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Heljan class 1361/1366 class NEM couplers &performance issues


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My  GWR Heljan 1361 and 1366 class locomotives arrived today so I decided to fit couplers front and rear.  To ease the stress on the NEM box I always squeeze the legs on the coupler to insert into the NEM box.  I succeeded with three only to have the pigtail on one box snap off.  No trouble I thought just fit another NEM box assembly.  First problem,  Heljan pigtails on their boxes are a totally different shape to a "normal" Hornby/Dapol/Bachmann NEM coupler.  Where do I source Heljan NEM couplers assemblies from please.  Second problem the dropped shank on the NEM coupler had the trip pin resting on the ground so I had to remove the three couplers I had successfully fitted and insert a standard straight shank coupler.   I thought the whole point of a NEM standard was compatibility but evidently not.  Most likely I will need to modify a standard NEM coupler box  pigtail to glue into the Heljan receptacle.   The two locomotives look nice but have not otherwise impressed me yet.

 

Performance:  the 1366 pannier tank ran fine out of the box but the little saddle tank took a lot of prompting to start and would regularly just stop on the track needing a little sideways twist to get power again.  At one point it seemed to lock up solid so I checked it over,  could see nothing wrong then  ran it momentarily in reverse and then forward again.  It has needed the hand of God a few times to keep it running.  Nice locomotives to look at,  not quite sure what to make of the saddle tank though.  I will try to give it a running in period and see how it performs.  I can see the 1361 is going to be a problem loco.  The 1366 runs smoothly and quietly while the 1361 is a lot noisier plus I discovered the reason for the drive locking up.

 

As the loco negotiates my curves (R4) the leading axle shifts laterally and every now and then the head of the coupling rod mount bolt on either side contacts the inner face of the moving crosshead,  causing the drive to either momentarily stop or stop completely.  With the leading axle moved its full deflection there is insufficient clearance with the crosshead.  Perhaps I need to make a couple of shims to limit the lateral play of the axle.  So far very unimpressed.  I find it hard to believe the MSRP on these is almost GBP160.00.

 

I lightly oiled the head of the coupling rod mount bolts and the inner face of the crossheads,  plus gently tried to splay out the crossheads and bars a little to get a smidgeon more clearance.  So far I have had a few minutes of fault free running forward although the noise is still present.

 

Conclusion:  the 1361 is going back to Rails.  It will travel reasonably well in the forward direction but when reverse selected the loco does not move and it sounds like a gear disconnected internally.  I do not believe that you can access the internals of this drive so I am not attempting to see what the problem is.  I need to find out how to return the model as I have never previously had reason to return a defective item.  Pity as it is a cute little loco.  Definitely unimpressed but then I knew from the moment I applied power it was going to be a troublesome locomotive.

Edited by GWR-fan
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I have sent off an email requesting return instructions.  It is a pity because it is such a nice looking loco but it had issues right from the start.  The other loco the 1366 class runs like a Swiss clock.  They are the same drive in each loco so I am hoping to receive a working loco in exchange.  Apart from detail pieces falling off on other Heljan purchases (around fifteen locomotives)  I have never had a technical issue until now.  Looks like I will need to package it back up for its return journey.  Such a shame.

 

Edit:  Rails responded very quickly requesting that I return the loco.  They have organised a replacement. 

Edited by GWR-fan
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  • 4 weeks later...

Great write up. I wish i had read it sooner though .... I received a 1361 from Rails today with EXACTLY the same running issue you described. I have been trying to run it in but then it locked up and i too spotted the clearance issue ... Did you receive a working replacement or is it a fundamental design flaw ? 

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7 hours ago, Mattmaz said:

 ... Did you receive a working replacement or is it a fundamental design flaw ? 

 

I have posted the item back to the UK on March 25th,  however, tracking is still indicating  "Sydney International departure, enroute to the United Kingdom".  The date was three weeks ago (March 31st).  I have no idea if the loco is enroute or is still located in Sydney.  The store has not contacted me other than the initial email to return the loco,  nearly four weeks ago. 

