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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
Just bought this Bachmann Williams 4-6-0 steamer and it makes a whining noise in Forward Only.
I figured if it were the armature bearing it would happen in forward and reverse. I have attached a video.

Thanks,
John

 

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Perhaps the flywheel rubbing on something internally? There are only three screws holding the shell on (as described in the manual). If you remove the shell and give the drivetrain a visual inspection, I'm sure the source of the noise would be fairly obvious.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply. I did what you suggested and couldn't see anything interfering with the flywheel. The gear case has a little bit of grease so I thought that was OK. I put a tiny bit of armature lube on the armature bearings. Same noise in forward. I think there is only one gear (is that right)?

I am pretty sure the vendor will end up making me go through Bachmann if I have to return it. They have had an N gauge loco of mine for well over a month. So if I could fix it myself I would prefer that.

John
 

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I'm not 100% positive on how the drivetrain is set up on those and Bachmann's exploded diagram isn't very good. I maintain a couple of them that are used on a small display in a restaurant in the museum I work for, but it's been over a year since I've had one of them apart for maintenance since they didn't run much last year due to Covid. Neither of them has ever made the noise shown in your video.

If you're comfortable doing some minor disassembly, you could probably remove the motor mount screws and separate the motor from the gearbox. Once you do that you can manually spin the motor and see if the noise is there. You can also apply power to the pickup rollers and let the motor run with the drivetrain out of the equation so you can diagnose whether the issue is with the motor or with the drivetrain.
 

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I once bought one of these at the local hobby shop and ended up exchanging it. On one hand, they are nice looking engines. I'm not generally impressed with Williams steam engines of late due to a couple of very real problems. Specific to this engine, the open style gearbox really doesn't hold the gears in alignment well, nor prevent the grease from slopping around and slinging off nor does it keep foreign matter from entering. The sound could be one way because remember, it's a worm gear 90 degrees to the rotation of the rest of the parallel gears, That means one way, the gears push to the right inside the housing, and the other direction is to the left. That can cause the gears to tend to rub against each other and that's exactly what it would sound like. Again, fully, a one directional bind that can occur because the worm gear pushes the next mating gear left or right depending on direction. Yours sounds worse than reasonable. You might be able to shim or prevent the sliding action of that top gear and maybe prevent the bind.

The second I was eluding to was that the larger Williams Berkshire engines (not this engine specifically), between the motor winding chosen and the gearing, they tend to easily overheat the motor and given it was a larger engine, people tended to pull the larger Williams passenger cars that also have a lot of drag even when well lubed. In general I find Williams steam and diesel to draw high amperage compared to any other engine and the same load. Diesels I find we want or have to wire in parallel to run at a higher voltage to light passenger cars and reduce amperage, you cannot do that (wire in series) a single motor steam so they are what they are.

Sorry for being negative about a brand, but I've seen quite a few of these and am not impressed with the mechanics.
Also, the Suethe Smoke generator uses a voltage regulator but a linear one with a big fat heatsink.
554848


On one hand, good, since a conventional engine and variable voltage, the lower voltage regulated smoke unit smokes at low voltages and doesn't burn up the smoke unit at higher voltage like an unregulated unit. The downside is a big fat linear regulator now converting all that energy to heat and risking it's own failure or thermal shutdown.

For the money, I can list a lot better engines new or used IMO.
Better designs, better mechanics, better electronics.
 

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I've been wrong before, but to me that sounds like a drive train issue, not motor. But like I said I've been wrong before.
 

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Sadly, another possible answer as to the "one way" direction of the binding sound is that a worm gear pushes the motor shaft into the motor in one direction and pulls the shaft out of the front of the motor in the other. When they press the worm gear on the motor, if done incorrectly they can damage the motor by pushing the internal small spacing ring in the front of the armature or push the commutator into the armature thus changing the possible end play in the motor. That could allow the armature windings or the commutator to push back and forth from natural alignment, or even the flywheel at the end of the motor could rub from this non-normal shaft endplay.
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Inside, these motors tend to have a larger plastic washer at the commutator that if the motor shaft front spacer is incorrect allowing the armature to slide forwards, this washer could rub against the brushes. Seen below as the white ring on the copper commutator.
554837

Trying to find a picture of the typical brass pressed on shaft spacer on the front side of the armature that when pressing the worm onto the shaft or the flywheel, if that pressing force is on the motor body, then that spacer can get moved on the motor shaft. I've seen that problem on a recent Williams Diesel where the motor shaft had excessive endplay allowing the flywheel to contact the shell when run in one direction as the worm gear transmits a pushing force into the motor resulting in endplay.

