Up In Smoke!

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Up In Smoke!
Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, February 11, 2018 6:51 PM

I'm throwing this out to the gang for any advice anyone has to give.

So yesterday, there I was running my post-war 736 when all of a sudden the train stopped cold, and there was smoke coming out of the locomotive shell where the E-unit lever slot is. The circuit breaker on the transformer tripped as well.  "Oh brother, this ain't good!"  says I.

Today I took the engine assembly out of the shell and placed it on the tracks naked (gasp!) just to see what was happening.  With the E-unit lever in the "off" position the engine runs fine, but in forward only.  With the lever in the "on" position the thin copper winding wires on the E-unit solenoid housing begin to glow like a light bulb filament where they join, and needless to say the circuit breaker trips. "Oh boy, this really ain't good!"

I'm assuming I'm the proud owner of a blown E-unit.  Dang, it's only 65 years old!

The rest of the wiring's good, no breaks, grounds, missing insulation, or any of the usual suspects.

Any ideas anyone?

By the way, today I picked up a used, "as new" MTH N&W Y6b.  Man, am I having fun with that thing!  What a monster!  It weighs as much as an M-1 rifle! So the whole day wasn't a disaster after all.

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Posted by Penny Trains on Sunday, February 11, 2018 6:54 PM

Check for a loose piece of metal that doesn't belong?

Firelock76
By the way, today I picked up a used, "as new" MTH N&W Y6b. Man, am I having fun with that thing! What a monster! It weighs as much as an M-1 rifle! So the whole day wasn't a disaster after all.

Cool!  Congratulations!  Big Smile  I have an M-1, I'll go pick it up to feel the weight!  Smile, Wink & Grin

Big Smile  I'm Cuckoo For Choo Choo Stuffs!  Big Smile

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, February 11, 2018 7:06 PM

Thanks Becky, somehow I knew the Queen was out there looking out for her subjects!

Yes, I inspected the unit and everything looks fine, nothing there that shouldn't be, although I will check it again, probably in a few days.

You've got an M-1?   Watch where you put your thumb!

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Posted by Penny Trains on Sunday, February 11, 2018 7:09 PM

It was my father's.  He was a very early NRA member and he also did shows way back when.  I even have an M-1 look-alike BB gun!  Laugh

Big Smile  I'm Cuckoo For Choo Choo Stuffs!  Big Smile

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, February 11, 2018 7:12 PM

Cool!  The Columbus Ohio Gun Show was one of the great ones, I was there several times back in the 80's.

That said, DON'T let this happen to you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-FLvnQsggU

I'll bet there's a lot of vintage veterans out there who could tell us all about it!

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Posted by Penny Trains on Sunday, February 11, 2018 7:24 PM

I did that once in a car door.  Hmmmm....what are all those little purple things that look like grapes at the top of the door?  Tongue Tied

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Posted by EIS2 on Monday, February 12, 2018 10:03 AM

You have a short circuit in the coil someplace.  You said the coil glows like a lightbulb.  If some of the coils are glowing, but not all, then look at the area between the glowing and non-glowing coils for the short.  If all of the coils are glowing, then the problem is likely internal to the coil and your best bet will be to replace the e-unit.

Earl

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Posted by Firelock76 on Monday, February 12, 2018 3:55 PM

Thanks Earl!  The whole coil doesn't glow, just the soldered junction of two coil wires, you know, the bare copper ones?  If the whole coil was glowing I'd have had a heart attack!

I'll check for any shorts, but as per your supposition I'm suspecting a new E-unit is in order.

Oh well, there's a train meet up the road in a few weeks, maybe the Lionel parts guys will be there. 

Wayne

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Monday, February 12, 2018 5:47 PM

strange...

have you considered detaching the E unit, testing it in isolation, and seeing what behavior you get out of it?

i don’t want to be the annoying person who’s first trouble shoot is “did you try turning it off, and then back on again?”, but sometimes, just, taking things apart, testing individual components, and then putting it all back together, to the best of my abilities, is worth doing. On occasion, *not saying this is the case here* I have discovered things that I did not realize, until my 3rd or 4th attempt at rebuilding/repairing  a troublesome piece of equipment. Things that make me want to smack my forehead, or question my abilities at problem solving. 

