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Hello everyone trainfam here,

I’ve found myself in a bit of a sticky situation, I’ve got a standard gauge motor from a Lionel 53. Unfortunately I believe the commutator/ brushes are a bit over oiled and most likely need to be dried. My question is what is the best way to dry the pieces off? When I put the locomotive Under power, especially in reverse, the oil that’s on the brushes begins to burn and as a result the brushes smoke. See video below:

as you can see smoke begins to come out of the brush and brush housing when power is put on the motor. How can I fix this and prevent it from happening in the future?

                                                 Trainfam

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thanks for the response @Überstationmeister

I checked and the motor turns freely and  the armature and field look to be fine. So is it possible that the gauge of wire on the engine is wrong? It appears to me that someone has rewired the motor and possibly with a different gauge of wire than Lionel intended to be used with these motors? Take a look at the picture below of the wires on the 53 when in comparison to another motor I have which has the right wires:

the wires on the 53:

DC0273F1-AB5E-49CF-81B3-3863B4885C35

the wiring on the other locomotive:

image





the other locomotive is my number 5 that Joe mania fixed for me. Excellent work by him, the engine runs great. In comparison the wiring on the 53 looks too strong of wire to be used with the locomotive. Could this be the reason why my engine is smoking?

                                                       Trainfam

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Last edited by TrainFam
@TrainFam posted:

Hello everyone trainfam here,

I’ve found myself in a bit of a sticky situation, I’ve got a standard gauge motor from a Lionel 53. Unfortunately I believe the commutator/ brushes are a bit over oiled and most likely need to be dried. My question is what is the best way to dry the pieces off? When I put the locomotive Under power, especially in reverse, the oil that’s on the brushes begins to burn and as a result the brushes smoke. See video below:  How can I fix this and prevent it from happening in the future?

In reference to the electrical issues: I think your initial thought is correct about, if there is excess oil inside the brush housing, that it would smoke.  Oil is a poor electrical conductor and is heated when attempting to pass a current through it.

@TrainFam posted:
I checked and the motor turns freely and  the armature and field look to be fine. So is it possible that the gauge of wire on the engine is wrong? It appears to me that someone has rewired the motor and possibly with a different gauge of wire than Lionel intended to be used with these motors? .. Could this be the reason why my engine is smoking?

The larger gauge wires wouldn't cause this issue as they have less resistance than the ones on your other.  Other than looking a bit too big, they aren't contributing to this problem.

As far as cleaning out the oil, I'll leave that recommendation to someone more experienced in working on older Locos.  A word of caution: I have read that the oil based lacquer used for insulating older motor windings can be softened by mineral spirits, so that's probably something to avoid.

Last edited by SteveH

I'm concerned from the title that there may be a perception that it's acceptable to oil the commutator/brushes...but not to excess?

Forgive me if I've misread, but oil has no place on the commutator surfaces.  Passing an electric current through an oil film...even a very thin oil film...will cause the sparking/smoke which will result in generating carbonaceous residue (the black stuff) that ultimately affects performance of the motor.

Now, more likely oil on the commutator results from over-oiling the motor shaft bearing adjacent to the commutator.   Some older motors had wicks leading to the bearing.  Oil...a single drop or two...would be applied to the wick, from which the bearing would receive its necessary/adequate lubrication.

Other motor designs might have a 'spinner' washer between the motor bearing and commutator.  The idea was that, if excessive oil was applied to the bearing shaft, as it migrated to the spinner washer, the excess would be flung off (to the surrounding other parts, interior) rather than continue to the commutator.

Of course, in the interests of cost containment and () so-called 'planned obsolescence' (give the repair/parts guys something to do.)  the ultimate refinement of motor designs was to ditch all those design precautions related to excessively oiling motor bearings and...hey, it's good enough.   

Words (FI, "A single drop or two is sufficient"....but, of course, more would be better...like smoke fluid?) were included in the instruction manual.  Oh, right...'What instructions?'...'There were no instructions included...I bought this at an auction, train meet, flea market, garage sale, guy with a trench coat, sunglasses, and fedora,...!

But, perhaps, I've digressed and misread...

Sorry.

KD

Last edited by dkdkrd

dkdkrd, sorry if there was any confusion on how I worded the title of this thread. What I meant was how my oil had gotten into my commutator (and mainly the brush houses) and was causing the motor to smoke. I never actually oiled the commutator or brushes as this can lead to the motor being damaged. I did however oil the axles, gears, and side rods, but never the commutator. I agree with you in saying that commutators and brushes should not be oiled as it can cause harm. Unfortunately oiled commutators and brushes seem to be a common occurrence, especially in older locomotives.

