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Life Support Lionel 520

24877 Views 63 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  T-Man
This is about checking an engine to get it running. I purchased two today one without a shell Package deal. Both old and dirty. Engine one ran an inch. Two was quiet. Both are running now. I took pictures and will describe how I administered life support. I cleaned the motor and e unit. A fun time.

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The shell came off with one screw and I washed it with liquid soap and a plastic nail brush easy on the lettering. I had some oil spots on the inside and cleaned them with a Q tip and paint thinner. Both frames have rust spots so I will clean them up with a wire brush and dremel wheel and sandpaper. Then I will prime and paint.

Red Automotive exterior Bumper Automotive lighting Vehicle door

engine two shown. The e unit s to the right. You can see the windings and the arm. I removed the backside to the motor and cleaned the gear and area with thinner. used Lithium grease for lubricant. I then cleaned the wheels of rust and cleaned hte center rollers. THe wheels spun easily for cleaning with the gear removed. Wire wheel on the dremel did the trick ,a little 400 grit sandpaper helped too. The gear was put back on.

Bumper Auto part Family car

A good underside picture. The left coupler is missing. The right is there.

Vehicle Bumper Car Auto part
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The frame came off with one special nut . With a 5/16 nut driver I removed the brushplate.

Bumper Automotive exterior Technology Vehicle Family car

And saw this: dirt and the armature.

Auto part Metal Rust Machine

The whole armature came out making it easy to clean the surface
One side is original, one cleaned with and eraser and one cleaned with sandpaper.
yes the divit had to go, more sandpaper.

Tool accessory

Q tip and thinner was used to remove the scum from the brushplate and motor area.
The top of the armature has the contact for the three windings. The copper surface (commutator)has grooves caused by the contact brushes. An eraser will clean it up but to get the grooves fine sandpaper 400 grit will do the trick.
Auto part Rust Metal
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The e unit can be the trickiest. This is engine 2. One screw on the side and you can remove it. At this time I look inside the motor at the axles and remove any built up lint. This picture shows the drum contact. six fingers touch this to reverse the motor. I used the Q tip with thinner to clean and used a pencil eraser to clean up the copper. I had black spots so I had to make sure I removed it all. The fingers were staight and I left them alone. Use the metal claw to rotate the drum for cleaning.

Ths is engine one. Still dirty it worked.

Auto part

A simple cleaning and both engines worked. Engine one has an issue with the e unit lever more on that later.
The frames need painting too. Hope you enjoyed this I did.:)
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Repro are available. Rare to have the original.
How about anti aircraft?
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The prototype was made by GE and the car pulled ore cars in Chile.
The car didn't come lighted.

Painted today. Sanded rust and used the Q tip and thinner to clean it.


I went with a satin black and aluminum. Heat gun helps in this weather.:D


The rust spots showed on the aluminum. Black hides well.
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The engines are done for now. I need some parts. They both operate fine.

Scale model Vehicle Transport Train Locomotive

This is by no means a closed thread. Comments please. I covered a few recovery tips here.Some apply to motors in general. To date I have not been disappointed in purchasing used Lionel. I enjoy the repairing.
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The prototype was made by GE and the engine pulled ore cars in Chile.
The car didn't come lighted. Directional lights with AC . My repro pantograh keeps popping off.

John, yours looks to be in great shape. I find it a fun little engine.
It would of been a good candidate for bluing.

So TJ, is it a prototype. One may have been in service in NY on the docks.

The information was supplied buy D. Smith of CTT Forum


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My grandfather was a partner in a bus line. Not much interest in trains. Of course trolleys were popular then too.

This thread has a lot of general practice tips applicable to all engines, so you picked a good one to read.
I have two tabs on the other end, one screw.
I will say this motor does resemble a steam engine and it is one of the better threads to follow to clean up an old engine and check it to get it running. The skills here can be applied to all the electric motors and E units.

These motors are easy since they run without shells.
First I strip the shell and rods if bolted on. I remove gease. I clean and lube the armature and brush holder. Then with a jumper I bench test the motor. Then I clean the e unit. I clean the wheels up and track test it. I determine how the drum works. On the track the axles normally squeak and need oil too. On a good day twenty minutes, if I have no problems. Stuck screws are the worst problem and when working on an engine for the first time. If the screw head gets damaged and it does not turn you need to think about te fact that "Do you really need it removed?" I removed one from a side gear plate on a 1666 motor. I used a torch and got lucky. So on assembly use oil and don't overtighten. If the engine has rod nuts check them after running. They are not easy to find on a table. I just found one I lost over a year ago.:)
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I looked at mine and noticed a tab broken, So one more tab nd I will have to go twith two more screws.

This is not my video. To ask specific questions visit the owners site linked up below.

tmackinator site

T mac has three sets the 1542 has the A babe Ruth, Caboose and gondola with canisters. 6014,6017,6012. To answer thwe question. The other two seta are uncatalogued with a chun king boxcar. The site explains it that I why I left the link.
That is a search find the owner has three sets of the 520.
You have to visit the site to see the information.

This is not my video. To ask specific questions visit the owners site linked up below.
This is the grizz site
The nice part of this thread is the motor is typical of all the Lionel motors, each with slight differences. Cleaning is the same. The electric parts are similiar if not identical. The cleaning methods apply to all of them. The e unit too is typical and shows enough corrosion to want to throw it out, but it works when proper care is given.

All of the 50's instructions with sets stress cleaning and oiling, just about anything works. Mostly it is a matter of preference. It doesn't hurt to show some caution.
So true, you just can't have one. :)
look here for the diagram

The best way is to disconnect it and conect one brush to the center roller and the othe r brush to the field coil.

I would just clean the connections.

I went through this thread and updated the pictures and just kicked the bucket out. Going back to 2009 , I was not in gun bluing. Otherwise I would not paint it.
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