There was a feel-good story that was all over the media this past week. A one-time radio announcer with a wonderful deep voice was "rediscovered" after years of living homeless on the streets. Several big media outlets tossed offers his way, and all cleaned up, he was soon announcing the lead-in to the Today Show. A real second-chance story. I hope he lives up to the opportunities and possibilities now presented his way.
What does this have to do with trains? Well, I've just "rediscovered" my own homeless street victim ... a mangy-looking prewar Lionel 1688 streamliner loco. Bruised and abused, but I'm hoping I can clean him up, fix some scars, and offer him a future of renewed opportunities and possibilities.
The 1688 shares a shell that's near identical to the 1668, though with slightly different motor mounts and e-unit slots.
This 1688 shell is pretty trashed. Mostly only paint deep, though. I'm hoping a strip-job with get down to good bones.
Remember (per one of my other threads) that this is an early generation 1688 with a Lionel Jr motor and its e-unit slot further forward on the shell. Later 1688's had a black plastic motor with e-unit slot further back.
The motor is identical to those on my 1681's, with two minor exceptions: the back of the 1688 motor has a bracket that is used for shell mounting, and the light is on a stand-alone bracket that clips to the front of the shell. (The light bracket on the 1681 motor is hard-mounted to the motor cheeks.)
At first glance, I was surprised to see toothpicks jammed into the bottom of the e-unit. Turns out they were holding the bottom contact finger plate, which has one of its tabs broken off. It'll have to be replaced.
The wheels were loose on the axles, and easily removed. The wheels themselves are in good shape (no cracks, chips), and I'm hoping I can super-glue them back tightly onto the axles.
The wiring is shot throughout, and will have to be replaced. I wasn't sure if the motor worked at all, so I cut away the e-unit (bad wiring, anyway), and ran some jumper leads directly to the field and armature. See the pics below. Red wire from center rail to one side of the field coil. Yellow wire from other side of the field coil to the top brush can (going into the armature). The bottom brush can (coming out of the armature) is grounded to the motor frame, so I ran a green wire from the grounded frame to the outer rail of the track. After a quick brush and armature face cleaning, I had the motor spinning like a charm. I was a happy camper ... the field and armature windings are all good.
I also applied power to the e-unit solenoid ... the plunger jumps up OK with power. Good coil there, too.
I'll need to order a bunch of parts: bottom contact plate on the e-unit, new black-fiber contact plate on the bottom of the motor, a lens for the boiler front, and some new red marker lights.
But my first inclination is that this old homeless street victim will get a second chance to have a renewed lease on life. I hope he makes the best of it!