Newer Trains, Postwar Motors

2207 views
25 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    February, 2014
  • 94 posts
Newer Trains, Postwar Motors
Posted by Leverettrailfan on Monday, April 02, 2018 9:30 PM

So, I’m a big fan of the postwar era trains, not as big on the modern stuff, with DC can motors. I like classic open frame motors, like the ‘Pullmor’ motors used in the classic Lionel diesels. So, I was wondering, newer trains, ones that have can motors, can they be converted to take a vintage motor. I’m specifically considering trains that are remakes of postwar trains, like Berkshires, and F3s and so forth. I would like to know, if it’s at all possible, which trains, and from which manufacturers. I doubt it is th case, as they probably changed the way the gearing works. I know that some trains have can motors in the trucks, obviously these would not be possible to re-motorize, unless maybe you swapped out the trucks for postwar ones.

 

I could care less about sound systems, a growling motor is my favorite sound system (being old fashioned, eh?) so essentially I just want to know how one might be able to convert a modern loco into a piece of equipment that operates like a pw loco, with vintage motors.

 

I am aware they still make trains with Pullmors. But not all trains have them, and I was just curious if a motor swap were possible, if snyone has attempted to ‘convert’, and anything of that sort. The Williams frames, at least some of them (Baldwin Shark, ALCo) look like they could lend themselves well to postwar motorized trucks, if one so desired. But the gearing itself, is all a mystery to me! my assumption is all can motored trains being made these days, have too many design changes to make this foolish dream possible, but hey, never kills to ask a question, now does it?

"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, 2003
  • 1,786 posts
Posted by cwburfle on Tuesday, April 03, 2018 4:20 AM

I am under the impression that Lionel does not make any locomotives with Pullmore motors any longer.
Cannot help you with refitting can motored engines with Pullmore motors.

  • Member since
    February, 2014
  • 94 posts
Posted by Leverettrailfan on Tuesday, April 03, 2018 7:27 AM

Thanks for the correction- I’m not super-duper up-to-date on the toy train industry, forgive the error.

"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, 2003
  • 1,786 posts
Posted by cwburfle on Tuesday, April 03, 2018 8:02 AM

Leverettrailfan

Thanks for the correction- I’m not super-duper up-to-date on the toy train industry, forgive the error.

 

Nothing to forgive.
I thought you'd like to know.
I also prefer pullmore motors.
For me, it's electromechanical E-units too.
No interest in any of the electronic features.

I stick to buying older stuff, 1993-94 or older.

 

KRM
  • Member since
    January, 2011
  • From: North Bluff above Marseilles IL
  • 5,405 posts
Posted by KRM on Tuesday, April 03, 2018 2:06 PM

I am not sure about today, I don't think they do, but in 2014 they still had pullmor motors in their ALCOs

 I love the set I have and a nice sounding horn to!

http://www.lionel.com/products/2031-rock-island-alco-aa-diesels-2031-6-38371

 

Joined 1-21-2011    TCA 13-68614

Kev, From The North Bluff Above Marseilles IL. Whistling

 

  • Member since
    February, 2014
  • 94 posts
Posted by Leverettrailfan on Tuesday, April 03, 2018 2:50 PM

cwburfle
 

I also prefer pullmore motors.
For me, it's electromechanical E-units too.
No interest in any of the electronic features.

You read me well! I am the same, all I need is a pullmor as far as the sound system is concerned. I just enjoy the postwar workings so much more... and possibly even better, they are very easy to service. The fancy electronics make things much harder for one to learn how to repair, and there’s more things to go wrong. They may work well, but, they just don’t give you the same experience.

my favorite motors are perhaps the ones for the early F3s, the horizontal motors. Those powerhouses really growl!

"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
    March, 2013
  • 412 posts
Posted by BigAl 956 on Friday, April 06, 2018 4:25 PM

Leverettrailfan
I was wondering, newer trains, ones that have can motors, can they be converted to take a vintage motor.

Probably not. The 'can' type motor uses a different electronics system and the mounting is completely different.

  • Member since
    April, 2005
  • From: South Carolina
  • 9,387 posts
Posted by rtraincollector on Friday, April 06, 2018 10:02 PM

If you want a modern engine but pul-mor motor find say a s-2 modern and a beat up post war and swap shells. Yes you will have to do some kit bashing but you can have a pul-mor motor in a modern engine. 

I believe all the rest MTH,Williams, etc all had can motors from the begining.

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

http://rtssite.shutterfly.com/

  • Member since
    August, 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,867 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, April 07, 2018 11:21 AM

Mr. L, I "kinda-maybe-sorta" did what you're looking to do.

I've got a recent production Lionel U34CH who's truck gears stripped.  Plastic gears mating with metal spurs.  I would have thought those who designed the thing would have realized mating gears should be of analogous materials or one's going to wear out the other sooner or later, but what are you gonna do?

