Quick question on the 671 E-Unit. Does the E-Unit normally function at a low voltage setting when using a ZW? When I place the transformer lever to the 3/4-Full Power Range the E-Unit energizes quick and the plunger is retracted up into the coil and essentially functions as it should. I am new to Lionel and figured the E-Unit operated in all voltage ranges. On the lower range it buzzes a little and the plunger moves a little. Sorry for the silly question.
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By 6-7 volts, the E-unit should be energized and advanced to the next position.
on most postwar transformers, including the ZW, the voltage comes on at about 6 volts. The reason for this is to get the e-unit to operate before the locomotive starts to move. If your locomotive is not working this way, try cleaning the e-unit plunger with a contact cleaner spray solvent. One reason for this problem is that someone oiled the plunger. The e-unit plunger should never be oiled.
What David and Rob said is, of course, correct. There is a 3rd scenario in which someone may have recently overhauled your e-unit, and the new contact fingers they used have too much tension, creating friction such that the e-unit drum won't rotate until the coil is boosted to a higher voltage. It's true, they just don't make parts the way they used to!!! I salvage the old e-unit contact fingers whenever possible. Much of the time they clean right up and work great, and they are quite a bit more limber than the new third-party replacement parts.
If yours has NOT been overhauled recently, then just consider this informational - but I would certainly try a shot of contact cleaner in that case, to loosen up the old age gunk!
thank you all for the info. i did rebuild the unit with all new fingers and cloth wiring. the drum just needed to be cleaned along with the other metal parts. what i notice is a few things. when using the e-unit to go in reverse, neutral or forward the plunger goes about halfway up and the engine lurches forward or reverse depending on the direction it was in previously into neutral. then cycling the transformer again it goes in the opposite direction as it should. then intermittantly after power is brought to the off position the plunger seems like its not de energizing right away and drops down a few seconds later.