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The Odyssey Motor had no commutators and had no motor brushes. The Odyssey Motor was essentially a 3-phase synchronous motor. The motor had 9 stator and 8 rotor poles. Lionel tried to manufacture the Odyssey Motor on the same equipment that was used to manufacture the universal "Pullmor " motor which ultimately failed.

The C-sine or soft-drive motor by Marklin which is on the market is very similar in concept to the Odyssey Motor.

WBC is correct.  I spent a long time in the Lionel tent at York running the motor.  Lionel had it in a Mikado and it would climb a huge grade with no issue.  They had a few other engines but I spent time with the steamer.  It ran great.  Several existed.  The real reason it was not put in engines may never be known.  If it is a good item, you may have a chance with great people at Lionel today.  

Fred, that stolen story is not true.  That has been going around for years.  Lionel had (still has) several motors.  At the Lionel tent in York, they had several.  Security on the table with the motors was present.  I was lucky enough to be able to run one.  If one got stolen, others were available.  

The motor had a worm and worked the same as a regular motor in a geared truck.  The plan and design was like Fred stated they could be stacked on top of each other for added power.



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  • ODYSSEY Motor
Last edited by Marty Fitzhenry

Others have already said that the reason the motor was not produced is lost in history. Still, if the product is as good as everyone says it is, why doesn't Lionel produce it now? Certainly, someone at Lionel should know the answer to that. The only reason I can think of, and this is pure speculation on my part, is that it is too expensive to produce and not superior enough to what they already have to justify the cost of production.

Lionel catalogued a Chessie SD9, basically a GP7 with six wheel trucks, that was supposed to have this motor in it I think.  The box even says pullmor motor  with Odyssey speed control system.  I had two, but they came with just a pullmor motor.  It was a different design than their regular pullmor motor in the Geeps.  The sounds were very weak in these engines.  No Odyssey speed system.  It was in a 2002 catalogue.  The model number is 6-28205.  If you google it, it comes up on Lionel's site.

Last edited by William 1

What goes into making the product,how it is concived, designed and built is just as interesting as the products themselves.

The part about going over seas is also very interesting. Not to get political or turn this into some political thread. It is funny how manufactures have to do this some times to compete in the global economy like he said with his competiotors. Also the goverment regulations on buinesses at the time may played a part and  dictated to all the major companys that in order to make a profit it was nessesary to go overseas.

I assume that this was a brushless synchronous motor with permanent magnet poles in the rotor and electrical poles on the stator controlled by a variable frequency alternating current produced by some sort of electronic control circuit..

Would be interesting to hear how much more complicated and costly this would be versus todays circuit that drives a DC can motor.  

C W Burfle posted:

Brushless motors seem to be common and relatively inexpensive in cordless power tools these days. I wonder whether Lionel or any of the other manufacturers will take a new look at using them.

And RC cars, too. At the hobby shop where I work part time, sales of the brushless motor version of Traxxas vehicles have ballooned in the past four years.

A brushless version cost about $100 more than the same vehicle with a traditional motor, but that’s not a problem for experienced hobbyists who want higher-end maximum speed out of their RC cars.

Last edited by Jim R.

I used brushless motors extensively in avionics some years back, they were pretty expensive at the time.  With the drop in price of electronic control, it is more cost effective to use them.  I will say, that the electronics to control brushless motors is still more involved than the simple PWM control of the can motors we use today.  I suspect that the added costs of manufacture and the resultant multiplier for the retail sales price may be a limiting factor.

What’s The Difference Between Brush DC And Brushless DC Motors?

Just a simple search of Alibaba shows brushless motors for $0.1 to 

Brushless electronic speed controllers are roughly $20 which is way less than Legacy electronics

The whole system seems pretty inexpensive to me. 

Also keep in mind that bushless DC motors are actually AC synchronous motors. The electronic speed controller is fed DC which is then transformed to an AC frequency. The frequency fed to the motor determines the rotational speed of the rotor. I guess one could call the traction motors on an ES44AC DC motors for the same reason, even though there is no way an asynchronous motor will operate off of DC. In an ES44AC the prime mover rotates a generator which produces AC current. The AC current is rectified to DC. The DC is then fed to an electronic speed controller which converts the DC to a frequency. The frequency is then fed to the induction motors which drive the wheels. 

Brushless motors with variable frequency drives rule the R/C world. Very little use of brushed motors anymore. 

gunrunnerjohn posted:

I think the notion that it's cheaper to build the speed control and drive circuitry for brushless motors may not be 100% accurate.  In researching speed control, I find that they seem not to address that issue.  Reading this article, speed control isn't as simple as people here think it is.

A Cost Effective Speed Control Method for BLDC Motor Drive

Simple paper. Easy to understand. I am not sure what is complicated; it is just matrix algebra and differential equations. Figure 7 shows the sine waves fed to the motor.

On Alibaba there both inrunner and outrunner motors for $1.00 each with 30 units for the MOQ. 

