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Based on a recent discussion on OGR about most fun operating accessories, I bought a NIB Lionel 22975 Culvert Unloader.  I connected it as per directions, and set up a unique engine ID for it (I had the 22965 Culvert Loader and a TMCC loco on the test track as well, all with different IDs).  The loco worked as it should, as did the Culvert Loader.

After I initially ran the Unloader and cleared the fully loaded culvert car successfully, I thought I had a working unit.  I invited my wife for a show and tell.  The Culvert Loader successfully loaded a full set of culverts onto the gondola.  When I pulled the train around to unload them, the 22975 unloaded the first 4 pipes perfectly.  Then on the fifth pipe the string never retracted after lowering onto the pipe in the gondola (the magnet had  grabbed the culvert).  It started moving back on the gantry trying to pull the pipe over the side of the gondola.  I stopped it, disconnected the culvert, and then tried to move the magnetic hook back and forth on the gantry (with the CAB1-L controller, not by hand), hoping the string retract system would kick in.  It never did.

So, before I crack the unit open, does anyone have any words of wisdom?

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I think I recall reading that the vintage (non-command) versions of this accessory were fussy about string tension, clean pulleys, etc.  Whether the motors are controlled by radio waves or a push-button, it sounds like some of the old gremlins hung around.  I have one of these on my shopping list too, so I hope you get it working reliably.  Following!!

Fixed it!!!!  It wasn't difficult, just time consuming (mainly going through the learning curve) and luckily didn't require electronic repairs, only adjustments.

I guess somehow the thread in the pulley system unwound once or twice from the spool which caused my initial problem.  To fix that you have to take the cover off the pulley housing to expose the spool (pink).  I then had to remove the cover of the motor housing (blue), there were 3 screws, 2 behind it and one just to the right of the spool.  That releases the main motor in the back as well, but there was no need to go into that part.  I then manually turned the spool socket from the back so that the pulley was fully retracted in the housing (green).  After all that, the lift mechanism wasn't moving very good along the rails.  The motor (blue) is what moves it back and forth.  There's essentially a traction tire that moves it along the rail, so make sure the rail is clean of any dirt and grease.  I also had to finely tune a little switch (yellow) that stops the movement along the rail.  The switch over the gondola car wasn't being activated when the crane was over it, so I had to adjust it.  Finally, when the crane brought the pipe into the drop off area, the gate (white) wasn't opening fully.  I had to move it by hand quite a few times to get it broken in, along with adding some oil in the the bottom slow of the gate.

It now works properly.  I even added a little person, with a yellow hard hat, on the side to control the operations.



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