Lionel whistle tender...more noise than whistle!

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Lionel whistle tender...more noise than whistle!
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, February 17, 2008 10:23 PM

I've got my hands on a postwar lionel engine and tender with the whistle in it. It does whistle but sounds pretty awfull to boot. When the motor kicks on it sounds like things grinding up in there.

Now i've never heard one of these "fresh" from the factory so to speak so i have no idea what its truly supposed to sound like.

I've taken the body off the tender and nothings hitting anything while the armature/fan is spinning. I lightly lubed the bushings and that helped a tiny bit.

  

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Posted by ben10ben on Sunday, February 17, 2008 11:01 PM

Postwar whistles are often, at times, rather cantankerous.

A poor sounding whistle is often the result of a dry bearings, or lack of voltage getting to the whistle motor. It's also quite commonly a combination of the two. 

As you may know, postwar whistles are activated by something called a slugged relay, which will only close when DC voltage is present on the track. When the relay closes, it puts full track voltage to the motor. Sometimes, some sort of problem in the relay will keep the motor from getting full track voltage. If the motor doesn't get full voltage, it won't spin as fast as it needs to, and won't throw enough air into the whistle chamber to make a good whistle sound. 

There are, in general, three causes of this. 

1. Dirty or corroded relay contacts

2. Physically damaged relay contacts not touching each other well

3. Improperly operating transformer whistle controller(common with postwar transformers).

The first problem can be elimated by lightly sanding between the relay contacts with a piece of fine-grit sandpaper. The second can be checked by manually closing the relay with a screwdriver, and then bending the contacts as necessary to get good contact. The third can be checked with a known good tender, or, if you prefer, more quantitatively with a voltmeter set to DC volts. If you go this route, you should see about 3 volts of DC when the whistle control is first pressed, which drops down to about .5 when the control is pressed in all the way. 

The whistle motor is also often a problem. It should be treated like any locomotive motor, which includes proper lubrication and changing the brushes when necessary. I know you mention that you put a drop of oil on the armature bearing. This is good, but may not be quite enough. Since it was likely anticipated that the whistle motor wouldn't get the same sort of care as the locomotive motor, most of these whistle motors had a fairly large oil wick. It may take three or four good-sized drops of oil to fill this back up. I'd suggest trying at least another drop or two in the "v" shaped notch on the brush plate.

Oil will typically fix the coffee grinder sound that some motors make.

Finally, if you're only getting one whistle tone, or even none at all, there's another possibility. Sometimes, a spider or other bug will take up residence inside of the whistle chamber. This, of course, blocks the movement of air, and will make one of the two whistle tones not sound at all or sound very muffled. If this is the problem, the only real solution is trying to blast the booger out with compressed air. If it's a plastic chamber, you could always also try cleaning in warm water, however this may not work. 

Ben TCA 09-63474
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Posted by Jumijo on Monday, February 18, 2008 6:20 AM

A drop or 2 of oil down on the motor shaft will reduce or stop the coffee grinder noise. The spot to oil is way down where the shaft goes through the impeller. Also oil (only one drop) the top of the shaft, up on top of the brushplate. Cleaning the armature and brushes will make the whistle work better and at lower voltages. Follow Ben's suggestions.

Jim 

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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, February 18, 2008 9:59 AM
oil is the key and the place is the lower bushing. it is hard to get oil to it because it is kind of hidden. when you take the motor out of the whistle housing look closely into the motor at the bottom and you will see where the armature goes through the bushing. I use a bent toothpic with the tip bent to apply the oil to the propper spot. if you just try to oil the general area it won't get to the bushing, it will just lube parts that don't need lube.
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Posted by jsonova99 on Sunday, October 02, 2011 6:53 PM

I just bought a 2046, and had a similar problem where the motor is louder than the whistle.  What I did notice though is that when I turn the commutator with the brush plate in place (with or without brushes), it turns freely for about half a turn and the tightens up for the rest of the turn.  I cleaned the whole thing with mineral spirits including the brush plate which I guess is some sort of particle board, is it possible I warped the brush plate or has my motor just had it. Just bought so I don't know what it did prior unfortunately.  Trying to decide whether I should replace the motor or just buy a new brush plate.  Thanks in advance.