 

The 1366 pannier tank purchased at the same time is a gem.  It has exactly the same chassis as the 1361 but does not suffer the clearance issues.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, I should have viewed it before I purchased my two models.  My return loco is still intransit back to the UK.  It left Sydney five weeks ago and still not tracked as being received by the store.  

 

Edit:  I just checked the tracking and now showing delivered.  Hopefully,  it will not be another five weeks to receive a replacement loco.

Edited by GWR-fan
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  • 4 weeks later...

My replacement class 1361 arrived this afternoon.  The replacement was handled quickly by the store once they had received the original and return shipping was a lot quicker than other items purchased recently.  The loco runs nicely as I wish the original had.  Pity it cost me an additional $28.30 in return shipping to get what I should have received over two months ago.  I find it odd that apart from the email acknowledging the receipt of the returned loco there has been no communication from the store since with the replacement loco simply turning up at my front door this afternoon.  I have previously had nothing but exemplary service from the store so will not let this incident prevent me from future dealings with the store.

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good to hear your new loco runs fine....question though, should rails not of paid for the return postage of the broken loco? granted it's more costly that simply shipping within the UK but even 50% of the cost? For me that's not good by Rails and the lack and of any comms, that's just poor customer service.

 

Without wanting to hijack your thread, i got my 1366 3-4 days ago and was a silent runner but it's been running for maybe 6 hours and it's starting growling allot, hope it's not a sign something is breaking.

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The store website mentions return shipping within the UK only with no mention of international returns.  Does spoil what would have been a bargain but at least the 1366 purchased at the same time is a smooth runner.  The replacement 1361 did need a push start when first powered up but ran fine after that with no sign of the crosshead each side contacting the coupling rods as found on the originally received model.  As these models do not seem to be maintenance friendly I am thinking that they are seen as being disposable by the manufacturer,  so no more little (or even big) Heljan steam locomtives for me.

Edited by GWR-fan
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I have received a1361 from Rails(excellent service even during lockdown) in late livery BR black.

looked good but running was terrible. It stopped on every point and even on plain track. On investigation I discovered that the pickups were not touching all wheels and some lost contacts on curves and appeared to short out against the chassis block.

A certain amount of tweaking and a degree of trial and error have resulted in quiet reliable running . It is still not wholly perfect but acceptable and bearing in mind the bargain price I paid I am happy with it. Not sure if I would feel the same if I had paid the original price. 
I also have a P class and a B4 both of which run beautifully although the P did need running in.

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4 hours ago, david51 said:

I have received a1361 from Rails(excellent service even during lockdown) in late livery BR black.

looked good but running was terrible. It stopped on every point and even on plain track. On investigation I discovered that the pickups were not touching all wheels and some lost contacts on curves and appeared to short out against the chassis block.

A certain amount of tweaking and a degree of trial and error have resulted in quiet reliable running . It is still not wholly perfect but acceptable and bearing in mind the bargain price I paid I am happy with it. Not sure if I would feel the same if I had paid the original price. 
I also have a P class and a B4 both of which run beautifully although the P did need running in.

if i'm been honest i would return it, it's not worth putting up with an ok runner, good ones do exist out there.

i was lucky, i got a perfect runner from gaugemaster (paid £79), the growling has stopped as well. i've also fitted a stay alive into the bunker and cab, that has transformed it into a really enjoyable shunter over insulfrog points and insulfrog double slips. i'm in love!

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  • 7 months later...

Is there some Gipsy curse on 1361 series of locomotives ?

My Heljan version stalls anywhere and everywhere. I can't see any fouling of the

motion, but the stalling is a result of jamming somewhere, I fear in the drive gears.

When stalled at slow speed, which is what it's required to do, there is a fine hum

from the motor. Sometimes it will then jump into motion where I assume the

decoder is loading the motor as it's EMF function works. Other times it needs a

push with the problem evident in either direction. If run at a scale 30-50 mph

there is no signs of the problem. It has now had in excess of 10 hours running

in both directions on my test oval, using both forward & reverse. There has been

no noticeable improvement on the shunting layout it was bought to run on.