The other thing could be the second gear in the drivetrain sliding left and right in the gearbox affected by the worm gear rotation itself.
554839

Again, if that shaft and gear has side to side endplay in the gearbox, then the next gear that interfaces the smaller gear in this cluster could bind slightly against the larger gear interfacing the worm itself at a 90 degree to this shaft.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The vendor will contact me tomorrow regarding the problem. I have a feeling he is going to make me go through Bachmann even though it is brand new. We'll see. If it is any of the problems mentioned here I am not sure tearing a brand new engine apart is first choice. It sounds like the gears might be already stripped just from running to to test it.
I'll let you know and thank you all for the expertise and help.

John
 

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I am not sure tearing a brand new engine apart is first choice.

John
I literally take EVERY engine I buy new or used apart to inspect the wiring, repack the smoke units, oil the smoke motors bearings in every fan driven smoke unit regardless of manufacturer, main motor inspection and lube. Part of model trains is learning mechanics, basic electrical functionality, and in modern engines, modern electronics. Unless you are just loaded with money to pay someone to service every tiny little problem, learning to do this is how you grow in the hobby.

We seem to be on complete opposite sides of the spectrum here.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I literally take EVERY engine I buy new or used apart to inspect the wiring, repack the smoke units, oil the smoke motors bearings in every fan driven smoke unit regardless of manufacturer, main motor inspection and lube. Part of model trains is learning mechanics, basic electrical functionality, and in modern engines, modern electronics. Unless you are just loaded with money to pay someone to service every tiny little problem, learning to do this is how you grow in the hobby.

We seem to be on complete opposite sides of the spectrum here.
I don't think so. What do you do with something you just bought that has a problem? Return it or repair it? I fix my own cars, appliances, most electronics, computers, and I built my own house. I don't even think parts are available for the WBB.
Are you sure you would try to fix it yourself anyway?
John
 

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I don't think so. What do you do with something you just bought that has a problem? Return it or repair it? I fix my own cars, appliances, most electronics, computers, and I built my own house. I don't even think parts are available for the WBB.
Are you sure you would try to fix it yourself anyway?
John
If I really want to own the engine long term, then I assume at some point that I would need to service or repair it.
If I know how it works, I know what might go wrong, I know if here are any warranty defects.

I'm not always going to fix it if it's a true manufacturing defect beyond basic capabilities.
If it's a solder joint or something stupid, a shim needed on a gear cluster, a washer here, tighten the motor mounting screws, yeah, would fix it vs shipping and hoping it comes back fixed to my standards.

Sorry, I'm re reading your original reply. I don't think it's a stripped gear, I think it's a rubbing gear in one direction. What I'm getting at is part of this problem is design, and part of this is manufacturing tolerance defects. The design isn't great IMO that allows enough slop for 2 gears to rub that way. My thought is, if I was stuck with owning that engine, or really wanted to own that engine, I'd investigate a little further before just sending it back like I got a bad one before getting another one or a repair and have the problem again later from the design.
That said, again, if I wanted to own this engine long term, I'd figure out shims, spacers or washers and correct the gearbox to take out this one direction slop that in turn causes gears to misalign and rub.

You are at a crossroads with you, the dealer, and the manufacturer. The dealer should handle it, but probably cannot because they don't have more on the shelf. Williams, is hit or miss sometimes on parts, so again, maybe it's no big deal, maybe you get another or fixed, or maybe this becomes the next nightmare warranty for 6-8 months.

Sorry, I realize my reply was harsh and uncalled for and I misread your reply badly.
 

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I guess what I was really trying to get at is, I had one of these engines, and just from greasing that gear set and the inspection I do on any new engine and it's construction, I decided that just wasn't a design I was happy with. I didn't make any changes or shims, it was simply put back together just like I got it. In saying that, I'm saying I determined that to my standards, the gearbox design as manufactured and assembled, would need me to make modifications and shims/spacers to tighten up tolerances, and further, the open nature is prone to either throwing the grease and eventually running dry, or dirt contamination. I was lucky that I had a good relationship with the dealer, they took it in trade for another completely different engine (more expensive I might add).
Now is kind of a good time to make that decision, is this design a keeper and are you good with a repair or replacement, or is this an engine that will one day later frustrate you. FWIW, you go a reply from another member that also has this type of engine, and didn't yet have this specific noise problem.

