Rework of Proto 2000 BL2

I have re-worked a Proto 2000 BL2 for a good buddy that models the C&EI. 


The project

Here is the Proto 2000 before I started work on it.

and another view of it.

Here is the beginning of the disassembly. 

Here is the gear box disassembled.

Here are the cracked gears and the yellow mustard that harmed the running performance of these engines.  The knife is showing where the gear is cracked. 

I soaked all the parts in isopropyl alcohol and then washed them with dish soap to remove all the yellow mustard grease stuff. 

The parts drying.

At this point, I reinstalled all the components after lubricating it with Labelle grease and oil.  I used Athearn replacement axle gears to replace the cracked Proto 2000 gears.  The package of six was around five bucks.  I then broke it in for fifteen minutes running it in both directions to make sure it worked well in DC first.  After doing this work, the starting volts dropped from 7.0 to 1.8, and the starting amps dropped from 0.5 to 0.05 amps.  I was actually surprised at how well it ran after this simple rework.  At this point I installed a Digitrax DH123 decoder.  I removed the original components from the Proto frame, and then simply soldered the decoder wires to the appropriate wires on the locomotive.  Here it is going for its first test drive. 

Here is my first attempt at lighting with LEDs.  It is a 3 mm LED with a 1Kohm resistor.  In hind sight, I wish I would have used a 5 mm LED as it would have fit the original slot better. 

Here it is soldered into the decoder.

Here are the front and back LEDs in with everything taped down. 

Oh, and I used plastic Kadee couplers as the frame is powered and it will prevent any possible shorting with other locomotives when run in consists. 

My buddy is going to super detail it and paint it for the C&EI.  I'll try and get some pictures of it after he is done.  I am very pleased with how this project turned out, and with how well this locomotive runs.  If I can do this, anyone can do this.  So, don't be afraid to give this type of project a try. 




I have one of these...

..and I'd still be afraid to tackle it. Great post though yesyes

RSeiler's picture

Nice work

I replaced the gears in my Proto BL-2, but didn't do as much disassembly as you did.  It would probably still be in pieces if I had.  It does run pretty well now.          


B&O/Chessie and Penn Central, West of Cincinnati 1975 

Nelsonb111563's picture

Frame is powered?!?!?

If there is still current going through the frame, then your motor is not isolated. Remember, even though this is a P2K model, it uses an exact copy of an Athearn drive system.  Just make sure that your motor is completely isolated.  Quick question, are the Kadees mounted in their own draft gear or did you use the frames draft gear.

Nice work on upgrading the drive system staying with the original components.

Nelson Beaudry

Kennebec, Penobscot and Northern RR Co.

DKRickman's picture

Feel the power!

If there is still current going through the frame, then your motor is not isolated.

That's not true.  Unless you modify the trucks (something which I've done, but which is not really needed in most cases) the frame will still be at the same potential as one of the rails.  The motor is (must be) isolated from the frame, but nothing says the frame has to be isolated from the rails.

Ken Rickman

Danville & Western HO modeler and web historian

Hey Nelson

Hey, ken is correct. The frame is powered like an Athearn locomotive, but the motor is still isolated from the frame. I made sure of that when installing the decoder. As far as the couplers, I just installed them in the frames box. I did drill and tap holes with a 2-56 tap followed with a screw to make sure nothing pops off and everything stays in place.
I would encourage people to give this a try. The parts go back together well and it makes such a nice runner.

These early P2K are really slightly modified blue box loco's

Most of the parts are identical. Basically a lot of weight and some techniques to reduce the vibrations and improve electrical contact. The motors were higher torque open frame designs. The measurements of current draw and voltage use imply the motor has seen little run time. If going on to DCC, I would wire the decoder directly to the trucks, which eliminates the need to use the chassis to pick up power. This is how the later P2K models were designed. As Ken says, you still need to isolate the motor and the couplers from the chassis. Plastic couplers are ok, but they limit the amount of load and aren't very durable.

The cracked gears are interesting on these models. I got a GP18 display model from a LHS several years ago. It may have seen a few test runs, but nosy much more. Two out of the four gears were cracked through. Very strange.

Great pix of the process needed to brig it back to life. Ny clue what the yellow stuff was?


"four gears were cracked through. Very strange."

This was very common on Weaver O scale locos. Apparently the plastic shrinks over time and even a loco that has never been run can have cracked gears. Replacement gears seem to have a different composition and solve the problem. Hopefully that is true for the HO P2K locos too.....DaveB

LKandO's picture

Cracking Plastic

Yeah, after reading this I can see any or all of it happening in the China factories that make model train gears.


HO, 28x32, double deck, 1969, freelance, RailPro

MILW199's picture

"Yellow stuff"

The "yellow stuff" was what P2K lubricated the gears with.  Some have likened it to peanut butter.  It is hard to clean out.  The engine runs much better with it gone, and good stuff used. 

Here's a heap of it from a SD7 gearbox, bottom left corner. 

If the frame allows, putting the coupler in the plastic box provides isolation.  If using the clip, the Kadee plastic shank couplers (20 series) are pretty strong, and use a metal knuckle.  I have some early brown-box GP18s, and was able to use the full plastic box for mounting.  Offset couplers could also be used. 

Mike  WSOR engineer  "Safety First (unless it costs money)"

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