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Life Support Lionel 520

24874 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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Big Ed,
I pulled up the Train Tender website, but finding my way around
the Lionel numbering will take some time. If you've got a direct link, that would be great.
I need a few other pieces (body screws, bolster pins, etc)
I'd also like to replace some broken coupler pieces.
Any help would be appreciated.
I am an N-scaler typically....this O scale activity is just for fun.
Anything you are looking for say the 520 pantograph just click the parts # index to that # and scroll to 520. that would be page 4 it has the #'s

for 482-1U through 682-5. That part is listed as,
520-35 pantograph assy reproduction 6.50
You can call him too, he will know what you want and if he has it.

He packs everything in separate little bags listed with the #'s.


I can't link you to the page you want it just comes out with that page.
I thought it was all for fun. Did I miss something, or do you N scalers not enjoy what you are doing?:D
I thought it was all for fun. Did I miss something, or do you N scalers not enjoy what you are doing?:D

It is considered fun with O because you can actually see what your fixing.:D

(I have N also Rich):D
IMHO, anything to do with trains is interesting. My father has been dead for 33 years. I found out recently from my sister that he lived in a house near a RR track when he was 4 years old. He memorized all the trains and their schedules and where they were going, etc. I still have his collection of Trains magazine dating to Jan 1947. He was never interested in Lionel trains, although he did buy me my first train in 1950. He was a college chemistry teacher and apparently was not interested in the engineering of trains. When I was growing up in Emporia, Kansas, we lived 3/4 mile from the Santa Fe mainline. Periodically, we would go watch the trains. He knew when the Super Chief should go through, and so if it was on time, we would get to see it.
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.
The shell came off with one screw....
Mine had 3 screws. The one that is often over tightened and visible from the end, and two on the opposite end accessed from the bottom.

In my case, it looks like someone removed the end screw and tried to pry the body off the chassis. The end is cracked, but they aren't visible unless you look very closely.
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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Just a quick thank you to Jeff K. at TT.
Got all the parts I need to refurbish this little set for under $20.
I see why TT is a highly recommended supplier for Lionel parts.:thumbsup:

Now to decide if I want to clean the inside of the 520.
Still runs as-is, but clearly grimy....thoughts? tips?
I like to tinker with stuff, but don't want to get in over my head.
GooGone, q-tips, pipe cleaners, soft toothbrush. Be gentle, and let the GooGone help degunk. Be extra careful around wire soldered ends.

Lube with 5W-20 or 5W-30 motor oil aftewards ... any spinning, sliding parts.

My two cents ...

For the plastic shell, I wash them in something like Dawn dishwashing liquid and warm water. Takes the grease and grime right off.
Here is how my 520 body attaches to the frame. Notice the screws next to the operating coupler and wheel assembly.

Also T-Man, you are missing more than a coupler. You are missing the "2" from what I guess was a "2-4-2" steamer setup.

The Tandem Assoc page does not indicate any variation in the body mounting.
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The Tandem Assoc page does not indicate any variation in the body mounting.
Well now, they'd be wrong. ;) Note the screw, that's what holds the shell on. See below the chassis, and I can assure you no wheels were missing.


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The other end of my 520 has one screw also. :)
Sure Dave, but look closely, I don't have the two screws you point out.
Sure Dave, but look closely, I don't have the two screws you point out.

It almost looks like Daves screws were added to it?
Maybe it was a fix Dave?
Custom cut washers.
I was thinking the same thing Ed, they sure don't look stock. :) It's certainly possible that there were variations in the cab design, it's not like that's never happened with other models. :)
Some pictures of my shell.


The blocks where the self tapping screws look like they have been added during the mold making process. They are a part of the original body.

The glue is looks like a repair when the blocks were split by overtightening the screws.

No evidence of slots for the tabs.

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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.
ram17x, What are the #'s of the cars in that set. Thank you
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