are already gone, but Bachmann is making some Aristo stock like the eggliner and the Dash-9 . Egg liner motor block is used in the Aristo RDC, FA, FB and some other 2 axle blocks.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
thanks Dan. Yeah we use the hook and loop couplers. Duly noted on the speed as well.

We have some push button interactives weird up. For example, the kids can push a button and there is a swing set with children on it and the kids start swinging, or an American flag on a pole "blows in the wind". All of these interactives are O scale. Do any companies make these sorts of things in G scale?
We have some street lamps and railroad crossing guards wired up currently that are G scale, but I'm wondering if there is anything more interesting. I haven't been able to figure out what these sorts of things are called to be able to do any google searches.
We have a very well equipped shop with 3d printer, cnc, and a couple staff well versed in arduino. Anything anyone has seen other people do, in terms of interactives, that could be cool for us to fabricate?
 

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L,
I think that you need to decide what you are trying to present to the viewer.
What kind of a museum is this?
You say 'G' scale, which as we know covers a large variety of choices, both is scale and 'looks'.
Are you trying to depict a North American railroad, and if so what era, or is this just any old train to entertain the viewer?
Then perhaps you will be a able to narrow your search as to what is available.
Cheers,
David Leech, Delta, Canada
 

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Discussion Starter #5
L,
I think that you need to decide what you are trying to present to the viewer.
What kind of a museum is this?
You say 'G' scale, which as we know covers a large variety of choices, both is scale and 'looks'.
Are you trying to depict a North American railroad, and if so what era, or is this just any old train to entertain the viewer?
Then perhaps you will be a able to narrow your search as to what is available.
Cheers,
David Leech, Delta, Canada
This is a children's museum. Luckily the kids aren't too discerning about time period, authenticity, etc. As long as they move, we are good.
Most of our current stock is LGB. We're good with anything in the g scale neighborhood (which I've read can go from 1:22.5 to 1:32).

I'll tr and share some pictures here shortly.
 

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clean and lubricate on a regular basis.


For diesels, USAT will last well if kept lubricated, and replacement parts are readily available.


On steam locos, Bachmann or Piko if you have to save money, otherwise back to LGB.


Greg
 

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Most Bachmann will not hold up to the rigors of that type of use, they are just to fragile in many ways. LGB is the gold standard, or atleast it was during the Lehmann years before Marklin took over, so that is what I recommend. Parts are available from both LGB and Massoth(who supplied many of the parts for the old LGB stuff). For diesels, hard to beat the Santa Fe F7's, colorful and the sound is really good for factory installed. The old Mogul 2-6-0 are good, just dont overload them or the idler gears will wear out faster. Keep the loads lighter. Of coarse the Stainz and Americanized versions are bulletproof and seem to run forever with little to no maintaince other than chainging out the sliding pickup shoes. Other good Euro engines are the 2080D Harz 2-6-2, 2070D Zillertal 0-6-2, 2085D 0-6-6-0 Mallet. American engines would be the White Pass Alco diesel, F7's, the Moguls, DRGW #50 diesel.

Pretty much anything from LGB is fixable, including what you have now that is in disrepair. The USA diesels do OK, but parts can be more of a challenge at times. The local G scale shop maintains several public displays including a massive holiday set up each year. The LGB based layouts in the local hospitals hold up the best. They sometimes have issues getting parts for the USA diesels that are worn out each year. I personally have done a bit of work for a couple local resturants that have LGB around the ceiling. Never ran into parts that I was not able to get, from new side rods, motors, light bulbs ect. Even whole cab and body parts turn up on ebay if you have an engine that got dropped and has cosmetic issues. Mike
 

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A response about USAT parts availability... I have ALWAYS been able to buy replacement axles/gears, about the only thing that ever goes wrong with their diesels.


I've had them for over 20 years and have quite a few of them.



I'm only talking about wear items, not detail items, so I have to take great exception to Mike's statement.


Greg
 

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Only going by what I get told by the shop handling the upkeep of the diesels, mostly a set of PA's and a set of F3's. They wear out motor blocks nearly evey year on them. The LGB drives, despite not having bearings on the axles where they pass thru the motor block, have held up better in heavy commerical use, despite what Greg says. So we can agree to disagree. I myself find USA diesels to be overly fragile for their cost. I will take other brands over them anyday, especially for commercial duty in a resturant or museum operation.
 

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Just out of curiosity, not arguing:


1. what is the minimum radius of the curves
2. what actually wears out
3. what is their maintenance schedule, and just what maintenance do they perform on the motor blocks?


There are a few ways to screw up USAT motor blocks, just finished fixing a 44 tonner.


