17 November, 2015

A Terrible Blogger & Another Project: Operation 'Kitty Overhaul' (Part 1)

I must admit that I'm a terrible Blogger, if for no other reason than I read many of them, and comment on them, but never seem to make the time to post on my own.  One big reason is, I feel I'm not a very creative writer and presenter, even when it's about my favorite addiction, TRAINS!  In any case, I'll apologize to followers and readers, and try to repent, now that I'm done with MARPM and a new grandbaby arrival.
So, recently I've been learning (by reading, pleading for help and comment from Mike Garber and Shannon Crabtree, as well as by making my own mistakes) more about overhauling poor performing locos, as well as installing DCC and Sound into them.  And, I since I had a couple of older 'dust collector' locos, as well as a couple of new units, I decided to take one off the shelf and get into the guts and see what I can do to make it function better.  Operation 'Kitty Overhaul' is just that.  It is an Athearn RTR GP35 in the Chessie paint scheme (C&O #3524) is going to become CSXT #4364, circa early 90's. I originally wanted it for a nice 2-3 loco consist on the RF&P, so I had to have it.  Not even remotely tempted to open it, I sent it straight away to a DCC installer, who seemed to have just slapped a Tsunami in, w/o doing any kind of maintenance on the loco (probably at my ignorant request).  He was happy it ran on his layout and sent it back after I paid a hefty fee to have a decoder & speaker installed.  To me, it never really ran well, quiet, or was a good performer for me, so it was relegated to still pix status and eventually went back in the box.  I decided today was the day to peek inside, if I was going to keep it or, as much as I still liked it, sell it.  So, I opened it up.  Here's what I saw first.

Boy, I was not too happy to see that: A) the darned thing was basically an old "Blue Box" with a clunky (and very heavy) metal frame and OLD/poor connections for power - I guess that's how Athearn started doing their RTRs; B) the speaker and decoder were secured to the frame & motor with masking tape - that's just not professional in my opinion, but again it was early in this person's delving into professional decoder installs and for all I know it was farmed out to someone, or he asked for help and trusted someone that isn't too trustworthy; C) the front truck lead was broken off the silver clip. Not a big deal on that one, as I'm sure it happens; and D) the motor looks like (as my youngest daughter says) "Shiz!"
So, after consulting with several folks, I decided a complete teardown, a la Mike Garber's 'down to the bare bones' methods. My next post will show you what I did and where I'm at now.

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