Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Straco Layout - Part 14, Bandai Band-Aid

The Bandai diesel, coming down the line. It took a little work
to get it operational again.
 As long-time readers of this series know, I originally purchased the 1960 Bandai train set simply to get enough track to complete an oval. The locomotive never ran very well, and often sent out a shower of sparks as it lurched around the track.

Eventually, it stopped running at all. The engine has punched-out windows in its frame (who knows why), and when I peeked in,

I discovered the reason -- both solder joints for the wire pickups had given up the ghost.
This looks like trouble.
The view of the motor (and loose wires)
through a window in the locomotive body.
If I was a serious collector of Japanese toys, I probably would have just put the train on the shelf and left it alone. But I'm not. And the set didn't cost a lot to begin with.

The Bandai diesel has open side windows.
So I decided to repair the locomotive.

The trickiest part was detaching the body from the frame. It was secured by a series of bent metal tabs. Because the metal gets stressed at the bend, those tabs only have so many folds and unfolds in them before they simply snap off. And when that happens, there's no way to reattach them.

Note the tabs along the edge of the frame.
That's what holds the body on.
I was afraid that because this was an inexpensive (OK, cheap) toy, that the metal would be very thin and that the tabs would snap off.

Fortunately, the metal was fairly thick, and that didn't happen. I used a razor blade covered with tape to get under the tabs without scratching the metal.

Each tab was carefully bent back, but only as far as necessary. They remained at a slight angle, but by squeezing the body I could draw them out of their slots and remove the body.

A closeup of the problem. And note the years of dust stuck to
the greasy motor. Yuck!
The inside was something of a surprise. Yes, it was pretty dirty -- mostly because those open windows let in a lot of dust over the years that stuck to the greased and oiled motor. But there were also some lead weights secured to the frame of the engine.

I had thought that the motor itself was responsible for the weight of the locomotive, but that wasn't the case.

The first set of weights were in the front, to help the lead trucks hold to the track properly. That was important for two reasons: it minimized derailments, and it kept the wheels in constant contact with the track. The power in the track was transferred from the wheels to copper pickup shoes on the axles and from there through wires to the motor, so continual contact was important.
Without those lead weights, the locomotive wouldn't have
enough traction to move.

The second weight helped keep the rear trucks on the track. Because the engine itself (even with the lead discs) didn't have enough weight to provide traction, the rear wheels had ribbed rubber tires. The second weight help keep those tires pressed against the rails.Clever design!

The Bandi diesel, repairs completed,
ready to run.
Reconnecting the wires with solder was a simple job. I first made sure to clear all the old solder off of the contacts and clean the exposed wires. While I had full access to the motor, I also cleaned and oiled it. I also greased as many of the gears as I could get to.

When I replaced the body, the angled tabs held it in place. So rather than risk snapping them off by folding them back to their original position, I left them alone. And now I can easily get the body off again if I have to do more maintenance.

An unexpected bonus: cleaning the contacts and the gears not only made a difference in performance, but in safety as well. Sparks no longer fly out from under the frame. Guess I'll just have to refer to the locomotive as the Bandai diesel. Ol' Sparky doesn't seem appropriate anymore...

The newly restored Bandai diesel in action!

Read more about the whole project here.


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