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I have a Lionel postwar Berkshire that was running well until last week when it refused to go forward or backward.  I took it into a repair shop.  Apparently, the shop cleaned some parts but did not have to replace any to make the engine run again.  I brought it back home and it ran very well for two days.  All of a sudden when I tried to start it up again today, it failed to work again.  Just out of curiosity, is there anything in the voltage from the transformer or track system (ie. shorts) that could cause a malfunction in the E-unit?

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Nothing inherent. Run through the all the checks - is the lever in the "on" position, seated well, can you hear it buzzing, can you tell if the drum is turning or the pawl is being lifted, etc. Some get sticky, actually not dropping the pawl(it works by gravity - will not work upside down, eg.) for the next cycle, and a tap on the loco with the power off will get things working again.

Could be an internal electrical issue. Perhaps a short. Something loose inside. It only takes a little tiny thing to make these highly advanced and technologically advanced locomotives to go awry.

 

Gremlins at work.

 

My Dash 9 had a similar problem. I opened her up and found that the front can motor was simply froze up. I gave her a couple of manual turns to free her up and set the shell back down on the chassis. Put her back on the track. Viola, she started up and performed as she should. I put the screws back in for the shell, put her back on the track and she did exactly the same thing when she was broke.

 

I mean really.....

 

Anyway, it was one of those things and I took the screws out again and then ran her. She ran okay again. This time I placed the screws in carefully. Shook her a little, placed her back on the track and viola, she performs equal too or better then all the other locomotives I have combined. Go figure.

 

Anyone, the short end of this is simply that these locomotives are REAL particular!

 

 

I truly hope you can get her right and run her.

 

Pete

Last edited by the train yard
Originally Posted by the train yard:

Could be an internal electrical issue. Perhaps a short. Something loose inside. It only takes a little tiny thing to make these highly advanced and technologically advanced locomotives to go awry.

Originally Posted by GG-1fan:

I have a Lionel postwar Berkshire that was running well until last week when it refused to go forward or backward.

 

pw-736-1 1950-51 berk

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I run all PW Lionel engines the conventional way and E units can drive you nuts. I am no expert but some things I have found: does the plunger rod in the solenoid go up and down ?  They can collect gunk and stick. The cylinder can also get gunked up. Also, more serious, the pins on the end can wear and it gets cockeyed and won't turn right or the ratchet teeth are worn. Also, your commutator might be too dirty and the divides between sections need cleaned. First thing I do when I get a "new" engine, even if it is running, I take the spray cleaner in a can for electrical parts and give everything a good wash. the solvent is non-flammable and will let your motor run. Has helped solve a lot of prblems for me. Good luck

usually what happens either the solenoid plunger on the E unit sticks or there are some teeth missing or worn down on the E unit drum,if so you have to replace the drum for about $5.00 IF YOU DO THE WORK! Originally Posted by ADCX Rob:
Originally Posted by the train yard:

Could be an internal electrical issue. Perhaps a short. Something loose inside. It only takes a little tiny thing to make these highly advanced and technologically advanced locomotives to go awry.

Originally Posted by GG-1fan:

I have a Lionel postwar Berkshire that was running well until last week when it refused to go forward or backward.

 

pw-736-1 1950-51 berk

 

the metal tab on the E unit that comes threw the top of the engine casting should be able to be moved with you're finger easily but you do not want the tab to wiggle or be loose or you won't make contact and the E unit won't work. you should hear a click sound when you push the direction button on the transformer. good luck alan  Originally Posted by GG-1fan:

I have a Lionel postwar Berkshire that was running well until last week when it refused to go forward or backward.  I took it into a repair shop.  Apparently, the shop cleaned some parts but did not have to replace any to make the engine run again.  I brought it back home and it ran very well for two days.  All of a sudden when I tried to start it up again today, it failed to work again.  Just out of curiosity, is there anything in the voltage from the transformer or track system (ie. shorts) that could cause a malfunction in the E-unit?

 

GG-1fan,

Some may disagree with me, this is fine. In almost every case like this I found one solution. That would be to replace the entire e-unit with a dependable rebuilt unit. Rebuilt by someone you know and trust. In most cases just replace the faulty e-unit with a quality reproduction and your problems will be over. This is something you can do yourself.

 

God Bless,

"Pappy"

GG-1,

Unfortunately, you don't have much of a description for us for us for what is actually happening with the e-unit when you try to cycle it. It could be a lot of things (including all of the above). 

