Before modeler Howard Zane was an industrial designer, he spent 18 years flying airplanes. Prior to takeoff, he would always check the engine to make sure it was safe and that all the rods were in place. Zane takes a similar approach to running his Piermont Division of the Western Maryland. Before doing a run on the railroad, he checks everything out and makes sure everything is properly lubricated. He maintains his own stock, but heavy repairs are done by one of the best modelers in the country. In this video, Chief Mechanical Officer Roy Brakman demonstrates some of his locomotive maintenance techniques.
New locomotives require some maintenance out of the box to ensure smooth running. Brakman addresses two maintenance concerns; electrical problems and mechanical problems. Most new models use a torque arm, which is a flexible mount with the motor sturdily attached to the gearbox. The motor is grounded to the frame which attaches to the gearbox which connects to the main driver, the only electrical contact. The wire from the motor must be attached to the frame of the locomotive in order to work.
Next, Brakman inspects the drawbar and its connections which are mounted through a series of insulators to the frame, yet should not be in contact with the metal frame. He makes sure there is no contact and that there is a solid solder on the solder tab. The tension spring on the drawbar should also be checked for a solid solder. Brakman goes on to discuss even more ways to maintain locomotives.
For Zane, railroading is his life. It is a form of art for him, and the most challenging form he has ever participated in. Modeling at the same time is a great stress reliever and is calming to him. Zane goes on to discuss more of his love for the hobby with Allen Keller.