Noisy Athearn Blue Box Locomotives

Big D Oct 6, 2009

  1. Big D

    Big D TrainBoard Member

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    I have a few Athearn Blue Box locomotives that are very loud. They make a loud growling noise that doesn't go away with lubricating. The locomotives that make the noise are my 2 U33C's and my 1 U28C. I have only noticed this problem with these larger locomotives. Why do these engines make so much noise?
     
  2. bnsf971

    bnsf971 TrainBoard Member

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    For one thing, it's a harmonic between the running gear and the shell. Another thing is those particular engines are longer than most others Athearn produced at the time. The drive shafts are longer, and move around more, causing more vibration and noise.
     
  3. Tim Loutzenhiser

    Tim Loutzenhiser TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have some that were very noisy initially, but are quieting down now that they have been run for a while. I always do the forwards - backwards thing frequently and run them at about half throttle for a while. Some claim that running them towards the full throttle range to break them in is the way to go, but I'll stick with what I do. One advantage to having access to a continuous run layout.
     
  4. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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  5. subwayaz

    subwayaz TrainBoard Member

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    From what I'm reading nothing has changed from years ago. The same thing with a SD45 that I have; nice Bicentennial model but noisy
     
  6. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I think that is true unless you go to the Genesis line; the Blue Box is the same.

    Here is another tune up website. hackitup.
     
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Have done this many times. Usually helps to some extent. The light abrasive burnishes gears. Wears down small burss, etc. Be sure afterward to thoroughly clean the truck assemblies. Then lubricate sparingly.

    Boxcab E50
     
  8. mcjaco

    mcjaco TrainBoard Member

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    I used to take apart the trucks and file down any burrs on the gears, put toothpaste on them, put them back together, run them for an hour forward, then an hour backwards. Take them apart, clean off any remaining toothpaste, and then lubricate them, and put them back together.

    I'd also look for anywhere that might be causing more vibration. Often the motor touched the side of the shell, or the flywheel. A little sliver of foam tape on each side of the motor, helped center the motor a bit more.
     
  9. steve58

    steve58 E-Mail Bounces

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    This may be useful, although most of it has already been covered here.
    I've found that on the older Athearn stuff, the FLYWHEELs leave a lot to be desired. Take a look, on some you can even see the severe wobble. If you see it, or feel it, it just gets worse with the shell on. New turned brass flywheels will help.

    http://www.mcor-nmra.org/Publications/Articles/Athearn_TuneUp.html#TRUCKS
     
  10. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

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    All my Athearns are noisy growlers - except one: an F7 from 2003 (the A of an A-B set). I was pleasantly surprised.

    The worst offender is the GP7, especially going around curves.

    The GP35 had the flywheels rubbing against the inside of the shell, just behind the cab where there are ribs on the inside.
     
  11. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

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    I had a friend in Grand Junction, CO with the same problem- he installed Ernst gearing and trued up the original Athearn flywheels. The combination of the two tasks made for a nicer-running locomotive.

    Of course, you'll need a lathe or access to one to do any truing- the only other option is to buy different flywheels.
     
  12. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

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    Update: the noisiest Athearn on my roster is no longer the GP7 - I ran it for an hour forward and then backward. It quieted down considerably. It was a used purchase and I replaced the motor on this one.

    Now the noisiest is the Train Master. It draws somewhat more current than the others too. I will keep a watch on it.

    But none of my Athearns can top the AHM RS-2 for sheer racket! I don't even think all of them together can drown it out...
     
  13. rkcarguy

    rkcarguy TrainBoard Member

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    I've found that the old rubber motor mounts are either harder or harden up over time. My newest BB's are a couple of -9's and they are smooth as silk and the mounts are much softer. I have a old SD9 that's the winner of the noise award but it sounds kinda dieselish so I leave it alone.
    FYI the BB kits production came to an end today, take care of them.
     
  14. subwayaz

    subwayaz TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Flash got it. Saved in Favs
    :thumbs_up:
     
  15. KB&W RR

    KB&W RR New Member

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    Ready to roll?

    I thought I would share my experience with Athearn train set equipment. I have been running Athearn locos exclusively, minus the occasional gotta have it 2 axle switcher, for 20 years. I have always done the basics.. rewire, balance the flywheels, clean the commutator etc but never achieved anything close to what my freinds with Kato or Atlas engines had. Until now. For my son's 4 year birthday I bought an Athearn "Warbonnet" set from Ebay. No idea the exact vintage, but it came with Life-Like steel track so a few years old but unused. After a couple hours run time in stock configuration, I put the F7A on the bench and procedded with the usual upgrades, including homebrew constant lighting. I wired both sides of the trucks directly. This particular Athearn was made in China. It has a can motor which I have never seen before, and cheap-ish looking U-joints but otherwise is better fit and finish than I am used to. I especially liked the screw on draft gear boxes versus the old snap ones.
    What really impressed me was this engine's low speed performance. It can litterally crawl along without so much as a groan, and never stalls save the occasional insul-frog turnout. I suppose I can attribute this to the can motor, even though it is probably generic import stuff that no one would ever consider refitting with. But the proof is in the running. Has anyone else had this expirience?
     
  16. Mike VE2TRV

    Mike VE2TRV TrainBoard Member

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    I bought an Athearn F7A-B set last fall at a train show, DC, used, in the original box. The powered F7A runs like no Athearn I've seen (or heard) before. It's quiet (almost as quiet as my Proto C-Liners), and runs like a dream at low speed. I figure it's about four or five years old and hasn't run much. The set also has a level of detail and paint quality that I'm not accustomed to seeing in a standard BB Athearn.

    Needless to say, I was extremely (and pleasantly) surprised.
     
  17. rjstat

    rjstat New Member

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    Well this was the norm for those old Athearn locos and you are all right about the problems that have been stated. The problems start at the wheel sets then the drive gears, drive shafts flywheels, motors and motor mounts. All my Athearn locomotives have been retrofitted with North West Short Lines parts here is a link you may want to check out. When your done you will do all your favorite engines. Athern and lifelike locomotives performance upgrading
     

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