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Posted by arkady on Sunday, October 02, 2011 10:22 PM

I'll second those who say that it's important to lubricate both bearings, not just the easily-accessible one.  But there's another possibility here.  I have a 2018 whose whistle was as the OP describes, more grinding racket than whistle sound.  After some experimentation, I finally discovered that the impeller had moved outward on its shaft -- only by a minute amount, but enough to bring it in contact with the whistle housing.  I pressed it back toward the motor (carefully, since it's made of rather brittle plastic), and all was well again.

No idea how it got that way in the first place.

 

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Posted by jsonova99 on Monday, October 03, 2011 6:35 AM

If I remove the brush plate, the commutator spins freely on the lower bushing, and I did manage to oil it with Lionel oil and a toothpick.  The problem I have is putting the brush plate on, even without brushes in place.  It seems like there is a misalignment causing the commutator to bind some when it spins.  Like I said in my last post, if you spin it manually one revolution, a little more than half the turn is free, and the rest is tight.  The problem is definitely in the top bushing.  I'm thinking about just getting a new brush plate to see if it gets any better. When i run as is, it makes a terrible grinding noise.  No signs of rubbing in the whistle box from the impeller.

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Posted by jsonova99 on Monday, October 03, 2011 7:34 AM

If I remove the brush plate, the commutator spins freely on the lower bushing, and I did manage to oil it with Lionel oil and a toothpick.  The problem I have is putting the brush plate on, even without brushes in place.  It seems like there is a misalignment causing the commutator to bind some when it spins.  Like I said in my last post, if you spin it manually one revolution, a little more than half the turn is free, and the rest is tight.  The problem is definitely in the top bushing.  I'm thinking about just getting a new brush plate to see if it gets any better. When i run as is, it makes a terrible grinding noise.  No signs of rubbing in the whistle box from the impeller.

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Monday, October 03, 2011 8:11 AM

The motor & impeller issues have been largely covered... two more things to do to get more "whistle" & less "grinder":

-carefully pull all foreign material out of the impeller - 40+-year-old dog & cat hair, threads, pine needles, etc.

-blow out the chambers with compressed air from a real compressor(canned won't cut it) to cut through spider webbing and debris in the chambers.  Some may come out, but at least if you dislodge it fron the walls & passages, it will fall to the floor of the chamber and restore the whistle sound. 

Try to resist disassembling the motor from the chamber unless as a last resort - the factory seals are still holding up quite well after all this time.

Rob

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Posted by gunrunnerjohn on Monday, October 03, 2011 8:15 AM

Lube and cleaning the commutator and brushes usually fixes them for me. 

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Posted by Train-O on Monday, October 03, 2011 12:51 PM

Ditto to  what has been said to get a smoother, louder and clearer whistle sound.

I tended to five PostWar Lionel tenders and they all sound great, even the ones which did not need too much work.

Don't forget, these babies are LIONEL POST W.W. II units and for the most part they were made to last and take some abuse.

Ralph

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Posted by SpockNard on Saturday, March 31, 2012 8:28 PM

I just obtained a 2426W type whistle- looks exactly the same as the one I see in that tender, sideways mount, metal base. However, it sounds more like a siren when I spin it with compressed air. 

The impeller is white, and the metal base that is riveted on looks newer than the rest of the metals. Anyone come across this issue, and how is the whistle rendered usable again (as a whistle)? Thanks!

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Posted by Stourbridge Lion on Saturday, March 31, 2012 10:38 PM

SpockNard - Welcome to trains.com! Cowboy

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Posted by JTrains on Monday, November 09, 2015 10:00 PM

ben10ben

I know you mention that you put a drop of oil on the armature bearing. This is good, but may not be quite enough. Since it was likely anticipated that the whistle motor wouldn't get the same sort of care as the locomotive motor, most of these whistle motors had a fairly large oil wick. It may take three or four good-sized drops of oil to fill this back up. I'd suggest trying at least another drop or two in the "v" shaped notch on the brush plate.

Coming to this thread rather late, but after tinkering with the whistle in a #125 Whistle Station longer than I'd care to admit, I re-read your post carefully and tried a drop of oil directly on the armature shaft before replacing the plate. Bingo - no more coffee grinder sound. For about 10 seconds, and then it started again. So, I put a big drop on the top of the armature shaft through the plate.  Things got a bit better for about 20 seconds. Another two or three drops over the period of a minute and it started to purr (well, at least as much as these little motors can). After another minute or two a little trace of oil started to emerge under the wick housing.  No more grinder sound at all.

