American flyer locomotive help

5607 views
24 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • 29 posts
American flyer locomotive help
Posted by SOU_RY_modeler on Saturday, September 24, 2016 10:47 PM

hi, I just got 2 American flyer  steam locomotives at a train show. A 4-4-2 that runs fine and a 4-6-2 that trys to run but won't... It trys to go in forward and reverse but the wheels turn about a 16th of a turn then don't move anymore and the reverse unit just hums and it doesn't go. I was wondering what I will need to do to fix it so it will run again. I'm fairly new to S scale so thanks for any help (both engines were rewired)

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • 286 posts
Posted by teledoc on Sunday, September 25, 2016 7:58 AM

It would help of you stated which loco number you have with regard to the 4-6-2.  From the sounds of it, there could be a problem with binding side rod linkage, which can bind the motor from running.  Without knowing the loco identity, you could possibly remove the linkage temporarily, and see if it will roll the wheels without binding.  If it does, try to run it, without the linkage, to cycle it through Forward-Reverse.  If that works, then you know the linkage is the problem.  It's just a guess at this point.

  • Member since
    November, 2015
  • 3,507 posts
Posted by Sturgeon-Phish on Sunday, September 25, 2016 9:27 AM

American Flyer does not free wheel like Marx or Lionel.  To check for not interference you turn at the armature.  The big one may be DC.  What are the numbers and if present letters under the cab window?

The problem sounds like an issue with the reversing unit.  The drum and pawl often sticks preventing the forward neutral reverse neutral cycle to operate.  Sometimes tapping the tender will jar the reverse unit enough to initiate cycling.  If you take the tender shell off at the rear of the reverse unit is a small lever, cycle this by hand and spray contact cleaner that is compatible with plastic on the reverse unit.  When you manually move the drum with the lever you can see the drum rotate providing contact between the drum copper and the fingers.  If the unit still does not operate and has a detachable plug between the tender and the loco, unplug the tender and put a jumper between the two center contacts and apply power to the two outer contacts.  If the problem is with the tender this will allow the loco to run.

Try these and let us know what you found

 

Jim

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • 29 posts
Posted by SOU_RY_modeler on Sunday, September 25, 2016 11:39 AM
The side rods are fine and don't get in the way... The locomotive number is 283
  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • 130 posts
Posted by irontooth on Sunday, September 25, 2016 1:46 PM

All the suggestions are right on the money. You said that both engines have been rewired, I would check your 283 again to see if it is wired correctly. The problem you described sounds like it could be the reverse as the fellows have said. I would suggest cleaning the unit as stated and I would look very closely at the reverse fingers and see if they are burned thru, tiny pinhole. I found that was the problem on a few of my engines, corrected that and they run fine now.

 

Mike

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 302,230 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:01 PM

It might be dirty wheels or power pickups that need cleaning. This is a common problem for me.

If that doesn't fix it, watch this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaT4osktxOg

I know, it's long, but there are some parts on how to fix motors with a similar problem

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • 29 posts
Posted by SOU_RY_modeler on Sunday, September 25, 2016 10:49 PM
I took the tender apart and re soldered a wire onto the rear truck pickup then put power to it and it ran in the air but when I put it on the track it started having the same problems again
  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • 130 posts
Posted by irontooth on Monday, September 26, 2016 7:05 AM

Well, that is interesting. There are AF people out here that will help you get this problem solved. I have a suggestion. if you have cleaned the metal pickup wheels and the axles and contacts on the tender put the loco on the track and check:

The tender frame is it warped and not allowing the trucks and wheels to set on the track, had one like that and soon as the loco would move one of the tender wheels would lift up and lose contact

Check drawbar and the lenght on the screw that holds it to loco chassis, is drawbar bent or is the screw that hooks to the loco chassis to short, had one that had the wrong screw needed to be longer for free movement of drawbar. when the loco would move forward it would lift up tender just enough to lose contact

 

Mike

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • 29 posts
Posted by SOU_RY_modeler on Monday, September 26, 2016 8:56 AM

i just put new wheels in the tender trucks and that didn't help any... When it's off the track and the locomotive is upside down it runs in forward but not reverse but when it's right side up it runs in reverse but not forward but on track it won't move in either direction. The only part that is warped as far as I can tell is the drawbar and the wheels don't touch the track under the cab

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • 130 posts
Posted by irontooth on Monday, September 26, 2016 11:55 AM

The trailing wheels on the loco should touch the track. I know this being repeated but kindly check the following

Have tender setting on track, loco off track, does the reverse unit cycle thru, forward stop reverse stop forward etc. ?

