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I am repairing another 6403B bell-ringer tender for a friend, and everything seems to have gone well. It worked when I got it, and after rewiring with new silicone wire, it works the same. Then I did a test drive behind my 1666 steamer. The faster it went, the less the bell I heard until there was no bell at all at a moderate speed/voltage.

I rechecked all my wiring against this schematic

2203B_Wiring_Diag

provided by @DennisWaldron in an earlier thread on the 6403B, and all appears correct.

I also found this schematic from @David Johnston 

schematic

which seems to match the one from Dennis.

The only additions I made to the wiring are e-clips attached to each truck (on their mounting posts) with ground wires soldered to each clip and running to the ground connection on the lamp board. The point of that exercise is to improve outside rail conductivity while passing thru switches. I also cleaned the axles to bare metal and cleaned out the axle holes in each wheel to help improve outside rail conduction. Contacts on the lamp board’s thermal switch were burnished a 2nd time (no help), and the lamp was changed from an 18v lamp to the recommended 12-14v lamp, also no help.

So I tried a different engine (1656 steamer) and got exactly the same results.

I set up a quick and dirty test bed consisting of some O27 track and a postwar ZW (the problem also occurs using a ZWC). First, I placed just the tender on the tracks, and tried it at voltages from 6v to 18v – the ringing worked at 6v and only got stronger up to 18v. Then I put the steamer on the same track, held it in place while lifting slightly to let the wheels spin, and voila, the problem returned - the more voltage applied, the weaker the ring, until nothing.

I decided to measure the voltage right at the bell solenoid (referenced to the outside rail) using my analog meter. At initial turn on, the bell rings for a second or so, while warming the thermostatic switch - during that time I see full track voltage (about 12v) on the ringer solenoid. Once the bell ringing settles into a rhythm, the meter shows only about a 5 volt jump each time the bell rings due to the short duration of the "on" time - the needle just can't jump up that fast!

When I put the engine on the track, the ringing tapers off quickly and then pretty much stops altogether, and the 5 volt spikes drop off to what appears to be a relatively steady 2.5 volts, or so. 

What are your thoughts on the cause of the weak/no bell with an increase in speed? I suspect the thermal switch has seen better days, but I just can't explain why the problem shows up only with an engine in front of the tender.

I did one final experiment - I placed the tender on one piece of track and the engine on another piece, right beside the tender, then jumpered both tracks together, hooked the ZW to one of the tracks, then applied power. Oddly, the symptoms almost disappeared. I'm about ready for my Proton Pack gun to get rid of the ghosts in this problem child! 

George

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Original Post

Left plug is the coupler and shoe, I plugged it into the left socket on the engine - that function works fine. right plug is ground or outside rail rather, and it is hooked to the center socket. The ringing problem remains the same if none of the plugs from the tender are hooked up, or if they both are hooked up.

I think the supply style of the new unit isn't compatible with the design. 

The constant pure sign of old causes the thermal coil to react better than a pulsed or "on demand" version because it has less real on time per second for power regulation. Pure unfiltered sine is more constant (Pulse is useful in command and some motors).  (I'm not 100% sure exactly what's used on the new, but its its more involved than a rheostat/sliding tap, for sure.) 

 Once the loco is railed, more current is used leaving less to throw at the thermal sw.  Are you pushing the transformer limits via lights and accessories?  Even the Zs have limits..   Look at the roller spring and that assembly. Weak springs/rust can limit current draw ability.

Search connections for unusual heat once it fades. Heat degradation of a contact is possible too.  Flush the roller with wd40 or CRC electric spray, etc.

I think you could fire that via a capacitor discharge circuit for better timing if you had to.

@Adriatic posted:

I think the supply style of the new unit isn't compatible with the design. 

The constant pure sign of old causes the thermal coil to react better than a pulsed or "on demand" version because it has less real on time per second for power regulation. Pure unfiltered sine is more constant (Pulse is useful in command and some motors).  (I'm not 100% sure exactly what's used on the new, but its its more involved than a rheostat/sliding tap, for sure.) 