You might be stuck in a no exchange situation, forcing you into warranty repair.
I honestly feel for your situation if that is the case.

Again, if it's a keeper, then finding the root cause of the noise, determining if a shim, a spacer, a simple fix can solve it, or if it is in fact just too problematic.

This crossroads you are at:
The dealer takes it and either replaces it or gives you value towards something else. Given the noise and that you haven't run it, I'd think they would be on the hook and want to make it right.
Or
No luck at the dealer, it's now warranty with Bachmann Williams.
Or
You find out the root cause, and make the determination, fix, send off, or decide for something else.

FWIW, I've got an open ticket now with Lionel over a brand new engine myself. It's a problem with the RCMC programming, not a mechanical issue, and I'm not super keen on sending it to them, waiting for months for a fix. Worse, shipping a highly detailed heavy engine, even with good packing is risky.

Do I fix it myself? I cannot reprogram the RCMC without source code, so at best, that's me replacing the board. Second to that, I assume the root cause is their code on this engine, so then even a replacement board unless it's new firmware won't fix it. Lionel hasn't acknowledged the bug in the programming or is it my unique engine?
Do I risk now shipping knowing they may not have a fix for RMA, wait some unknown time, and potentially get the heavy engine back with detail damage caused by shipping even if it solves this electronic problem?

So yes, the fix it yourself VS send it for a fix is and can be a tough decision.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I guess what I was really trying to get at is, I had one of these engines, and just from greasing that gear set and the inspection I do on any new engine and it's construction, I decided that just wasn't a design I was happy with. I didn't make any changes or shims, it was simply put back together just like I got it. I was lucky that I had a good relationship with the dealer, they took it in trade for another completely different engine (more expensive I might add).
Now is kind of a good time to make that decision, is this design a keeper and are you good with a repair or replacement, or is this an engine that will one day later frustrate you.

You might be stuck in a no exchange situation, forcing you into warranty repair.
I honestly feel for your situation if that is the case.

Again, if it's a keeper, then finding the root cause of the noise, determining if a shim, a spacer, a simple fix can solve it, or if it is in fact just too problematic.
My experience with Bachmann is that they replace rather than repair, but you may have to wait a very long time. That said, right now they do have that model on their website, but let me wait until the vendor notifies me before I get ahead of myself. Anyway, thanks for the suggestions. Williams are supposed to be great pullers, especially the diesels.
 

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My experience with Bachmann is that they replace rather than repair, but you may have to wait a very long time. That said, right now they do have that model on their website, but let me wait until the vendor notifies me before I get ahead of myself. Anyway, thanks for the suggestions. Williams are supposed to be great pullers, especially the diesels.
Curious on how this is working out. Just wondering what the dealer said when you sent or linked the video.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Curious on how this is working out. Just wondering what the dealer said when you sent or linked the video.
In addition to the defective steamer, the vendor shipped the wrong Williams diesel. He replied by asking me which model was shipped and I told him. Same day he sent me an email saying it was too late to deal with the issue that day and that he would deal with it on Monday. I also sent him a link to the video on YouTube and told him about the steamer.

Monday came. I never heard from him. I left him a phone message and he never returned my call.
Today (Tuesday), I sent him a reminder of the wrong diesel shipped and the defective steamer and he never returned my email.

Not sure what to do next. Wait another day?

John
 

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In addition to the defective steamer, the vendor shipped the wrong Williams diesel. He replied by asking me which model was shipped and I told him. Same day he sent me an email saying it was too late to deal with the issue that day and that he would deal with it on Monday. I also sent him a link to the video on YouTube and told him about the steamer.

Monday came. I never heard from him. I left him a phone message and he never returned my call.
Today (Tuesday), I sent him a reminder of the wrong diesel shipped and the defective steamer and he never returned my email.

Not sure what to do next. Wait another day?

