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HO Sperry Rail Car Doodlebug

I found this Sperry Rail Car Doodlebug at a local antique store. To my surprise, it runs very well. It was made from a kit by someone else. I had some Christmas trains as well as some Metaltrain cars on my layout so I hooked it up to those while testing it. It struggled a little bit but it managed to pull 6 cars around my lower mainline loop on the my HO scale Libraryville layout. Pulling that load or just 3 of the Christmas cars it couldn’t make it up a 3 or 4 percent grade. No matter. Because I was surprised it ran at all, I grabbed my phone and took a video of it running around the track.

It would be 13 months before I finally finished posting the video to YouTube and my website.

HO Sperry Rail Car Doodlebug running on Libraryville 20201206 005805
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HO Athearn UP1943 Out of box Review

Well model railroad fans, this is a cruel review of a brand new, just received, right out of the box, HO scale Athearn Genesis Union Pacifc Heritage DCC-Sound Equipped SD-70ACe Diesel Engine Locomotive #1943. It was delivered on December 3rd, 2020, I opened it shortly after midnight on the 4th of December. I took it out of the box and placed it on my tracks. I grabbed my cell phone and started recording a video. I went over some brief details about the locomotive and I mentioned some new updates to my layout. Actually, the video was supposed to be about the new updates to my layout. I spoke to a friend and he wanted to see a video of the changes I made. Since the new locomotive came in, I decided I would film it as well as show the updates to the layout. My friend would get to see both at the same time.

What I didn’t expect was the locomotive not to move right out of the box. I had to push it to get it to start moving. Once I did that, it moved half-way around my layout. I stopped it. Then I turned the throttle up again and it wouldn’t move. This time, even giving it a push it would not move. I had to end the video the examine the locomotive further. I sat down and read the paperwork from front to back. In it, it has some troubleshooting tips. One of those is what to do if the sound works but the locomotive doesn’t move. It is recommended that I reset the locomotive to factory settings. So, I did that. It was successfully reset to factory and upon turning the transformer back on, after about 10 seconds, the lights blinked 16 times. This is an indication of a successful reset.

However, the locomotive still would not move. I took the shell off and tried to get it to move. It would not. I pressed down on the locomotive while it was on the tracks and the throttle was engaged. Finally, it moved. I let it run for 30 minutes at various speed-steps, but didn’t push it above 14 (using 28 speed steps). Then I ran it in reverse. I let it run until I became too sleepy to deal with it any more. I went to bed.

After a long day, I returned and with a little difficulty, I was able to get the locomotive to run again. This time, I let it run several laps around on speed-step 1. Then I did the same thing in reverse. I eventually after more than hour, increased the speed and ran it at speed-step 4 for a while. I lubricated the places indicated in the manual as points of lubrication. I did this by apply oil onto a toothpick and then placing the toothpick and the many points illustrated in the guidebook. I ran the locomotive both forward and in reverse for another 30 to 45 minutes. Eventually, I put the shell back on it and let it run for several more minutes in both directions. I had to push start it several times. So you can imagine my frustration. Eventually, it did perform better, but still, the locomotive should work flawlessly instead of picking and choosing when it wants to move and when it doesn’t.

HO Athearn Union Pacific UP1943 DCC-Sound Diesel Locomotive review -won't move right out of the box
HO Athearn Genesis Union Pacific Heritage SD-70ACe Diesel Engine #1943 running on Libraryville

Sadly, folks, after a day of resting, I tried to operate the beautiful UP #1943 again, and it wouldn’t move. I tried pressing down on it, giving it a push forward and backwards. It would not move in response to throttle commands. I reached out to the seller and the manufacturer. I will update you as to the outcome of this locomotive once the issues has been addressed by one of them. 12/7/2020 – Henry