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Hello everyone, great site for lots of info. I just bought a Lionel 700e from an online auction house (Not Ebay) and paid $1905.00 ($2190.75 with premium). The is a very, very good price, BUT the engine casting is warped. The cow catcher rests right on the third rail and the rear of the cab is also resting on the rear trailing truck. I'm not sure if it's the frame that is bowed (warped) or the boiler. I don't want to take apart and find out why as I'm afraid I might not be able to align the frame/boilers holes to screw back on. The tender is in fantastic shape and whistle is strong. The engine will run (with jumper wires) and cycles forward-neutral-reverse just fine. Is there a way to fix the frame or boiler which ever is warped?

I saw from this site a video from Bryan Hager on the maintenance/repair of 700e Hudson's, but I cannot find any on the internet. Amazon has a "preview" but that is it. Those video's are not longer available from Amazon.
The engine appears to have a new boiler front and side rod crank on engineer side (not sure of the correct name) and frame suggests 1939/40 with oil port in axle, but the cab window frames seem thin, indicating early 1937/39. I wonder if the frame was swapped out at some point. And there is no serial number, anywhere. Thanks!



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I agree, it looks like you have a 1937 cab on a later model frame.  I can't tell from the photos, but it looks like the boiler front may be a repro.  (On originals, the "5344" is raised, like the date on a coin.)  Despite that, you got an excellent deal.

The person who made the 700E videos was Don Hagar (now deceased).

@700E posted:

I agree, it looks like you have a 1937 cab on a later model frame.  I can't tell from the photos, but it looks like the boiler front may be a repro.  (On originals, the "5344" is raised, like the date on a coin.)  Despite that, you got an excellent deal.

The person who made the 700E videos was Don Hagar (now deceased).

700E... The boiler front is newer and the numbers look pad printed, so it is a repo. The side rod, not main rod (not sure on exact name) is a repo. Not a big concern as this was a very good price. I just wish the engine was not warped so I could run it from time to time. I'm trying to find a way if it can be fixed. The thread that Mello Hudson Mike gave me discusses zinc pest and differing opinions on what causes it. I'm searching if this engine can fixed (straightened) and is it worth it. I realize I could buy a 700e frame on ebay, but then I de-value the engine, turn it into a Frankenstein, and have a buy a wheel puller, on and on... This might be a left over 1937/39 cab with small window frames on a newer 1939/40 frame with oil port and no serial number, just not sure.. Not sure if I keep this and make her a shelf queen or sell it...



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"Warp" is not a completely accurate description of what happens when an early 700E casting degrades due to zinc pest.  What's actually happening is that the casting tries to expand in all directions as it degrades.  This is evident on a 700K cab in my collection that had never been mounted to a frame.  It's larger in all dimensions, and will no longer fit on a 700E frame, but there is no warp.  Another indicator of expansion on bad cabs is that the solder joints on the thin rods running forward from the engineer's side of the cab to the front of the engine are broken, with quarter-inch gaps where the joints had been.

At train shows here in Colorado, Don Hagar used calipers on the running boards of 700E's and 763E's to determine how much expansion there had been.

The warping that's commonly observed in cabs and in frames is because the cab has been mounted to a frame that has not expanded (or, at least, has not expanded at the same rate).  The expansion of the cab, but not the frame, is what causes the "cow catcher" to be pushed downward onto the track.

Is your frame warped?  Or is it the cab that’s warped?  If your cab is good and your frame bad, I can check to see whether I have a spare frame.  (I know for sure I don't have any spare cabs.)

My understanding of what the cause of zinc pest is has to do with the amount of zinc in the alloy. If the zinc ratio exceeds the solubility limit, the excess zinc accumulates at the grain boundaries of the molecular structure and causes the bonds to break down. This general topic was discussed years ago in my material science class and I posited that is likely what happens with our model trains.

i would imagine that the amount of excess zinc contributes  to the rate at which parts disintegrate which is why we see 10 year old modern train parts completely crumble while 85 year old models are very slowly self destructing.

700E has a very good explanation of why the model warps. The discrepant part that is growing is constrained in different places which prevents it from growing in a uniform fashion.

I seriously doubt it is possible to save or repair the parts that have warped. Maybe with heat, gentle pressure, and lots of time/patience but it would be extremely risky with a very high probablity of breaking the casting. I’d say either leave it be until it becomes a liability that will cause damage to the rest of the model. Or just replace the frame if you want to enjoy operating it.

