Lionel 52 Fire Car Armature Question

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  • Member since
    February, 2010
  • 56 posts
Lionel 52 Fire Car Armature Question
Posted by MickeyDemian on Saturday, April 15, 2017 7:30 AM

Good Morning:

  Picked up a Lionel 52 Fire Car and in trying to clean and lubricate it I noticed that when I manually turn the drive wheels the armature has some vertical play in it.  Initially, looking from the top, I noticed the brushes moved up and down in their holder as I manually changed direction ( forward-backward) of the drive wheels.  I suspect this is due to the worm gear drive apparatus pushing up and down on the worm gearing on the armature shaft naturally as it engages. 

  I noticed on the schematic that a ball bearing is indicated to be inserted at the bottom of the armature shaft.  Is the purpose of this bearing to take up this verical play in this armature shaft?  Does your unit show the same play?  Maybe this is normal?  Since the hole that the shaft is inserted in is full of old hard grease I will clean it out today to check for the presence of this bearing in my unit.  I'm just wondering if I'm chasing a problem here that is not really a functional concern.

  Thank you for your insight and opinion.


  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • 1,754 posts
Posted by cwburfle on Saturday, April 15, 2017 8:39 AM

I don't have a fire car or the diagram in front of me.
If the diagram calls for a bearing ball, then it needs to be there.
When used, the bearing ball acts as a thrust bearing.
It would be unusual for a lower ball bearing to vanish, but it does happen.
Some Lionel motors have a ball bearing at the top of the armature, inserted into the brush plate. This upper bearing often goes missing.

A little up and down play is normal.

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