Inspecting New Diesel Locomotives

Everyone at some point or another in their life has purchased a new car and the process is the same for everyone.  It typically begins by selecting a new car that appeals to you, followed by a test drive, a trip into a salesman’s office to negotiate the final price for the car, and then all of the financial paperwork is signed if the terms are agreed to by both parties.  With  all of these steps successfully completed, it is then time to take delivery of the car, but before you do that you’ll most likely give your new car a final walk-around inspection where you take note of any flaws or discrepancies and in most cases the corrective work is done before you take delivery.  Conversely, if all is well and you’re completely satisfied with the condition of your new car you take delivery and drive the car off the lot.You’re probably wondering what buying a new car has to do with inspecting a new diesel locomotive and justifiably so.  In some ways there is a relative comparison and in others not so much.  With that said, however, there is one step that is just as important when you buy a new diesel locomotive as one of the steps which was previously mentioned when buying a new car.Today, most manufacturers build “right-out-of-the-box diesel locomotives which provide the highest levels of performance.  There is a strong argument for literally taking a new diesel locomotive right out of the box and running it.  However, just as the new car owner does, you should imitate his or her behavior and give your locomotive a thorough inspection before actually placing it on the tracks and running it.  In so doing, you just might save yourself from a disappointing experience, or at the very least insure that things are as they should be with your new purchase.The following things should be checked:

1.  Begin by removing the body from its platform.  Check to insure that your locomotive has been lubricated.  Often, this will prove to be true but it may have been over-lubricated.  If you find that this is the case.  Correct the problem by wiping as much off as you can with a clean piece of tissue.  When a locomotive has too much lubricant it is a detriment to the drive train and will collect excess amounts of dirt and dust.

2.  It would be a good idea to make sure that the wheel gauge is correct.  To do this you’ll need to purchase a NMRA standards gauge if you don’t already own one.  What you’ll want to do is check the depth and fit of the wheel flanges in the notches provided. They must fit into these notches perfectly to insure smooth operation.  If they do not you’ll have to adjust them accordingly so that you’re locomotive will run without problems.

3.  Next, check the couplers and make sure they are functioning correctly.  Most HO scale locomotives come with X2F couplers or NMRA hornhooks.  Both of these are renown for causing frustrating problems and at the very least make sure that you check the coupler height, the uncoupling pin, and if things are not as they should be make whatever adjustments that you find necessary.

If in the future you plan on having a more complex and extensive layout you should seriously consider upgrading your couplers to accommodate your layout.  For HO scale locomotives the best coupler choice are those made by Kadee, and for N scale, the top-of the-line choices are those which are made by Rapido and Micro-Trains.

4.  The last step in the inspection process involves test-running your locomotive.  Make sure that you run it for several minutes in different directions and at varying speeds.  If everything is alright you can then put your new diesel locomotive in service and add whatever weathering you feel is necessary or that may be required to create a realistically appearing piece of rolling stock.