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I recently acquired a lionel 252 postwar crossing gate its light terns on but the arm wont go down until the engine he activated it 3 times. Does anyone have any idea what's rong with it
 

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Take the locomotive off the track.

With the power on, press down on the contactor and see if the gate goes all the way down.

The mechanism may need servicing. See here for a parts view of the 252 Crossing gate.
http://pictures.olsenstoy.com/cd/accs/acc252p2.pdf

The bottom plate and coil assembly may have a sticking plunger. Disassemble the gate and clean all parts with Naphtha to insure clean sliding and moving surfaces.

Sometimes the plastic core of the coil gets slightly bulged due to heat buildup from a prolonged steady 'on' state, causing the plunger to bind.


Larry
 

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The plunger should slide out, fall out on it's own if held upside down.

That's how the mechanism works. Energize the coil and the plunger's steel bottom is pull up by the coil's magnetic force. The non-ferrous brass top shoots up and hits the cam on the gates axle to lower it.

If it's stuck, that's a problem. Pull it out, twist it, yank it, it's just a smooth rod. They you need to see why it's binding.
 
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