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I picked up this rather beaten up steam switcher recently which has lots of issues. The rods are all there, some handrails, no smokebox nor headlight. Also, no tender as of now, but the seller may still have that. The wires were in bad shape and so far it does not run. Without the tender and without the smokebox, not sure if it is a 227, 228, 230, 231, 232 or 233. For now, I am assuming it is a #227. My last "basket case" steam switcher was another beaten up #231. My friend helped me with the wiring on that and it runs a smooth as silk now.

Some of the parts I need are on  their way already. I was able to swap out the front smokebox area with a new section from Jeff Kane, The Train Tender. I think that is quite a step forward.

Much of the work has been thoroughly cleaning the locomotive from the drivers to the gears. My friend (yes, the same victim/volunteer who helped on the #231) and I spend around 3 hours the other day. There was such an accumulation of gunk and hardened grease that we had trouble turning the wheels/gears. Mineral spirits worked pretty well in cleaning out the drivers. It was only after all the cleaning that we realized the brushes were missing!

The only parts which I can't seem to find from the different online parts folks (including Jeff) are the brush holding retaining nuts that screw on to hold the brushes in place at the back of the cab (I was actually able to find the brushes/springs and they are coming in the mail).  Once I have the brushes and the retaining nuts, I will attempt rewiring the locomotive.

Anybody have 2 of these brush retaining nuts in their parts bin?


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Last edited by PRR8976
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Wow, I had never seen the insides of one of these before; thanks for all the photos! I was very surprised to see that strange little e-unit--I have the 1989 reissue, and that just has the standard e-unit, mounted horizontally, with a return spring. If you can't get the original working, perhaps one of those will fit.

There are a lot of interchangeable parts between the 227 family of prewar switchers and the 1989 reissue (18000), but the motor and e-unit are not amoung them.  The 227 e-unit (OO1E-185) is from the prewar OO line of locos. The 227 family of switchers is the only place it is used in O gauge that I know of. In my opinion it is superior to the standard three position O gauge e-unit.  It is certainly much easier to work on.  The problem with it is there are no parts available. The OO e-unit complete is available from several sources, but it is not cheep.

There was an article written "Lionel's #8976  - Wiring and Operation" by William J. Krone which describes how to rewire all these locos and including wiring diagrams.  I have a copy of it, but my copy does not indicate what publication it is from or the date. It might be the TCA  Quartery.  Maybe the TCA library could help.

 The missing brush tube caps may be either the 700E-305 or the 400E-115. There are two different types and I can not tell which is which. One screws on the outside of the tube and the other into the inside. They were used on the 400E, 700E, 763E and 227 family of switchers. They should not be too hard of find. I had one loco which had washers sholdered on the ends of the brush tubes to keep the brushes in. 

Thanks everyone. 

Chuck--I've bought things from Dennis before but somehow forgot him as a source, thanks for the reminder.

David-- Thanks for mentioning the Krone article. I have that in my library of books/articles. With all the damage this loco absorbed (substantial enough to knock off the headlight and put a good dent and what can best be described as a tear/rip in the cab roof), the wiring is just one thing to worry about. These are pretty tough little buggers so I'm fairly optimistic. 


Last edited by PRR8976
David Johnston posted:

... The missing brush tube caps may be either the 700E-305 or the 400E-115. There are two different types and I can not tell which is which. One screws on the outside of the tube and the other into the inside. They were used on the 400E, 700E, 763E and 227 family of switchers...


 I remember seeing a parts list for the 227-series locomotives and the part was listed as 700E-305 Brush Holder Screw. There is also a "Brush holding Retaining nut" (part# 400E-118, which is maybe internal) on the same parts list which I had originally identified in my original post which I thought I needed, but if it screws on (which it does) I guess it is the "Brush Holder Screw." Thanks for helping me to clarify that so I know what to ask for! 

 El Classico mentioned German clocks earlier which is actually what I thought of as my friend and I started taking this loco apart the other see the craftsmanship of the 1930's, with so many little, well-made, intricate parts.


As best as I have been able to figure out, Lionel changed from the 400E style brush tube to the 700E style brush tube when they started using brushes with shunts on them.  Maybe some time in 1938.  The brush tube with the cap gave them a way to clamp the washer at the top of the brush spring that the shunt is attached to.  This gives a good electrical path from the shunt into the brush tube.   I have not seen the 700E-35 part number before. I wounded if it is a typo of the 700E-305 part number.  There are lots of errors in the part lists.

The 227 family of locomotives are great locos.  It is too bad they did not make it into the post war era.  I recently ran into a set of wheels which I am sure came off a 227 type loco.  They did not look right and after studying them I discovered they had been insulated for two rail operation. The flanges and tread were scale size, even smaller that the tires that came on the 701. They had the cam on the back that operated the valve gear.   I wonder what happened to the loco they came off of. 

