How to tell a used loco from a new loco
- Folks - Caveat Emptor - Let the Buyer Beware
Again i have just experienced a loco repair on a unit that the owner
believed was brand new according to what he was told by his dealer.
In these days of easy online trading it is wise to examine any
purchases you make, either from E--y or dealers. Sometimes dealers
may be hoodwinked by customers who buy a new loco, then return their
old worn out loco as the new one. With no external wear and tear, it
is impossible for a dealer or the next customer to know how much use
the loco has actually been through.
Here are the signs to look for - similar to buying a used car. Too
bad model RR locos do not have odometers? But they do - the odometer
is inside in the visible signs of use.
First look for pitted and worn wheels. Brand new wheels are shiny.
Slightly used wheels are a little bit dull and have great traction.
Pitted wheels tell you the same thing as the worn out rubber grips on
the gas and brake pedals of that used car - this vehicle has been
Then open up the loco and check the gears and axles. Brand new will
be clean. Used will be coated with blackened dirty grease.
The biggest giveaway is the motor. For this you will need a good
The MT F7 loco that prompted this post was supposedly brand new. On
opening it the gears had been cleaned and looked good. The motor
brush depth gauge showed that the brushes were new.
BUT - the plastic shell had melted in the area of the motor.
Overheating - the motor pulled 570mA no load - where it should have
pulled about 120mA. The commutator was full of brush striations
(scratches) from wear. Most revealing was the deposits of worn brush
material from the previous set of brushes, a black powder, coating
the internal surfaces of the motor. The commutator contact slots
were filled full of grunge - more old worn brush material.
Fortunately a commutator cleaning restored normal operation other
than some brush bounce. But for those that wish to verify that their
purchase of a brand new unit is really and truly brand new - check
these items. They are the locomotive odometer.