Results are the same whether I use a ZWC or a ZW

 Once the loco is railed, more current is used leaving less to throw at the thermal sw.  Are you pushing the transformer limits via lights and accessories?  Even the Zs have limits..   Look at the roller spring and that assembly. Weak springs/rust can limit current draw ability.

ZW is hooked ONLY to the test track with an old steamer and the subject tender - definitely not running it to the limit 

Search connections for unusual heat once it fades. Heat degradation of a contact is possible too.  Flush the roller with wd40 or CRC electric spray, etc.

Since the tender is stationary in my test setup, I did jumper the contact arm (not the roller) directly to the center rail - same results.

I think you could fire that via a capacitor discharge circuit for better timing if you had to.

This is for a friend, not sure he would want to invest the extra gold nuggets $$ 

 

My experience with these bells is that they loose volume because the solenoid armature does not return all the way, so on the next power shot there is very little travel of the hammer and it does not hit very hard.   Try lifting the rear of your tender about an inch and see if this helps. That will help the armature slide back inside the solenoid coil. 

In my experience the worst ones are bells which got oiled. The best I have been able to do is clean all the moving parts so they are absolutely clean.  This includes the armature and the sliding points and rotation points on the frame. Even this only helps some. This bell is just crying for a conical spring around the solenoid armature.  But the bell frame is all staked together, and I have not wanted to tear one apart to try this. I may try a coil spring to pull the solenoid all the way back out, but not yet. 

These bells sound really good if you can get them to work properly, but I have yet to succeed at this.  It is hard to believe that Lionel made this same bell for so many years, but never got it quite right. 

My experience with these bells is that they loose volume because the solenoid armature does not return all the way, so on the next power shot there is very little travel of the hammer and it does not hit very hard.   Try lifting the rear of your tender about an inch and see if this helps. That will help the armature slide back inside the solenoid coil. 

David, that was my starting point - the bell was indeed sticking, and was highly intermittent in its operation because of it. I disassembled what I could, cleaned the slug and did my best to drench the interior of the coil with alcohol. When everything had dried, i swabbed a bit of extra fine graphite on the slug - it is smooth as butter right now.

In my experience the worst ones are bells which got oiled. Agreed! The best I have been able to do is clean all the moving parts so they are absolutely clean.  This includes the armature and the sliding points and rotation points on the frame. Even this only helps some. This bell is just crying for a conical spring around the solenoid armature. It would have to be a really light weight spring on this one - its best ring doesn't carry much punch.

But the bell frame is all staked together, and I have not wanted to tear one apart to try this. I may try a coil spring to pull the solenoid all the way back out, but not yet. 

These bells sound really good if you can get them to work properly, but I have yet to succeed at this. I do have one that works well, unfortunately it is buried away in one of 30+ boxes, so comparisons aren't readily available. What bothers me the most about this issue is that I cannot think of any reason the engine should have ANY effect on the bell.

It crossed my mind that the engine might be drawing a lot of current and lowering the voltage to the bell, but the exact opposite is occurring. The bell does ring somewhat at lower voltages (7-8v), but the ringing disappears as you open the throttle - by the time I am at 12v, there's no longer any solenoid motion! This behavior smacks of electrical noise interference, but this is a solenoid and heater strip, not a noise sensitive PCB! I would love to substitute the bell ringing lamp plate just to eliminate the possibility of a defect with the thermal switch, but the only one I found was $55+shpg, and that's not really an option. 

It is hard to believe that Lionel made this same bell for so many years, but never got it quite right. 

 

Okay, maybe your engine number in your post is a typo. Did you mean 1656?

Make a small adjustment to the NiCad strip at the contact. You do this by gently turning it outward (be careful of the wire) and give it a slight bend to better contact the foot contact. Be sure to clean both contact surfaces.

Sorry Dennis, I missed your reply. I will give that a try - I saw that somewhere, I think in the Lionel Service info, but my initial reaction was, "Whoa! Bend a thermal strip!?" At this point, it looks like a pretty reasonable thing to try. I won't forget to burnish the contacts (a third time!  