Just out of curiousity, did the auction listing mention anything about the condition? Give any kind of grade? Or was it pretty much a sold as is?  I suspect others are correct, that trying to fix it outside replacing the frame might not be possible. Given it already seems like a Frankenstein of sorts, with parts from different engines, if you want a runner that may be the way to go. I only know about the 700e based on what I have read on here, but since you spent so much on it already (well, at least to me), could it be worth it to have one of the restoration places look at it, see what they think? Even if you get a new frame, there is no way to know what will happen when you take it apart.

329C673C-416E-4C82-8CFA-608ECB884745The one good takeaway I see from your purchase is the tender shell looks very straight along the lines of the tender frame.

Last summer I was given a 700E from a good freind . The locomotive had a butchered up brush plate and no whistle in the tender so I made a investment in a good used motor and later on a tender pickup roller and period correct whistle. All in all about a 430 dollar investment.

About every so often I take it out of its case and run it to see if the cowcatcher tip is getter closer to the center rail. If you watch the video at the end you will see my tender has quite a bulge.

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@700E posted:

"Warp" is not a completely accurate description of what happens when an early 700E casting degrades due to zinc pest.  What's actually happening is that the casting tries to expand in all directions as it degrades.  This is evident on a 700K cab in my collection that had never been mounted to a frame.  It's larger in all dimensions, and will no longer fit on a 700E frame, but there is no warp.  Another indicator of expansion on bad cabs is that the solder joints on the thin rods running forward from the engineer's side of the cab to the front of the engine are broken, with quarter-inch gaps where the joints had been.

At train shows here in Colorado, Don Hagar used calipers on the running boards of 700E's and 763E's to determine how much expansion there had been.

The warping that's commonly observed in cabs and in frames is because the cab has been mounted to a frame that has not expanded (or, at least, has not expanded at the same rate).  The expansion of the cab, but not the frame, is what causes the "cow catcher" to be pushed downward onto the track.

Is your frame warped?  Or is it the cab that’s warped?  If your cab is good and your frame bad, I can check to see whether I have a spare frame.  (I know for sure I don't have any spare cabs.)

Good info Mike, not sure if the frame or the boiler is warped as I'm afraid to take it apart. I don't want to find out if I cannot get the screw holes aligned together when putting it back together. I may end up selling this if it can't be repaired. The tender is beautiful, no warping, nice and straight and good whistle.

My understanding of what the cause of zinc pest is has to do with the amount of zinc in the alloy. If the zinc ratio exceeds the solubility limit, the excess zinc accumulates at the grain boundaries of the molecular structure and causes the bonds to break down. This general topic was discussed years ago in my material science class and I posited that is likely what happens with our model trains.

i would imagine that the amount of excess zinc contributes  to the rate at which parts disintegrate which is why we see 10 year old modern train parts completely crumble while 85 year old models are very slowly self destructing.

700E has a very good explanation of why the model warps. The discrepant part that is growing is constrained in different places which prevents it from growing in a uniform fashion.

I seriously doubt it is possible to save or repair the parts that have warped. Maybe with heat, gentle pressure, and lots of time/patience but it would be extremely risky with a very high probablity of breaking the casting. I’d say either leave it be until it becomes a liability that will cause damage to the rest of the model. Or just replace the frame if you want to enjoy operating it.

Okay, so I have to make a choice, let it set and admire it on a shelf. Or swap the frame and run it. I figured this would be my only options, it's just too bad as this is a beauty of an engine. A U.S.A. made piece of Americana that at the time was the very best locomotive ever made from die-cast and from a great toy train company that made it. Also a personal project from the owner and founder this toy train company, Lionel. And made before world war II! I am learning allot by owning this engine, now I need to make some decisions... Thanks everyone!

@bigkid posted:

Just out of curiousity, did the auction listing mention anything about the condition? Give any kind of grade? Or was it pretty much a sold as is?  I suspect others are correct, that trying to fix it outside replacing the frame might not be possible. Given it already seems like a Frankenstein of sorts, with parts from different engines, if you want a runner that may be the way to go. I only know about the 700e based on what I have read on here, but since you spent so much on it already (well, at least to me), could it be worth it to have one of the restoration places look at it, see what they think? Even if you get a new frame, there is no way to know what will happen when you take it apart.

Nope, nothing nada...

If you want my opinion, fix it so it runs.  What's the point of having a dead engine sitting on a shelf.  That's a lot of dough, for me anyway, to buy an engine that doesn't run and is cosmetically compromised already.  So why not fix it.  I like the romanticism in your story about the history and all, I say get it running and be happy with it.  Best of luck.

