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Model Railroading > Metallic smell when N scale engines run


Date: 10/04/19 16:47
Metallic smell when N scale engines run
Author: inCHI

I have a lot of DC N-scale engines by Atlas, Life Like, and Kato that used to be my fathers. When I test run many of them, there is a smell that I can only think to describe as "metallic" that occurs. I recall it also as a scent when I used to run N scale on is layout 15+ years ago. Any idea what it is or what causes it? I feel like I never encounter it with HO engines, even if I run older Athearn stuff.



Date: 10/04/19 17:32
Re: Metallic smell when N scale engines run
Author: HB90MACH

Are you reffering to what is called the electric motor smell that some older electric motors give off?



Date: 10/04/19 17:58
Re: Metallic smell when N scale engines run
Author: TCnR

In the past the smell was called 'ozone'. It's generated from the sparking between the commutator and brushes, all DC motors have them and make that smell. I don't know the connection between the Low atmosphere Ozone and the high atmosphere Ozone, here's a website with some of the words and phrases to search with if you want to sort it out.

https://www.drax.com/technology/does-electricity-have-a-smell/



Date: 10/04/19 18:24
Re: Metallic smell when N scale engines run
Author: HB90MACH

Kind of what I was trying to decipher. is it the ozone smell or something all together different.



Date: 10/04/19 18:28
Re: Metallic smell when N scale engines run
Author: inCHI

Thanks, I think it is the ozone smell that is being described. Does it require any maintenance?



Date: 10/04/19 18:36
Re: Metallic smell when N scale engines run
Author: HB90MACH

Everything I have heard is that when you get that smell, it means the insulation is breaking down and the motor has to be replaced. Unless somebody knows for sure, I would do research on that.



Date: 10/04/19 20:52
Re: Metallic smell when N scale engines run
Author: NDHolmes

Ozone is created by electric sparking - if you're test running a bunch of motors that haven't been run in a while, there's bound to be an oxide layer to burn off on the commutator, wheels, and in N scale all the little wiper contacts.  Once they've had some run time the sparking should be quite reduced, and the ozone smell will go away.  I wouldn't worry about it.



Date: 10/04/19 21:10
Re: Metallic smell when N scale engines run
Author: inCHI

Thanks, that is good to hear. Almost all of this hasn't run in years, and in some cases, over 10 years.



Date: 10/04/19 21:56
Re: Metallic smell when N scale engines run
Author: TCnR

inCHI Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks, that is good to hear. Almost all of this
> hasn't run in years, and in some cases, over 10
> years.

That would fit with the motors having to work harder, or use more current to simply turn. More current and higher voltage would cause a bigger spark and more of that smell.

There's another smell that's more of a burning smell, that's something getting too warm and causing the 'Mag wire' insulation to heat up. Motors and transformers are often made of windings using a orangish-reddish coated wire, it gets the name 'Mag wire' since it's used for a magnetic device where the windings need to be very close to each other but electrically insulated from each other. Often they use a barely adequate wire size so it tends to heat up and 'outgas'. It often happens to a transformer since it has plenty of voltage and current and little ventilation.

There's a phrase 'letting the smoke out' of whatever box the transformer or motor or transistor / IC, etc is contained in. They're just joking, they don't install smoke at the factory, but it is a distinct smell. It's another dimension of Electronics school training.



Date: 10/04/19 22:13
Re: Metallic smell when N scale engines run
Author: Chili169

If you plan on doing more than a quick test perhaps a little lubrication is in order.



Date: 10/04/19 22:34
Re: Metallic smell when N scale engines run
Author: DevalDragon

The best thing you can do for model trains is to run them every year or so. Just to keep the parts lubricated and moving.



Date: 10/05/19 09:01
Re: Metallic smell when N scale engines run
Author: PHall

DevalDragon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The best thing you can do for model trains is to
> run them every year or so. Just to keep the parts
> lubricated and moving.

Good advice for just about anything mechanical.



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