Lionel Trouble!

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by Lighthorseman, Jul 24, 2004.

  1. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    I recently took out some Lionel stuff, and set it up on the living room rug. I tried to run 2 powered Lionel SD9s, but they wouldn't run as a pair. Singly, they'd do fine. However, when put back-to-back, they'd pull in opposite directions, and seem to short out. (???) Put in line, they'd go about 1/2 an inch, then quit.

    I don't know much at all about 3 rail, or AC power. Is there some way that these guys can run together, or can only one go at a time? Is my cheapie powerpack just not powerful enough? Would I have to reverse wire one to run it backward with another?

    Grasping for straws here...any help greatly appreciated. :)
  2. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    Well Steve, there are a couple possibilities that are causing you grief. First, Lionel uses AC and to reverse their engines they use an E unit. The old mechanical ones were a barrel with teeth and every time you shut the power off it would drop a latch. When you turned the power on it would pull the latch up and rotate the barrel, which would change the direction of the unit. Some had a three position E-unit, forward-neutral-reverse. Those would give you a pause in direction every other time you turned off the power and turned it on. Later, electric E-units came out and the loud buzzing associated with the old E-units was eliminated but the function was the same. What I used to do was get one unit running the way I wanted it, set it off the track and set the second unit on the track and get it running the same direction. Then shut the power off and set the first unit on the track. If you were lucky, they would both be in neutral. Using the direction button on the bigger transformers was really an off on switch. Anyway the units would then hopefully be synchronized. This works until you use an old unit with a new unit. What happens here is the new units are set to go forward automatically if left off for more than 10 seconds.

    As for shorting out, the 3 rail set up usually not prone to that, with multiple units.

    A larger transformer is always good for Lionel anyway.

    I hope this answers your question.
  3. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    Thanks, Greg! I played about with it, and I suspect that it's just the tranformer. The two locomotives both are of the loud buzzing type, but run surprisingly quietly and evenly for such old units.
  4. Allstate81140

    Allstate81140 Member

    Hi all. Steve, I would be very careful about running those on your rug. You can get lint in the motor that will be a bear to get out, and other places too. Might lay down cardboard next time.

    Sounds like a couple of nice engines you have. Are they the diesels?

    Loved those as a kid, and couldn't afford them, so I bought a Marx set and cut the fronts out real accurately and installed Lionel hooks. They looked good.

  5. You may want to get your hands on a copy of September 2004 Classic Toy Trains magazine. It may not answer your exact problem, but it has a good article on wiring and motors for Lionel trains.
  6. 3railguy

    3railguy Member

    Underneath the engines is a reverse lockout lever or switch on late models. Get each engine running in the direction you want, reach under the engine and switch off the lever. The engines should go in the same direction whenever you apply power.
  7. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    Once you switch the lockout lever or switch, they won't change direction till you switch it back on. That works fine unless you want to do some switching. :D

  8. 3railguy

    3railguy Member

    We know that but he doesn't have much choice unless he syncronizes them. It's too easy to get out of sync. Or he could do some surgery and wire the engines together off one e unit and a plug.
  9. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    Yes, you and I may know that, but you would be surprised at the people’s questions about that when I operated at shows. I've also seen a few units with one e unit and wired together with small plugs, most notable an A-B-A set of F units.


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