Improved power pickups

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Improved power pickups

Post by torikoos » Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:19 pm

DCC + sound decoders are a bit more sensitive to good power pickup, and some shorther wheelbase locomotives are extra sensitive to it.

I've recently installed some additional power pickups to one of my Athearn RTR SW1500 locomotives. The SW 1500 is fairly sensitive, and there are a few issues that are easy to fix and result in a better running loco.

Here's what I did:

After removing the truck side frames, and wheels, use a small file to sand away the chemical blackening of the contact strips in the openings where the brass wheel bearings drop in, and on the underside of the frame in the middle (see picture where I point at this area).
ImageAdditional pickups by Koos, on Flickr

After applying some flux I tinned the areas in the middle, and then soldered a small phosphor bronze wire (0.010" dia) and cut to length.

ImageAdditional pickups by Koos, on Flickr

Bend them outwards and downwards when the loco is upside down (upwards if you have the loco in a normal upright orientation). This will ensure some additional contact pressure and will result the wheels stay in place . It is a bit fiddly to place the wheels in , and you carefully need to lift the new contacts over the wheels and on top of the wheel bearings/against the back of the wheel. Exact location isn't that critical.

After placing the wheels back etc it should look like this:

ImageAdditional pickups by Koos, on Flickr

you may experience a slight increase in wheel friction, and therefore a slight retune of your decoder settings may be needed, but running should be improved due to more reliable power pick up.

Koos Fockens -Devon UK. North American Model Railroading
Age is just a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, then it doesn't matter.

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Re: Improved power pickups

Post by catweasel » Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:30 pm

I'm rebuilding a Blue Box Athearn SD40-2 and thought I'd try this trick. Had no luck due to steel frames. I did manage to fit the wires to them though. Maybe it's because the wire has a bigger area for the solder to grab. Just waiting for drive shafts then I can test run prior to fitting DCC.
I used to be indecisive,but now I'm not sure.

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Re: Improved power pickups

Post by Mike_R » Thu Dec 03, 2015 10:48 pm

I just twist the steel frames a bit to make better contact to the axle boxes.
I do solder wires to the flat plate on top of the trucks to bypass the kingpin contact and to a cut down part of the side to avoid the long top spring of the old locos.
Mike Ruby

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