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Hi everybody, 

 

Curious to know how long an N gauge loco should last. Now I have my layouts automation running seamlessly, I am finding I am running trains all day every day! 

 

I just wanted to know how long I should expect the N gauge mechanisms to last. 

 

Thanks! 

 

 

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Given the lucky dip nature of gear failures, particularly on Farish locos of any age, anything from twenty years to on one occasion, less than two minutes....

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Vary hard to say. You may well gain the experience to tell us what wears out first on various locos!

 

I find my more used Dapol locos run better than the ones that spend long periods in storage. Nothing has worn out on any of my N gauge locos so far although my oldest one only dates back to 2012. They have had a fair bit of running at exhibitions and grandson sometimes gives them a full speed workout.

 

I have heard on a couple of occasions that coreless motors don’t last long - possibly around 100 hours. All my locos with coreless motors are fine (running very well in fact) but none of them are high mileage. It will be interesting to see if you find coreless motors are better or worse than traditional motors.

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147 hours doesn't sound great but 147 hours continuous running could mean that the loco stopped due to dirty wheels or needing oil; it doesn't necessarily mean anything had worn out. If locos are to be heavily used there needs to be a basic maintenance programme for them so they usually get care before they need it.  My maintenance programme for N gauge locos was a wheel clean,  very very light oil on visible gears and a careful check on running before every exhibition. Locos that displayed any running problems were removed immediately and given a full check over on return from exhibition, sometimes this could involve a complete strip down and sometimes just a bit of grease on a bearing.  

 

I also run G scale locos that can spend many hours running round the garden in summer. These mostly get a full strip down, clean and regrease every winter and I keep an excel spreadsheet so I know which ones were serviced when. I think this is good practice when maintaining a fleet which is mostly used at home - why wait for problems to appear? The manufacturer of most of my G scale locos recommends regreasing every 50 hours of running but I don't think smaller scale models come with any such recommendations. I almost never have problems with this fleet on the mechanical side of things and some have given over 20 years of service. I hate it when the run over a slug though - that makes quite a mess to be removed from the power trucks.

Edited by Chris M
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I thought the motors were now more of an issue than the gears etc? In the past motors were serviceable, now they are a sealed "disposable" item.

 

Roy

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16 minutes ago, Chris M said:

The manufacturer of most of my G scale locos recommends regreasing every 50 hours of running but I don't think smaller scale models come with any such recommendations.

Dapol used to say every 20 hours of running or every month. 

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I have a Farish J67 approaching 50 years old which is still a good runner. Cannot say how many running hours it has. On the other hand I own both Dapol and Farish locos that have died fairly quickly but usually after the expiry of the guarantee. In the case of most of them it seems to be the drive mechanism that goes. I can only guess that this might be down to 1st radius curves which must increase the strain on the drive shaft.

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58 minutes ago, MyRule1 said:

I have a Farish J67 approaching 50 years old which is still a good runner. Cannot say how many running hours it has. On the other hand I own both Dapol and Farish locos that have died fairly quickly but usually after the expiry of the guarantee. In the case of most of them it seems to be the drive mechanism that goes. I can only guess that this might be down to 1st radius curves which must increase the strain on the drive shaft.

Could well be the radius there. I have 5ft radius n gauge curves as my layout is 6ft wide with very gently curves. My automation system also starts locos very slowly and stops them very gently, so I hope it lasts for a long long time from what others have said above! Also MyRule1 I like your username; my YouTube channel is Rule 1 Model Railways! 

 

 

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The big, continuously running layouts, like Mevagissey, seem to suffer most from wheel flanges wearing away, sometimes completely, and have a continuous wheelset replacement regime in place.

 

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This really is a piece of string question. A lot depends on how you treat it. Do you service it or throw it around your layout. And many such variations of care. I know people who have Minitrix engines from the 1970's that are still going and yet have scrapped engines that were less that 5 years old.

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Well, I have some "Hornby Minitrix" locos so that dates them to be 30+ years old, and some Arnold ones with boxes marked "Made in Western Germany" and they all run fine.

 

ISTR reading in the Model press, several years ago, about how Mevagissey kept their stock running,

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Careful handling, gentle driving, an occasional drop of lube should have the thing lasting a lifetime.  High mileage will wear out motors and gears eventually, but it is only permanent exhibit layouts that have to consider this.  High speed running will take it’s toll on motion and valve gear, so keep to scale speeds, always accelerate and decelerate gently, which is better operating practice anyway. Don’t pick your locos up by the wheels or motion, or any more than necessary.  Avoid sharp curvature as much as possible; it stresses chassis and gears and increases wear. 
 

Edited by The Johnster
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In addition, since you have automated operation, make sure that all starts and stops are as smooth as the automation will allow,  Jerky transitions from inertial to full load are not the best way to treat mechanisms, especially if there are heavy full length trains.

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Many years back I had a couple of Liliput and Roco 009- so effectively N gauge mechanisms.

 

I used to run these little Austrian narrow gauge locos at speeds probably in the region of 150MPH(!) Over several years every Saturday morning and I never had one wear out. But they were from decades ago now.

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A main issue with Dapol is the grease they apply to many models sets rock hard unless it is weakened by oil, the 14xx notably is affected and when I bought mine the model shop refused to test run it because of the need to oil it first. Similarly one that has been stored for some time needs the appropriate lubrication first.

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I'd say for the most part you can probably expect well over 100 hours, some will last longer, others won't. I have coreless Std5 models with approaching 200 hours on them, in fact I've not had one coreless Farish model fail on me...yet. With regular maintanence mine have fared quite well, though this year they've not had chance to stretch their legs.

 

My most common Farish failures are with split gears, which generally occur while in storage and is regardless of use. Easily fixed as long as you can source spares. Models like the Farish Peaks I've had running with as many as 3 axles down before carrying out replacement work, the temporary repair being to identify and remove the split gear and reconfigure the gears if necessary to get it running again. After that, I've had two Farish tender drive motors fail, but that was caused by over tightening the mounting screws. That caused the screw to protrude too far inside the motor and cause damage to the commutator.

 

I find Dapol very hit and miss. I absolutely will not buy them online, if the shop won't test them I won't buy them. If you get a good one and maintain it well, they generally perform on par with Farish models and can rack up some high miles.

 

My biggest workhorses are my Union Mills models. With some TLC they're practically foolproof. Failures generally come from not cleaning the wheels or bearing surfaces. I've had stripped/worn teeth off the gears when I've gone overzealous with the loadings and left them trundling non stop for hours with 60+ wagons in tow, but spares are easily obtained and even easier to replace. My UM locos probably get half the attention to servicing than anything else, a few have literally gone several years between services and racked up hundreds of hours use. Yet they are by a country mile the most reliable N gauge models I have. Simple and sweet.

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