It appears that my attempt to not over-lubricate was a bit misguided - these things have long wicks that take quite a bit of oil to saturate. Appears that my initial efforts at oiling were simply refilling the wick and not lubricating the armature, and this was just not enough to overcome a whistle that probably hadn't had oil applied since the Truman administration. But your "three or four good-sized drops of oil" did the trick.

IT consultant by day, 3rd generation Lionel guy (raising a 3YO 4th generation Lionel Lil' Man) by night in the suburbs of the greatest city in the world - Chicago. Home of the ever-changing Illinois Concretus Ry.

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Posted by servoguy on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 9:53 AM

I recommend you use 5W-20 motor oil.  It is cheap and never dries out.  Don't use most greases, lithium grease, Lionel Lube, 3 in 1 oil, sewing machine oil, light machine oil, etc.  I use motor oil for everything.  

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Posted by cwburfle on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 4:21 AM

Most Lionel whistle motors do not have a metal upper bearing, just a hole in the fiberboard. I use Labelle 106 grease on the upper "bearing" on these motors. I use a toothpick to carefully coat the inside of the hole, and put a little on the armature shaft.
The lower bearing is Oilite. I use a medium weight oil there.

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Posted by OTH-Trains on Friday, December 11, 2015 10:57 AM

Hi - I am new to this board and just read the useful list of suggestions in this discussion.

I can get the whistle to blow well if I 'help' the relais - mechanically that is. It does not have enough force to close the contacts except in a very narrow range of power setting, when pressing the whistle botton. Either on a modern Transformer or one a couple of the old whistle controllers. I remember it working MANY years back, but the train may have been sitting on a track for years before being packed up.

The whistle relais is all cleaned and I wonder what the DC resistance is supposed to be - could it have been burned out? I will check the DC level on the tracks when the controller is pressed, but it is consistent for several controllers

Thanks for any other leads - Wolfgang

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Posted by cwburfle on Friday, December 11, 2015 3:14 PM

Are you trying the whistle tender (relay) all by itself or with a train?
I ask because the Lionel whistle control circuit requires a certain amount of load on the transformer in order for the whistle to blow.
You may simply not have enough load.
Or your transformer might need repair.

Same goes for a stand-alone whistle control.

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Posted by JTrains on Sunday, December 13, 2015 9:40 AM

cwburfle

Are you trying the whistle tender (relay) all by itself or with a train?

Having just rebuilt my first whistle tender a few weeks ago, I second this recommendation. Once I had the whistle motor working correctly outside of the tender (definitely the first step), what I did was connect a "D" cell battery directly to the relay to supply the DC current necessary to actuate the relay and got that working reliably (turned out the contact needed a little cleaning and bending). Once I had that, I reinstalled everything and put it on the track - then (with track power off) connected the battery to the track itself to ensure the relay operated using the tender's wheels and collectors (you should hear it "click").  If these tests both work, you can move ahead with other troubleshooting as necessary.

IT consultant by day, 3rd generation Lionel guy (raising a 3YO 4th generation Lionel Lil' Man) by night in the suburbs of the greatest city in the world - Chicago. Home of the ever-changing Illinois Concretus Ry.

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Posted by JTrains on Sunday, December 13, 2015 9:48 AM

Although I did not try it, I think you can pretty easily use that D battery in place of a whistle controller altogether.  There are instructions for same in "Tips and Tricks for Toy Train Operators", which you can find a page or two of by searching Google with keywords "lionel test whistle d battery".  I think it's essentially what Lionel did in the #147 Whistle Controller, although I've never actually seen one of those. 

IT consultant by day, 3rd generation Lionel guy (raising a 3YO 4th generation Lionel Lil' Man) by night in the suburbs of the greatest city in the world - Chicago. Home of the ever-changing Illinois Concretus Ry.

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Posted by cwburfle on Sunday, December 13, 2015 2:05 PM

Having just rebuilt my first whistle tender a few weeks ago

I've been repairing trains a little longer than that :)

While Lionel did make the 147 whistle controller, which used a "D" cell to operate the whistle/horn relay, today using a "D" battery this way is not recommended.
Today's batteries are made differently than those of the 1960's. According to what I have read, there is a possibility (perhaps remote, but there none the less) of them exploding.

The "Tips and Tricks for Toy Train Operators" must be a rather dated document. I've read old model railroading books that contained recommendations that asbestos be used to make scenery. Would you do that?

