Hello there

I have a Lionel 2026 which has had the armature and brushes cleaned. The E unit has had new fingers and drum roll replaced. All the wires and connections on the e unit are in great condition.

However the same problem to be discussed existed before all this work was done.

If the switch is placed in the far right position facing the front of engine, the engine goes in reverse and quickly reverses and goes in the forward position.  This continue back and forth until the engine overheats and then stops. If the engine is stopped and is going in reverse, and the switch is moved to the far left, the engine goes in reverse, the same situation exists if the the engine is stopped and it is going in the forward position with switch in far left position, the engine goes forward. when placed in the neutral middle position, the engine continues to move in the last position determined from direction last directed from switch in the right position. It does not go into neutral.

I am a little stuck, anyone with ideas. Is it the switch or the e coil?



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Last edited by Steverino
Original Post

I'm a bit confused by this. The proper position for the e-unit switch is (looking at the first pic) with the lever pushed to the right so that the contact on the lever is covering the contact on the e-unit. If the lever is off that position, the engine should stay in the same "gear" position (either forward, neutral or reverse).  When the lever is in it's proper position, are you saying that the engine spontaneously switches "gears". If that's the case, are you sure you don't have a short in the wires to the rollers?




I would take engine apart and directly clip transformer leads to roller and frame, removing the wheel to track contact, then see if engine does same thing.  If it does then I would check that the e unit armature is fully rotating the drum through one position and not stopping in an odd position.  Another check would be if there is a frayed wire(s) that make intermittent shorts or open that trips the E unit coil from it "clunking" vibration.  Is the on/off lever tightly fastened to board and making secure contact to the rivet connection?

Last edited by rrman

There might be another problem here.  I just realized that this engine doesn't have rollers. It has sliding shoes which have a tendency to be a real PITA. If not adjusted properly, they lose contact with the center rail and that will make the engine stall or......switch gears. This is especially true over switches or on curves.   Bend them down to create more pressure and contact on the rail, but it's performance will never be the same as an engine with rollers.


I have a 2026 which I had to work over when I first got it. It has a center rail slider pickup which works fine, no problems. Your reversing issue sounds like incorrect wiring. Suggest you disconnect the motor and e-unit, then put power to the e-unit coil only to verify that it cycles properly. Then trace out all your connections to double-check them against the wiring diagram.

Check the wires leading to the e unit. Sometimes Lionel stripped a little TOO much and they shorted on the unit frame. Had some switchers and the like that did that.

Thanks for the prompt replies!

Yes this engine has slide shoes and not rollers. Great catch without a picture. I have posted one now.

Great answers, but then again I would expect the engine to keep reversing direction if placed in the forward position. Why would it not short out then? That is why I am confused?

The wiring is correct if you look at all pictures. All the wires are color coded and are exactly the same as other posts regarding wiring of this engine.

The position of switch in original pictures was only to show the wiring being correct.

Very confusing

I would do as Ace suggests first.....disconnect the e-unit and test it to make sure it cycles. But I've worked on 3 of these sliding shoes engines for some friends over the last couple of months. All with the same issue.....the shoes losing contact. With two of them, bending the shoes improved their performance, but with one of them, we may tether the engine to it's tender to make use of the tender's rollers.



May I ask when switching the unit switch to the right, that position only switches direction of the engine? Then you must switch to left to maintain desired direction?

I thought right position the was the reverse position of engine?

So I assumed the 3 switch position from L to R is Forward, Neutral, Reverse. Am I incorrect?

Check around the e-unit coil to see if one of the wires can vibrate into contact with the frame.

I never heard of the switch having a forward position.  On all the e-units I've ever encountered, the switch merely opens or closes the connection from track to the coil.  In the leftmost picture above, the finger is off the contact so the coil should never energize and loco never change direction.

Well maybe the unit is working right then.

Can someone tell this "newbie to overhauling" what are the 3 positions of the e unit L to R looking forward from the cab. Is the right position only used to change direction and then switch to another position?

This may totally clear this problem up.


Thanks so much for everyone's input.


There's only one position that e-unit should be in. In the first pic.....the lever should be all the way to the right so that the contact on the lever is touching the e-unit contact.  As RJR stated....if it's off that position, the engine can't switch gears.    You only move it off that position if you want to fix the engine in one "gear". Personally, I never do that unless I'm double heading two PW engines.



Well then if I put in far right position, it continuously reverses position.

What type of tool would you suggest bending the slides with a small screwdriver?

Also you can see that the slides have a groove in them, would that cause the problem. if so would you replace and how easy is that to do without taking the whole engine apart?

To answer someone another question, the two small wires from the e unit coil are not grounded to e coil frame.



When you say "it continuously reverses position" is it on the track or alligator clipped to a transformer?  The answer to that will help narrow this down.   Clip a lead directly to a shoe and the other to frame ground (while holding the engine right side up) and see if you have the same problem.

Bending the shoes is easy with a rather large slotted screwdriver. They'll bend pretty easily. Don't bend the rear shoe too drastically as it will then catch on your switches. Replacing them, though, is a pretty simple procedure. A flashlight and a slotted screwdriver is all you'll need. And you don't need to take anything apart.

On the track

Should I hook clips to a CTC track connector or directly to transformer?

Thanks you have been great help.

Are you certain that the finger on the lever makes good, sold contact with the little "rivet-head" contact.  See leftmost picture, where the contact is visible to the right of the lever?  And does the pin of the lever make good contact where it pivots?

Check wires from shoes to make sure they have good contact all the way.  You're dealing with old stuff, and soldered joints could be failing.

Use eyes and ears.  If the headlight doesn't flash, problem is not the shoes.  If the e-unit buzz interrupts, and light doesn't flash, problem is in connections between slideshoes & coil, INCLUSIVE. coil.

Last edited by RJR


Clip it to a transformer as described and see what happens.

Link to replacing the shoes......http://pictures.olsenstoy.com/cd/locos/loc2026c.pdf


imageimagePush in the hot contact on the E unit, the one with the wires, it appears to me that contact is leaning out to far making intermittent contact with the shell. 


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When an e-unit is engaged(i.e. lever is on top of the contact) every time you cut power the engine changes "gears" i.e. forward, neutral, reverse, neutral, forward and so on. If it doesn't work this way then your e-unit might need some help. When the lever is off the contact, it holds the last "gear" used.

If the lever isn't making good contact with that little brass colored rivet thingy (I don't know the correct term), that could be causing your problem. I fixed this on my 2026 by building up a little solder on it so that the lever has good tight contact when engaged. Taking off the engine shell has a tendency to cause the lever to bend.

Last edited by Tom M

If you can put the e unit in a vise to gently hold it and connect your jumper wires to the two side contacts were the wire is soldered and you should see it operate  the roller contact.  You can replacements for the sliding shoes by getting 2 #2036-122 rollers with bracket. $1.75 each at the train tender. Just release the copper clip inside the insulator and pull old part out and slide new one in...


A video of your loco with the lever in the far right position to show us what is happening would help. Since you are in Colorado, you are close to Chuck Sartor, he can get you fixed up. He shows up on the forum, I am surprised he didn't jump in on it. 

Thank you all to your suggestions. My first time using this forum and it was a great experience!

Roger1 especially thanks to you as your suggestion to bend the shoes to make better contact with the middle rail was the answer to the problem. I never would have thought to have tried that.

I guess I will now replace the shoes as they are pretty well grooved.

Cheers to all!!!



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