Anyway, instead of ordering a lifetime supply of replacement gears I found a 70's production U34CH at a darn good price and swapped the shells.  Just a little modification to the 70's frame and it slipped right on. 

So there I am, Pullmor motor, old style E-Unit, no more problems.  I also installed a Williams diesel sound unit because I wanted a horn.  Installing that was a snap too.

I don't know if you can get away with this on all Lionel products but it worked for me this time.

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • 1,786 posts
Posted by cwburfle on Sunday, April 08, 2018 7:22 AM

Regarding gear materials: I thought folks might find this quote interesting:

Bronze Worm Gears
When a worm and worm gear run together, the
high amount of sliding friction tends to make the
surfaces stick together and gall each other. This
is especially true if the material of the worm and
gear are the same. For this reason a worm should
always be made of different material than the
worm gear.

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • 1,786 posts
Posted by cwburfle on Sunday, April 08, 2018 7:25 AM

I stick to buying older stuff, 1993-94 or older.


To clarify this comment:


In 1994 they were still using Postwar style motors. I am not certain whether any engines had mechanical e-units. 
In 1993 mechanical e-units were available in some engines, along with Postwar style motors.

  • Member since
    August, 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,867 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, April 08, 2018 9:12 AM

cwburfle

Regarding gear materials: I thought folks might find this quote interesting:

Bronze Worm Gears
When a worm and worm gear run together, the
high amount of sliding friction tends to make the
surfaces stick together and gall each other. This
is especially true if the material of the worm and
gear are the same. For this reason a worm should
always be made of different material than the
worm gear.

 

I don't know about that, it goes counter to all my experiences in the copier repair field in the past thirty years, and trust me, there's more going on in those boxes than most people can possibly imagine.

Many of the machines have metal gears mating with plastic gears, (I'm including worm gears) and those plastic gears always die at some point, some sooner than others depending on how good the grade of plastic is.  Good lubrication will forstall the process, but trust me, it always happens at some point. 

The longest lived are always metal to metal and plastic to plastic. 

Not trying to start an argument here, just stating what I've seen. 

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • 1,786 posts
Posted by cwburfle on Sunday, April 08, 2018 9:54 AM

Not trying to start an argument here, just stating what I've seen.

I don't see any arguement. :)

Could the idea be that the worm wheel (gear) is easier to replace than the worm, so it is designed to fail first?

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Austin, TX
  • 9,775 posts
Posted by lionelsoni on Sunday, April 08, 2018 11:12 AM

The polar axis of the 107-inch telescope at McDonald Observatory has a worm drive, with an absolute shaft encoder on the worm.  This required great accuracy in the worm drive to be able to position the telescope in right ascension.  Unfortunately, the wrong lubricant was used initially, resulting in galling that damaged the drive beyond repair.  The workaround was to smooth out the worm and worm wheel, but the pointing precision was lost.  The worm still moves the telescope, but the drive now uses an incremental encoder rolling on the rim of the worm wheel to regulate the tracking speed.  It supplies no absolute position information.

Bob Nelson

  • Member since
    August, 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,867 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, April 08, 2018 11:13 AM

cwburfle

Not trying to start an argument here, just stating what I've seen.

I don't see any arguement. :)

Could the idea be that the worm wheel (gear) is easier to replace than the worm, so it is designed to fail first?

 

Possibly.  Myself, I think it's just a cost-cutting move, i.e. using a cheaper, easier to make plastic part than a more durable metal part. 

Look at the classic post-war Lionels, no plastic gears in those things brother, they were built to last!   Certainly there was a cost passed on to the consumer, but as the saying goes, "You get what you pay for."

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Austin, TX
  • 9,775 posts
Posted by lionelsoni on Sunday, April 08, 2018 11:38 AM

I wouldn't hope to replace a can motor with a universal motor because of the mechanical problems, but I have replaced electronic e-units with Lionel mechanical ones in my MTH Big Boy and gas turbine.  I also put an American Flyer reversing unit in my ETS switcher that I converted from 2-rail DC to 3-rail AC.  Those transplants are quite easy to do. 

Bob Nelson

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • 1,786 posts
Posted by cwburfle on Sunday, April 08, 2018 1:22 PM

Look at the classic post-war Lionels, no plastic gears in those things brother, they were built to last!   Certainly there was a cost passed on to the consumer, but as the saying goes, "You get what you pay for."

Lionel tried a nylon idler gear in the horizontal F3 motor drive train. They wrote that it was used in an attempt to make the locos run quieter.

  • Member since
    August, 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,867 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, April 08, 2018 3:10 PM

Did it work?  Nylon certainly can be a bit tougher than the plastics they had in the post-war era, but not having a post-war F3 I'd be curious to know what the outcome was.

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Austin, TX
  • 9,775 posts
Posted by lionelsoni on Sunday, April 08, 2018 5:16 PM

"Lionel attempted to make the F-3s run quieter in 1954 by installing a nylon idler gear.  It helped a little but the motor was still somewhat noisy."  Tom McComas & James Tuohy, Lionel A Collector's Guide & History, Volume II:  Postwar, 1976, p. 12

Nylon was invented shortly before the war and used extensively for parachutes during the war.  Nylon gears would have been readily available to Lionel in 1954.

