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What's the real, the principal source of the characteristic 'grinding' noise from these ubiquitous 2-axle cars?   

Put another way, what is the single most effective repair that would have these buggers ricochet back and forth down the track without sounding like they're trying to destroy themselves?

I've repaired several of these through the years.  As per service/construction documents on these I've always taken care to be sure the parts are correct, complete, replaced as necessary.  Each unit has been thoroughly and carefully cleaned...especially the commutator and brushes...then properly lubed during re-assembly.  And they all have that characteristic grinding noise when they're tested.

What have the gurus found to be primary/secondary culprits for the noise?  Inherent cogging of the motor by design?  Axial play of the vertical shaft?  Imprecise worm/gear mesh reflecting motor cogging?  Sparking between the brush and commutator?  Etc., etc., etc..?  All of the above?  And then some?

The #60 Trolley I just cleaned/repaired got me to wondering.  When it was then tested, while running in one direction it was uncommonly quiet...IMHO from years of repairing/cleaning these...,  but in the reverse direction it was more typically a real 'grinder'...and somewhat slower in speed.  Clearly something was different about the motor/gear/everything else action in the two directions.

I've usually embraced the grinding sound of these beasties as part of the Lionel 'schtick' of this postwar genre.  But, now this latest trolley has me wondering; Can that grinding BOTH better controlled by ___?__??

I guess I could carefully evaluate/alter some of the possible variables in the design to see their effects.  But,'s too short, and, more importantly, there are forumites far more invested in understanding these sorts of issues to 're-invent the wheel', so to speak.

Any thoughts to share?

And, no!...I'm not going to turn up the music and turn down the hearing aids!!  And, to Homasote, or not, has nothing to do with the question or answer!

Thanks in advance.


Last edited by dkdkrd
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Why shouldn't they be noisy.  Back in the days of trolley cars, I don't recall any quiet cars other than PCC's.  The noise of clattering gears was normal.  Same on MU cars until the 50's.  The gear noise of a GG-1 starting a heavy train was impressive.

BTW, grinding isn't really the right word.  It implies loss of meta.  Gear noise wasn't actually grinding, it was normal to hear gears making noise in the days before digitally controlled precision machinery.l

BTW, grinding isn't really the right word.

Au contraire, pal.  It's a sonic match for the cute little coffee bean grinder my sister gifted us years ago!   (Gathering dust in the  kitchen cabinet.)

Sure, long, long ago...maybe 60+ years!... I disassembled a #50 Gang Car after listening to the....'grinding'...noise for several minutes just to check for metal dust, shavings, debris, etc..  There wasn't any obvious detritus.  Of course, over the years I learned that it is, indeed, the nature of these 4-wheel coffee bean grinders to have this rather unique operational sound...though not always to the same degree. 

BTW, you didn't offer your own one-word alternative descriptor?


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