 

Right, I love the little loco, I need one that works and it's far too late to send this

one back to Rails. Why not take a gamble on a Kernow (DJ) version ? I was once

a Rally driver and not afraid of taking a risk, or two. The price was & still is one

that I could afford to go wrong and it did !!

This one is suffering excessive stalling, clean wheels, good track, and when prodded

might run for a few inches (sorry about that, at my age I think in inches and not mm).

I can't discern any electrical hum so think perhaps the motor isn't getting power.

Being a split chassis design there are no wipers to adjust, so at the moment stumped.

 

As far as the track condition goes a Hornby J94 will circulate at a scale 3 mph, a Hornby Ruston, plus two Pecketts offer comparative performance. My old battered Bachmann 8750 will crawl all day, yet BOTH 1361's are real duffers.

 

Oh yes, DCC power sources used vary between a Hornby Select, A Gaugemaster and

a Digitrax ..... It CAN only be the locos. I may pluck up courage and strip the gears from the Heljan examine under high marnification for any minor defects.

 

Any sensible suggestions, throwing in a bin not really an option.

 

IMG_3967.JPG.e0bf127e7ed7718d93a546ee2098383c.JPG

 

Geoff T

Edited by Dad-1
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7 hours ago, Dad-1 said:

Is there some Gipsy curse on 1361 series of locomotives ?

My Heljan version stalls anywhere and everywhere. I can't see any fouling of the

motion, but the stalling is a result of jamming somewhere, I fear in the drive gears.

When stalled at slow speed, which is what it's required to do, there is a fine hum

from the motor. Sometimes it will then jump into motion where I assume the

decoder is loading the motor as it's EMF function works. Other times it needs a

push with the problem evident in either direction. If run at a scale 30-50 mph

there is no signs of the problem. It has now had in excess of 10 hours running

in both directions on my test oval, using both forward & reverse. There has been

no noticeable improvement on the shunting layout it was bought to run on.

 

Right, I love the little loco, I need one that works and it's far too late to send this

one back to Rails. Why not take a gamble on a Kernow (DJ) version ? I was once

a Rally driver and not afraid of taking a risk, or two. The price was & still is one

that I could afford to go wrong and it did !!

This one is suffering excessive stalling, clean wheels, good track, and when prodded

might run for a few inches (sorry about that, at my age I think in inches and not mm).

I can't discern any electrical hum so think perhaps the motor isn't getting power.

Being a split chassis design there are no wipers to adjust, so at the moment stumped.

 

As far as the track condition goes a Hornby J94 will circulate at a scale 3 mph, a Hornby Ruston, plus two Pecketts offer comparative performance. My old battered Bachmann 8750 will crawl all day, yet BOTH 1361's are real duffers.

 

Oh yes, DCC power sources used vary between a Hornby Select, A Gaugemaster and

a Digitrax ..... It CAN only be the locos. I may pluck up courage and strip the gears from the Heljan examine under high marnification for any minor defects.

 

Any sensible suggestions, throwing in a bin not really an option.

 

IMG_3967.JPG.e0bf127e7ed7718d93a546ee2098383c.JPG

 

Geoff T

 

Is the DJM new enough to go back for a replacement?  MOST  of these seem to run well.

 

Les

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Hi Les,

 

As I said, with the Kernow (DJ) it seemed to be electrical pick-up, so last evening I took it into

major service.

I'd always been a little unhappy with the amount of grease visible on the axles between body

and wheels. I wicked the oily grease away using folded wads of kitchen towel. Then I decided to use

Brasso to clean all the wheel tyres to within a mm of their life - a slow old job as you can only access

a small piece of the tyre circumference at a time. Thoroughly checked the alignment of all motion

duly re-oiling after a good clean.

Hey presto, in the kitchen on a small length of track it ran as well as anything I have, except perhaps

the 'H' Ruston.

Perhaps today I'll test it on a few shunting exercises, but that one may well be sorted !!

 

The Heljan awaits a strip down !!

 

Geoff T.