Bob Nelson

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • 1,786 posts
Posted by cwburfle on Sunday, April 08, 2018 5:27 PM

Firelock76

Did it work?  Nylon certainly can be a bit tougher than the plastics they had in the post-war era, but not having a post-war F3 I'd be curious to know what the outcome was.

 

I don't recall having to replace a nylon gear.
Those horizonal motor / truck assemblies are fairly noisy. Don't know whether the nylon gears actually made a difference.

Maybe someone who has worked on more of them than I can comment.

  • Member since
    November, 2012
  • 655 posts
Posted by emdmike on Sunday, April 08, 2018 7:54 PM

I have seen stripped nylon gears in MPC era Alco FA's and EMD GP9's.  Usually due to overloading with to much train. I bought a prewar PRR B6 as the reissue has a failure prone plastic axle gear that is known to split.  I also prefer older AC motored Lionels, metal spur gears, hot oil and ozone.  Cant beat that combintion.  The growl of a pair of 2333/2343 F3's in good tune is the sound of raw toy train horsepower.  Same goes for the sounds and smells of the spur gear drive of a 675, or the pul-mor motor growl in a Turbine or Berkshire.  Each has thier own sounds.  And that, combined with the smells is the mental time machine that takes so many of us back to our childhood.  That is the true magic!

Mike the Aspie

Silly NT's, I have Asperger's Syndrome

  • Member since
    November, 2011
  • 529 posts
Posted by Postwar Paul on Sunday, April 08, 2018 8:28 PM

Gears. 

Now, there is a topic for lively debate.

There have actually been some designs were a weaker gear has been designed to fail when the load is too great. The " mechanical fuse". 

Never good in model train uses.

Paul

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • 1,786 posts
Posted by cwburfle on Monday, April 09, 2018 4:16 AM

I have seen stripped nylon gears in MPC era Alco FA's and EMD GP9's

I was referring specifically to the nylon gear the real Lionel Corp used in their horizontal motors.
Not modern era plastic gears.

  • Member since
    February, 2014
  • 94 posts
Posted by Leverettrailfan on Monday, April 09, 2018 8:23 PM

Wow, on hiatus for a while, and everyone’s all about gears!

thanks so much all, comfirms my suspicions:

-locomotives made without Pullmors, cannot be retrofitted or modded to have them, short of essentially ‘swapping shells’.

-Mechanical reverse units can be fitted to some modern locmotives (perhaps not so much those ones with the fancy wireless command control dohickeys)

-The gearing was completely redesigned for can motor instalation (vs. a pullmor)

once again, thanks to you all!

Now, if I might put in my 2 cents’ worth on this whole gear debocle..

Nylon gearing was used in part of the 282 gantry crane’s mechanism. There are two metal worms(either brass or bronze) each driving a nylon gear. As far as I can tell, all the parts on my crane are original, and the gearing seems to work just fine. So my thinking, would be that nylon gearing + metal gearing can work well, and can work poorly, it depends upon the application, and the design. If the application involves a lot of wear and tear, the mechanism should be designed to withstand it well. My guess is that the broken gears on these MPC trains, has to do with them being made within a certain budget, and thus, simply required to preform well under a certain level of use. So they probably do last, but, only for so long. And they are only able to take so much wear and tear, so they might not hold up as well to heavier usage, unlike the postwar equipment, which is usually tremendously overbuilt.

that’s my thoughts, certainly an interesting subject. I personally do preffer the idea of metal gearing, but there’s nothing inherrantly wrong with plastic gears, and they can be somewhat self lubricating, so apart from durability, there’s not much that metal holds above the nylon. And for MPC’s market, plastic gears would help make their trains cheaper, and thus, more affordable, which would mean more sales. 

"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
    August, 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,867 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, April 14, 2018 6:07 PM

Continuing with the gear discussion...

I eyeballed my collection out in the "Chugger Barn" today just to look at the gears and what they're made of.

MTH, all metal gears.

Williams, all metal gears.

Even my Lionel 1986 Trainmaster, all metal gears.

So what's that tell you?  Draw your own conclusions.

Oh, I've got some RMT "Beeps," but the drive trains are hidden, and I ain't about to strip 'em down to find out what's in there!  I am oh-so-chicken sometimes!

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • 1,786 posts
Posted by cwburfle on Sunday, April 15, 2018 4:40 AM

Modern era Lionel used plastic gears right from the beginning in their redesigned Alco/switcher motors. If I recall correctly, they also used plastic gears in smaller steam engines. Not certain about their larger steam engines, such as the 8206.

Apparently the worm wheel on the 18000 semi-scale switcher is made of Nylon. (I haven't had one apart)

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Get the Classic Toy Trains newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a month