                                               Trainfam

Just my 2C worth.  I would remove the brush holder, and clean thoroughly, (the lighter fluid would do the job). Next, Take a paper clip, pound one end flat, and then scrape the built up 'fried' oil out from between the armature segments ( this is where the smoke is coming from). Next, and  "MOST IMPORTANT", is to run a ring of 2 part epoxy around the end of the commutator segments closest to the windings, to secure the segments from moving.  A certain amount of heat will build up when running these antiques, and the commutator segments have a habit of 'loosening up' and the brushes will catch on a segment and 'fly' apart. The result will be about a $65 repair bill from Bob Hannon.  Good luck!! Harry 

Hey Harry,

thanks for the response. Sounds like a good idea. How do I remove a brush plate? I’ve never done it before on one of these standard gauge motors. I’m guessing that it has something to do with these screws that are connected to the board that the brushes sit on

0A6C272F-2FF8-41FF-A8DF-83F8D649749B

If so, what’s the best way to get to these screws out?

                                                       Trainfam

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@dkdkrd posted:

I'm concerned from the title that there may be a perception that it's acceptable to oil the commutator/brushes...but not to excess?

Forgive me if I've misread, but oil has no place on the commutator surfaces.  Passing an electric current through an oil film...even a very thin oil film...will cause the sparking/smoke which will result in generating carbonaceous residue (the black stuff) that ultimately affects performance of the motor.

Now, more likely oil on the commutator results from over-oiling the motor shaft bearing adjacent to the commutator.   Some older motors had wicks leading to the bearing.  Oil...a single drop or two...would be applied to the wick, from which the bearing would receive its necessary/adequate lubrication.

Other motor designs might have a 'spinner' washer between the motor bearing and commutator.  The idea was that, if excessive oil was applied to the bearing shaft, as it migrated to the spinner washer, the excess would be flung off (to the surrounding other parts, interior) rather than continue to the commutator.

Of course, in the interests of cost containment and () so-called 'planned obsolescence' (give the repair/parts guys something to do.)  the ultimate refinement of motor designs was to ditch all those design precautions related to excessively oiling motor bearings and...hey, it's good enough.   

Words (FI, "A single drop or two is sufficient"....but, of course, more would be better...like smoke fluid?) were included in the instruction manual.  Oh, right...'What instructions?'...'There were no instructions included...I bought this at an auction, train meet, flea market, garage sale, guy with a trench coat, sunglasses, and fedora,...!

But, perhaps, I've digressed and misread...

Sorry.

KD

This is not 100% accurate on prewar motors. This looks like an Ives motor from the look of the brushes. I'm not a fan of those brushes. On some Ives motors oiling the commutator is actually required. This may cause some confusion as to which ones require oiling and which ones should not be oiled. I don't believe this is one of the motors that is supposed to be oiled. The ones that use bronze fingers that ride on the commutator require oiling. I have not seen any smoke from mine. There is always sparking, regardless.

George

Just my 2C worth.  I would remove the brush holder, and clean thoroughly, (the lighter fluid would do the job). Next, Take a paper clip, pound one end flat, and then scrape the built up 'fried' oil out from between the armature segments ( this is where the smoke is coming from). Next, and  "MOST IMPORTANT", is to run a ring of 2 part epoxy around the end of the commutator segments closest to the windings, to secure the segments from moving.  A certain amount of heat will build up when running these antiques, and the commutator segments have a habit of 'loosening up' and the brushes will catch on a segment and 'fly' apart. The result will be about a $65 repair bill from Bob Hannon.  Good luck!! Harry 

Does Bob Hannon really only charge $65? That's a deal! I hear he is quite backed up though.

George

I had the same problem with an old Scout 1110.   I accidently lubed the inside of the housing that holds two plastic gears, which in turn hold the two springs and brushes down on the commutator.  Oil even got down inside the brush holes onto the spinning face of the commutator.  The engine would just hum, not run.

So, I opened everything back up, removed the two plastic gears, plus the brushes with springs, and two tiny copper leaf springs, and soaked them in 98% alcohol for 3 minutes.  Then I totally dried them off.    Then I completely swabbed out the inside of the housing with two or three Cue-Tips that were soaked in the alcohol, and used dried Cue-Tips to wipe them clean. Then I thrust a Cue-Tip soaked in alcohol down in the brush hole, so it was in contact with the commutator, and turned the engine wheels so that the contact area got totally wiped down.  I did this with both brush holes.   I used dry Cue-Tips down in the brush hole to remove the residue, again turning the engine wheels.

All of this took me about 15 minutes.

I then reassembled everything, and the Scout ran great, and much faster than before.

98% alcohol evaporates very fast.   So it was not dripping around inside the motor.

Hope this helps.

Mannyrock

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