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I have a single motor K-Line S-2 switcher that I got used six+ months ago. It appears to have come from a cheaper ready to run set from the late 1980’s early 90’s.  When it first arrived I tested it and everything worked fine. I was going to use it on my Christmas tree layout and it doesn’t move. When I add power the engine lights up but doesn’t move. It does start buzzing very loudly and shaking. The sound reminds me of activating a Lionel dump car.

Any ideas on the problem or a solution?59C51995-7E76-4878-AA20-1013BFDA1DB7AA1C9DAE-9E0B-4194-BC32-4A10876B41054850EEB2-0A3C-498C-9515-89931D4E1202


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Heres the True Value ready to run set I think it came from:

833027D7-7AFD-4BAD-AB8D-CBBF444BF878The switcher definitely only has one motor so either this is a version with only one motor or someone removed a motor which could explain a board getting burned out. It actually did move forward when I first got it but that could have been the first and final run with one motor.

I specifically wanted the Southern Pacific Black Widow shell so maybe I should get another one and just swap the shells to get a working version.


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@GG14449, your S-2 above, as Rob said in your other post about the Lionel 4-4-2 steam engine, was a single motored DC powered engine that was from the only DC powered train set K-Line offered. All other K-Line S-2's were both dual motored and had circuit board reverse units. The circuit board also converts the AC current from a typical 3-rail transformer to DC current required for the DC can motors.

There is another version of your SP engine that has the words "San Francisco" printed on the orange stripe of the cab. This is the dual motored version that runs off normal AC current. Just as an aside here, all the K-Line (and similar type Lionel) locos of this type and vintage (RDC, S-2, Alco FA and MP-15) will run on either AC or DC current... except for the ones that are DC only, which are usually from budget priced starter sets.

If the engine worked earlier, chances are you were running it with the DC power pack that came with the set. Or you put it on the track for a moment and ruined the motor.

Your solution is to run the engine with a DC power pack. The typical black and red handle Tyco type power pack that came with this and other Lionel DC only sets, has a high starting voltage, so it is very hard to avoid jack-rabbit starts and stops. An inexpensive solution would be to find one of the Bachmann type DC power packs that come with their starter sets... they resemble a computer mouse. None of the DC power packs of this type have a lot of amperage, but they certainly will run that K-Line loco and an illuminated caboose. But probably not any other operating cars that need power or illuminated cars.

Your other solution as has been suggested in the other post, is to purchase a K-Line or basic Lionel reverse circuit board. You'll want to get the mounts for the circuit board or either make one with foam and double stick foam tape.

Nope, that engine in the True Value set has the words "San Francisco" on the cab, which is the giveaway that it is the normal type of S-2, as also indicated on the printing on the box, along with the regular starter set transformer.

Not many folks would have gone to the trouble to not only remove the circuit board, and the motor from the truck, but they'd also had to have pulled the wheels off to remove the gears from that other motor truck.

The K-Line set that engine you have came from is the K-1301 Range Runner, pictured in the below link...


For possible future purchasing purposes if there anyway to easily differentiate a AC vs a DC powered unit? I don’t have the budget to buy new engines and have built up everything from auctions, Craigslist and eBay. It would be nice to avoid future purchase mistakes like this. I got the S-2 with three or four boxcars for $40 so I don’t feel too bad about it but still would still rather have a working switcher.

GG... this is the problem with buying used on the internet, is that a good many folks selling trains don't know what they have. Or haven't tested it (make sure they accept returns). Or they may be selling them for someone else... lots of scenarios there. It pays to ask questions, ask for more photos and most importantly, to know about the products you are interested in. I mean, how many times do you see the word "rare" when there are a dozen or more of the same exact product for sale at the same time? Obviously, NOT rare.

To answer your question, yes the shells of the S-2's are interchangeable. Though you want to be careful lining up the handrails into the cab holes as to not scratch the paint.

It looks to me by your last above photos, that someone switched Southern Pacific shells and put one of the DC powered SP version shells on a regular dual motored S-2 chassis. Again, the giveaway according to K-Line, is the DC powered SP S-2 lacks the San Francisco words on the cab bottom. The normal (like all the other S-2's) SP engine has those words on the cab.

None of the K-Line S-2's ever came with a horn. When Lionel marketed K-Line products under the "K-Line by Lionel" banner they made several S-2's with a horn sound... sort of an electronic bleep. RMT, when they made their version of the S-2, the S-4 Bang, it also had a horn with directional lights and a cab strobe light, along with some other improvements. BUT those RMT s-4's are HARD to find and they easily go for $150-$200.00

A budget solution for sounds (if you can find one) would be one of the Model Rectifier Sound Stations, now discontinued. It is a separate self contained unit with two speakers and a remote controller that has all sorts of sounds, like steam whistle, diesel horn, crossing bell, engine bell, diesel rumble, etc. I have an extra one I could sell you if you're interested.

One more pointer... if you don't have a DC power pack to test your engine to see if it still works, a 6 volt wall wort will do. Stick a wire inside the connection jack and clip another wire to the outside of the connection jack. Then with the engine cradled upside down, touch one wire to the pickup roller and the other wire to one of the wheels.

By the way, I'm a "budget" modeler too. Which is why my layout is set up to run either AC or DC to the track. The DC only powered locos tend to be bargain priced, and for me, are easily fixed up and improved.

@Leroof posted:

Would a set of K line MP 15 motorized trucks fit the chassis of the k line S2?

