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The smoke fan motor of my Lionel 6-38848 Zephyr emits a loud whine. Lionel Parts lists this replacement motor:

I have been having trouble ordering this part from Lionel (still trying). Meanwhile, I'm hoping that someone can point me to a small DC motor that would be the same or equivalent to the Lionel part.

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Its like there are mind readers on this forum or a lot of similar thoughts from folks. I recently just received a new LC2 4014 and immediately noticed the fan noise upon start up. Not being afraid of the guts, I did the "oil trick" but still noticed a resonating noise I can hear throughout the train body. I noticed the noise in every other video of the locomotive after tuning into what noise I was looking for but I'm brainstorming a sound dampener between the smoke unit and the chassis. Does anyone know of a brushless motor that would suit smoke units?

Gotcha, I have seen some in the RC plane world that have the board/controller for the brushless motor built into the motor itself on the end of the can but understand this may require more thought. I have the loco apart again to try to diagnose my problem further. I really can't stand the noise that it emits but also hear it in other videos so it doesn't make me think it's "wrong".

@hearncl posted:

The smoke fan motor of my Lionel 6-38848 Zephyr emits a loud whine. Lionel Parts lists this replacement motor:

I have been having trouble ordering this part from Lionel (still trying). Meanwhile, I'm hoping that someone can point me to a small DC motor that would be the same or equivalent to the Lionel part.

I was able to put one of those motors right into a shopping cart on Lionel parts website.  I have done the oil the armature but it's hit and miss on taking out the whine.   I would not look for a substitute especially since those diagonal holes are tapped for machine screw for mounting.  Let us know what trouble you are having on your part order and we should be able to help.

Oiling the motor didn't help. Now, when smoke is switched on, the motor whines for a few seconds, stops, and the cab light blinks the smoke unit trouble code.

This engine was purchased "NIB" but the latest catalog was 2014 so it must have sat on a shelf several years. Lots of time for the motor bearings to dry. Everything else works perfectly.

I just tried ordering the part for the third time, using a different computer browser. Same symptoms as before. I get an online order confirmation with order ID, but do not get a confirming email from Lionel. The parts charge immediately appears on my credit card account online, listed as pending. On the first two attempts the pending charge disappeared in a few days. I have tried calling Lionel customer service, but have had to give up after a long time on hold. I have ordered parts from Lionel before, always with quick service. Perhaps the part is no longer available, in spite of being listed as an available replacement part, but I get no indication of this from Lionel.

Any information will be appreciated on where to order this or an equivalent motor that could possibly be fitted in place.

OP, have you isolated the motor itself to verify its the actual motor cause the issue running and throwing the code? I hooked a AA battery to some wire and then hotwired my motor let it spin the oil down slowly and not get flung off the shaft and also to verify it was working like a motor should.

My question would be is if the only difference with these motors is the can/shaft length and the holes to line up the screws for mounting?

This was my solution to the noise that was coming from the engine. I tried a little foam in between the metal bracket and the chassis and the tolerances were too tight to make any difference because the foam would eventually compress and then that vibration would be present.

I whipped up a quick 3D design and printed it out based on the bracket that holds the smoke unit. After install it has made a night and day difference from the noise. I cleaned out my motor with electronic parts cleaner and then reapplied the oil as well. I just used some 5w-30 fully synthetic oil. I did have to get familiar with soldering the motor connections as well as the PCB itself lol.

Like GRJ said, the motors themselves can't be all that expensive so I figured fighting with that portion would result in the most wasted time and effort. I may buy some MTH motors for the future as spares and to see if there are any whisper quiet ones hiding in the bunch but for now I'm much happier. I did post a little video on youtube but the file was too large to post here.

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I have not received a confitmatiin email in I cannot tell you how long. Obviously a line of code is broken (I architected it!). If you have an order # then your order is in. Part orders are running 10-15 days behind, plus add to that the broken USPS system (taking 3+Weeks to move across town 5 miles.....

I would caution swapping MTH 15mm fan motors into Lionel 11mm applications, as the bottom of the motor will start to interfere with other areas within the loco.

bummer the oil didn’t work out.

Thank you,

Mike

I'm pretty sure this was sometime in the last century and before OGR switched hosts...so the thread(s) are gone...but there was a point in time where someone identified where you could buy the smoke fan motors for less than $1 a piece IIRC. 

All I remember is the DC motor is the FF-N20 which is a Mabuchi Motor Co. design and widely copied.  If you google FF-N20 you'll find hundreds of variations. The key is to find the magic suffix numbers/letters.  Such as FF-N20xx-xxxxx.  I don't recall how you translate the suffix characters to shaft length, voltage, speed, etc. but someone found where to get the "correct" replacement part without paying the Lionel/MTH price...and I got my lifetime supply!

ff-n20

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Brasseur Trains, Saginaw,Mi.  Great guy just ask Bob and I bet he has the parts in stock.  Bought a smoke unit fan motor from him a few months ago.  Give him a call 989-793-4753.  I've been doing business with Bob for well over 30 years and if your in town there visit the store.  Great old building in downtown Saginaw.  Visited him just this past weekend on our trip up to Northern MI.   While in town visit the old Porter Street Station one of the oldest in Michigan but first check it out on the Internet.

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  • Porter Street Station, Saginaw, MI.: Just a small portion of the station.  It's really big
@Lary posted:

Brasseur Trains, Saginaw,Mi.  Great guy just ask Bob and I bet he has the parts in stock.  Bought a smoke unit fan motor from him a few months ago.  Give him a call 989-793-4753.  I've been doing business with Bob for well over 30 years and if your in town there visit the store.  Great old building in downtown Saginaw.  Visited him just this past weekend on our trip up to Northern MI.   While in town visit the old Porter Street Station one of the oldest in Michigan but first check it out on the Internet.

I also use Brasseurs for spare fan motors and a load of other parts. I think that they are on restricted hours because parts ship a few days after ordering but the same applies in most cases with Lionel these days.

As Mike R. says - and obviously he would know - Lionel does not send confirmation emails any more. But I have never failed to get a parts order from them once I’d succeeded in placing it. Plus, if they are actually out of stock of something you won’t be able to add it to the online cart.

It’s well known that Lionel had issues with failing fan motors a few years back. Any spares that I have I test with a depleted 9 volt battery first before installing them. A fan motor that has bad bearings will always whine (literally) as soon as it is powered up.

I reexamined my lubrication of the fan motor and found that I was not getting oil on the bearing hidden below the impeller. I pulled the impeller and added a drop of oil to the bearing. This fixed, at least temporarily, the motor whine. I will still replace the motor when I can obtain the correct replacement.

Thanks for all the helpful comments on my original post.

Last edited by hearncl

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