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Lionel Rio Grande 8213 only runs in reverse

10247 Views 29 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  PeeWhy
Hello all,

New guy here and I know nothing about model trains (or real trains really). What I do know is that I really enjoyed playing with my model train when I was young and would like to get it up and running again for my son. I have a Lionel O-scale Rio Grande Steam Locomotive 8213 (2-4-2). I also have all the tracks, cars, and the original transformer (type 4850) for the train as well. I spent quite a bit of time last night cleaning the tops and tips of the tracks so the electrical connection is good. I placed the locomotive on the track and fired up the transformer. Then I remembered why I stopped playing with my train. It only goes in reverse now. Every time I swing the transformer from off to on, the light on the locomotive comes on but the motor of the train only spins when it is time to go backwards. Plus it only really moves backwards when I almost max out the transformer and it sort of surges, it’s not a smooth roll. The plus side is the light and smoke stack still work so that was exciting to watch.

With all that being said, is this something I can fix myself, can I possibly take it somewhere, or send it off for repair? I am semi-mechanically inclined but have NEVER worked on a train before. Plus I do not want to get in over my head.

Every year at a train museum down the road they have a Christmas show and a hobby group brings in model trains and runs them for the kids. I plan to talk to someone there about my train this year now that I have the train in my hand but I did want to find an online board to ask my questions as well.

1. Lionel O-scale Rio Grande Steam Locomotive 8213 only goes backwards
2. Reverse is not a smooth roll, it surges and requires almost full power
3. I have never worked on a train before but willing to try (I think)
4. I live south of Houston, TX, USA
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I belive there is a switch on the bottom of the locomotive that locks the electronic e unit in forward or reverse. II'm not completely sure on this. One switch turns the smoke unit on and off and the other is for the e unit. Play with those and that might just fix it. ( just remember to not run the smoke unit without fluid) . Also oil the axials, and side rods, and gears. Just a little bit. Clean the wheels and pick up rollers. Don't get oil n the underside of the wheels. I only use motor oil on my trains now. Also check for hair etc stuck on the gears, wheels. A picture of the bottom might be helpful. Keep us posted. It might be a simple fix!
Here's the Service Manual 8213 Complete, that might help.

A proper lube is essential, and as mentioned, it's likely the reverse lockout switch is just set wrong.
Attached is a picture of the underside i happen to take last night. I can take a better one later. As for the liquid smoke, where is a good source online for it and what is the name of it?

"Oil the axials, and side rods, and gears. Just a little bit. Clean the wheels and pick up rollers." Because i am not 100% sure what some of those are, am i safe to just oil up the moving parts?


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Here's the Service Manual 8213 Complete, that might help.

Hey thanks gunrunnerjohn. That will be a big help.
Shoot, should have rotated the image. Here it is again.


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I use JT's Mega-Steam in my locomotives, it's available at most hobby shops that sell O-scale stuff.

BTW, from the manual, it appears that the 8213 did not come with a lockout switch, so the reverse board may have a problem. They can be had for around $15 if that turns out to be the problem.
I don't see any switches, not even the smoke switch.
I have a few pickup trucks which have electronic e units. I thought they were broken as well.

Make sure you apply the power, power down, and wait for 2 to 3 seconds before powering up. With this timing, my electronic e units work fine.

If I try to cycle as fast as the mechanical e units work, I find I'm stuck.
Dave, it should have started out in forward, so I suspect it's probably either locked in a single direction or broken. :)
Mine with the switches has a different number but looks exactly the same. I know they used that bodyand cconfiguration in a lot of different sets.
I don't see the switches in the picture.

I took it apart a little being careful with every step. I cleaned up the gears removing the carpet lint from the motor shaft between the pinion gear and the motor as well as the other various locations there was lint. (I didnt have a train table as a kid, it was either the kitchen floor or the carpet in my room). I also cleaned all the wheels with goo-be-gone and lubed up all moving parts. I put it back together and it was the same result. I took it back apart and finally realized that the side rails the move in and out were rubbing the wheels on one side. The bracket at the front wheels was bent less than 90 degrees. I guess the train took a hit or two from one of my Tonka trucks :laugh:. After i straightened them out, and put it all back together, its running great even at a very low speed. Although still only in reverse.

BUT...besides the reverse deal i have two more issues:

1. When i removed the motor (I unscrewed two screws and flipped it outward to get to the shaft). I noticed under it a loose "shoe" inside the body. Was there really an extra shoe in there?? I do not see it listed in the schematic so im scratching my head on that one.

2. I picked up some liquid smoke from a local hobby shop and the guy said it was safe for all trains. I added 3 drops on up to 10 drops but it barley smokes now. I mean, i have to really look for the smoke. Not sure what happened there. I shook out the extra drops of smoke from the train for fear of damaging it.


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I looked up the transformer on e-bay and it looks like the one I have that is DC. The red switch at the bottom right of the transformer controls direction instead of an off/ on cycle like an e-unit. Try sliding the switch up or down to change the direction.
I will look today when i get home. Perhaps i just overlooked it. Below are the pics of my transformer i took the other day but i did not capture the sides.


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That's an AC transformer PeeWhy. It's looking a lot like the reverse board has died in that locomotive. If you could fit it in, I have a couple of boards that have been removed from other things, but they're not the boards that came in that locomotive. I don't know what kind of space you have in there, don't have one to look at.
Are there any recommended sites to purchase a new board from? A google search of "Lionel 8214-51" does not give clear results of a reliable source.
Try Jeff at The Train Tender, he'll know how to find it. If he doesn't have it, give Bill at Modern Toy Train Parts a call, I suspect he'll have it in stock.
Thanks gunrunnerjohn you have been a huge help, i have sent Jeff an email asking for assistance.

I did notice on the first page of the schematic, that there is a switch (3664-303). My unit does not have that from what i can tell or it is hidden. I wonder if that is the reverse lock on some models.
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