David,

The problem is that would be repairmen think squirting oil or CRC etc on that solenoid shaft is going to help, and it only tends to make matters worse. You're more than capable of taking that coil assembly apart, but you may not have to in this instance. First things first, make sure the clapper moves without resistance. If there is any interference, resolve that first. Next, get a can of no residue contact cleaner and flood the shaft and solenoid hole. Let it flash off and use a Q-Tip to make sure the shaft is clean. Now use a 164-16 conical spring and wrap it around the shaft - yes it takes finesse. You may have to trim a turn or two off the spring - just check its compressed length.

I'd give you a recommendation on the contact cleaner, but I'm home at the moment doing my at-home kidney dialysis.

David,

The problem is that would be repairmen think squirting oil or CRC etc on that solenoid shaft is going to help, and it only tends to make matters worse. You're more than capable of taking that coil assembly apart, but you may not have to in this instance. First things first, make sure the clapper moves without resistance. If there is any interference, resolve that first. Next, get a can of no residue contact cleaner and flood the shaft and solenoid hole. Let it flash off and use a Q-Tip to make sure the shaft is clean. Now use a 164-16 conical spring and wrap it around the shaft - yes it takes finesse. You may have to trim a turn or two off the spring - just check its compressed length.

I'd give you a recommendation on the contact cleaner, but I'm home at the moment doing my at-home kidney dialysis.

Wow, sounds like you have been there, done that ...  a couple of times  My solenoid mech seems to be working flawlessly now, but it did have some oil & crud on it initially. Sorry to hear you're on dialysis, glad to hear you can do it at home - we do my grandson's IVIG infusions at home, but with the help of a nurse - seems to go easier.

George,

I've done quite a few over the years. A lot of guys marvel over the rivets in the boxcars or the variations of this or that, but I marvel over how Lionel did things and how they made them. I have the raw NiCad sprip material and the contacts and one of the winders Lionel made to rewind those strips.

Yes, dialysis is a hassle. I used to sit for 4 hours in a chair in the clinic while they cleaned my blood. Now I can do what is called PD Dialysis at home. Still a hassle but it beats the alternative.

Dennis

@GeoPeg posted:

Wow, sounds like you have been there, done that ...  a couple of times  My solenoid mech seems to be working flawlessly now, but it did have some oil & crud on it initially. Sorry to hear you're on dialysis, glad to hear you can do it at home - we do my grandson's IVIG infusions at home, but with the help of a nurse - seems to go easier.

Well, that did the trick! I bent it upward which now makes it ring just a wee bit more frequently, but well within bounds. There is a somewhat less intense ring at the higher voltages, but at least it's ringing on every stroke! Thanks a million, Dennis!

That's one more little packet of knowledge to stuff into my already full brain. Hmmm...I wonder what I just forgot to make room for that?

George,

It's a matter of understanding the technology. When you bent that strip it put more pressure on the contacts and thus required more heat from the winding to bend the strip and move the contact away. If you bend it a little more, they sound will improve.

All that with NO TRANSISTORS! What will they think of next? Thanks, I owe you one.

George

Thanks Dennis, next time I have one apart I will try the spring.  Being in California we are very limited as to the solvents we can get. I have gone to acetone for a residue free cleaner.  But I have yo be careful where I use it as it will go after some resins. 

George, I checked Bob Hanson’s book and he says the coil resistance is 12 ohms, so I think your in the neighborhood.  Other places to watch are the ground return path. That bell on/off switch is in the ground path and can be a problem. On maybe half of the 227 switchers I work on there is a phos bronze strap between the back up light board mounting bracket and the frame.  That strap goes across the top of the truck mounting pin, giving a direct ground path from the truck to the back up light board. That modification or running change always indicated to me that Lionel had trouble with grounding on these tenders. I have not seen this strap on any of the post war tenders where there is a ground wire to the engine.

On the thermal switch contacts, frequently the eyelet that mounts it is not so tight that the contact can be swung sideways a little to give access to the contacts for inspection and polishing. If you do this be really careful with the ni-chrome wire going to the ground point. If it breaks it cannot be soldered and reconnecting it can be a bear. There are several places on that board where contact is made with parts just clamped with eyelets. You might want to jumper some of these and see if any are high resistance connections. I do not know if you have noticed yet, but that ni-chrome heater draws so much current that it causes the back up light to dim when it is in the circuit. You can use this dimming when the engine is pulling the tender around the track to see if the contact is opening and closing and if the bell is ringing at the appropriate times. 