John
When you think you've given the dealer ample time to respond, whether that's now or in another day or two, then get the credit card company involved. Protest the charge for defective/wrong merchandise. That will get back to him quickly in the form of a hold or reversal of his charge to your card. He'll likely attend to it sooner. The thing is, on both pieces he has to eat shipping twice - the return and replacement - after already paying it once.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
When you think you've given the dealer ample time to respond, whether that's now or in another day or two, then get the credit card company involved. Protest the charge for defective/wrong merchandise. That will get back to him quickly in the form of a hold or reversal of his charge to your card. He'll likely attend to it sooner. The thing is, on both pieces he has to eat shipping twice - the return and replacement - after already paying it once.
Thanks,
It may come to that. They offer "sitewide free shipping" for anything over $50 plus regular coupons along with their heavy advertising. This isn't an unknown little vendor. Kind of surprises me actually. Not my first order either. Maybe they are just busy. I hate not giving people the benefit of the doubt.
John
 

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Thanks,
It may come to that. They offer "sitewide free shipping" for anything over $50 plus regular coupons along with their heavy advertising. This isn't an unknown little vendor. Kind of surprises me actually. Not my first order either. Maybe they are just busy. I hate not giving people the benefit of the doubt.
John
Free shipping for the consumer means the cost of shipping is built into the purchase price. The vendor still pays to ship. You tipped your hand; Vendor "M".
 

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For my money, an MTH engine, even older ones is FAR better mechanically in most cases. Now of course, with anything, there can be exceptions, I worked on a customer one recently that had zinc pest, but that is honestly fairly rare. Oh, you'll hear all the problems, the electronics are bad, PS1 and Ps2 failures (more PS2 5V and people just not knowing what they have) but mechanically, even electronics wise, I'll often take a used PS2 3V over any new Williams even one with True Blast plus. Again, you can now on a regular basis find even some Premier engines, and even if the sound system was dead, a rectifier or simple reverse board would make it run. I just feel I get a whole lot more train on an MTH, higher mechanical quality, much better design, something that with care and maintenance I have little concern even if they go out of business. Enough common models and shear volume out there that robbing parts from other engines can sustain much like K-line still has and is. And that's another good brand, I really like K-line and they can often be had for a fraction of the price.

Yes, when I got back into the hobby, I too heard Williams are great pullers. Couple of club members bragged about pulling massive 50 car trains of all diecast cars. Then I worked on these engines when they failed and showed them what the abuse did- gears literally shaved the teeth right off, wiring smoked from high amperage. They still didn't learn and nearly burned up the club TIU with high current running before we switched to passive wiring not going through the TIU. I've seen one of the club owned Williams Amtrak sets so worn out, the bearings became oval vertically. The cars and engine would then tip over because the axles were so worn out, the car could lean over the tipping point, wheels still on the rail but CG was over the edge and they roll. So on one hand, you say great, it ran so much it actually had worn out. That's one way of looking at it. I've never seen an MTH engine worn to this point yet but I can tell you a pile of Williams that have had serious failures. We replaced the worn out set with a used early MTH engine (DCRU and horn). The difference in running, look and feel, is just there and no denying it. Another recent one was a Williams NW2 that came in, customer states "front motor not running". No, the front motor was running, the truck literally seized the axles so badly from lack of lube the truck was locked solid, and then enough amperage and abuse, that motor then spun the brass drive gear over the knurling of the shaft and just filled the inside of the truck with brass shavings until there was nothing left. Meanwhile that back motor truck was trying to push this dead locked front truck around. Wiring all smoked, but the reverse unit held up. Williams had no trucks to replace this, but we had one of the damaged engines from one of the sets, and we parted that out to facilitate the repair of the customer engine.

Williams is hit and miss with parts availability. A couple of times of a year maybe, they get some parts like motor trucks, motors, and other parts like pilots. A lot of the time, they are sold out and my theory is that's because they failed- and people needed them and bought them up. In other words, you might need parts and you may or may not be able to get them. Granted, that can be said about anything and MTH is not always known for having the part either, but I haven't yet replaced one MTH truck or gear, and in the same time period, fixed a whole lot of Williams.
#2While True Blast Plus is actually very good, it's an $80 sound card. So, when looking at the engine, and knowing what it's made of, I see the $80 sound card, the engine is say $170 well, the money had to go somewhere, and the reverse boards sell for $45-$60, so the entire rest of the engine is $10?? I'm not impressed with older True blast as it's a fixed sequence every time you blow the horn or whistle. Heck, I'll take a true blast out and put a Lionel Signalsounds board in, still only Bell and Whistle/Horn, but more realistic and I like the short toot capability of the Lionel VS Williams.

