Inherited Lionel Train Set

Bernard Apr 15, 2007

  1. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

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    I am an "N scaler" and this week I learned that I inherited my Uncle's Lionel trains. (I never even knew he had any or even liked trains.) I'm guessing they haven't been run in over 45 years. They are all in the original boxes and in very good condition. I set up the steam engine model # 681 and it failed to run (no surprise) I took it apart and cleaned it and it still is having problems. I by passed the reverse unit and the motor did run, but not consistanly. I'm thinking it's either the reversing unit or the motor. Any thoughts or suggestions would be welcome. (I even have the original manuals and for .10 I can order the Lionel track plan book.)
     
  2. JCater

    JCater TrainBoard Member

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    WOW!! Although you received these in a time of loss, they are a great inheritance indeed. Before running any of these items, I would first try and get them appraised. They may be worth quite a bit of money, even as static models. Then I would test the reverse unit (this is likely easier to replace if you need to). Check the wiring for sure...old wire can be a problem and can also be a fire hazard. Then move on to the engines. As a modeler you already know the importance of lubricating the models prior to running, so that would be my next step.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents. Good luck with your new empire :)

    Best,
    John
     
  3. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

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    John,
    I was shocked that they were left to me, I did check the list prices in the Greenberg catalog, the trains are post war 1945 - 1969. Plus a good monitor is ebay to see what people are willing to pay, but I don't plan to sell them. (My wife couldn't believe I got more trains plus they're a different scale.) I took the motor apart on the engine, cleaned and lubricted it. I checked the reverse unit and I see one problem, the little drum with the contacts is sheered on one side so it's loose in the unit that holds it. But after cleaning the motor, to get it to work, it stilll needs forced help to get it going. (Manual spinning with my fingers to get it started) I've checked the brushes and they seem okay. Any other thoughts?
     
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    If everything is moving freely, no binding, and you've tried bypassing the E unit, it could be the motor armature. Be certain wheels and track are all clean. Not badly pitted. The same for pickup rollers.

    :D

    Boxcab E50
     
  5. JCater

    JCater TrainBoard Member

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    I would say armature also. Another obvious check is all motor wiring, especially the grounds. A loose wire could cause a short that is intermittent?
    John
     
  6. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

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    Okay, removed the motor from the engine, and checked directly from the transformer, same problem. (Checked the wiring, no shorts) Sometimes it starts on it's own, other times it needs a turn with the aid of my fingers. There is no binding and everthing is moving freely. If it is the armature, what can I do? Also can it be the transformer, it hasn't been used in 45 years?
    I did check other pieces with the transformer (the cattle car, the dump car, the milk car, etc.) and everything else works.
     
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sounds like you have it closely pinpointed. I am sure that if no parts can be found, you can have the motor rebuilt. So just carefully set everything aside for now.

    I wonder if the Train Collectors Association has a web site? If so, that would be a good place to start looking for parts. Or rebuilding aid.

    Boxcab E50
     
  8. JCater

    JCater TrainBoard Member

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    Try this link:

    http://www.modeltrainrepair.com/

    Also, if you google "Old Lionel Train Repair" there is a whole list of manuals you can get to walk you through it. Hope this helps, and let us know how it turns out!
    Best,
    John
     
  9. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks BoxcabE50 & John for information and help. I have a feeling I'm going to have to send it out for repairs.
     
  10. JCater

    JCater TrainBoard Member

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    Glad to help, and do let us know how it turns out!
    Best,
    John
     
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yes. As John has requested, please let us know.

    :D

    Boxcab E50
     
  12. SCRS

    SCRS TrainBoard Member

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    18 April 2007
    Good morning Bernard.

    Before going to a repair shop, remove the motor again and check the brush retainer springs and the brushes for good tension contact.

    Sometime the brushes are worn down and are too short to make contact with the armature face.

    I then suggest that you remove the brush retainer plate, being careful to catch the brushes (if they are loose) as you remove (slide) the plate backward off the studs. Once you have done this, clean out the brush retainer cavities to permit the brushes to move freely.

    If you have some emery cloth, lightly smooth the leading edge of the brushes to a flat surface to make a good contact with the armature. Use some tissue paper to wipe the brushes clean.

    Also take a toothpick and clean out the brush particles and other grime from the three groves on the face of the armature.

    Reassemble the brush plate to the motor. There should be some slots in the ends of the brushes, insure that the springs ends are in those slots.

    Next, purchase a can of WHAL Hair Clipper oil (a good source is your barber), using a small artist brush wipe (apply) some oil on the center rail power pick up roller ends and on the axel ends of all the wheels.

    WHAL Clipper oil not only lubes, but creates good electrical contact.

    Perhaps this will get your Pennsy 681 moving.

    Larry @ SCRS
    Have a good day with Jesus.
     
  13. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Larry,
    Thank you for your instructions. I will try what you discribed. Initially, I did clean out all areas of the motor and the brushes do move freeely. I do see that one of the brushes is making more sparks than the other, is that an indication of anything? Also I have Wahl oil, I will try it.
    Thanks
     
  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sounds like it could be a couple of things. That brush isn't making quite as good cotact, as the other. Weaker spring? Worn brush? Is the surface of the commutator scored? Or smooth? Hope it's smooth.

    Boxcab E50
     
  15. JCater

    JCater TrainBoard Member

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    Sounds to me like worn brushes. Those should be easily replaced.
    JOhn
     
  16. SCRS

    SCRS TrainBoard Member

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    25 April 2007

    Bernard. How did your 681 check out?

    Larry @ SCRS
     
  17. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Larry,
    Still not working but now I have to order replacement brushes and see if that does the trick. Also I know I will need a replacement "E" unit, the wheel that holds the contacts has an end sheered off. But boy, that engine is one solid and heavy piece of machinery, unlike my "N scale" you don't want to drop a 681 on your foot.
    What I'm finding interesting is how modeling has changed through the decades, as I see most of the annimated actions on Lionel equipment works by vibration (Cattle cars, baggage depot) or very large magnets (unloading dump cars, uncoupling, milk cars). I hope I can get it working, so far all the other extras (Lumber car, dump car, mail, etc.) seems to work after a good cleaning.
     
  18. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Bernard-

    You'll actually find that new brushes, being longer, compress the spring more. Which actually places greater tension. Better pressure against the commutator.

    By today's standards, the way those trains operate might seem somewhat crude. But the sights, the sounds, will always be precious memories for me. In a way, tinplate/hi-rail trains allowed a much greater use of imagination. Which was perhaps the key to all that fun. Those many years ago.

    :teeth:

    Boxcab E50
     
  19. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

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    Boxcab E50,
    I couldn't agree more with you about great memories with the older trains. I still have my American flyers and everytime I take them out I become a kid again and it reminds me of my Dad, setting them up on the ping-pong table. I don't know what it is, whether you're young or old, there is something magical watching a model train running. (I think it's practically impossible to have a bad memory about being a kid and having a set of trains. Heck, you were the luckest kid on the block!)
    What I find interesting as we get older is how these enginers for Am. flyer and Lionel came up with these ideas and then actually got them to work, it proves that anything is possible. It really is a credit to these craftsmen of yore.
     
  20. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Bernard-

    I believe that the engineers of those marvelous old trains all had a great imagination. Were dreamers. They didn't start out with a business plan, blueprints, measurements, photos, tooling. But created completely from scratch. Which makes the whole thing even more fantastic.

    As much as enjoy today's trains bring enjoyment, there's not the same magic, as what I had in my youth.

    Boxcab E50
     

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