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I was recently lucky enough to get my hands on a “display only” 3rd Rail B&O Q-4B. The item is in fantastic shape, but the running components and boards in the tender need some TLC. I was able to figure out that the engine needs a new sound board and possibly a new speaker.

However the motor and drive system are something I have never dealt with before. Basically when the engine starts to move it makes a horrible grinding, squeaking noise. Before running the engine I did lubricate all of the moving parts and the gear box that was under the locomotive. The sound seems to be coming from the motor or the drive belt assembly but I cannot figure out which one. Possibly something with the worm gear? Any help would be greatly appreciated! I will try to add a video later regarding the issue.

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If it's a really old engine, the TMCC board inside may need the settings changed?

untitled (3rdrail.com)

my old SS Allegheny made all kinds of noises until I swapped out the old board for a MTH PS2 3v one. It straightened it right out. The motor was making all kinds of noises with the stock board and I didn't know it was adjustable. I thought it was binding it sounded so bad. The motor growled and groined at every start.

May not have been enough to fix it though? I yanked it out before any changes could be made.

Last edited by Engineer-Joe
@conrail5065 posted:

@Norm Charbonneau just did a nice three part series on an early 2000's 3rd rail Santa Fe 2-10-4, that he has gone through. It was a quiet drive system, and his had a squeak, which he thought was the bearing on the motor mount and it turned out to be the belt. see PArt 2 of his series below where he discusses this.






I did watch Norms video and that helped me figure out the sound issue. So happy he posted these! I have yet to take a look at the belt more closely, but I will be putting a video up after work today. If that’s the issue it’s a simple fix.

spin the drive by hand. It may have some resistance. If it binds up anytime after a whole revolution of the main drivers, you have an issue. If not, I'd try the motor with straight (low voltage) dc power directly. Put around 6 to 10 volts directly with the board disconnected, and see how the drive runs up on blocks.

When I greased up the gears last night, I did not feel any resistance while doing a full rotation. That being said, I was also very tired. I will definitely be testing the motor by itself! Thank you for the help.

So after taking the time to remove the shell of the engine and get a better look at things the belt is in perfect shape. No roughed up edges and the ball bearings spin freely and silently. I was going to remove the motor next to test it separate from the engine, but i think I figured it out.

i grabbed another 3rail engine from the collection. I hooked it up and sure enough when I ran it the noise was gone. So going off of what engineer-joe said I am pretty confident that it is the problem is in the tender. Something with the tmcc mother board or the ERR Cruise board. Just can’t figure out which one.

I have posted two videos. First one is with the original tender. Second one is with the borrowed tender. I have also included photos of the board layout on the inside. I know the borrowed tender has cruise V4.5. No idea what the original tender has.

thank you for any and all help!

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Images (2)
  • Original tender
  • Borrowed Tender
Videos (2)
Original tender
Borrowed tender

If it's a really old engine, the TMCC board inside may need the settings changed?

untitled (3rdrail.com)

my old SS Allegheny made all kinds of noises until I swapped out the old board for a MTH PS2 3v one. It straightened it right out. The motor was making all kinds of noises with the stock board and I didn't know it was adjustable. I thought it was binding it sounded so bad. The motor growled and groined at every start.

May not have been enough to fix it though? I yanked it out before any changes could be made.

I think you may be right. Just a video of it.

You can hear the squeaking in this vid around the 5:08 mark:

I was a bit surprised that the belt could cause that sound. I believe it was fairly well worn as witnessed by visible fibers at the front edge of it. Scott has them for $10. Not sure if that’s your issue or something else.

my Allegheny sounded even worse than this. From a dead start, I thought it was binding. Put in PS2, all was cured.

here's an old video right after I put the MTH board set in her

Last edited by Engineer-Joe
@tf4k4 posted:

So after taking the time to remove the shell of the engine and get a better look at things the belt is in perfect shape. No roughed up edges and the ball bearings spin freely and silently. I was going to remove the motor next to test it separate from the engine, but i think I figured it out.

i grabbed another 3rail engine from the collection. I hooked it up and sure enough when I ran it the noise was gone. So going off of what engineer-joe said I am pretty confident that it is the problem is in the tender. Something with the tmcc mother board or the ERR Cruise board. Just can’t figure out which one.

