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Hello,

My first post here!

When we set up our Lionel 6-31960 Polar Express train around the Christmas tree this year, the CW-80 transformer made buzzing noise and the train did not move. The green light came on, and the engine made humming noise like it was about to go but did not move. The bell button worked, and so did the lights on caboose. I tried the forward/backward button but still no movement. The green light stayed solid.

Since the lights and the bell work, I assume it is not the transformer. Could it be the motor in the engine? If so, can this be fixed DIY?

I appreciate your help in debugging and fixing the issue. Thanks.
 

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It can likely be fixed DIY, depending on your level of ability. How old is it, and does it sit in the box all year until Christmas?

First thing to do is to look for anything jammed up, in the wheels, rods, etc. Could be as simple as a string or fake snow wound around something. Could also probably use a good cleaning and oiling.

Post pictures of it underneath (you'll need 5 posts I think to add pics). I don't have O scale, but someone will be able to help you further.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Tom.

Indeed, the train sits in the box year around.

I will take a close look for anything jammed today.

As for lubrication, is old fashioned 3-in-1 oil recommended? How about the ceramic lubrication used for bikes?

Thanks again for your help.
 

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There's another recent post about lube, and I mentioned 3in1 oil. Another member said he had heard to NOT use 3in1 oil... perhaps it's not good on plastic, etc. I don't know, but I'd google it or search this forum for 3in1 oil comments before I used it.

People recommended labelles oil, or I use hoppes #9 lubricant, and silicon grease for the gear boxes. Look in my post history for the thread about lube.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I oiled the joints. Is there a good video/instruction on how to grease the gears? If there is direction on which screws to use to expose the gears, I would appreciate the link. Thanks.
 

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I think those rods are supposed to go into the black 'barrel' thing. Sorry, I don't know the terminology, but they shouldn't be hanging out like that, they slide inside that black thing, I think.

Polar.jpg
Polar1.jpg
 

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While lubing, I noticed that one of the piston rods has come out and it slightly bent. (See the picture) Any suggestions on how to put it back in?

(The picture in not showing up. Here is the link to it: https://www.trainboard.com/highball/index.php?media/img_8036.136697/
Did you take the shell off when you were lubricating it?

If not, the piston rod probably got bent before (probably during storage) and is binding, which would be the source of your troubles. Or at least a significant contributor to it.

On a real steam locomotive, that rod would be attached to the piston inside the cylinder, and steam moving the piston would turn the wheels. On your model, it's probably just a dummy and just slides in and out in a hole in the cylinder.

Is it metal or plastic? Metal can be straightened with pliers, plastic will need to be heated (boiling water on a gauze pad, or similar -- don't use anything hotter, because if you melt it, it's curtains). Hopefully you can get it back in the hole and then straighten it; otherwise, you'll have to loosen the shell to give you some play. It's a fiddly job, but do-able. Hope that helps.
 

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That whole assembly looks like it's out of whack.

You need to remove the rod screw at the end of this rod and then straighten all of this mess out. Use the other side to see how it all goes back in, there are holes for both of the short projections. I see the bottom one is bent, you'll have to straighten that one as well.

Polar1.jpg

BTW, the black barrel thingy is the cylinder. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Success!!

Many thanks to Tom_C, gunrunnerjohn, and CTValleyRR for your helpful insights and suggestion. I was able to remove a single nut as suggested by gunrunnerjohn, and remove the links assembly to straighten out the rods and put everything back together. Now the engine runs perfectly.

The only thing remaining is greasing the inside gears. Any recommendations on how to do it? It is just opening the screws on the bottom plate, or more is involved?
 

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Can you rotate the gears by hand? In other words, can you access the whole gear if you just remove the bottom plate?

I would clean the old lubricant out of the gears with a cotton swabs dipped in alcohol, then lubricate. Just put a tiny dab (and I do mean a tiny dab -- it's much easier to add a little more than to remove it) of grease on the exposed side of the gear and rotate it to spread it around.
 

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Also, did you remember to quarter the locomotive properly when you reassembled it? Quartering means that the wheels on on side are a quarter turn ahead (or behind) those on the other. This prevents the drive gear from jamming (on our models) or the loco not being able to start moving on a real one.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I left the wheels in the same position they were before I removed the bolt. That way I didn't disturb anything that I didn't understand.

For this model of engine, the gears are fully enclosed.
 
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