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Thread: Zinc Pest in Life Like Locos?

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    Default Zinc Pest in Life Like Locos?

    I just saw a MicroTrains (Life Like) Switcher loco on ebay and it looks like it has Zinc Pest.

    Zoom in on the second picture in the listing below to see what I mean.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/MTL-Lifelike...S/132215852465

    Do you guys agree that is what it looks like?

    Has anyone seen this in Life Like splitframe locos? Mark (@Spookshow)?
    Last edited by Mac; 5th Jun 2017 at 09:41 AM. Reason: Remove attachment.

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    Please define, "Zinc Pest".
    Dick,

    Usually, when all is said and done, there's a lot more said than done!

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    Now I'm slightly scared... I've got a custom SW-8 that I don't to explode... hopefully that loco came from a defective batch and isn't patient zero of a massive problem
    Did someone say whitcomb?

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    Zinc pest was pretty much a thing from European manufacturers. When they actually made things there. Despite the poor and dangerous materials often used in Chinese made products, it has not been evident.

    Now, it is possible for a diecast chassis to be damaged by excessive motor heat. I bought one Bachmann basket case Brill, where the split white gears had locked up the motor so long the motor heated up and expanded and changed the chassis. The expanded chassis cracked the plastic body. When finally pried from the body, the chassis crumbled.

    That just looks like normal oxidation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoNW View Post
    Zinc pest was pretty much a thing from European manufacturers. When they actually made things there. Despite the poor and dangerous materials often used in Chinese made products, it has not been evident.

    Now, it is possible for a diecast chassis to be damaged by excessive motor heat. I bought one Bachmann basket case Brill, where the split white gears had locked up the motor so long the motor heated up and expanded and changed the chassis. The expanded chassis cracked the plastic body. When finally pried from the body, the chassis crumbled.

    That just looks like normal oxidation.
    On the far right I see cracks, that's the oddity
    Did someone say whitcomb?

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    I see a scorched can motor. The case is made from steel, not a copper alloy. I should be a lot more silvery. Not so bronzy.
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    The only problem I see with that locomotive is a broken plastic walkway.

    Paul

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    Quote Originally Posted by pbender View Post
    The only problem I see with that locomotive is a broken plastic walkway.

    Paul
    - Look at the bottom view pic of metal frame... disease of some sort...

    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoNW View Post
    I see a scorched can motor. The case is made from steel, not a copper alloy. I should be a lot more silvery. Not so bronzy.
    I have never seen steel do this. How confident are you that this is not a typical white metal cast frame?



    I definitely see metal fatigue of some sort. I thought zinc rot/pest was a thing of and from the past. Items from before 1960's...? This is a relatively recent model.

    I have a couple locomotives that have similar warping and cracking/crumbling to the point of not working.

    I would suspect that this all must be a similar manufacturing flaw to the zinc issues. Impurities, heat, humidity, etc.

    For $20 bucks, you "might" be able to salvage the shell, trucks and possibly the motor....?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoNW View Post
    Now, it is possible for a diecast chassis to be damaged by excessive motor heat. I bought one Bachmann basket case Brill, where the split white gears had locked up the motor so long the motor heated up and expanded and changed the chassis. The expanded chassis cracked the plastic body. When finally pried from the body, the chassis crumbled.
    Interesting to know that overheating can do something similar. Although i have not known these Life Like switchers to have issues with overheating (I guess anything can be shorted / blocked / locked up).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jugtown Modeler View Post
    I definitely see metal fatigue of some sort. I thought zinc rot/pest was a thing of and from the past. Items from before 1960's...? This is a relatively recent model. I have a couple locomotives that have similar warping and cracking/crumbling to the point of not working. I would suspect that this all must be a similar manufacturing flaw to the zinc issues. Impurities, heat, humidity, etc. For $20 bucks, you "might" be able to salvage the shell, trucks and possibly the motor....?
    I agree - there definitely seems to be some metal fatigue / break-down. The front of the split-frame looks like the two halves are touching (although this can happen if they lost the little spacers and tightened the screw too much). I also see some serious deterioration around the front truck mounts -- looks like the frame has either cracked or a piece fell out.

    I have 4 of these switchers from Life Like so will try to pull them out and take pictures of their bottoms (even if I don't remove the trucks). For $20 it would be worth it to see what was actually going on with the chassis (although I have too many of these type of units already to buy a junker I agree the shell is cool looking and if the 5-pole motor works that has some value).

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    I try not to draw any firm conclusions from junk that shows up on eBay. For all we know the guy recast the frame using Silly Putty

    Cheers,
    -Mark

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    that is defo zinc pest , loads of cracks in the casting.2nd pic along when zoomed in can see it clearly.

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    I agree, looks like zinc pest in 2nd picture. It can still be found today. AZL had some locos out of one plant in China that had a crumbly frame issue, but being the stellar company they are, they made good and replaced the defective parts.

    Trey

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookshow View Post
    I try not to draw any firm conclusions from junk that shows up on eBay. For all we know the guy recast the frame using Silly Putty Cheers, -Mark
    I was thinking of the risk of that they recast the frame with resin or something -- although they say it is NIB and I always trust Ebay sellers (sarcasm)

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    Intermountain was notorious for locomotives having zinc pest...
    They were manufactured in China, so it isn't uncommon for things to have zinc pest/rot from products that were made there. I have seen it in objects that are not model trains as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nscaler711 View Post
    They were manufactured in China
    When I read the wiki on zinc pest and the history of it in US and European made products I was wondering how that might have applied to China made products. I know from experience that "steel" tools made in China tend to have lower shear strength than I would expect from steel (ever snap a screwdriver or wrench when using it for it's intended purpose? I bet "Made in China" is stamped somewhere on it) and always suspected zinc was being used in Chinese steel to lower the cost. I wonder if they would use lead in zinc products to lower their cost too. This is all based on speculation and there is no factual basis for my statements.
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    Life Like no longer makes engines but I wonder how many from that early 2000's era are suffering zinc rot or just not working at all? They were the first of the big three to go with China and were being heralded as good quality and low cost due to this manufacturing choice. Their engines always stuck me as being very clunky and metallic looking once you got the shell off, definitely more primitive looking so than anything Atlas or Kato was releasing at the time. Also I wonder how much lead content is in those Life Likes, has anyone got a lead tester at home they can take to one?

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    If nobody else wants to I might go for that loco on ebay... see if we can figure out whats going on, if it's a typical example of metal by LL then I'm going to be switching a few chassis
    Did someone say whitcomb?

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    I'd confirm from what I can see - also note what looks like swelling visible from the underneath view in the fuel tank area as well as hairline cracks.

    I've seen more than a few Rivarossi frames with the problem and still have two that I've held together with ACC.

    But even with those, it's a 'hit and miss' thing that appears related to the specific batch chemistry. I've never seen it on a LL frame before, or on anything except old Atlas Rivarossi.

    Wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole. Seller says he opened the box and it was already in pieces, well, even with zinc pest, breaking the plastic takes a lot more force than that. I'm thinking that it was taken out of the box, dropped hard, and snuck back into the box in pieces.

    I contacted him and requested a shot with the body shell off as it looks like a cracked frame. See what happens.
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