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Posted by JTrains on Monday, December 14, 2015 10:53 AM

cwburfle

While Lionel did make the 147 whistle controller, which used a "D" cell to operate the whistle/horn relay, today using a "D" battery this way is not recommended.
Today's batteries are made differently than those of the 1960's. According to what I have read, there is a possibility (perhaps remote, but there none the less) of them exploding.

The "Tips and Tricks for Toy Train Operators" must be a rather dated document. I've read old model railroading books that contained recommendations that asbestos be used to make scenery. Would you do that?

Hehe...I guess I should have added to my post that I hadn't done it myself because...I too am not sure I like the idea of throwing, relatively speaking, that much AC voltage and current through a sealed modern D cell.  The book apparently isn't that old (published in 2000 according to Google).  Perhaps the relative safety of the design is in the fact that one only holds down the whistle button for short periods of time - but that's purely speculative, and perhaps not a great comfort.  It is one way, though, to easily and quickly determine if you've got problems with your whistle controller.

As for using asbestos to construct scenery, at least it was fireproof...

IT consultant by day, 3rd generation Lionel guy (raising a 3YO 4th generation Lionel Lil' Man) by night in the suburbs of the greatest city in the world - Chicago. Home of the ever-changing Illinois Concretus Ry.

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Posted by OTH-Trains on Tuesday, December 15, 2015 5:44 PM

I followed your suggestion to run DC - the relais does close with 1.5V!

The relais' DC resistance is 2.4 Ohm

I did have it on the bench with the Lionel transformer and controller and never checked it on the tracks with the engine, as this is about 200miles from here (work) I will do that next week and report back - I'll have to get it going for the Holidays!

Happy Holidays

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Posted by Lionel1948 on Friday, February 09, 2018 1:47 PM
Hi .. Question.. my 2426WX whistles fine when in nuetral but while the train is running forward its almost non existant .. while moving backwards i have a little better sound.. is there a specific parts breakdown document available so I know exactly WHERE to oil.. i don't really know where all the areas to oil are without it being pointed out.. Thanks so much!
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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Sunday, February 11, 2018 3:57 PM

"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 Tootle on Thursday, February 15, 2018 1:23 PM

Nicely done, Leverett.  Those pics will help out alot of people.

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Posted by Tootle on Thursday, February 15, 2018 1:38 PM

My experience has been that, once you have things oiled and the brushes, wells and commutator cleaned, they generally run well and sound great.  But after you put the shell back on, every little crank or rattle gets amplified within the shell to the point where you ask yourself if this is the same unit you just heard two minutes ago.  Bottom line is, even when they're well maintained you're still going to get some of that coffee grinder sound in the background.

 

Remember, they're toys, not precision machines, and for the technology available when they were designed and manufactured they continue to perform pretty darned well.

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Posted by David1005 on Friday, February 16, 2018 5:57 PM

[quote user="Lionel1948"]Hi .. Question.. my 2426WX whistles fine when in nuetral but while the train is running forward its almost non existant .. while moving backwards i have a little better sound.. is there a specific parts breakdown document available so I know exactly WHERE to oil.. i don't really know where all the areas to oil are without it being pointed out.. Thanks so much!

 

 

Check the wire to the roller for the insulation being hard or the spring above the roller having lost it's tension. Either or both of these problems may prevent the roller from getting good contact on the center rail.  

 

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Posted by ADCX Rob on Friday, February 16, 2018 10:11 PM

Lionel1948
... is there a specific parts breakdown document available so I know exactly WHERE to oil...

Here is a diagram of the motor with the armature removed. Oil both ends of the armature where circled in red. The lower one will require a needle oiler down between two of the three poles of the armature.

Rob

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Posted by David1005 on Saturday, February 17, 2018 3:06 AM

The brush plate shown above, the WS-143, was replaced by a improved brush plate with an Oilite bearing.  I do not know when this change was made.  The improvement was made to try and quite motor noise. The brush plate with the Oilite bearing does not have the felt or felt retainer on it. When the new design brush plate came out, the brush plate shown above was renumbered WS-143X.   On several whistles I have had considerable armature shaft wear where the shaft comes through the brush plate. In one case the armature shaft measured 0.118". It should be 0.125". A 0.007 clearance on a little motor like this is huge and may contributed to motor noise. The brush plate with the Oilite bearing should eliminate this shaft wear.   In the box I have for the WS-143 brush plates, I noticed that there are about twice as many new style plates compaired to the old style, so the new style must not be too hard to find. 

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