Greg
 

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I have a 160' loop in a convenient store that has been running for 22 years. The trains runs 10 mins 0n 10 mins off
for 17hr a day 365 days a year 366 on leap year. I have used all brands but you can't beat USA or LGB for durability sliders are the key to trouble free operation. I personally like USA more choice of local RRs (CSX,NS) I try to change out trains at 1600 to 2000 hrs .With USA drop the bottom plate lube ,clean sliders ready to go again I body mount Kadee on all cars only have had cars uncouple a few times a year with over 37,000 start and stops a year, If your going to use hook and loop add the hook on the loop end of the cars. .As Dan said slow is the name of the game in 22 years I have not changed out the brass track!!

Chillicharlie
 

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Mike, would still like to get an answer from your one guy:



Just out of curiosity, not arguing:


1. what is the minimum radius of the curves
2. what actually wears out
3. what is their maintenance schedule, and just what maintenance do they perform on the motor blocks?


There are a few ways to screw up USAT motor blocks, just finished fixing a 44 tonner.


Greg
 

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Hi "L" - About 25 years ago I helped a couple business to maintain their large G scale overhead layouts, one in a Halmark Store, another a restaurant. I also performed maintenance on their LGB locomotives. A few recommendations:
1. Make sure you replace all the plastic wheels on your rolling stock........plastic wheels will wear and deposit plastic dust on the rails which causes electrical connectivity issues more frequenct track cleaning requirements. I use the cheaper Bachmann large scale wheels on my own rolling stock........I sell a 4 pack for $19 on my LGB dealer website; the LGB 2 pack costs $21. Also, when you install metal wheels, use a lubricant on the axle before inserting it into the truck to reduce drag.
2. For large layouts, using an LGB 21670 Track Cleaning Locomotive is essential unless you really like doing it by hand. My Website has them for $585 with a two year Marklin warranty; don't buy a used one on eBay unless it's the newer model in like-new condition which could fail.
3. Once a month, reverse the operating direction of your locomotives and rolling stock. Otherwise, you'll get uneven wear on side of the wheels which will require replacing them.
4. You'll need to inspect the locomotive motor blocks every 1 - 3 months and add gear grease to keep the gears well greased. You'll also need to oil the axles of the locomotives.
5. What commonly wears out on LGB locomotives after prolonged usage on a continually operating locomotive: motors; wheels; carbon brushes; gears; light bulbs.
My speciality for 30 years is LGB locomotives and I can vouch for their quality and reliability including on continually operating display layouts. I have the original LGB 2055 White Pass Diesel locomotive (my LGB box is also signed by Mr. Richter, a nice touch) and I ran it so much on displays etc that the wheels had worn down to the brass metal.......deep groves in them! I replaced the wheels sets and it still operates with the two origiinal motors.......not bad reliability! If you have any questions, you can email me. I do repairs and DCC sound system installlations for customers.
Thomas White
[email protected]
Website: LGB Trains | Old Dominion Railways | Repairs & DCC Installs | United States
 

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I find the USA Trains wheels at Charles RO to be a bargain if you get 10 pairs at a time. Last time it was $85 for 10 pair. These are Brass and are heavy but I use them outdoors on 8 foot minimum diameter tracks. I do agree with all the above maintenance comments, but would not just add grease, I assume you cleaned out the old grease before adding new grease.
 

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I find the USA Trains wheels at Charles RO to be a bargain if you get 10 pairs at a time. Last time it was $85 for 10 pair. These are Brass and are heavy but I use them outdoors on 8 foot minimum diameter tracks. I do agree with all the above maintenance comments, but would not just add grease, I assume you cleaned out the old grease before adding new grease.
Dan - Yes, I do remove as much existing grease from the gears and inside the motor block as possible. But to totally remove all grease from the gears, you would have to remove the wheels/axles sets and then flush clean them. I don't do that unless there's really dirty grease build-up or hardening of the grease. See the photos below of damaged Mogul Idler Gears...........really bad from lack of grease.
60362
 

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I find that the mogul has too much side to side play on the idle gear and axle gear. I add a small thin washer to each side of the idler gear shaft to keep the lateral movement to a minimum.
 

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WOW! what an exciting adventure. Congratulations. That is a huge responsibility to under take. I wish you Great Luck in your endeavors with this job. I wish I could give you some advice but, I have nothing to give because i'm a new guy in the train world. The only thing I can give is my support and except this great challenge and run with it. They can't take away from you what great things you accomplish, they will only complain if they are not faced with the burden of command. Take charge live large. Awesome adventure brother.
 
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