It's just one of those things, this is just my opinion and experience, but hands on and repairs of seeing lack of quality, bearing slop, high current draw motors, overheating problems, less than ideal gear ratios, not exactly the best lighting or smoke units that are out there, and then again, the cost, I feel I get a lot better for a little more money or equal money in other brands.

More advice though. It's what I call silly season right now. For reasons I don't yet fully get about the cycle, trains sales everywhere picks up around Halloween and Thanskgiving, as it gets colder and people are indoors. Prices and just people listing trains, new sales, new items, the market starts low prices and sales and then ramps up as we get near Christmas. Prices maintain and what is interesting is that covid in general, moved the cycle a bit last year and even this year. People are stuck indoors, older folks are dying and people are selling trains, and the used market in general is commanding some insane high prices IMO. All that to say, right now is not the best time to find a deal. Just my opinion, but prices genuinely are up, and given the cycle, will drop. People are asking insane prices, some people who don't know better buy, but there are also lots of shelf sitting items that get listed week after week, eventually dropping the price. If you can have patience, kind of be on the lookout for what you want, deals can be found and likely what isn't a good deal today can become a good deal in the future if you keep watching. Basically through April and May, the season tapers off at least to my experience and recollection. I think largely due to warmer weather, other hobbies, people being outside. You also get the people moving, cleaning out attics and basements, people dying off, and so yeah, a lot of really good used stuff of much higher quality and value IMO can be had if you know better, know what to look for, and just don't have that urge to buy the first one you see.

I'm not saying Williams are junk engines, they can be good long running machines and people certainly are big followers. I'm now down to 1 Williams engine in my fleet (Virginian FM Trainmaster) that is wired in series and has TMCC Railsounds from a TAS board (Train America Studios) that I got on the cheap. Well, see, that's not fair, I paid the local hobby shop $150+ tax on that engine new, then added, the TAS boards from a box of electronic sets I got on the bay a while back. So realisticaly, time and effort, I've got way more than $200 in that engine and it's got no markers, no smoke, yes, TMCC, Railsounds, just 2 plain lightbulbs that bleed light all over the interior to the headights and number boards clear inserts. It feels cheap, it is cheap, but it cost good money and time when compared to say a K-line TMCC railsounds FM trainmaster, with all kinds of detail, fan driven smoke, etc, for $175 out the door. It's night and day difference between the 2, yet the K-line can be had for less money and you get more in every category. More detail, more function, more value.
I'm just again saying, I bought from the local shop the exact type of Baldwin you are fighting now. I took it home, opened it up to inspect and oil it, decided in about 5 minutes I just wasn't impressed and took it back. Maybe it's the greatest engine ever, maybe you just had a Monday or Friday built engine with a problem, maybe it gets fixed and you love it and run it forever. Maybe you got the deal of a lifetime on it, but I doubt it. Just searching, I think you paid ~$200.
Yes, if you try to buy a new MTH steam, probably looking at $330ish on a brand new PS3.
If you lower that bar, looked at used PS2 3V which granted, you need to do your homework and take whatever engine you are looking at from your favorite seller, go to MTH and look up the manual for that engine, scroll through the PDF manual and 100% confirm under the battery replacement instruction what batter is in there (9V is bad, 2 AA or blue heat shrinked AAA is good).
Heck, my friend who resells on ebay and the local train dealer are buying these Williams sets for about the price you paid for just the engine. They then break up the set, sell the transformer for $90, sell the track, sell the cars, and sell the engine separate.

Sorry, I just have access, details, and first hand experience that I know what wholesale pricing looks like, I know what catalog price is on these and that's insane, so people think they are getting a good deal, maybe even a great deal and maybe they are. We are knee deep into opinion area and what a person holds as most important.

Don't get me wrong, there are some things to like on this Baldwin- looks being one of them. They look good, they are diecast and heavy, the sounds aren't bad, the reverse units are very good.
It's just that after seeing the guts, I said I wanted to keep in the fleet given that I try to run at the club on an over 75x8 foot layout for roughly 4-5 hours at a time. It simply would likely fail in my usage, and for the money, I could do better. Your situation might be different, your opinion and luck could be different.
 
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