Lionel Engine pulling power

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by lionelsteam, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. lionelsteam

    lionelsteam New Member

    Ok, i have a lionel engine question on the pulling power. The engine is a 1960 model number 44 engine, and well the problem is...the more cars i add behind the engine, the slower it goes. AHH. Ok it runs fine pulling 1 box car etc, 2 box cars it still goes, when 4 cars are pulled, at top speed on the transformer, it goes so slow, it acts like its gonna stop along the tracks but dosen't. ADD a 5th car to the track, the caboose, and the engine will not move at all, and won't pull any cars. It just makes a buzzing noise, and sits there. =(

    This engine is supposed to have magna-traction(I thought that it would be much better then it is.)

    Ok so how do i fix the engine to pull more cars like 5? Does anyone else have this similar engine, and maybe this is just a weak engine train? Maybe this is normal, but just not much fun to watch when it goes so slow. Need some advise, what would you do??

    I know it can't be the track because i have another engine that i tried, an old steamer, and it can pull 9 box cars and still go fine. Thanks.
  2. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Have you cleaned and lubed the engine at all? I would try cleaning the drivers (a cotton swab with alcohol is fine), and put some automotive grease on the gears. Get some oil from your hobby shop and put a drop of it on the axles where they meet the frame.

    A little bit of lubrication can do a lot for a loco's pulling power.
  3. lionelsteam

    lionelsteam New Member

    Yes it was oiled, that's the first thing i did, but i didn't see more performance pulling.

    I also looked at the motor, and cleaned the contacts the 3 magnet's on top of the motor, were gently sanded because they were a bit dirty, and the 2 pins on top of the motor were gently wiped clean. Didn't make it go any stronger.

    Now out of ideas.
  4. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    Lionel Train Engine #44 Trainmaster Missile launcher? If this is the engine there have been some reports by owners that it is in fact a poor puller. However others have claimed it is a good puller.

    What type of transformer are you using?
  5. lionelsteam

    lionelsteam New Member

    Yes it's a missle launcher engine blue, my transformer im using is a 1946 model type 1041, says 60 watts, 115 volts. B-U 5.5 -15V. A-U 8.5V TO 18V. Isn't 15-18 volts what its supposed to run on normal?? Or do they need more then 18volts?
    Of course they didn't make the engine till 1960, so the transformer is 14 years before when the engine was made.
    Also there were no accesories hooked up, taking power away.
  6. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    My gut tells me that 60 watts might be on the light side. While I have use 80 without any problems for my postwar I like 100 watts better.

    However since I do not own this engine I can't tell you 100% it would run better with more watts.
  7. wrmcclellan

    wrmcclellan Member


    The post war #44 is notorious for being a poor puller as it is not a very heavy loco and the motor is not one of the heavier duty motors used in their top of the line products.

    What cars are you pulling with it? If they are older Lionel cars, they do not roll very freely, and may need complete cleaning and lubrication to make the cars perform better.

    I have a modern reissue of the #44 and it does OK with about 6 cars as long as all the cars being pulled are modern era cars with the Fast-angle wheels as Lionel called them for a while.

    You mentioned in another post that pushing the whistle button made it go faster. This is because old Lionel transformers inject additional voltage (approx 5 volts) to compensate for the loss of the old copper oxide disk rectifiers (about a 4 volt loss) when the whistle button is pushed. This leads to my next questions for you

    Do you have an AC voltmeter - is the transformer actually putting out the full 18 VAC? Test it with no-load and with just the loco on the track.

    Is the transformer voltage seriously dropping (ie you have not adjusted the setting from no-load to a heavier load -) when the loco is running and slows down (monitor with the AC voltmeter while it the train is running - not when it is stalled). BTW - It is not good to stall these motors as the windings heat up pretty quickly and this can damage the old lacquer insulation coating on the armature windings. Overheating in the past may have damaged some of the armature windings which could contribute to the loading problem.

    BTW - regarding the magnetration - Are you using Lionel (or similar tubular track)? Magetraction only works on track with steel (i.e. tinplate) rails. You can test how well your old magnetration is working by seeing if a single short section of track sticks to the wheels (the ones driven by the motor) when you pick the loco up. Sometimes the magnets in older locos have failed.

    BTW - your transformer puts out over 3 amps (60W/18VAC) under no load which should be fine for the #44 as long as the cars you are pulling do not have very many lights in them.
  8. lionelsteam

    lionelsteam New Member

    The magna-traction works great on the engine, it sticks to the tracks well.
    I checked the transformer on a volt meter, and i was getting a good reading. Somewhere around 18V, my meter is tuff to read.
    Motor does not look burnt up, but it does get really hot in like 5 mins, so i turn it off. I haven't run it more then 5 minutes at a time, because its not fun to watch .

    But anyway i have another transformer on order, and should be able to test it maybe next week sometime. Then i'll let you know if the engine is junk or not.
  9. wrmcclellan

    wrmcclellan Member

    If the motor is getting "really hot" after 5 minutes or so, something is not right. Have you taken the motor apart to really clean it out and to check for binding in the drive mechanism?

    You can easily remove the top plate brush holder (watch the brushes) and then pull out the armature. Check the brushes and make sure they are ok and have plenty of length left and the springs provide nice pressure for the brushes to contact the commutator. With the armature out, check that the wheels and spur gears turn freely. Clean and lightly lubricate eveything. Use some lithium grease on the gears and light oil [Labelle #108] on the axles and motor bearings.
  10. lionelsteam

    lionelsteam New Member

    Well i will post GOOD news, i got the new transformer in this week, and this transformer is from 1953-1960 and it runs 175watts, and 18volts. Hooked it up, and ran 4 postwar celebration series cars, and it pulled them fine, then i was like, here is the big test, will it pull 5 cars, i added the 5th car, and wow it took off no problems, and pulled 5 cars.:thumb: I then tried 6 cars being pulled, and what do you know it pulled 6 cars for like 10 mins, then it started to slow down a bit at 10mins and was getting a little hot in the engine, but still running ok. So it can pull 6 light cars, but i wouldn't try 6 heavy cars. I didn't want to try an attempt pulling 7 cars because i was generally happy with the results, going from just 4 to 6 in pulling power.

    Now it improved pulling power, but on the speed issue, it did run a bit faster on the turns for sure, but so called "top speed" there was just barely more speed if i noticed some. So not as much speed increase. But it did run alot smoother pulling the freight.

    So in conclusion i would say it's defintively worth the investment to get a more powerful transformer that puts out more then 100 watts. Even though my transformer is 175watts, the instructions said something about only 130 of that watts gets directly to the track. :twisted:

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