 

As yours is a rather sudden malfunction, here's another possible (one that happened to me just as suddenly). I had bought a PW diesel that hadn't been run in quite awhile and was working on it to get it running again. All seemed well with it when I finished the process (or so I thought) when suddenly the e-unit wouldn't cycle. Apparently, the tabs on the ends of the drum sheared off and that effectively stopped it from rotating. 

 

Roger

A lot of good tips here. But I am sorry to write that your problem could be any number of things. Folks are assuming that the problem is in your e-unit, because of this thread's title.
Have your already isolated the problem to the e-unit?

Diagnosing your problem remotely may be difficult, and so far little information has been provided, so please be patient with these questions:

 

Does the headlight come on when you apply power?

If not, it could be a burnt out headlight, a broken wire, or a problem with your pickups.

 

As Rob wrote, is the e-unit humming?

You may need to listen closely if you have a quiet one.

 

If you can hear the e-unit plunger going up and down, you can try using a pencil to apply light pressure to the ends of the brushes while the power is on. You may need to turn the power on and off once or twice to advance the e-unit to the next position because the engine will not run when it is in "neutral". The engine must be upright, otherwise the e-unit cannot cycle.

 

Another thing you might try is advancing the armature about 1/4 turn. Sometimes you can do this by turning the back wheels (DON"T FORCE THEM). They might turn easier in one direction than the other. And some engines are easier to turn than others. If the wheels do not want to turn, I think the side of the armature is accessible from underneath the engine if you remove the rear truck. DON'T use a tool to move the armature, just your finger. (Don't want to damage anything).  Be patient, you can only rotate the armature a little at a time this way. The goal is two fold - you might have a dirty spot on the armature's commutator, and it would be good to determine whether your mechanism is jammed. Once you've moved the armature to a different spot, try the pencil test again.

 

IN the end,  it might be best to just bring it back to the repairman tomorrow.

Last edited by C W Burfle

I want to thank all of you for your suggestions.  Inasmuch as I already paid for the repair, I am going to give the repair shop one more chance to remedy the problem.  It is interesting because I have run this engine all year and it just stopped cycling.  Seems strange that the repair shop diagnosed the problem, seemingly fixed it because it did work well, and then the engine quit again.  That is why I was thinking that something external to the engine might have precipitated the problem again.  I thought that maybe there was too much voltage over the switches or some bad connection that might have caused repercussions with the e-unit.  I will say that when I lower the voltage on the switches, the engine derails as it passes over the curved portion of the switch after I flip the controller.  I have to increase the voltage even though the lower voltage is sufficient to trip the switch.  That is why I thought maybe the increased voltage might have played havoc with the e-unit, causing it to eventually malfunction.

I could be amperage related not really voltage related.  If the motor has issues, or pulling to many cars it is possible the engine is drawing too much current and the e-unit fingers are getting burned or damaged.  All track power goes through the e-unit to get to the motor.  So there may be a mechanical/electrical issue that leads to an early demise of the e-unit.  G

As one poster mentioned it could be any number of things.

Some things things to be checked with e-unit itself.

 

Wires loose in there solder joints in e-unit and including other ends of wire going to field , roller pickups, ground etc.

 

Drum distorted, burnt spots on drum contacts or its contacts dirty .

Reason why one can turn engine upside down and back up right side and have it work again as the drum will advance to next position and sometimes work again until cycled around to that same contact.

 

Top and bottom E-unit fingers not making proper contact with drum.

 

E-unit Lever loose not making firm contact with its rivet on the e-unit board.

E-unit plunger sticking in coil not moving freely.

 

you mention-

Just out of curiosity, is there anything in the voltage from the transformer or track system (ie. shorts) that could cause a malfunction in the E-unit?

 

Yes a simple type of bump going over switches can trip a problematic e-unit into neutral or make it silent if one of the wires is loose in the solder joint -making sporadic contact.

or

short on track will trip e-unit.

 

For the patient person that has experience with them its worth the time to trouble shoot and fix otherwise replacement can be  made.

 

Since you brought it in for repair they may have just sprayed it and perhaps should go thru it but it may cost more than a replacement in the long run.

 The 736 is a great engine (have several) .
Good Luck.

 

 

 

My e unit will cycle only at higher voltage, otherwise it keeps running in the same direction after power is turned back on. It goes from neutral to forward or reverse properly, but requires higher voltage to cycle to neutral. (ie. At high speed it cycles). Makes backing into the roundhouse very tricky.

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