For ~$10.00 per motor you can have them smaller than a thumb

And here is another speed controller for brushless motors


So despite the alleged complexity of the and it being not a simple as some think that it is , there are plenty of companies and entities manufacturing and selling brushless motors and electronic speed controllers at reasonable prices.  


gunrunnerjohn posted:

So, where are the O-gauge model trains using them?   If it's so simple, why don't you create a nice package for O-gauge, should be a great selling product.

I capitulate. You're completely correct. Brushless motors are just too complicated, complex, not simple enough and not inexpensive enough for the majority of those in O gauge to understand or  utilize them.

My new weed wacker utilizes them at 1/6 the cost of a new diesel O-gauge locomotive. Somehow Greenworks understands them. They must be ultra geniuses there. 

weed wacker


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  • weed wacker
Last edited by WBC

Jon Z. mentioned the effort for Pulmore cruise, he said that the low speed performance was not sufficient to move ahead with the project.  I believe it was something along the lines of the amount of field current being insufficient without overheating, but I may be remembering wrong. Another issue is likely the three pole motor, in order to get half decent low speed cruise, I suspect that at least 5 poles would be desirable.

In any case, I'm sure that Jon could give you the straight scoop on the Pulmore cruise and why it was abandoned.

I have no doubt that brushless controls "could" be developed for O-gauge.  I suspect, in spite of the peanut gallery, that it has been investigated and deemed not cost justified.  After all, it's not like the can motors are dropping like flies, so that's not a major motivating issue.  One of the big advantages of the brushless motor is MTBF, but a vast majority of model trains don't run nearly enough to wear out a brushed can motor.

Years ago, we used brushless motors in avionics specifically because of the MTBF.  We could get brushless motors with an MTBF of up to 50,000 hours, where the brushed motors were no more than 6,000.  In calculating the MTBF of a whole instrument, that was a huge factor, and since some of the cockpit displays sold for more than $10,000, the extra money for brushless technology was not an issue.

I thought brushless motors were supposed to give better battery life. A big deal for cordless power tools and R/C equipment. Not so much for toy trains getting power from the track.

regardless: Where are the products?
How long did it take the companies to develop their current control systems?
How long have they been making wireless controlled locos?

Eventually we may see some trains using brushless motors.

I developed specialized coatings for the aeronautics industry so I know just a little bit on the subject. Perhaps not as much as you, but a little bit. Yes, MTBF is a property to be considered, but with it is just a small consideration. Weight and size are the major considerations in aeronautics. Burshless motors give the same ability to do work in a package that is 1/4 the weight of an equivalent brushed motor. Furthermore, because of the much greater efficiency (90+% for a brushless motor vs. 60% for a brushed motor) the amount of watts being utilized by the brushless motor to do the same work is greatly reduced from that of a brushed motor. That results in the aircraft having reduced watts requirement which means that fewer batteries are carried which saves a huge amount of weight and less is drawn off the aircraft motors during flight which means they consume less fuel during flight. All this contributes to reducing MEW which allows for more revenue earning payload or more fuel to be carried. 

WBC posted:

I developed specialized coatings for the aeronautics industry so I know just a little bit on the subject. Perhaps not as much as you, but a little bit. Yes, MTBF is a property to be considered, but with it is just a small consideration. Weight and size are the major considerations in aeronautics. Burshless motors give the same ability to do work in a package that is 1/4 the weight of an equivalent brushed motor.

Well, you obviously know about larger motors, but I'm talking about motors that have to drive one little pointer on an instrument dial.  I can assure you that MTBF was the MAJOR factor we considered in picking components.  Obviously, the instrument had to be designed to do the job, I hope that goes without saying.  We had a weight budget of course, but the motor selection was but a small part of the picture, and the difference in weight between motor types never even entered my mind.  Far more weight was in the five gear trains, the synchro feedback, and the electronics package to drive all of this.  An entire instrument with a number of servo loops had to meet a guaranteed 6,000 hours MTBF, and with this one with five servo loops, we achieved a 20,000 MTBF in actual operation.  This is the Mach/Airspeed indicator that was basic on all Boeing 737 aircraft for about 15 years before it was replaced by the all glass cockpit.  Putting five brushed motors in there we could have never achieved anything close to that.


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  • mceclip0

Dumb question:  Aren't brushless motors prone to cogging at low RPM?

Most brushless motors I've seen are on high RPM applications: RC vehicles and Airplanes, weed wackers etc.  Except for a drill, but how long are you drilling something at a low speed compared to a train going around a layout at a low speed.

All I read on modern use of brushless motors at low speed suggests you need a separate speed feedback like a hall effect sensor.  However, you have to remember your locomotive has gearing so you have anywhere from around 16:1 to 40:1 gearing driving the wheels.  They will run rougher at low speeds, especially if they have fewer poles.  The brushless motor is very similar to a stepper motor with a different number of poles.  The more poles, the smoother the motor will run, and the low speed it will attain.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

I say again, where are the O-gauge products if it's so simple?

Simple answer:  weed whacker=off/on/off/on

Model train:  infinitely variable from 2SMPH to 100SMPH and absolutely linear with no low speed aberrations.

And with due respect to Jim R and his vast knowledge, the commercial slot race setups and their associated controllers approach the operational method of:  off/on/off/on; or on/coast/on/coast.

Lou N

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