Have you taken the main rods off the wheels and then rotated the armature by hand left and right to see if there is any binding in the rear drive wheels, the front and middle set should spin freely without the drive rods on. The rear wheel set and smoke gear are driven by the wormgear on the armature, if that is all free wheeling and there is no binding then you are back to the reverse unit and the wiring.

 

Mike

  • Member since
    November, 2015
  • 3,507 posts
Posted by Sturgeon-Phish on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 6:15 AM

283's are one of may favorites!  The reverse unnit does not work properly upside down, when testing the tender have it right side up.  To make a test rig take a piece of straight track and connect your leads to the track then block up the loco so the drive wheels are suspended. 

If I remember the 283's are hard wired between the tender and loco so you need to get the shell off the loco and tender for further troubleshooting. 

I had a rewired engine that gave me fits figuring out what was wrong when it died in curves.  It turned out the wire used between the tender and loco were too stiff and would lift the tender in curves.

Do you have a wiring diagram for the 283?  What is the number of the other loco?

Jim

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • 1,207 posts
Posted by stebbycentral on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 4:39 PM

One other issue that affects these locomotives, and I do not believe has been mentioned, concerns the motor bearings.  If this engine's motor has been disassembled at any time in the past there is a possibility that one or more of the thrust bearings was left off of the armature shaft when it was put back together. As the armature spins the rotation of the worm gear forces the shaft either forward or backward depending upon the direction.  If either one of the thrust bearings has been lost, the armature will bind on the motor housing under load. The most common symptom of this is a locomotive that runs fine in one direction, but runs slowly or not at all in the other direction. Another symptom of a missing rear bearing is scoring on the face of the commutator where it's rubbing against the brush holders.  The thrust bearings are no more than small washers, and there should usually be one on each end of the armature shaft.   Also check the motor brush length and make sure the springs have enough tension to hold the brushes against the commutator, a motor brush shorter than 3/16th of an inch should be replaced.

I have figured out what is wrong with my brain!  On the left side nothing works right, and on the right side there is nothing left!

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • 1,207 posts
Posted by stebbycentral on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 6:23 PM

SOU_RY_modeler

i just put new wheels in the tender trucks and that didn't help any... When it's off the track and the locomotive is upside down it runs in forward but not reverse but when it's right side up it runs in reverse but not forward but on track it won't move in either direction.  

Another little thing I noted, you say you replaced the wheelsets.  If you are used to working on HO locomotives where the tender wheels are one side of the circuit and and the locomotive drivers are the other, you might not be aware that on these older AC locomotives all the power is routed through the tender trucks and the locomotive wheels play no part at all. Which means you have to be careful to preserve polarity when replacing wheelsets. 

According to Tom Barker in his American Flyer Repair Manual: "With the Tender upside down and the front facing away from you, the metal (or pickup) wheels should be on the left side of the front truck and the right side of the rear truck."  If you have all the metal wheels on the same sides of the tender, you have no circuit at all.

I have figured out what is wrong with my brain!  On the left side nothing works right, and on the right side there is nothing left!

  • Member since
    July, 2014
  • 29 posts
Posted by SOU_RY_modeler on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 10:06 PM

When the locomotive is off the track and the tender is right side up I can put power to it and if the locomotive is rightside up it goes in reverse but only about 1/2 speed at most at full power then if the locomotive is upside down it does the same but in forward depending on the way I have the locomotive (right side up or upside down) either forward or reverse binds up but if the locomotive and tender are both on the track both directions bind up and it won't go... But with the reverser in forward or reverse I can gently push the locomotive around the track and it will move no proble... I found the wiring diagram and everything seems correct in the wiring... i have an old 301 that I used to work but now needs rewired...I got a 302 with the 283 and the 302 runs fine so I know my power and track are good

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • 1,207 posts
Posted by stebbycentral on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:03 AM

It even more sounds to me like the issue is in the locomotive, not the tender.  One thing you should know, despite the fact that Flyer trains haven't been manufactured in years, there are people out there who still make a business of repairing these old locomotives.  So that option is not closed to you.  You might want to check into the American Flyer Trains group on Facebook.  They can hook you up with some reputable repair persons (and also steer you away from the few bad ones). 

I have figured out what is wrong with my brain!  On the left side nothing works right, and on the right side there is nothing left!