Good luck, I’m going to continue to see if I can think of anything that might be wrong, at the moment though, I‘m as stumped as you must be- definitely sounds like some kind of short is occurring, but I’ve never had anything like that on my equipment before.

"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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Posted by Firelock76 on Monday, February 12, 2018 6:28 PM

You're not annoying Leverettrailfan, far from it, I appreciate all the advice I can get, so thanks for the input!  Anything that gets the gremlin out of this thing is appreciated.

I don't know if I'm the first person with a glow in the dark E-unit, but if I am, well, somebody had to be first!

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Posted by rtraincollector on Monday, February 12, 2018 6:35 PM

Your up in smoke is mild to the one I had.

I bought a engine at a auction. SO figured I would test it. IT was a small transformer at first and the engine trid to move, so my thinking back then was well lets hook the ZW up. What I didn't know there was a short in the smoke unit, and when I gave it a jolt of power I first got about a 3" flame, then came the smoke as I shut it off and thought I needed to check my pants lol. But all was fine and the engine moved on once I put a new smoke unit in it. Was a wake up call thou. If engine doesn't want to move check things out first lol. This was about 6 - 8 years ago.

Life's hard, even harder if your stupid  John Wayne

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Posted by Firelock76 on Monday, February 12, 2018 6:40 PM

Wow. I thought I had a wild one! 

If you knew that was coming you could have sold tickets!

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Posted by rtraincollector on Monday, February 12, 2018 7:39 PM

Laugh Laugh

Life's hard, even harder if your stupid  John Wayne

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Posted by Penny Trains on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 7:40 PM

Great Crush train wreck recreated at RT's.  Smile, Wink & Grin

Big Smile  I'm Cuckoo For Choo Choo Stuffs!  Big Smile

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Posted by rtraincollector on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 7:56 PM

Surprise

Life's hard, even harder if your stupid  John Wayne

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Posted by wrmcclellan on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 9:00 PM

FIrelock,

Two things.

Since you said it tripped the breaker, you may have a spot where the varnished magnet wire wore through and is touching the loco chassis. Examine the joint where this is happening and where it is glowing it may be possible to lift the wire and get it off the chassis. 

And you may also have a cold solder joint. Try cleaning off all the old flux & solder, scrape the wires clean, and resolder with fresh solder.

I have had many instances of a bad solder joint (particularly old ones that used acid core solder like in postwar stuff) working for a very long time and then with age/oxidation/corrosion within the joint because the original joint was never clean (and in some cases the varnish on the magnet wire was not completely removed) the joint gets resistive (thus the 'glow' and smoke), and eventually the continuity finally fails.

You may still have to replace the unit if you cannot find the short. If you find the short you may be able to fix it by sliding some electrical tape under the problem area.

Regards, Roy

            

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Posted by Firelock76 on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 9:12 PM

Thanks Mr. McClellan, that solder joint is exactly where the "smoke n' glow" is coming from.  I'll try your suggestion and clean and re-solder the joint. 

Won't be at it until this weekend, but I'll let everyone know if it works, or not.

 

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Posted by wrmcclellan on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 9:18 PM

You are quite welcome. I changed my post - so take a look as I forgot your transformers circuit breaker tripped. Good luck!

Regards, Roy

            

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 6:20 PM

I recall that once, when I was a younger, more inexperienced person, i acquired a postwar track cleaning car. In an attempt to help the motor, which was having issues, I put some conductive track cleaning fluid onto the commutator...    

Now, of course, I am well acquainted with postwar motors now, and I know, that the only thing you should ever apply to the commutator face is alcohol, when you are scrubbing the face clean, but, at This time, I had yet to learn. I put the car under power, and was rewarded with nothing at first, and then ...   smoke! 

I couldn’t get anything out of that poor motor for some time after...

eventually i erraticated the stuff from that poor motor, and thankfully, I’ve learned my lesson for sure!! Never again!

