Lionel 38 electric, jammed drivers

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Lionel 38 electric, jammed drivers
Posted by Leverettrailfan on Thursday, April 06, 2017 4:51 PM

Just bought a prewar#38, a bit beat up and a lot of paint loss, but the motor runs, issue is the wheels jam when the drive rods are attatched, and she can't even move anywhere with just one set of wheels even if I was willing to settle for that. Plus the non-geared wheels which were spinning good have stopped spinning freely from me trying (without luck) to get the wheels off. The drive rods did not seem to be out of alignment, the wheels had the correct 90 degree difference, but the engine just wouldn't run proper. The rear axle is slightly bent I think, I see a bit of wobble in it. Also the rear wheels seem to slightly graze the front ones in part of the turn, I haven't been able to eradicate this either (trying to straighten the wheels). I have no wheel-pulling tools available, and I cannot purchase any, at least not at this time, as I can't afford it. I payed just a tad over $100 on the engine, and I'm very disappointed that it has an issue I can't seem to fix.

I cannot seem to upload a photo from my device to use in this post, so darn it no photos, very frustrating :(

"If it don't work, then gosh darn it, get a' fixin!"

Can I fix trains? Mostly. How long have I been doing it? Took me years to get much success beyond the "taking it apart" step. Where am I at now? Well, does she run?

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  • From: Austin, TX
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Posted by lionelsoni on Thursday, April 06, 2017 6:00 PM

It is not important that the wheel cranks be exactly 90 degrees apart, or even very close to that.  It is important that the angle, whatever it is, be the same on both wheelsets.

You may be able to get the wheel off by putting a screwdriver tip bethind the wheel, between the hub (not the rim) and the wheel bearing, and twisting.  If it doesn't come off easily, you may be able to drive the axle out with a pin punch while applying moderate force with the twisted screwdriver and your third hand.  (You can probably make a suitable punch from a nail slightly smaller than the axle diameter if you don't already have one.)

I imagine that your wheels are made of zinc, which is subject to swelling up (and eventually disintegrating), due to having the tiniest amount of lead as an impurity.  The change in a crank radius in the early stages of this "zinc pest" might explain an inability to quarter the wheels.

 

Bob Nelson

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Posted by teledoc on Thursday, April 06, 2017 6:52 PM

Many people think that a Lionel wheel puller has to be used, to remove old wheels from early prewar locos, such as your #38.  Olsen's Toy Train Parts lists a wheel puller, that is nothing more than a (Plumbing tool) Faucet puller.  It can be purchased from Hoome Depot, and probably Lowes at the same price for under $10. It will take a little filing of the bottom claw, so that it will slide under the wheel.  I have one, and it works without any problems, and the pin, is the correct size to seat onto the axle.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Faucet-Handle-Compression-Sleeve-Puller-HDX168/204218643

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Thursday, April 06, 2017 7:15 PM

I have a few things in response to your comment:

 

lionelsoni

It is not important that the wheel cranks be exactly 90 degrees apart, or even very close to that.  It is important that the angle, whatever it is, be the same on both wheelsets.

You may be able to get the wheel off by putting a screwdriver tip bethind the wheel, between the hub (not the rim) and the wheel bearing, and twisting.  If it doesn't come off easily, you may be able to drive the axle out with a pin punch while applying moderate force with the twisted screwdriver and your third hand.  (You can probably make a suitable punch from a nail slightly smaller than the axle diameter if you don't already have one.)

I imagine that your wheels are made of zinc, which is subject to swelling up (and eventually disintegrating), due to having the tiniest amount of lead as an impurity.  The change in a crank radius in the early stages of this "zinc pest" might explain an inability to quarter the wheels.

 

 

 

The wheels are definitely steel or cast iron, there is a tad bit of rust on one's tread. Nothing serious, but a dead giveaway. The wheels are a slight bit wobbly, but not so much that it would make sense to cause an issue so great. I may be able to find something to punch out the axle, not sure. Imanaged to loosen the wheels, it seems that one wheel will budge along the axle if I use the help of a hammer and a screwdriver to coax it along a bit, but it isn't easy, and the other wheel doesn't seem to have any plans of cooperating any more than it is. Still very clueless, but this is narrowing things down.

"If it don't work, then gosh darn it, get a' fixin!"

Can I fix trains? Mostly. How long have I been doing it? Took me years to get much success beyond the "taking it apart" step. Where am I at now? Well, does she run?

  • Member since
    February, 2014
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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Thursday, April 06, 2017 7:16 PM

teledoc

Many people think that a Lionel wheel puller has to be used, to remove old wheels from early prewar locos, such as your #38.  Olsen's Toy Train Parts lists a wheel puller, that is nothing more than a (Plumbing tool) Faucet puller.  It can be purchased from Hoome Depot, and probably Lowes at the same price for under $10. It will take a little filing of the bottom claw, so that it will slide under the wheel.  I have one, and it works without any problems, and the pin, is the correct size to seat onto the axle.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Faucet-Handle-Compression-Sleeve-Puller-HDX168/204218643

 

I'll look in to purchasing one of those tools, sounds pretty darn useful.

