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What makes my Lionel 200 series alco from the 1963 vintage have motor hum while moving at 9 volts with E unit levered for F/N/R? It goes away with the E unit set to forward only, and can start and travel slower at a lower voltage of 8 volts ZW indicated.
Is it E unit resistance or the wire resistance? Is this to be expected, or could it be improved? Thanks
 

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The hum is most likely the E-Unit, most of them do have a buzz when they're active. The reason you don't hear the hum with the lever set to forward is the E-Unit coil is not energized in that setting.

Sorry to say, normal operation. Although the E-Unit will consume some power, I suspect the difference in operation is primarily attributed to resistance between the transformer and the locomotive, that would be the power wiring and the track joint resistance.
 
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