  • Member since
    December, 2006
  • 1,207 posts
Posted by stebbycentral on Thursday, October 06, 2016 9:59 AM

Here is a recent Facebook announcement that is relevant to this conversation.  From the moderator:

"We would like to invite every member here to join a group that is only a few days old. We already have a panel of experts and several members who can walk you through simple or complex problems or repairs with your AF trains."

I have figured out what is wrong with my brain!  On the left side nothing works right, and on the right side there is nothing left!

  • Member since
    September, 2005
  • 52 posts
Posted by Lloyd2 on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 4:17 PM

Can you recommend any book(s) that describe how to remove the shell/boiler from an AF steam locomotive?  Sorry if this is a dumb question but removing the shell/boiler has me stumped.  Thanks for any help you can give.

  • Member since
    November, 2015
  • 3,507 posts
Posted by Sturgeon-Phish on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 6:58 PM

Separate the tender from the loco

In front of the front driver wheels accessed from the bottom will be two screws, you often need to move the front truck wheels out of the way.

Depending on the drive rod set up remove the drive rods only as needed

Holding the shell in one hand and the motor /chassis assembly in the other, pull up slightly on the shell front.  Then once the front is clear pull the chassis slightly forward because the rear of the chassis slides into a couple of slots.

If the loco is a smoker you will need to remove the smoke tube from the smoke unit before the shell will lift up.  Going in through the smoke stack you will see a small tube with a slotted top, place a screwdriver across the slots and unscrew counter clockwise.

 

Jim

  • Member since
    January, 2013
  • From: Monongahela, PA
  • 287 posts
Posted by RedfireS197 on Friday, October 28, 2016 8:39 AM

I've been following this thread for some time, and I'm suspecting the armature has at least one open pole or burnt windings.  I had a 312 behave the same way before I discovered burnt windings.

What color are the windings on each of the three armature poles? Are any discolored or have an odor to them?

 

Are you able to check the resistance between all combinations of the commutator segments?

Jim

MAH
  • Member since
    March, 2019
  • 10 posts
Posted by MAH on Wednesday, March 06, 2019 8:55 PM

I have an American Flyer 283 with tender. When the tow bar is attached, the tender derails. Remove the tow bar and everything runs fine but I am worried about the solder attachments to the tender breaking. Any suggestions ? Thanks

  • Member since
    November, 2015
  • 3,507 posts
Posted by Sturgeon-Phish on Thursday, March 07, 2019 12:32 PM

I have had situations where the wires between the engine and the tender were shortened or replaced with wire that was too stiff and the tenders would derail.  If when rewired the engine to tender wires are not VERY flexable it will derail.

If the wires are OK check the drawbar.

When the engine and tender is on the track are the front wheel of the tender fully seated on track/flange?  Is the front truck of the tender free to fully move from side to side? 

With the engine and tender connected with the tow bar on a set of curved track and with your hand on the engine, slowly slide the engine/tender combo along the track watching the front wheels on the front truck.  If there is any "floating" the tender will derail.

Did they replace the tender weight?  If the tender is too light it will derail.

Jim

MAH
  • Member since
    March, 2019
  • 10 posts
Posted by MAH on Thursday, March 07, 2019 7:04 PM

Thanks for the info. I will check this out.

  • Member since
    November, 2015
  • 3,507 posts
Posted by Sturgeon-Phish on Saturday, March 09, 2019 3:27 PM

I was working on a 283 and thought of another thing that could cause derailment.  If the screw holding the tender draw bar to the engine is a regular full length screw and not a shouldered screw and the draw bar is too tight against the engine the resistance to side to side movement may cause derailment

Jim

MAH
  • Member since
    March, 2019
  • 10 posts
Posted by MAH on Monday, March 11, 2019 6:49 PM

Looking at the tender I saw that the one rear wheel of the front wheel assemby was not coming into contact with the track. I bent the assembly slightly to make the wheel contact. The engine and tender run fine and without the draw bar. The wiring to the tender is not stiff but it is possible that it is short even though it looks original to the assembly. Attaching the draw bar makes things a little more stiff? I decided to run without the draw bar. Thanks for your suggestions.

  • Member since
    November, 2015
  • 3,507 posts
Posted by Sturgeon-Phish on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 9:49 PM

Chances arethe wiring is original, but shorter where the wires were cut and resoldered.  With the draw bar attached there should be enough slack to allow free movement between the engine and tender.

Jim

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