David Johnston posted:
  I wonder what happened to the loco they came off of. 

Yes, too bad our locomotives don't come with the histories of who owned them and for how long. You rarely know whether you are owner #2 or #32. 

I've said this before on other threads, that most of my locomotives are around 77 years old. Properly maintained, they can easily go another 77 years or more. Knowing that they were so well made and manufactured here in the US is a big part of the appeal, at least to me. 


jim pastorius posted:

Now you have piqued my interest in these locos except they are too expensive for my budget unless I find a beater to fix up. Interesting thread. Always more to learn. Thanks

In my original post, I forgot to mention one of the drivers has a slightly bent flange and a few rods are dented, too. I think they are more cosmetic issues than anything that will impact its ability to run well.

When the drivers and frames were scrubbed pretty well it actually started looking pretty good (picture #8 from the top)...but oh those wires! Well, I said I am an optimist! 


Hi Rich,

  Thanks. I think I will be OK on the tender. The guy who sold me the locomotive said he was pretty sure he had a tender, but had to dig it out.  If you have any train stores with prewar parts, if you don't mind asking, I'm still having trouble with the brush holding "cap" that screws on and holds the brushes in (need 2 of them for a #227 loco). 



Last edited by PRR8976

UPDATE: I got all the parts that I need so far, a big thanks to Harry Henning again for the elusive brush caps. So, after a couple of hours soldering wires and doing some more cleaning of the drivers/rollers, I was able to get the e-unit to get moving and heard some humming. Unfortunately, I never got the motor to actually budge. I will try again over the weekend.

Any suggestions? Keep in mind that this was pretty filthy and who knows when it last ran. Reminds me of the 1990's when I used to go to a train store in Tuckahoe (and later Scarsdale), NY, Trent's Trains, and the owner used to liberally spray WD-40 on any motor which wouldn't run and usually had good results. Would that help at all? 


Last edited by PRR8976

Isn't this similar to the 1980s Lionel repro of the PRR B6?  I am not well versed in the part numbers, but it seems that 701, 708, and some of the 220- series all use the same major parts?

Mine is now 2-railed, and has 717 tender trucks, and is a lighter shade of Brunswick green.  It, too, had a bent cab, and I was unable to straighten it.  Some delicate fiberglas work fixed it - you cannot tell.

I can't post pictures, but here is its URL:


Hi Tom. Good to hear of your progress with the 227. Great little loco. I do not know if you took the e unit apart yet or not. If not that would be my next step.  There is a little brass shoulder screw with a nut on the end of it.  Remove that screw and the E unit drum will come off the contact plate. Then you can clean up the contacts on the contact plate. Be really careful with the contacts on the drum. They are spring material and are silver plated. Clean them with something non abrasive so not to remove the silver. The black silver sulfide is conductive, so it does not need to be removed. The silver acts a lubricant helping to get the drum to move. The contacts are held onto the drum with tiny drive screws.  Lionel had the presence of mind to drill the drive screw holes all the way through the Bakelite, so with a very small punch you can drive the drive screws out and remove the contacts.  This would allow you to reshape them. Also I have seen where a new contact was soldered on. I have also seen new home made contacts. With the drum removed you can jumper ajacent contacts to get the motor to run and rule out motor problems. 

The wiring should go from the collector rollers to brush plate on the contact opposite the switch that turns the e unit on and off. There should also be a wire directly from the motor field to this point. The other end of the motor field should go to upper rear contact on the e unit.  The lower forward e unit contact should have a wire coming from the e unit coil and then ground to the loco frame. The two brush wires should go to the upper forward and and lower rear contacts on the e unit.   That is all the wire needed to make the motor run. 

As for WD-40, it drys sticky in time. I would never use it on a train.  The CRC contact cleaner has been recommended on this site. It is what I use.  Let us know how it comes out. 

Last edited by David Johnston
David Johnston posted:

Hi Tom. Good to hear of your progress with the 227. Great little loco...

The wiring should go from the collector rollers to brush plate on the contact opposite the switch that turns the e unit on and off. There should also be a wire directly from the motor field to this point. 

Hi David,

  Thanks very much. I will need to re-check the wiring. So, for the upper tab on the motor on the engineer's side, there should be 2 wires soldered on there? I think I only had one...for the collector rollers. Where does the second wire go to, from that same tab to where? 

Thanks again, Tom

Tom, from that upper tab on the engineers side of the brush plate there is the wire from the collector roller, a wire from the motor field, a buss bar going to the e unit shut off switch, and a socket for a wire going to the tender that powers the bell. The field wire is a single varnished strand coming from the end of the field just above the tab. 

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