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Hey Guys,

I need help with two accessories.  One is the Flyonel Seaboard Coal Loader, the other is MTH Gabe the Lamplighter.  The coal loader’s motor runs, but it does not turn the gears inside the building.  Clamshell will open and close but without the gears turning, it doesn’t move.

Gabe goes up the ladder okay and the lights light, but Gabe won’t go back down the ladder.  I looked inside the building and what I interpret as a magnetic coil that I think should lift the release when energized, doesn’t happen.  I’ve check all kinds of continuity but can’t get a reading on the coil.  The bare wires of the coil might be coated, but they are so fine I would be afraid to try to scrape off the finish.

Both accessories worked well when last I used them, but that was probably more than 20 years ago.  Gabe has been sitting in his box while the coal loader has been sitting out… like covered with dust.

I would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

Original Post

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I remember reading many years ago that the coal loader had gearbox failures but can’t remember what the problem was. I can make a guess as to what the failure is but you are probably going to have to strip it down to be certain.

I suspect the fault is similar to LIonel diesels where the worm splits and spins on the shaft. If Lionel used the same worm in the design of the gearbox then this is a likely culprit, if not then it may be another gear that has split. I have the same coaler by Lionel but haven’t ran it for many years and I wouldn’t be surprised if mine is the same. I will need to find it and give it a go at some point.

@Ukaflyer posted:

I remember reading many years ago that the coal loader had gearbox failures but can’t remember what the problem was. I can make a guess as to what the failure is but you are probably going to have to strip it down to be certain.

I suspect the fault is similar to LIonel diesels where the worm splits and spins on the shaft. If Lionel used the same worm in the design of the gearbox then this is a likely culprit, if not then it may be another gear that has split. I have the same coaler by Lionel but haven’t ran it for many years and I wouldn’t be surprised if mine is the same. I will need to find it and give it a go at some point.

UGH!  That certainly sounds like it could be the cause.  So time would be a facture which makes sense.  I wonder if a replacement is available from Lionel?

Just did a search For MTH Gabe on Goggle, seems like there are a lot of problems.  No parts and no exploded diagram.  This probably marks the end of me and repro accessories.  What ever happened to quality?

Happy Thanksgiving to all,

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

Before assuming the worst, look at PortLines Repair Clinic #12. There is a  Link to Carl Tuveson's tear down of the MTH coal loader. It appears the most likely failure item is the drive belt. The Lionel version also uses a similar drive belt; replacements are available from PortLines. It may be worth a disassembly to check.

@AmFlyer posted:

Before assuming the worst, look at PortLines Repair Clinic #12. There is a  Link to Carl Tuveson's tear down of the MTH coal loader. It appears the most likely failure item is the drive belt. The Lionel version also uses a similar drive belt; replacements are available from PortLines. It may be worth a disassembly to check.

That’s a good point, I am only guessing that the Lionel coal loader is a gear driven gearbox and never really thought about it being belt driven. Does anyone know if it is a gear or belt driven unit?

I have a LIonel oil drum loader which is belt driven and this stopped working. I found that because of it not being used for a long time the belt at the small pulley had set itself to a ‘U’ shape so that it wouldn’t move. I resorted to taking the belt off and immersing it in hot water and working out the kink in the belt to be straight again. After that it was fine and worked OK.

I guess the moral of the belt story is not to leave these accessories doing nothing for a long time. Use them or lose them.

@AmFlyer posted:

Since PortLines sells a replacement drive belt for the AF by Lionel 785 it is probably belt driven, but I do not have one to check.

Interesting.  Taking it apart will be the first step.  From just looking at it, I would have guessed it to be a worm gear type set up because of the big plastic gear.  And because I can't rotate it, I would think nothing is slipping.  Is there a diagram for the Flyonel coal loader somewhere?  I found nothing for the MTH Gabe.  Thought about rigging up a lever to lift the release so he could go back down the ladder, but it would involve cutting a notch at the base of the little building.  My guess is the MTH Gabe will not be a 'collectable' so who cares???

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

@AmFlyer posted:

The parts list and manual for the 6-49807 Seaboard Coal loader are on the new Lionel parts site. It sure looks to me there is no drive belt from the Lionel site. Not sure what PortLines may be selling.

Tom, do you have the new URL?  My bookmark is no longer valid.

@Rogerdodger posted:

The “belt” is the o-ring #9 on the Lionel site which is unavailable.

