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Glad you got your RPMs up. Way to go. This shows the difference between a parts changer
and a mechanic. A mechanic fixes things.

I do have an Alco PA diesel with the dual open frame AC motors. Not an AF original locomotive. It is a Lionel/American Flyer locomotive from 1981. Even though it is newer
it still gives me fits. Did I ever tell you I hate open frame AC motors?
Give me a DC can motor any day.
 

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That is indeed a good fix. The brush holders on my engines look completely different. Are they repro's or originals, I have never seen that style. They lend themselves well to the lever arm style fix, which is what you did with the heat shrink.
 

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If the wires going to the brushes are not in the correct position, they will have a negative effect on the brush spring tension. It appears by adding the wedge you increased the spring tension.Also, if the brush plate slots are elongated just a little, that will also have a negative effect.
 
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