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I tried to bench test an LCRU (1) and found that everything worked normally on a bench setup with the LCRU driving a freshly cleaned Pullmor motor laying on its side. I always do bench testing with jumpers, so pardon the mess when you watch this video. The problem I have is that the motor sounds like it has a chipped gear, just randomly catching – and the speed seems to drift as much as + 25% over a period of a few seconds. I then ran it conventionally by just unplugging the command base (but still using the LCRU as my reversing unit) and discovered the chipped gear sound is gone and the motor runs at a smooth and steady rpm!

Thinking this might be the LCRU, I set up a brand new (from Lionel) LCRU2. Same exact problem. So I grabbed another brand new LCRU2 (also from Lionel), same problems.

It appears as if the LCRU is possibly sending out very short bursts of full voltage, making the chipped gear sound as it slams the motor with full voltage only to be reduced to a much lower setting just a few milliseconds later. Thinking that may be caused by electrical spiking, I added a pair of (brand new from Digikey) non-polarized 10uf caps, one to each brush - I know, shoulda done that anyway! No difference!

After carefully marking the slug positions on each of the tuning coils, I tried to tweak them thinking they might be on the ragged edge of being mistuned. All 3 LCRUs lost communication at + ¼ turn and at – ¼ turn, so I re-centered them all to their factory positions, and checked that off my list.

I then swapped command bases with another known good one (including a new wall wart), same problem. So I swapped CAB-1 controllers with another good one, same problem.

I started looking around for flickering fluorescent lights thinking maybe that was the culprit – no fluorescents in the room, just LEDs everywhere I looked. I even turned off my temp-regulated soldering pencil, no difference. The only things I did not change out in this setup were my ZW and any/all of the jumper wires – didn’t seem like they were suspects given the fact that all ran well on conventional. Nothing else is running other than room lights.

The only possible cause I can find left is the rat’s nest of jumpers, some of which may be acting as antennas and introducing noise into the equation. The only way to prove this will be to install the whole mess into an engine and carefully dress the wires. I will do that this coming week, but in the meantime I was wondering if anyone else has seen this happen and if they found a guilty culprit?

One last possibility … just throwin’ this out there, but maybe ALL LCRUs normally do this, but it goes unnoticed 99.9% of the time, because the engine is vertical and has at least the load of its own weight to dampen out these glitches.


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Just curious, why are you buying LCRU's when you could use the vastly superior ERR AC Commander?  That gives you 100 speed steps and much smoother running.  Also, any "tuning" is a thing of the past, the R4LC on the AC Commander has a ceramic filter for frequency control.

I'm with Chuck on the noise, it certainly doesn't look like electronics, the bearings appear to be "sloppy".

I'll try to answer them all in one message:

@Chuck Sartor - I'm afraid my videos aren't quite doing the job. Yes, I agree, it does look like something was amiss with the bearings in the first video, but the thing is, there are no bearings (see the 1st pic below.) This is one of those motors where the axles just go straight through a hole in the side frame - no journals, sleeves, etc. Lionel did stamp the frame around the hole outward slightly to act as a spacer for the drive wheel, but that was it. And everything in the drive chain has either fresh oil or grease on it. If you want to see one where the inner race is supposed to spin, check the 2nd pic below. Those are ball bearings I installed on a 600 series motor that had two very worn bearings when I found it! Worked great!! As for the 213, yeah, I know, they are a bit rare. I found that shell (only) at a yard sale, complete with the big round weight riveted through the porthole window in the back door. Unfortunately it was missing the usual nose skirt in front, and apparently a previous owner must have cracked the screw hole in back - when I got it, it had just the top half of the door - someone had cut the rest of the door away and squared it of in the corners. So I completed the job, added plastic, glue and paint.

@gunrunnerjohn, @harmonyards et al. I agree, the bearings are definitely sloppy, they usually are on that style of stamped frame motor. But the two videos below tell a slightly different story, although you have to listen closely. In the first video, running TMCC, as I slowed the motor down with finger pressure on a drive wheel, listen for the clicking noise even as the motor is running quite slow. Admittedly, it's almost impossible to tell the difference in sound between clicking gears and what I am guessing would be clicking caused by electrical spikes - you can see the vertical movement of the armature shaft each time there's a click, indicating either a sudden binding (gears) or a sudden spike in voltage. Now listen to the second video where I am doing the exact same thing - as I slow the motor down with my finger, the major clicks are gone, and so are the vertical bobbles in the armature shaft.

So I'm at a loss as to the root cause, and I don't believe for a second that any clicking that is hard to hear will interfere with my running fun! I wish I had a storage scope where I could see if there were any spikes causing the noise, but I don't, so....

@gunrunnerjohn, Yes, I have seen and heard the virtues of ERR touted many times, and I fully intend to buy/try/use my first one soon. I bought the new LCRU units from Lionel a little over 2 years ago on the 1/2 price sale. $25 each for the LCRUs beat the heck out of $100+ each for the ERRs, especially when used on relatively inexpensive equipment like Lionel ALCO 200's. So it was a $ thing. I look forward to trying something that may be of much better quality!



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