Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cleaning an LGB Mogul 2-6-0

Since the time I began thinking about building a G-scale railroad, I have always admired the LGB Mogul. Its 2-6-0 wheel arrangment should be perfect, I felt, for a branch-line type railroad and short passenger or freight trains. And now there is one inside our house, having arrived on the porch step the other day in used condition. My first task was to clean up the outside of the engine to remove the apparent years of dust and grime. Some light soap and water and a combination of kitchen sponge and paper towel did the trick. Looks practically like new (see photo below).

The next step involved performing minor surgery, exploratory in this case. If possible, I wanted to inspect the drive wheel axles and pickups, which in HO scale are typically the first to gather hair, dust, and grime. This case would be no different. Using a variety of handy kitchen props available within eyesight, I flipped the engine on its "back" and scanned the underside. I gathered various implements of destruction including pliers, tweezers, and various sized screw drivers. With surgery ready to proceed, it was time to reverse-engineer its "insides". The cover plate looked easy enough. All four screws came out with no problem, but they were of different sizes. I was therefore careful to keep them in the correct order on the counter for ease of reassembly later. I highly recommend this practice. As you "reverse engineer" an unknown locomotive, be careful to keep track of where the parts come from.

I heard a "sproing" when the cover plate came off, exposing the gears, contacts, and drive wheel axles. It happens that the front pilot truck is connected to a short spring that provides tension to the pilot axle as it turns. These Germans were creative! After gawking at the mass of metal and plastic (and grime), I dove in and took off the pickup shoes and long metal contact plates. Nothing seemed that complicated, and it was a pleasure to work with such large parts after dealing with HO scale in the past. I was more pleased to learn that the brake shoes pull right up out of the frame, so I organized them with the other parts so that I could tell what went where later on (see photo below). These pre-molded plastic parts were easy to put under soap and water, immediately relieving them of their years of collected hair and filth. I then gingerly toyed with the drive wheel axles to see how I could separate them from the frame for cleaning. I was not courageous enough to remove the wheels from the tie rods, and I saw no need to do so.

I took some Goo Gone to the wheels, both their tires and the insides of the wheels. Looked like a lot of grease, and the nastiest part of the whole cleaning process was the grease and oil that a previous owner had apparently applied. It became an instant mess, not unlike that of cleaning a bicycle chain. I ruined a couple of cheap wash cloths, but they had already been downgraded to "railroad cleaning" duty previously. The black stuff got all over my hands (like a bicycle, which is why I don't clean those often, either) and was tough to wash off. I can't imagine that the engine will need any more lubrication in the near or far future, as most modelers advise newbies like me to not go so heavy with the grease and oil.

Thanks to good planning, I carefully reassembled the undersides after cleaning all of the contacts and surface parts that I could easily access. Should be ready to go for its first test run on the Ponderosa Lines! Needs to be converted to battery power, first! Not willing to wait that long, a neighbor G-scaler has kindly agreed to test run the loco on his own track-powered layout. Soon after, C&S #6 will be the fourth locomotive assigned to the Ponderosa Lines roster.

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