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Lionel 6-31960 Polar Express Problem

3661 Views 20 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  gunrunnerjohn

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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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:
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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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.
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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