I have posted two videos. First one is with the original tender. Second one is with the borrowed tender. I have also included photos of the board layout on the inside. I know the borrowed tender has cruise V4.5. No idea what the original tender has.

thank you for any and all help!

Looking at your first photo, the boards in that tender are the TrainAmerica Studios Engineer on Board (EOB) cruise control setup.  These boards are known to cause motor squealing in some locomotives.  You'd swear it was a bad bearing.  Nope, it's the motor making that noise due to the voltage pulses it's getting from the boards.  There were some settings you could adjust to reduce the squealing (a series of button pushes on the Cab-1).  Sometimes this worked and sometimes not.

As you observed with the borrowed tender, the ERR boards use a different cruise control method and do not induce any motor squeal.  Listening to your video with the original tender, that is definitely EOB whine/squeal.

@Bob posted:

Looking at your first photo, the boards in that tender are the TrainAmerica Studios Engineer on Board (EOB) cruise control setup.  These boards are known to cause motor squealing in some locomotives.  You'd swear it was a bad bearing.  Nope, it's the motor making that noise due to the voltage pulses it's getting from the boards.  There were some settings you could adjust to reduce the squealing (a series of button pushes on the Cab-1).  Sometimes this worked and sometimes not.

As you observed with the borrowed tender, the ERR boards use a different cruise control method and do not induce any motor squeal.  Listening to your video with the original tender, that is definitely EOB whine/squeal.

Thank you very much! That’s a huge help. So now that I know what the problem is, I guess I need to figure out what replacement parts I will need. I’ve got no clue as I have never gone that far into repairing a locomotive like this before. Looking at it, it seems that the TrainAmerica is built into the TMCC mother. So I would assume I need to buy a ERR Cruise Board and a TMCC mother board? Again thanks for all the help!

Guys, before we get too far keep in mind my example did not have EOB and was a purely mechanical issue. I popped in to the thread since I was tagged and thought I could add a bit of insight.

In any case some versions of EOB equipped engines had an audible switching frequency when run in a closed loop mode. TAS cured it with new code that could be obtained on request many years ago.

Guys, before we get too far keep in mind my example did not have EOB and was a purely mechanical issue. I popped in to the thread since I was tagged and thought I could add a bit of insight.

In any case some versions of EOB equipped engines had an audible switching frequency when run in a closed loop mode. TAS cured it with new code that could be obtained on request many years ago.

Thank you for the information regarding the new code! I did not even consider something like that. I have done reprogramming and code changes with MTH engines but never on something like this. If it is not to complicated I am more than willing to give it a try. I guess the only question is if the new code can still be obtained? Sounds like I’ve got some more research to do. BTW Norm big fan of your work!

Thanks man but TAS and EOB are long gone. Changing the code was literally swapping a chip out of the m/b. Maybe someone out there can help. If you don’t like the switching sound, you could turn the cruise off if everything works right.

Oh. Welk I guess I should have figured that would be the case. I suppose if I really wanted to I could just get new boards for it. Change it from EOB to ERR?

The command board seems to be working fine after testing it just now. I have a new sound board on the way. I am assuming the long board at the bottom that everything plugs into is EOB.

So after some more testing and reaching out to an old friend I was able to get my hands on a functioning Lionel Railsounds 4 powered board for essentially nothing. At this point I believe all I need is the ERR Cruise Commander.

However one thing I did not consider was the wire connections. I know how to re-pin connectors from work, but not sure what Lionel used for connections. They look like some kind of JST connectors? I have gone back through posts from @gunrunnerjohn regarding these but just trying to make sure before pulling the trigger on the ERR Cruise Commander. Still hard to believe EOB was making the motor sound that bad.

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  • Wire connection: Wire Connection

I would like to thank eveyone for there help in this matter! When I first got the engine, I was a bit worried about going about the repairs but thanks to all of the information, I am well on the way to having this engine running smoothly again and quietly again! I will be starting a new post with a new topic since the main issue has been resolved. Thank you again!

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