I bought a Lionel HO Challenger a while back. While we could argue some
issues like the weight in the tender, proto paint and details, I am
happy enough with it in all respects except one:
The driver/axle assembly is misaligned badly enough that at low speeds, the
boiler moves from side to side, and at medium to high speeds, it shakes
If you have one or more, do they do this?
I sent the thing back and it took 8 weeks for me to get a "repaired" unit
(total new mechanism) with the same problem. So I am wondering if most
or all of these have this objectionable characteristic.
Reply to my email if you prefer.
I can't say much about this particular model, and what it's problems may
be, without seeing it operate. However, a certain amount of 'waddle' is
normal for a steam locomotive (model or prototype). Whether your model's
behaviour is excessive, I can't say.
A certain amount of the waddle would also be produced by the
challenger being of the Mallet configruation. The front engine
unit is pivoted off the front of the rear engine unit.
Rear | -| Front |
The acsii picture is supposed to show the way the front engine unit on
a Mallet is pivoted.
of similar size. This is due to the quite short rigid wheelbase of the
rear engine. I'm not sure they all NEED to do this, as various centering
mechanisms have been tried and used on the front engines.
The only Mallet I've ever ridden, a small 2-6+6-2 logging loco,
'waddled' a LOT, and more than any other loco I've ever ridden. The
entire cab oscillated back and forth sideways the better part of a foot
every time the front low pressure cylinders csaused the front engine to
move in the opposite direction. Thus the whole loco was basically
bending in the middle every turn of the drivers. It went down the track
rather like a snake. It ws totally rythmic, however, so you could adapt
to it, and sway in time to the loco ... kind of like 'sealegs'. LOTS of
Yup! ... but only for THAT loco at that speed.
You have to learn to adapt to each one. Most steam locos have certian
speeds at which they run smooth, or conversely, rough. This is due to
balancing (never perfect, somtimes hardy any at all), piston thrust,
suspension tuning, and similar factors.
"Daniel A. Mitchell" wrote in
Even small locos can have oscillations like this. Back in the
late 1960's I had a part time job working in an amusement park in
Wichita, KS. Their park train was a Chance C.P.Huntinton. 4-cyl
Ford industrial engine, driving the pilot and "tender" trucks
through a 2 speed automatic transmission. It was a pretty thing
that they kept polished up and since they had just a tad over a
mile of track, you didn't get that "driving in circles" feeling,
making it fun to operate. It went all the way around the periphery
of the park and passed through a lot of different scenery as a
result...over a rather large trestle crossing a creek, through a
bunch of woods, behind a western-themed village, plus the usual
The engineer sat on top of the faux woodbin on the tender, just
behind the cab roof. I can remember it having a kind of "waddle"
at certain speeds. I also remember not getting too carried away
with the whistle on the last half of the trip if you wanted to
have enough air to stop the thing at the station!
Wow, driving the train at Joyland! I thought only minor deities were
allowed to do that. Located in south Wichita Joyland is, or more
accurately WAS one of the last small locally owned amusement parks left
in the US. Unfortunately, a few years ago, it was sold by the original
owners to a new operator who ran it straight into the ground. It closed
half way through the season last summer. The former owners took it back
(buyer defaulted on the purchase) and are trying to open it again this
I remember that going there was a special treat and my family only went
there for my Dad's company picnic and for the "School night" where you
got ride tickets for good grades. Several creeks crossed the property
and you entered the park over a foot bridge which added to the drama for
a 5 year old. I LOVED the Whurlitzer organ played by the automated
clown next to the Merry-go-round. Half the kids in Wichita must have
fallen in love or broken up with their BF/GF at Joyland.
I arrived in Wichita in 1965 as an infant and left as a junior in high
school in 1981. There was a HUGE swimming pool to the right of the
entrance which was always closed and crumbling when I went to Joyland.
For a kid you knew you were getting close to fun when you could see the
top of the Roller Coaster over the trees which surrounded and filled the
As part of a class project in 6th grade I got to visit the Factory of
what was then Chance Manufacturing. Way cool.