Well, I'll be dillyed.  Who would have ever thought.  I do not like them... I will not buy junk from them anymore.

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

The Lionel parts site shows the O ring out of stock but it says to use part #6208063615 in its place. That O ring is in stock and is $1.50. Interestingly the substitute part is a 1-1/8" traction tire.

To find the parts and manuals I just click on the Support button on the Lionel homepage, the parts site comes up, then enter the 6 digit SKU in the search field.

Rogerdodger, thanks for getting this on the right path.

@AmFlyer posted:

The Lionel parts site shows the O ring out of stock but it says to use part #6208063615 in its place. That O ring is in stock and is $1.50. Interestingly the substitute part is a 1-1/8" traction tire.

To find the parts and manuals I just click on the Support button on the Lionel homepage, the parts site comes up, then enter the 6 digit SKU in the search field.

Rogerdodger, thanks for getting this on the right path.

Tom, I finally found a list of parts and the owner's manual, however no exploded diagram.   Am I missing something?

Does anybody have anything on the MTH Gabe?

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

@Bob Guckian posted:

The coal loader , the barrell loader & the repro crane all have that little belt .

Bob G.

Saying so regrettably does not help the OP, but this experience indicates that when it comes to operating accessories one should for the most part stick with Gilbert originals. They usually function better than the reissues/repros, have no belts in their mechanisms, and are readily available at reasonable cost and repairable.

Respectfully,

Bob

Last edited by Bob Bubeck

Bob, I certainly agree the original Gilbert operating accessories were well built and operate reliably even today. All my layouts used Gilbert original operating accessories. I have at least one of each except for the track gang set. For some reason I purchased an MTH repro of the 785 coaling tower (in addition to two originals.) No idea why, it is still in its sealed OB. They cost less when first released than an original 785.

I have a somewhat different view on affordability. The barrel loader, Seaboard coal loader, water tank, log loader and baggage loading platform were always relatively affordable and easy to find. Gabe was another story. In 1992 when I bought mine an E condition one was $900 per the price guide. I got a bargain from my good buddy John Heck, LN condition, OB, plus the paper for $1,000. Similar with the 785. They were available but about twice the price of a 752A. The stockyard was hard to find in E or better condition with original feet on the cows.

Many of these accessories are the same or less cost today than they were in the early 1990's, so in depreciated dollars they are a better purchase now than 30 years ago when I was buying them. Now is a pretty good time to be in the American Flyer S gauge hobby.

Yes, agreed, the Gabe is an outlier: "the exception that proves the rule". These days, nice Gilbert Gabes fetch about half the prices they used to. I purchased a nice original w/OB before the reissue/repros came out and am still glad I have the Gilbert. Another outlier is the No. 594 Track Gang (a prewar Gilbert accessory), of which the Lionel reissue operates every bit as well as an original. The reissue of the No. 582 Blinker Signal is a big improvement over the original.

However, anyone who has ever compared an original Gilbert No. 779 Oil Drum loader ("Louie the Loader") with the reissues will quick grasp that the Gilbert is far superior. The Gilbert-built sawmill functions more dependably than the reissue. An as-delivered repro No. 785 operates at 1/2 the correct speed of the original Gilbert. and, so forth. Nice No. 771 operating Stock Yards are easy to find. Gilbert made oodles of them and the "feet" are easily restored. In the main, opting for the Gilbert versions is better for most folk.

Respectfully,

Bob

Last edited by Bob Bubeck

Okay, has anyone ever taken apart the Flyonel Seaboard Coal Loader?  I have the building loose but can’t take it off because of the string that goes to the clamshell.  The string runs through a panel on the side of the building, the panel has folded over tabs that are probably pretty difficult to straighten enough to remove the panel.  There will be no way to re-bend them without some fancy plyers with 4” jaws.  Untying the string form the clamshell end does not appear to be an option, I can’t even see where the end is.

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

Well, I did it.  I figured it was a nothing to lose situation because the coal loader didn’t work anyway.  This accessory was not meant to be worked on.  During the design engineering process no one was thinking of repair.  I have learned a lot about taking this thing apart and will share my learning experience if anyone so desires.  And to add to the difficulty, there was also a crossed-threaded screw.

It was indeed the traction tire belt, it had become misshapen by years on non-use and also has a crack.  I did a search through the forum and found someone had used an O-ring to replace the rubber band.  That will be what I try because I know the loader will go through years on non-use and it is not a simple maintenance item to replace.