The basic motor block should be the same, but the bolster/sideframe assembly and the pilot assembly with coupler hardware is different. I will measure the dimensions and check mounting points later after work just to be sure they are the same wheelbase.  This would make swapping the parts over very easy.

Last edited by ADCX Rob

Actually, the gear box motor house pieces are both different as are the gears. The MP-15 axles are just slightly further apart than the S-2. The S-2, Alco FA and Budd RDC cars share the same gear box motor housing, although the Budd RDC has a longer arm couplers than the other two.

As to putting the MP-15 truck on to an S-2 frame, the quick easy simple answer is NO.

Yes, you can unscrew the front pilot/steps assembly. But you'll still have to get out the Dremel and do some serious cutting and grinding to the diecast truck side frames, as they are longer than those of the S-2. Even removing the "fuel tank" piece from the bottom of the S-2 will not completely remedy the problem, as the MP-15 truck sides will still hit the folded sheet metal steps from the S-2 frame. You'll also have to remove the guide pin (that fits into the curved slot of the locomotive frame) from the MP-15 truck as it doesn't line up with the curved slit in the S-2 frame.

So can it be done? Well yes, because I've done it, BUT not without doing all the things I just mentioned. In other words, it's not just a quick easy simple swap.

Last edited by brianel_k-lineguy

@ADCX Rob, the one thing I never thought about doing until now, is if you could take the plastic side frame assembly from the S-2, and put that on to the gear box motor housing assembly of the MP-15. Yes, there are differences between the gear box motor housing assemblies of the two locos BUT would the mounting holes (where the 4 silver screws go) of the two frame assemblies happen to be in the same place??

I just made a visual inspection and they look like they might just line up. BUT the only way to know for certain is to actually pull one an Alco truck apart and (I have a loose MP-15 truck side frame assembly) see if it will fit properly and screw in. And I don't have time to get to that right now.

PS Rob, thanks for your many contributions you make on so many threads. I've learned a thing or two over the years from your postings.

Last edited by brianel_k-lineguy

I am always impressed with the level of detail/knowledge that members of this forum have. This is all very helpful in terms on how best to move forward.

As a longer term project it would be fun to convert the DC motor to AC but I don’t have time for that now. I found another K-Line S-2 switcher online for $50 and am going to attempt to swap out the shells to run the Southern Pacific livery. This purchase has more detail and looks to be in great shape. So when all is said and done I’ll have spent $90 for a working switcher, four boxcars and a possibility fun project for me and my son to work on in 2022. I’ll let you all know how the shell swaps goes and post some photos of the process.

B701A9DD-E5F6-4B56-AFDF-D57937A24B7367FA88EB-ABE3-499B-9C18-7D8FA9FE0875Ok good and bad news. I got the replacement switcher(it’s a K-line by Lionel version and actually does have a (quiet) horn. The bad news is that the seller didn’t mention that the front coupler was broken. And we cannot have a switcher without a front coupler can we? Any instructions or advice on how to take the coupler off the SP DC switcher and replace the broken coupler in the AC version?

I also read about how these units basically go or stop and yes I can confirm that they are not “smooth runners”. Basically stopped or warp speed are the choices. I also read that wiring them in series could help. Does anyone have instructions on how to rewire the motors in series?

One of the great things about this hobby for me is that I can get into it relatively cheaply and that even when things go wrong with some used purchases most of the time I can fix them with the help of this forum(and then I learn something in the process).


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Last edited by GG14449

Series wiring the motors is simple. Here are pix of one of my S2's. Mine are AC powered so the board is probably different but the wires from the motors should be the same since they are DC can motors.

The blue from one motor goes to one side of the power off the board (brown on mine).

both yellow wires get spliced together

the blue from the other motor goes to the other side of the board (light blue on mine).

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8E6E0BCA-E474-441B-A816-CF3E299B05146913B013-6003-4F03-9222-C71A9A4921776B8F2807-1C90-4188-BF0D-6E111F64382DB3190343-BCBB-4720-8C80-6B250D4F66DDOk started the shell swap and it got complicated. The SP K-Line is obviously much less advanced than the K-Line by Lionel WP engine. To do a full swap I’d have to remove everything from the silver WP frame and reattach it to the SP frame. This would also require me figuring out how to remove and reattach the lights from the WP and they seem to be glued.

rather than risking ending up with two non functional switchers I think I need to just go with the WP but need to replace the front coupler which is broken. I’m trying remove the SP coupler and use that but can’t get either one off. Any advice on how to do that without breaking them? Is the front coupler supposed to be a non-operating coupler or should it be like the rear coupler?(the SP has a fixed coupler in the front but that might just because it’s a super cheap DC version).

I also noticed the “On/Off” switch on the bottom of the WP. What is that for? Does it turn off the reverse function?(I didn’t get a manual with the WP).

Finally, how would I go about rewiring the WP to get it to run in series to slow it down?


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Last edited by GG14449

I successfully replaced the front coupler on the WP K-Line by Lionel S-2. In the process the thin plastic “T” piece did break. I’m not sure what the purpose of that was but the brute force required to pop the plastic tack out didn’t allow for being too careful. At least I have a switcher with a front coupler now!

The engine does not run smoothly. When you power it up it’s pretty noisy and rattly before it starts moving. And as I said before there is no slow crawl option basically stop or go fast. The horn is also very quiet. Any advice on how to improve either would be welcome.

Either way it’s been a learning experience for me.70998A26-A427-4B7A-87F3-E092E3EC32C8D26B5365-A1EF-4533-AA9C-9181B1916FB8


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Last edited by GG14449

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