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The Heljan strip down,

 

I started, but after looking at the gear wheels and running under power with the keeper

plate off I decided that all seemed O.K. What was obvious was the torque effect on the front

axle. This making the axle move more than I'd been expecting. In so doing I felt it was moving

the motion fixing screw head too close to the cross head.

I decided to very gently bend the crosshead runners outwards just a touch. Reassembled and tested,

there was just one 'catch' jerk while running a shunting puzzle exercise.

Partial success that indicates I've found the problem source. For a future and hopefully final fix

I'm planning to make 2 sets of two part plasticard washers, in effect 4 horseshoe shapes that when

overlapped and stuck together will create thrust bearings. These will have to be joined around the

front axles between wheel and body. This will limit the (excessive?) end float of the front axle and stop

any chance of fouling.

 

It can't be that difficult to solve running problems can it ?? Only time will tell ?????

At least it's light work when compared to building car engines, gearboxes and final drives !

 

Geoff T.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a smile on my face.

Both are running reasonably well.

For the Heljan I made up 4 x thin plastic horseshoe washers that just fitted the axles.

With the keeper plates removed and wheel sets held in by the coupling rods I was able

to turn these 4 parts into two washers, one each side of the front wheel set. Reassembly

was close, virtually no end float, yet free.

I have now done a few shunting exercises without a stall, not one !! From a locomotive that

could hardly do 6" without stopping. There was one hesitation, so perhaps there is still a rough

gear somewhere, but it was being run very slowly. Oh and like it's Kernow (DJ) brother it demands

very clean wheels.

 

As to the Kernow, cleaned out axle bearings, ultra polished wheels, plus a little more running-in

and it's behaving as it should .

 

That's some relief as today the credit card bill came in with the Kernow loco's payment due !

 

Geoff T.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A couple of weeks since I said I had a smile on my face regarding the 1361 series models.

I've just done this video of my Heljan version shunting on my HS II layout, HS II for Happy

Shunting, design version II.

This is to prove that with more time than most would want to spend the Heljan 1361 CAN

be made to run slowly and reliably.

 

 

It was just a shame it's taken me 18 months to achieve what it should have been like out of the box !

 

Geoff T.

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I bought a 1366 from Rails too, couldn't resist at the price. Thanks to the ever-helpful folks on RMWeb I was aware of the keeper plate issue so checked this before even running it. Sure enough, clamped axles, so I adjusted this and also the pickups while I was there as these were not all touching the wheel backs either. And it runs a treat, I'm very happy with it - would have preferred a BR black late crest to run with my Beattie Well Tank instead of GWR green shirtbutton but hey, I've got the plates for 1369 and an airbrush.......

 

I wasn't impressed by the over-extended buffers so pulled these in by about half using small plastic collars cut from electrical cable insulation slipped over the 'tails' behind the bufferbeams. I could then fit the short NEM Bachmann couplings (36-061), following the usual struggle, which set them at the correct height.

 

(My latest acquisition is a Class 07 to which I also (eventually) fitted 36-061s, only to find they were too short for comfort so went through it all again to fit the longer 36-030s. Luckily nothing broke in the process. I'm going to need more of these Bachmann couplings to sort other Heljan models so I'm pleased to see that new stocks are due in shortly.)

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# Dad-1     It runs nicely but stops very abruptly.  Mine seems much more controllable but its DC.  I have had no issues with my Heljan 1361 yet.  It had an hours running in most of it hauling 4 suburban coaches and then went into service shunting. My idea of shunting is long rakes of coaches or wagons so it struggles and slips with seven coach rakes of Mk1s and Bullieds and attacking about a 1 in 12 coal stage ramp and it seems to thrive.  OK the slide bar issue seems ok on mine and not on others but maybe some of the pickup issues are due to the wheels not slipping and cleaning themselves?

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Hi DavidCBroad,

 

It was stopping abruptly as I was using the direction button to move from forward to reverse

and back again rather than slow down to a stop before changing direction. It was a way of reducing

time to complete the exercise.

 

Geoff T

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