Newbie with Lionel Polar Express set

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by rigoomba, Dec 28, 2006.

  1. rigoomba

    rigoomba New Member

    I just purchased my first train set for Christmas. It's the Lionel Polar Express train. I set it up to go around my tree and the track that comes with it fits perfectly. I am having a couple of problems. First, the final car, the observation deck, keeps coming off the track. I'm not sure why and I've looked at everything and all seems OK. It sometimes only makes it around once before coming off track. It also tends to speed up and slow down by itself and sometimes I see a spark in one section of the track.

    My second problem is that the smoke doesn't seem to be coming out. The smoke switch is set to on and I have put some drops in a few different times. I do sometimes smell the smoke, which someone on a previous post said smelled like a burning electrical circuit. The manual says it works better at higher speeds. I can really only go so fast with the track that comes with the set.

    I'd love to get it running correctly before all the Christmas decorations have to be taken down. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks so much!

  2. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    While I can't really say why the last car comes off the track I can tell you my experience with the smoke. The CW80 transformer doesn't really make the locomotive pour smoke out like you would like to see. I'm not sure why but my feeling is it is underpowered.

    When I put the locomotive on with my older SW that is a much stronger transformer the locomotive puffs smoke like someone smoking. What ever you do don't drown the smoker by placing more liquid smoke into it.

    When I was at the LHS I saw other people with the same problem, however when the locomotive was placed on the LHS track with again a more powerful transformer their locomotive smoked just fine.
  3. tcripe

    tcripe New Member

    Do both trucks move freely in all directions? Sometimes the wire that runs from the truck into the car body can bind. Which truck derails? The back one or the one that connects to the rest of the train?
    - Terry
  4. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    My KW doesnt make it smoke either. None of those littel Berks smoke well with out adjusting or replacing the wick.
  5. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    I have just a suggestion based on problems I had with one of my MTH locomotives. I received this locomotive for Christmas and for the past few days in ran very similar to your Polar Express.

    It would spark very heavy from both the front and back contact rollers. In addition it would move fast then slow down then eventually caused the green light to flash on the transformer.

    I had a feeling it was some type of a short in the locomotive. However when I removed the body the wiring appeared to be ok. I played with it for the next few days and never could get the locomotive to run. I knew the transformer was good because my other locomotives had no problems.

    In frustration I went back to my dealer who placed it on his track and the problems repeated themselves. At first he was puzzled but he took the body off to review the wiring. The first thing he did was to separate the two wires from the rollers a little more. One was the hot wire and the other the ground. When he placed the locomotive on the track minus the body it ran perfect. No more sparks and it ran smooth.

    After replacing the body while there were no sparks the locomotive started to speed up and slow down and just didn’t run well. So again he took off the body and check all of the connection. The problem was traced back to the two wire nuts that connect to the sound car. The wires were not fully in place and when the body was placed on the locomotive with a tight fit the wires moved and did not make good contact.

    Long story short he had my locomotive back in working condition and now I know some of the trouble spots to check out before I am ready to throw in the towel. I have since run the locomotive for over an hour putting it through a demanding program of stops, forward, reverse and loaded it with rolling stock. I am very happy to report there are no problems.

    [FONT=&quot]I have not open up my Polar Express to see what the wiring looks like but if I was having your problems I think I just might check the electrical connections.[/FONT]
  6. rigoomba

    rigoomba New Member

    I checked the small wheels or tenders, whatever they are called, to make sure they were clean. I re-checked the track connections and wires. I re-connected the last two cars and made sure everything wasn't off the track. I then put the smoke in. For some reason everything began to work fine. The smoke wasn't powerful and you couldn't see it in a low lit room. I put a flash light towards the train, because of the low lighting and you could see smoke rings coming out. It wasn't a long stream, just puffing rings. At least it was working. It was running fast and wasn't falling off the track. I have it going around the Christmas tree and it's pretty cool. Too bad the bell sound wasn't included. Why you would have a button for a bell sound and not have it included seems ridiculous to me. Thank you for the great responses. It really did help!

  7. Illus

    Illus Member

    Some of the other locomotives have the bell. The transformer that you got is the generic Lionel 80 watt transformer.
    Glad you got everything worked out!
  8. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    Here are is of the basic termanology of steamers.

    I thought for a long time the "drivers" were the engineer and firemanstooges8

    On cars, the wheels are attched to TRUCKS and that is attached to the car body.

    The wheels on a steamer, yours is a Berkshire class, are called DRIVERS and the push rods going to them are call RODS train97

    "the observation deck" the deck is the rear platform you stand on, it is at the back of the observation car or coach as they are mostly called. MOdern coaches dont have one, safety reasons I guess.

    The TENDER is the funny looking black behind the engine and carries the fuel, iol, wood or coal and encludes a tank of water for the engine.

    You would have to read these forums for ever to get the drift of what is being said.

    Google up rail road terminology and there may a bunch of sites you will enjoy.

    Happy Railroading aussie

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