Thanks for the responses! Don, very interesting you should mention the armature travel. When I disassembled the engine for cleaning (something a habitually do with any newly acquired old engines) I thought there was a lot of play going from front to back/vice versa. There was only one armature spacer and that was towards the front. Nothing on the back (brush side). I noticed the exploded diagrams don't show a spacer on the back side so I didn't give it any more thought. I have 2 spare armature spacers, an .005 and a .015 I bought from Port Lines just to have. I'll try installing the .015 and see if that quiets it down any. Maybe both would be better? I'll experiment. The bush side of the commutator didn't appear dished. Really glad you mentioned this, I'd like to run the Royal Blue without my wife screaming louder than the train!
I think my smoke element replacement (first attempt) on the Hudson is too hot. Seems like it is drying the fluid under the wick area within five minutes of running. After it sets a few hours it will smoke for another five minutes and die out again. The tender is diecast (SIT) and the top of the tender is warm (which I thought might be unusual?).Think I'll try cutting 7" of wire this time to allow for what comes through the top smoke box cover. At any rate I'll try to get the ohms closer to 50. My goal is for just noticeable smoke, not a smoke out!
The 12 pieces of fastrack wasn't cheap but if AF original track is available that will make a 40" diameter circle I'll replace it. The AF curves I have laying around are closer to 054. My platform is only 48" diameter.
Other problems might be me being intimidated by those "twist tab" fasteners on the reverse units. The Royal Blue tender shell makes me nervous also because I'm afraid of them breaking off. I sprayed contact cleaner down into the unit to try and clean it without taking it apart. The fingers look good and the (pall?) seems to catch good with manual operation.
Thanks again guys for your help. These are quite interesting and fun engines!