"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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Posted by Firelock76 on Thursday, February 15, 2018 5:41 PM

Don't feel bad Mr. Leverett, I used Hoppe's #9 to clean the commutator plates on my 2018.  Hey, it's great for cleaning guns, why wouldn't it work on Lionel motors?

Folks, don't EVER do that!  When I put it on the track it bucked, groaned, and shrieked like it was having a nervous breakdown!  I almost had a nervous breakdown!

Out came the motor and out came the alcohol.  A good swab-down and it was back to normal.

At least I never put Hoppe's down the stack for more smoke.  I may be stupid at times but I ain't crazy!

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Posted by Penny Trains on Thursday, February 15, 2018 6:13 PM

Go buy a $5 Marx or other junker at a train show and give it a try!  Big Smile  Just be sure to get video posted of the experiment!  LaughDevil

Big Smile  I'm Cuckoo For Choo Choo Stuffs!  Big Smile

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Posted by Firelock76 on Thursday, February 15, 2018 7:01 PM

What, risk turning the "Chugger Barn" into a pile of ash?

I've got too much good stuff in there!  Bad enough if I put more stuff in there it's in serious danger of collapse!

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, February 17, 2018 3:07 PM

Success!  I took a good hard look at the glowing section, and it turns out it wasn't a solder joint gone bad, it was an area where excess coil wire was wrapped around a small post off the fiber top.  Can't figure that one out.

Anyway, I cut away the diseased section of coil wire, the fiber post fell off at the same time, shortened and spliced the wire back together installing a shrink tube around it at the same time.  I also insulated both sides of the coil with electrical tape and insulated the base of the E-unit "just in case."

It worked!  The engine runs just fine now!

Thanks to all for your very helpful suggestions!  I could kiss you!  Well, one of you, the others might get the wrong idea, if you know what I mean!

Another mystery, if it's spelled "s-o-l-d-e-r" why do we pronounce it as "sodder?"  I've wondered about that for years.

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Posted by lionelsoni on Saturday, February 17, 2018 5:55 PM

I am shocked! shocked! to hear that the spelling of the English language is not rational.  I will try to remain cahm, perhaps take a wok.  But how shood we pronounce sol-der?  Maybe we wood be better off not to tok about it.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by Michael6268 on Saturday, February 17, 2018 6:33 PM

Across the pond they pronounce it correctly - sol-der.  We pronounce it incorrectly as sodder...

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Posted by wrmcclellan on Sunday, February 18, 2018 10:23 AM

Firelock - congrats! Glad you got it working again!

Regards, Roy

            

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Posted by lionelsoni on Sunday, February 18, 2018 12:47 PM

Both Americans and British tend to assume that, because English originated in England, any linguistic differences between the Old and New Worlds should be resolved in favor of England.  In fact, American English is more archaic than British English.  The language has changed more in England than in America, and many assumed "Americanisms" are actually "Britishisms".

In the case of "solder", it was pronounced and spelled without the L in Middle English and in the Middle French from which it came.  It was only later, in a time when spelling reform meant making words reflect their origin, that the L was inserted to memorialize the L in the even earlier Latin "solidare".  This etymological spelling, like "arctic", "often", "island", and "comptroller" (many of which were incorrect) did not match and was not meant to change the pronunciation.  But the modern English did start using the "spelling pronunciation", changing to pronouncing the L in "solder", while Americans stayed with the older pronunciation (older unless you go all the way back to the ancient Roman root). 

Bob Nelson

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Posted by Penny Trains on Sunday, February 18, 2018 6:10 PM

Loovenbroy.

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, February 18, 2018 6:15 PM

Bluddy 'ell, that's interesting, matey!

Seriously, I understand what you meant in that post.  In that vein, there's an island in the Chesapeake Bay down here in Virginia called Tangier Island.  The island was settled by some of the first colonists in the 17th Century and amazingly the people living there now still speak a heavily accented Elizabethan English, living kind of a semi-isolated existence as they do. 

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, February 18, 2018 6:18 PM

Penny Trains

Loovenbroy.

 

Ah, that fine German beer us Yanks pronounce as "Lowen-Brow."  Good stuff!

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