Cheers,       W   

Gentlemen.... I figured out a way to "lift" the cow catcher on my Hudson. I removed the cow catcher and placed a temporary shimmy (cardboard) between the frame and cow catcher. I plan to look for a piece of styrene plastic that is black, or I can paint black for a permanent fix. I simply loosened the cow catcher screw, placed a shim, which in turn lifts up the cow catcher high enough to run and not hit the third rail. I was able to lift it up about an 1/8" to 1/4". I even found a way to grind the cow catcher a bit down at an angle (with a Dremel) that will force the cow catcher to rise up should the frame or boiler warp further in the future. Of coarse I will wait until I grind the original cow catcher as the shim is working fine. Or I can even get a repo cow catcher and grind that one down in the future, should I need to. I took some pics and a short video, I have not put back the front coupler as I will need to remove the cow catcher once I get a piece of plastic for a permanent fix. I guess she is a keeper now. Thank you all for great info.

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Yes, she is a smooth runner for being 80+ years old. But the motor is small and what from I read, they are not good pullers. In the video posted, I am running her at 16-18 volts and she is running a bit slow for only having to pull the tender, compared to my 773 Hudson, or 1-700e from 1990. Still a great engine. At some point, I will take her apart for a good cleaning and lube and maybe she will run even smoother and a bit faster with 18 volts.

I would love to get a gun metal 763E with the vandy tender. Very classy engine.

The 763 isn’t a great puller either, mostly due to wheel slip. Mine will only do about 4-5 semi scale freight cars on level track and it slips a bit when starting. Takes about 16-17 volts to run at a good clip. I tore the whole engine and tender down and did a full service on it.

These engines should pull a bit better on T-rail since there is more surface area on the railhead compared to tubular track. Wheel slip seems to be the biggest limitation in their pulling ability

Don Hagar taught me how to check 700E and 763E shells for growth.  Lay a metric ruler on the right side running board and measure from the cab to the end of the running board at the boiler front.  If it exceeds 26.5 cm, the shell has grown and will cause the chassis to bind and the shell will eventually fail.  About 15 years ago, I spent $1700 on replacement shells from him to repair two customer’s engines.  He had a “go, no-go” gauge he used when buying Hudsons.  If the gauge didn’t fit the running board, he passed on it.

I took my engine apart to inspect the motor, e-unit, mechanical drive and inspect frame/shell warpage. I noticed that my engine does have the weight over the gearbox, not sure if all 700e's came with the weight. I carefully inspected the frame/shell and they both did not appear to have any warpage. The frame was very easy to unscrew and assemble back together. When removing the cow catcher completely (when I first added the temp cardboard shim, I only loosened the screw), I noticed the cow catcher screw head was slightly bent by the screw head. This meant that when tightening the cow catcher screw to the frame, this forced the cow catcher to sit low when the screw head was tightened flush. I found a similar screw from my Lionel post war parts and TADA!!!!! it sits okay now! No dragging cow catcher! I do have the 1990 1-700e to compare and that cow catcher is higher (I bought and installed the scale front trucks). I can still run my prewar 700e on tubular track (should be run on T-Rail) just fine! No cow catcher scrapping.

Onto another matter... I am still learning about these 700e's, and am no expert. My understanding is that the screw hole ports above the axels indicate 1939/40 production and have no serial numbers. The thin cab window frame is 1937/38 run. My engine has a serial number in the front part of the frame (# 382470), it's hard to see in the pics I am including. Do you guy's think I have a 1937/38 boiler on a 1939/40 frame? That would break my heart as it lowers the value of the engine. Thank you for all the comments and advice.



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I believe the screw holes were added in 1938 which would align with the serial number being a 1938 serial number with prefix 38 and number 2470. Your frame is definitely a 1938. I can't tell if the boiler has a slot along the running board at the tool box (Don Hagar) just behind the boiler front, if so it is a 1937 boiler. The 1937 boiler will also have thin mullions on the cab windows. These were changed in 1938 with the gap below the toolbox being filled in as it made it hard to pull castings out of the dies (per Don Hagar). However that doesn't mean that a left over 1937 boiler was not put on the 1938 frame at the factory. Also, just a note I have seen warpage and zinc pest in 1939 and 1940 700e's as well. They should always be inspected before purchase. I bought a 1939 700e a few years ago on the bay and it was listed as having no zinc pest. After it arrived I carefully examined it with a flashlight and found a bunch of hairline cracks around the cab area and sent it back to the seller.

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