I did take a look at eBay and found several original 752 & 752A’s in the $80.00 range.  I agree with Bob, if you want one of these, buy an original ACG Flyer one, stay away from the repro – it is junk and not meant to be serviced.

Now, if I could just find someone who has had a MTH Gabe go south on them.

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

I will be interested in how it comes apart simply because mine has been in its box for most of its life and it is probably a sure bet it has the same problem.

I have basically zero knowledge about belt drives and I am going to take a guess that the belts used by Lionel have some form of memory which sets a permanent shape if not used for a long time. Do belts used in old fashioned cassette drives use a different type of rubber/neoprene which has no memory. I don’t remember years ago these drives suffering from the Lionel belt problems we are seeing.

I have two of the Lionel modern repro AF Seaboard Coalers. Both stopped working due to belt failure. I sent them off to Bill Harrison at S&W Train Parts in Niskayuna, New York. His number is (518)280-5197 You have to run these accessories or the drive belts go to ****. This includes all the Lionel and MTH magnetic cranes. They are scary and yet fun to take apart and fix. You can get O rings from your local hardware. Just get 1/8 or 1/16 thickness o rings. Bill can fix the units or supply you with the belts.

Ukaflyer, taking it apart is interesting.  The first stumbling block I had was how to take the panel, through which the string goes, off the side of the building.  The 4 vertical bent tabs are easily straightened using a small screw driver and pointed plyers.  To straighten the 2 horizontal tabs, once the 4 verticals are straight, you can rotate the panel up which will straighten the 2 horizontals.

With the building off, the rest is pretty easy.  6 screws hold the 2 side brackets to the platform.  There are 2 E-rings and a screw to be taken off the side bracket.  There are also 4 screws holding the gear housing to the side brackets.  The 3 plastic tabs holding the gear housing together are a bit of a challenge but once opened you are there.  I would recommend labeling the red and black wires on the motor because they will probably break off at the motor while taking everything apart.  I had read that it could and of course, it did.

I used a 28mm x 33mm x 2.5mm O-ring to replace the traction tire ‘belt’.  28mm is just shy of 1-1/8” so it seemed just right.  2.5mm is like 3/32” which is what the groove in the motor pulley is.  A 1/8” O-ring would ride on the edges of the pulley which might cause extra ware and might make a 1-1/8” O-ring too tight.

Going back together is almost fun.  However I am ‘missing’ a slot in one of the gear axles that the E-ring would slide into.  I know that’s impossible, but I can’t find a way to hold the ‘string spooling axle’ in place.  I don’t think a part is missing because it would be too large for the E-ring to fit over – I did snap (break) the E-ring trying to get it onto the axle – the axle is too big for the ring so there must be a slot… but it’s not there.

I am perplexed and have no answer.  My only hope is someone will take a look at theirs and tell me what I’m missing.  My fallback is I might try to thread the end of the axle so I can secure a nut to it.

Help needed in Maine,

Tom Stoltz

@Ukaflyer posted:

I will keep an eye on how you progress on the rebuild.

Progress has stopped until someone can give me info about what the E-ring on the spooling (winds up the string) gear is attached to.  As far as I'm concerned, I'm missing the slot in the axle.  I don't think I lost a part because anything I can envision would be too large for the E-ring.  I'm going to call Bill Harrison today hoping to get some sort of answer.  My latest fallback position is to try to cut a slot in the axle end for the E-ring.  This is driving me crazier because I just don't know what happened.

Help still needed in Maine

Tom Stoltz

BREAKING NEWS.... BREAKING NEWS....

Okay, remember what I said about missing a slot in the axle?  Well, that indeed was the case.  It was like the axle was spring loaded so with a lot of force, I was able to push it out far enough to reveal the slot on the axle.  A 5/32” E-ring is close enough and it works.

Re-soldered the motor’s wire back on and we’re ready to load mini-M&Ms.  Not so fast… everything works backwards – red button clam closes but goes down rather than up.  Green, opens the clam but goes up.  Nothing goes smoothly.  In all my messing around with this loader, I had played out the string on the roller and hadn’t notice it was winding opposite than it should.  Took a long time to figure out what had happened, but when I did, I had a really good laugh.

So now we are loading the M&Ms (finally!).  At least one repro works now,

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

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