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I'm repairing this old postwar accessory I picked up recently.  I've replaced the drive string and spring and found the best position for the string to achieve best movement of the traveler along the gantry.  I cleaned all the moving parts and lubricated where there are moving axles, pins, etc. to lower the load on the vibrating motor. I also rethreaded the string to get rid of any twists.

It was working pretty good (actually speedy when lowering the weight)  with just some spots where the 16mm film with the string attachment has to do a 180 turn being a little more drag.

So now I try to actually operate it with the culverts.  As it picks up the culvert with the magnet , it does not go straight up, but more on an angle.  Must not be enough weight on the counterbalance, even though it looked like a lot to me.  So I added some weight and it goes up as intended since the counterweight keeps the traveler in place.

However, now with this additional weight, the vibrating motor is struggling to pull up the weight and traverse across the gantry.  it needs manual help along the way.

It really seems like quite a load for this vibrating motor mechanism to handle.  When I manually move the gears I'm amazed at the torque required and that the vibrating motor can handle it at all.

Any ideas out there to fix this, or anyone have one that actually works that can point to whether its the vibrating motor or the drag of the mechanism that's the issue?



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I've done most of these items and aware of all of them.

The one I don't understand is adjusting crane travel section.

"Check base where it is bent to provide track channel"  does not mean anything specific to me.

I have been trying different drive threads and springs and spring mounting points (more wrap and less wrap on the pulley).  These changes make a big difference (and lots of combinations to test) but its a lot of weight to pull up.  If I can figure out how to reduce the weight, it would be easy.  I have 4 tire weights, and four fishing sinkers, a lot of weight to me.

@NYC 428 posted:

Why not try to shave off a little lead at a time and re-test.  If the counter weight is too much, reducing it slowly should solve the problem.

Just a though as I don't have a post war one.  Both my Unloader and loader are TMCC operated.


I tried reducing the counterbalance weight and when I do the culvert wont go straight up, it starts moving across and pulling up at the same time.  I added weight to keep that from happening.

Do you have an early version? The early one's the magnetic hoist did not have a weight in them. Later one's have a slug or locomotive roller inserted to add weight on the hoist. If your's  does not, get a repo hoist. This will probably cure your problem.

Thanks Chuck,

I did not know there were two versions of the hoist.

Mine has no weight on it. I'm assuming they added the weight to keep the string taut when it is moving across the gantry empty and lowering.  I see sometimes the string gets loose. However, it seems like added weight will make the motor need to work harder, but I will try adding weight.

I have been close to success by reducing friction everywhere I can, allowing me to take some counterweight off and running at 16V.

If this doesn't work, I will have to try the 1 1/2 pulley wrap.  I only have 1 wrap now because the tab holding the spring broke off after many years of bending for adjustment. I will have to improvise a new tab.

Do you have an early version? The early one's the magnetic hoist did not have a weight in them. Later one's have a slug or locomotive roller inserted to add weight on the hoist. If your's  does not, get a repo hoist. This will probably cure your problem.

I have the early version.  Adding weight to the hoist made the my issues worse, more load for the vibromotor to lift

Thanks to all for the suggestions.

Here is the results of weeks of part-time work (part of that was waiting for parts.)  Hope it helps others.

I have it running fairly well at around 13-14 V, which means maybe 70 % of the time it works.

In summary, the key items were reducing the load on the vibromotor and finding the right spring and string and wrap for the motor.

I sensed the load was too high since I added so much weight to the counterweight to keep the hoist in position during lifting.  I don't have the original weight.

To reduce the load I reduced friction everywhere and made sure string wasn't twisted and was running in the pulleys correctly.  Also cleaned the string going to the hoist with naphtha and added some graphite.

  A key issue that was not obvious was the traveler was causing significant drag because the previous owner used oil on it.  It was more like dried out gummy oil so I wasn't visible.  I discovered this when I manually pulled on the string from the lower pulley and sensed this was too high a load.  So I sprayed it with contact cleaner numerous times and used air in can to blast it clean.  That made a big difference and then I was able to reduce the counterweight.

The replacement string I bought turn out to not be usable for the drive motor.  It seemed to be too thick.  Pulley would not move.  So I got 2 different braided fishing line.  The thicker one worked the best (maybe 20 - 30 lbs.) and it was much thinner that the Lionel PN replacement string.  The wrap around the pulley that worked the best was 360 degree.  I tried a 1/2 and 1 1/2 wrap but the 1 wrap was the best.

The hoist still wanders on it way down so sometimes it grabs the culvert off to the side which causes it to hit the ramp.  The hoist also starts to traverse early on some pickups, but I can live with that occasional miss.  Adding counterweight would solve this but load goes up.

Overall, just a lot of trial and error, with good observation to point to solutions, and help from the forum.  Interesting project.  I was close to converting to a DC motor.

Thanks again,


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