The last Blog entry introduced the newest motive power for the layout, a New Haven Proto 1000 RS2 #0503. This was a used engine purchased at a local train show. Road testing the engine revealed that it suffers from the Proto 1000 / 2000 cracked axle syndrome that plagued certain 4 axle units from this manufacturer. An easy way to tell if your locomotive(s) have a cracked axle gear(s) is to basically attach it to a train and listen to it run. The noise will sound like a flat spot in wheel and you may even notice the wheel bounce up and down a bit. If you hear the thumping sound from the locomotive one or more gears are cracked. Another way to tell is to see if the engine wheels will turn freely. If so you have a cracked axle gear. When purchasing these engines always assume that the gears will have to be replaced and fortunately it is a pretty easy fix.
The replacing of the gears is pretty easy as you do not need to disassemble the locomotive. An NMRA HO Standards Gauge will help set the wheels in gauge when installed into the new axles.
An easy enough upgrade as the coupler boxes are held in place with a Phillips screw and the bronze centering spring is already in place. Removing both coupler boxes will allow you to remove the shell.