my engine doesn't run, the light comes on and the e-units steps ok but no response from the motor. The wiring appears ok and the solder connections are good. I'm at a loss
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Are you sure the reverse unit fingers are not worn and making good contact with the drum? Just because it steps does not mean it is passing current to the motor.
Make sure the drum is in fact rotating properly as the reverse unit cycles. I've had AF reverse units that cycled without moving the drum. The AF reverse units don't grab the drum as solidly as the Lionel 'E' units do, and they can cycle without moving the drum.
Drum is turning and the fingers are touching.
I had a second reversing unit I use for testing no change and I know it's good.
Isolate the motor by unplugging or unsoldering the wires to the reverse unit.
Using a wire, jumper one brush connection to one field winding.
Apply power to the other brush connection and the other field winding.
The motor should run in one direction. Reverse the wiring to the brushes, and the motor should run in the opposite direction.
If the motor does not run, it is bad. Chances are a bad armature.
It could be a simple cleanup job of the motor brushes and brush tubes. If it hasn’t been used for a long time the oil and carbon dust flying around can cause the brushes to stick in the tubes and you have a gap between the brush and the armature.