Thanks Dennis, next time I have one apart I will try the spring.  Being in California we are very limited as to the solvents we can get. I have gone to acetone for a residue free cleaner.  But I have yo be careful where I use it as it will go after some resins. 

David, I appreciate your comments, but as I indicated a post or two back, it's fixed!!! That said, I appreciate your suggestions, and my comments are below.

George, I checked Bob Hanson’s book and he says the coil resistance is 12 ohms, so I think your in the neighborhood.  Other places to watch are the ground return path. That bell on/off switch is in the ground path and can be a problem. It was! Fixed now, though!  On maybe half of the 227 switchers I work on there is a phos bronze strap between the back up light board mounting bracket and the frame.  That strap goes across the top of the truck mounting pin, giving a direct ground path from the truck to the back up light board. That modification or running change always indicated to me that Lionel had trouble with grounding on these tenders. I have not seen this strap on any of the post war tenders where there is a ground wire to the engine. That makes sense. My grounding solution was to solder a wire to the edge of an E-ring, then secure the truck with that E-ring, Then run that wire to whatever or wherever the ground is needed. Here's the ground strap I made for my bell ringer a couple years back.

IMG_0428

On the thermal switch contacts, frequently the eyelet that mounts it is not so tight that the contact can be swung sideways a little to give access to the contacts for inspection and polishing. If you do this be really careful with the ni-chrome wire going to the ground point. If it breaks it cannot be soldered and reconnecting it can be a bear. Yeah, this step was just a wee bit unnerving - I knew that ni-chrome wire could be toast with one small mistake. But the thermal element swiveled easy, and it was quite easy to bend using just my finger. There are several places on that board where contact is made with parts just clamped with eyelets. You might want to jumper some of these and see if any are high resistance connections. I soldered most of them, although they DID NOT LIKE solder! I do not know if you have noticed yet, but that ni-chrome heater draws so much current that it causes the back up light to dim when it is in the circuit. You can use this dimming when the engine is pulling the tender around the track to see if the contact is opening and closing and if the bell is ringing at the appropriate times. 

Thanks David! I have been following your 227 adventures, and am waiting for the next installment!

 

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At least you aren't at the hospital as often with the home units.  So far, I have low sugar , and an occasional spike. Genetics say I could be next though.

I love the how as well. Lionel's engineers were pretty clever out of the box thinkers imo.   The thermo station stops; I can't believe the feature wasn't used far more than they did.   One unit should have come with every engine and transformer sold, lol.  

the inner dia. of the coil; it's surface is usually the first casualty of high rep solenoids. Other applications use a liner that can be replaced. The slugs dig and hang before speed builds momentum. (pinball flippers and some small appliances, industrials etc, use replaceable sleeves often)

No oil, no graphite on non-train stuff either as graphite can find cracks in the windings and help a short to start. It is very conductive.    The only lube I suggest would be a teflon dry lube. Dries to a super thin waxy film and is slick as ****.  It doesn't collect dust is part of the secret. (also no surface tension like oil).  It looks like water mineral stains on a glass from a dishwasher without a rinse or rinse agent.

Coil vs conical... the conical shape is to lay flatter.when compressed. Replace with a coil spring? Or add a stretch & return, like a carbs throttle return spring ? (I forget the other name)   A new conical might do it.   Coils get hot and light springs don't like heat much. They go soft.

Those roll pins that hold these types of assemblies together are easier to drive than one might expect. It's easy to overstretch light springs.

I'm not sure of the 11ohms (does seem a little high maybe)

The DIFFERENCE when hot is more important. You might also look for a voltage difference with a meter on the coil wires.  As heat expands a coil, breaks/cracks/nicks can stretch apart, thinning before breaking creates more heat and reskstance. Eventually it may expand enough that a gap forms when hot, then reconnects when cooled, then disconnects, etcetc.

