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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all,

As a newbie, I've had fun recently with building an HO layout with the kids ... smiles all around. It's mostly older equipment running on DC power.

Well, I've gotten this "train bug" thing, and finally (!) dusted off that old box of Lionel O trains that's been sitting in my basement for 40+ years. 1958 vintage, I think, handed down from relatives.

My first task was to see if I could get the #249 steam loco up and running. I removed the body, cleaned the chassis, gears, etc. as best as I could, and then wired the thing (naively) up to DC power. At first, no signs of life in the motor itself, though I could get the auto-reverse solenoid (e-unit ???) to toggle with each power-up.

T-Man kindly offered a few thoughts, and I've since persisted with more gear cleaning, brush cleaning, etc. Well, that old girl finally started spinning this morning, and I'm thrilled. True signs of life!

However, as an HO / DC-power newbie, I realize that I'm horribly confused about post-war Lionel powering. So, if I may, I'll post a few (naive) questions. I'd appreciate any thoughts ...

1. I have an old Lionel transformer. The power-cord is dangerously cracked/frayed, but I plugged the thing in anyway (dohhh!), and hooked up a multimeter to the output. I learned that it's kicking out AC power (not DC), up to about 16 volts.

Were these post-war Lionel trains designed to run on AC power?

2. I'm amazed at the creative ingenuity of Lionel's design of their little auto-reverse e-unit gizmo ... pretty clever for pre-diode technology! And, from what I infer, the thinking behind Lionel's three-rail track is that the two outer rails share a common power source, and that the inner-rail is the power "return" loop. That way, a train can "loop back" on the track in an opposite direction, without the need for modern DCC equip. My DC HO's can't do that, obviously. But that got me thinking ...

The (old) little track-to-power-wire fitting that I have is configured to hook up power wires to the inner rail and ONE outer rail. Is that the way that old Lionel track was wired, or do people "jump" another (common) power lead over to the opposite outer rail? I.e., are only 2 rails "hot", or should all 3 be "hot"? (Maybe the loco wheels themselves provided conductivity to get power transmitted to that "other" outer rail ???)

3. Back to the AC / DC thing. To my amazement, I can get my #249 loco running with DC power (middle rail, one outer rail). But, when I hook up AC power, instead, the motor appears to run stronger.

Can somebody explain how the motor works on EITHER AC or DC power, and why (if so) it works better on AC?

I realize these are pretty basic / fundamental questions, but when my wife rolls over in bed and says, "It's 1:00 AM ... why aren't you sleeping yet?", do I DARE confess to her that a 47 year old man is lying there thinking about old model/toy trains ???

I've posted some pics of the Lionel #249 ... old, but still cute!

Thanks!!!

TJ
 

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Railroad Tycoon
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Most were set up to run AC. Though a lot will run on DC and AC, The whistles won't work on DC. You get more power from the AC that why it runs better I think as your getting a little more volts.

The 3 rail track the center is the hot. The other goes to one outside rail.
Use at least 18 gauge wire to connect.
You know they make connectors to hook up power tp the rails?

I would definitely fix that frayed transformer wire. Shock and fire hazard.

Right now I got to go and eat.:laugh:

T man will come on and give you some links for how to's. I am not on my computer right now.

Don't tell her what your thinking of she will think your nuts.:laugh:

If no one explains better I will give you some links when I get the time.
 

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Yard Master & Research
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Whys

Whys are technical. The important thing is just to know. I detest transformer questions. My theory is weak. You buy them and use them. Get a two prong cord off a toaster and use that to fix the Lionel supply.

For good info see this the basic 027 manual. The outer rail can be used for signaling.

For now, run the engine. The wheels could be cleaner.The tarnish doesn't help. Oil both ends of the armature, a little lithium greade or oil on the gears. I have used a piece of felt between the brushes to hold the oil. There is oiling instuctions also in that manual. The motor should quiet down.
It is an AC motor. I do know it has a two position e unit and is around the time frame of the 250. Yes it was 58 the 250 was 57.

With DC you can switch the current and reverse. With AC you can't,you seen to stop the power. The DC motor depends on a magnet, the AC a coil.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Lionel #249 loco (with scan of original instructions)

Hi Big-ed, TMan, etc.

Thanks for the insight ... much appreciated. A few misc follow-up comments...

I've scanned and attached the original Lionel Instructions for the #249 steam loco, in case someone is looking for a copy down the road.

The #249 (bare motor, for now) is chugging along nicely on a small piece of test track. I'm still hooked up to that old AC transformer, but boy, that cord is scary. I may post a new thread with pic/question about whether I should try to fix the transformer, or simply chuck it and get a new (used) one.

I mounted a wire brush in the drill press, and spend about an hour running my old O track (just a small oval) across the bristles. Boy, that old rusty track sure cleaned up nicely! Beefy stuff! (I couldn't to THAT with my HO track!)

I cleaned the black plastic #249 body (without motor!) in soapy water. Got most of the dirt/crude off, but it looked a little dull and drab. For kicks, I grabbed the nearby spray bottle of Armor-All and gave the body a squirt and rub ... boy, did that black finish shine up with a nice glow and luster! Gotta love that Armor-All stuff.

I do have one of those little clip-on connectors to hook up power to the track. Simple. Thanks for the 18-gage wire tip.

That's it for now ... thanks much for the chat and support!

TJ
 

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Railroad Tycoon
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Hi Big-ed, TMan, etc.

Thanks for the insight ... much appreciated. A few misc follow-up comments...

I've scanned and attached the original Lionel Instructions for the #249 steam loco, in case someone is looking for a copy down the road.

The #249 (bare motor, for now) is chugging along nicely on a small piece of test track. I'm still hooked up to that old AC transformer, but boy, that cord is scary. I may post a new thread with pic/question about whether I should try to fix the transformer, or simply chuck it and get a new (used) one.

I mounted a wire brush in the drill press, and spend about an hour running my old O track (just a small oval) across the bristles. Boy, that old rusty track sure cleaned up nicely! Beefy stuff! (I couldn't to THAT with my HO track!)

I cleaned the black plastic #249 body (without motor!) in soapy water. Got most of the dirt/crude off, but it looked a little dull and drab. For kicks, I grabbed the nearby spray bottle of Armor-All and gave the body a squirt and rub ... boy, did that black finish shine up with a nice glow and luster! Gotta love that Armor-All stuff.

I do have one of those little clip-on connectors to hook up power to the track. Simple. Thanks for the 18-gage wire tip.

That's it for now ... thanks much for the chat and support!

TJ
You got to watch cleaning up the track. A wire wheel might take off to much.
Heck you can use rusty track as long as the tops are cleaned. I had a friend purposely rust his O gauge track to give it the real thing look.

I use 14 gauge to power my track but that's what I had laying around. Telephone wire is OK for most accessories but for track a heavier gauge is better. For O that is.

What transformer is it?
Most were built with that type of power cable. A new one at home depot or wherever is not that expensive.

More when I get time, just got home and got to eat.:laugh:
 
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