Day 3: What’s in a Spares Box?

Day 3: Drawer No.3: Gearing & Bogies


Probably the most used spares drawer of them all – gearing & bogies! Those who have worked on Graham Farish Poole locomotives know only too well about the age old problem of split gears and I think it would be fair to say that three quarters of locomotives bought second-hand have a split gear, or two, or three, or four … or eight! In my opinion the gears are by far and away the biggest “consumable” component of all spares, simply because they split. That said, once refit properly (to be covered in a later article) they should be less prone to splitting.

So, in traditional fashion, from top left to right:

First we have the 25 tooth pinion gears. Here you can see them in three varieties, brass, white nylon and black plastic. Unlike some enthusiasts I sometimes leave the brass gears in the gear tower, only swapping out the 25 tooth (seen here) since this gear makes contact with the brass worm gear. Brass on brass isn’t the best combination (although should be fine if well greased) and so I tend to swap this for a black plastic variety. Of the black plastic variety there are two – original Poole gears with a thinner cog cross-section and later Bachmann 25 tooth gears with a thicker cog cross-section. I tend to prefer the earlier Poole gears since there is less surface contact with the worm gear (due to the thinner cross section) and this enables better cornering performance of the locomotive. 25 tooth gears rarely split.

Next we come on to the most commonly replaced component of Poole locomotives – 12 and 16 tooth gears. A good stock of these is essential if you plan to keep your Poole Farish locomotives running into the future. Due to the well documented splitting of these gears, replacements are still in demand. Prices for these are not cheap (relative to what they are) and for many people, if a locomotive has multiple split gears, the value to repair it can be considerable. The earlier Poole gears again have a thinner cog cross-section and also have a more spurred cog than the later Bachmann ones. For this reason it is not a good idea to mix gears within one gear train. The Bachmann gears are less prone to splitting, but not immune.

Top right we see stub axles. These come in two varieties; 1) knurled ends 2) knurled middle. Let’s start with knurled ends. These are small smooth surfaced axles onto which a freely rotating gear sits and the end of the axle is knurled / serrated so that the axle grips the side of the gear tower. Now onto the knurled middle axles – these are knurled in the middle so that the gear on them has something to grip to. That means that the gear on these axles is not freely rotating in relation to the axle, but rotates with the axle. These axles are not serrated at the end and clip into gear tower axle slots. It might seem a minor detail, but the distinction between the two is important.

In the middle row we can see an assortment of wheelsets. I prefer the infamous “pizza-cutter” wheels of Poole Graham Farish, as opposed to the newer, slicker, lower profile, darkened wheels from Bachmann. The pizza-cutters are known as such due to the large flanges on the wheels (think of a pizza cutter) and for the purists they aren’t so realistic. For me, however, they represent the heritage of Graham Farish and I like them very much. After all, I know my railway isn’t real, but rather a representation of one, and not every element has to be a 100% representation of reality. I tend to re-gear a large quantity of pizza-cutters in one hit (they’re easy to pop into your bag when staying away on a work trip – better than watching hotel TV) and make working on locos much easier, since you have a ready supply of re-geared wheelsets when you need them. I keep a relatively large stock of Bachmann wheelsets also but only a few are shown in this box. On the right of the middle row we can see some DMU wheelsets and also some brass-geared wheelsets, shich I sometimes swap out for plastic, since the plastic gears are less noisy.

On the bottom row we come back to the method described in Drawer 2: bag ’em and tag ’em. These are wheelsets which are either awaiting re-gearing or have been re-geared but require further investigation due to them not meshing properly. I am very loathe to throw out a gear unless I know it is split or has damaged teeth.

There will be future articles detailing how to tell a gear is split and also how to replace them.

Please check back tomorrow for Day 4: Pick Ups & Springs

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