You implied the issue cleared up with the ZW on the test track.  That is a clue that pointed at supply regulation type more than anything.    (unless I have thermo mixed up. hard to tell with lionel what is NC or NO at times)

Capacitors, diodes, resistors, and maybe a relay or transistor or opto isolator.... like adding a cap. discharge to a turnout.

A resistor placed before the cap controls charge time on the cap.

J&C studios, look at Dale H's timers for his trolley lines, same base idea.

 

@Adriatic posted:

 

 

The DIFFERENCE when hot is more important. You might also look for a voltage difference with a meter on the coil wires.  As heat expands a coil, breaks/cracks/nicks can stretch apart, thinning before breaking creates more heat and resistance. Eventually it may expand enough that a gap forms when hot, then reconnects when cooled, then disconnects, etcetc.

You implied the issue cleared up with the ZW on the test track.  That is a clue that pointed at supply regulation type more than anything.    (unless I have thermo mixed up. hard to tell with lionel what is NC or NO at times)

Capacitors, diodes, resistors, and maybe a relay or transistor or opto isolator.... like adding a cap. discharge to a turnout.

 

 In this instance, the coil doesn't create that much if any heat that one needs to worry about that. Capacitors, diodes, resistors, relays and transistors ad nauseum aren't necessary to make this circuit work. The technology is sound, and as I noted above, one only needs to understand its principle.

 

Thanks Dennis, next time I have one apart I will try the spring.  Being in California we are very limited as to the solvents we can get. I have gone to acetone for a residue free cleaner.  But I have yo be careful where I use it as it will go after some resins. 

  Other places to watch are the ground return path. That bell on/off switch is in the ground path and can be a problem. On maybe half of the 227 switchers I work on there is a phos bronze strap between the back up light board mounting bracket and the frame.  That strap goes across the top of the truck mounting pin, giving a direct ground path from the truck to the back up light board. That modification or running change always indicated to me that Lionel had trouble with grounding on these tenders. I have not seen this strap on any of the post war tenders where there is a ground wire to the engine.

David,

If you can't get the cleaner that I recommended, just ask and I'll get it for you.

As far as that phosphor bronze strap is concerned, I've found it on some late 227, 228 and 233 switchers. I do know that there was a service note that that strip was added to some 2203B tenders and was eliminated on later bell tenders when the 9T-16 ground washer was added.

 

 

I get the basics of both methods.  I actually prefer electromechanical.  But neither method is hard to understand really. Nor do modern parts differ much in the end result of each; they just got smaller mostly.  It doesn't hurt to learn or try to. It's just another option. Geo is ready to THINK more about electrical in general. Fresh input helps, even if it isn't the chosen path of the day.

Electromechanical coils very often get hot if they are constant or failing. I don't care what it's in. Unless you helped develop and the coils, the discounting of offerings without considering them at all is what's nauseating., despite how right about the proven tech you may be, I know failing solenoids very well large and small, very little difference overall when they fail.

I don't know if the writing is cold here or I'm reading into it but...

Good luck Geo. I think there is enough here to work with, I'm bowing out; no worries if you need me @ or mail eh. Thread dropped.

George,

I've done quite a few over the years. A lot of guys marvel over the rivets in the boxcars or the variations of this or that, but I marvel over how Lionel did things and how they made them. I have the raw NiCad sprip material and the contacts and one of the winders Lionel made to rewind those strips.

Yes, dialysis is a hassle. I used to sit for 4 hours in a chair in the clinic while they cleaned my blood. Now I can do what is called PD Dialysis at home. Still a hassle but it beats the alternative.

Dennis

Dennis, I knew that you rewound these thermal strips. I have always wondered if you have a little asbestos paper to wind on or if you were using something different? 

Dennis, I knew that you rewound these thermal strips. I have always wondered if you have a little asbestos paper to wind on or if you were using something different? 

Back in the late 70's Lenny Dean gave me a roll of the asbestos material for insulating those strips. I've probably got enough left for a dozen or so. I've been experimenting with some very think space age material, but the NiChrome wire tends to cut through it if you're not careful.

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