Model Train Engines

Interestingly enough, model train engines are also referred to as locomotives and this should not be construed as though someone had misspoken.

With that said, however, this can be somewhat misleading, because it would be equally important to recognize that each locomotive has an engine of it’s own, and the size of it’s engine would be relevant to the particular model train scale the hobbyist is working in.

Making this distinction is of course important, and I  suspect that there is a reasonable alternative argument for the term engine being used as a way to describe the component that drives or pulls your model railcars.


Certainly we’ve all heard someone refer to their locomotive as their engine.  Once again, if we recognize that the engine is also your locomotives source of energy which is driven by AC, DC, or DCC power then a conversation about model train engines is in order as well as for locomotives.

The model train engine derives it’s ability to run a modelers trains through an electrical current created by a transformer, which in turn sends this current through the tracks of your railroad.  When this occurs, that current literally travels through the metal wheels of your locomotive.  Through receiving that current of electricity the model train engine can now power the gears in the locomotive which then turns the wheels which should then result, if everything goes well, in your model train successfully traveling the circuit of your model railroad layout.

Model train engines, also referred to as model train locomotives are made available to hobbyist in a variety of sizes and scales.  They can be purchased new or used, and for the hobbyist who appreciates trains which are collectible, there are antique engines that can be purchased from private collections as well.  As for where to buy your locomotive, shopping can be simplified by making your purchases online.

There is a more than adequate selection of trains made available by eBay and Amazon where you will also find reasonable pricing and shipping fees.  Almost every model train manufacturer advertises online, and you may want to consider buying directly from the companies who make these models as another option.

Finally, the hobbyist may find that it is more convenient to do their shopping at a local model train hobby shop where the employees are well versed in this amazing hobby, and can provide immediate answers to your questions.

There are a few things which the model railroader should keep in mind to insure that their engine or locomotive is and stays in the best running condition and the following tips should prove useful:

  1. When you make your initial purchase avoid the lesser expensive models as you will be disappointed with this type of locomotive. A few extra dollars spent will go a long way in insuring that you have a model train engine which will give you the best possible performance each time you run your trains.
  2. Also, it is important to pull routine maintenance on your locomotive and the tracks it runs on to further guarantee it’s running capability.
  3. The things you will need to clean your track can be purchased at your local hobby shop or online. Specifically, you’ll need to buy any one of the various track cleaners which are dedicated to cleaning model train tracks, and you’ll also need to pick up some abrasive pads which are made for the same purpose.  You may also want to ask the hobby shop employee for guidance in how to use these products.
  4. To clean your locomotives wheels a little more effort and time will have to be invested in this task when compared to track maintenance. Soak a paper towel in an appropriate cleaning solution which is then applied to your engines wheels should get the job done satisfactorily.

Finally, it’s always best to apply a lubricant or oil to the working parts of your model train engine.  Just remember to not apply the lubricant in an excessive manner.

  1. If your efforts to maintain your locomotive still result in a poorly running train, you’ll want to direct your attention at this point to your transformer, which may be underpowered, as can be the case with inexpensive model train sets, or it may simply need to be replaced.
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