"If it don't work, then gosh darn it, get a' fixin!"

Can I fix trains? Mostly. How long have I been doing it? Took me years to get much success beyond the "taking it apart" step. Where am I at now? Well, does she run?

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • 224 posts
Posted by teledoc on Friday, April 07, 2017 1:30 AM

That tool is exactly what Olsen's sells as a wheel puller, and I found out that it was nothing more than a faucet puller, and was under $11 at the HD and Lowes.  The part that would slide under the wheel, needs to be filed down to fit under the wheel, otherwise it is too fat or snug to slide under the wheel easily.  The pin is the perfect size to fit inside the wheel, and push through the wheel.  Well worth the investment for pulling wheels.

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Friday, April 07, 2017 10:12 AM

Okay, well, I have inspected the locomotive more, and here are some further findings: The drive rods have a slight bit of play, one of the rear wheels is pretty darn wobbly. My personal theory, based off of all that seems to be going on, is that someow the wobbly wheel got bent, and perhaps the axle is a bit bent too, at any rate, I need to find a way to streighten it out. Pulling the wheel sounds like one of the best courses of action, so I think I'll try to shoot for that.

"If it don't work, then gosh darn it, get a' fixin!"

Can I fix trains? Mostly. How long have I been doing it? Took me years to get much success beyond the "taking it apart" step. Where am I at now? Well, does she run?

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • 224 posts
Posted by teledoc on Friday, April 07, 2017 6:58 PM

From your observations, suspecting a bent axle, you definitely need to pull the wheels off.  The damage may be a little worse than you expect also.  It is a lost cause trying to straighten out a bent axle, and better to just replace the suspect axles.  I am not completely up to snuff on Standard locos.  I would pull the wheels, and replace the axles with part SM-38 axles.  The axle bushings, in the side of the motor, may also be worn, which caused the axle to bend, and wobble.  They may need to also be replaced with part SL-90.  I would do a close inspection of the mentioned areas, after the wheels have been taken off, and then decide what needs to be replaced.

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 4:49 PM

Well, I actually found two things to be the matter, however I haven't the tools for wheel pulling. The first issue was that the drive rods had worn out bearings. I have since replaced these old drive rods with a set of simple brass ones that I made myself. The second is that the non-geared axle doesn't have a proper bearing- just a hole through the frame, which isn't the same exact size as the axle. The way that the pieces of the frame fit together, there is too much play in the axle. Adding some kind of a bearing will be a priority for me, if I do ever pull the wheels. For a video of the train in operation, follow this link-

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=x2KA-spi1ek

"If it don't work, then gosh darn it, get a' fixin!"

Can I fix trains? Mostly. How long have I been doing it? Took me years to get much success beyond the "taking it apart" step. Where am I at now? Well, does she run?

  • Member since
    July, 2017
  • 1 posts
Posted by TinplateNewYork on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 12:30 AM
I have some experience with prewar Lionel #38 and #42 locos. FYI: The #38 does not have bearings in the frame. And for a reason... The axle holes in the wheels are not perfectly centered and so the axle needs to float somewhat in the frame. Also the drive rods should have play. The machining on the early Lionel locos is not perfect and so the frame was designed to allow for the play. A gear puller will pull the wheel off the axle, but be warned not to use too much force. The wheels are cast iron and so brittle. If you use too much force you may shatter the spokes trying to remove the wheel. Sounds like you may have a bent axle. Pulling and pressing back wheels can be a chore to align properly. You'll need to make up some kind of a press with a large vice. Getting wheels pressed back on straight and true can be tough. And yes, they wheel do need to be properly "quartered" at 90* like any locomotive. Olsens should have the axle. Good luck.
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Posted by lionelsoni on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 9:31 AM

"And yes, they wheel do need to be properly 'quartered' at 90* like any locomotive."

The wheel cranks of a two-cylinder prototype steam locomotive should be 90 degrees apart for smooth running; a three-cylinder locomotive needs 60 degrees.  But, for a model locomotive, where the only function of the side rods is to transfer power from a driven axle to an un-driven axle, any angle within 10 or 15 degrees of 90 should work.  On a model all of whose wheels are gear driven (which is not the case here), the angle can be anything.  The Lionel "General" locomotives have the cranks aligned (no quartering at all), so that they can drive the piston for the smoke pump.

As I noted above, it is always important that the angle, whatever it is, be the same on all driver wheelsets.

Most American locomotives were built with the right side leading the left side.  The Pennsylvania Railroad, the "Standard Railroad of the World", did it the other way.  However, since it is difficult without a mirror to see both sides of a locomotive at the same time, no one is ever likely to notice cranks at an unprotypical angle.  Nevertheless, when I had the wheels off one of my 773s, I corrected Lionel's mistake, which was a very wrong thing to do to a NYC locomotive.

Bob Nelson

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