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Last week a young enthusiast and his mom came to my shop. In hand was a fairly new Lionel Lionchief / bluetooth  ES44 diesel engine. Only ran a few times since new. Popped the shell and I got a surprise! The 2 motors are like the light duty handcar motor. My first thought was the circuit board. Put some leads from muli-tester. Nope, getting voltage from the socket for the motors. Wiring looked good, so checked the motors with a ohm reading.  Both of them with open circuit. No good. Checked Lionel's website. Motors are not available.

 The young lad and mom were waiting and broke the news. Both motors burn't out, and no replacements available. needless to say both were extremely disappointed. The set was gifted to him. Now I told them, it may be only be temporary out of stock, or the motors may never be available again.

It is this type of situation that tends to turn first time customers return or forget about the hobby.IMG_0426IMG_0427  

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Last edited by Chuck Sartor
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Vicious circle.  They have to make the low end stuff inexpensive, so folks will buy it.  You cannot make inexpensive trains with expensive components.  You want good motors, graduate to $300 locomotives.  Even then, most of the 3-rail Diesels I have seen use Chinese windshield wiper motors.  They do last a long time.

@jhz563 posted:

Last time I saw those was in my DC only mpc era 2-4-0.  Isn't there another motor that will drop in?

Those motors should be source-able outside of Lionel. If they went that cheap, they're probably not even customized to the application and widely available from Amazon/Ebay or any number of electronics suppliers.

The worm gear is probably press-fitted plastic. If so, it shouldn't even be a major task to transplant them to a replacement. And if on the off chance it's a metal worm, it can probably be pulled off the shaft with some heat and moved onto the new motor without ruining it.

---PCJ

Agree with everyone else.  Can't believe they put those in an actual engine. 

I never once thought a handcar motor (nor two of them) would be strong enough to pull ANYTHING (aside from maybe a dummy handcar trailer behind it). 

I could see the little motor being strong enough to propel the naked truck around the layout.  Add the frame, shell, and that stack of weights shown, and forget about it. (and by the way, we probably should also account for it pulling at least the rolling stock that came with the set, right?)

Totally unacceptable design.

-Dave

Last edited by Dave45681

I don't actually have trains with anything but the toy can motors.  Although not all are that tiny. No pitmann sized like I knew from the 70s and expected in at least a couple, my choices went from open frame to crap real fast.  The only saving grace is it should only cost $15-20ea. (I last paid $12 for the size at a pricey brick & mortar about 2014 because it was there. I could have got it for $5-8 online.)

(why do I doubt that price is still low all of a sudden 😒)

When I talk about how MPC did as much harm as good with can motors without rectification for ac, this is a comparable disappointment your experiencing. Now imagine 6ft stacks of returns at Sears and Kmart the first week after Christmas because folks cooked them instantly on their old transformer and track already set up around the trees. (note how many attic collections go from PW, to an mpc car or two, to a cheap cooked 70s-80s DC set then nothing else again)

  The magic smoke lingers about an inch past the sinuses for decades and only smoke pills can help the ill 

Yes, the engine is out of warranty ( by 3 months) Even if it was still in Warranty, doesn't change to availability of the motors. I haven't torn the trucks apart yet to see if the motors can be replaced. My concern is will they burn out again? I'm guessing the motor gets so hot,the brushes fall off the brush holder, second, if better motors can be installed, could be the RCMC handle the current? I'm guessing it probably close to being maxed out with the 2 small motors.

I have heard so many complain about MTH and say Buy Lionel. Last I heard Lionel is not even taking warranty items in for repair. One of my biggest issues has been and always will be promoting the hobby. How are we to do that when big companies charge the prices they do and do not back up their product. Yes MTH may be closing and people are saying "I wouldn't purchase anything from them now". Explain to me what the difference is as far as warranty or service. My heart bleeds for this youngster. I just got done visiting my 6 year old grandson whom I only get to see once maybe twice a year. He has Lionel (from the MPC era) that his Mom Mom and I gave him last year. We set it up while up there and I can honestly say I was so frustrated and disgusted that I now understand why he doesn't play with it. Breaks my heart so much. I love my trains and I love running them. They relax me and I have loads of fun. Even my grandson loves running them when he is hear at Thanksgiving time (we celebrate Christmas then with the family so they can all go to the in-laws at Christmas). Sure hope yo find some way of getting it fixed for them.

Shaking my head wondering what is wrong with the tried and true china drive? Williams used it on their Chuggington and Brewster / Thomas locos which they had a fire sale for $59.99 & they use it on all of their locos, at one time there was a lifetime warranty.

I know it's not the favorite for 2 railers, but it is a bullet proof drive.  And Lionel wouldn't need to add all of those weights because the actual trucks and flywheels would provide enough weight.

Chuck this is awful, and it makes me hopping mad!!  No flywheels?  The worms are probably pressed onto the motor shafts, so upgrading the motors to something better would be a big job.  Exact replacement motors could be fitted if the parts are available.  But they would probably burn out just as quickly.  Lionel should be ashamed of itself for selling such an under-engineered and under-spec'd loco!  It's a marketing failure too, because if someone's first experience is frustration and disappointment, there won't be a second purchase!  

I feel so badly for the young boy...  I'm willing to personally wire you a cash contribution to buy him something better, with real, built-in quality they way they USED to be made!  Maybe you can find out what his favorite railroad is, what radius of curve, which transformer, etc.  Life is too short to drink bad wine.  And thou shalt not suffer a witch to live!

Last edited by Ted S
@Ted S posted:

............................I feel so badly for the young boy...  I'm willing to personally wire you a cash contribution to buy him something better, with real, built-in quality they way they USED to be made!  Maybe you can find out what his favorite railroad is, what radius of curve, which transformer, etc.  Life is too short to drink bad wine.  And thou shalt not suffer a witch to live!

While that's a noble and generous gesture, think through how that plays out in the end.  We all chip in a few bucks for this case, then this happens again (and again).  Word gets out from that one family that Chuck went above and beyond to get the kid a new set. 

Eventually there will be multiple customers looking for the same resolution, and so how many replacement sets are going to be funded this way?  Any that are not would be looked at as a "this other customer got resolution, but then I didn't" scenario.  IMO that would bring a new dynamic to the situation that could unfairly reflect negatively on Chuck and his shop.

-Dave

I don't recall seeing whether or not Chuck's shop sold the set originally.  If the set didn't come from his shop, extra kudos to him for trying to help.  

I agree with the post above saying that having people chip in is a fine gesture but a slippery slope.  Also appalled at the low quality of the motor.

Some ideas:  1) Help the mother to write a letter to Lionel about the situation.  Any company that cares about their customers (especially new ones) should be willing to take action even though it's just outside of the warranty period.  It would be really disappointing if Lionel won't help out.  2) Find a reliable used PW or MPC engine, and give it to the mother or sell it at cost.  

Hopefully, this is an opportunity to build a future hobbyist.  

Chuck,

Look at motor # 6SP-8060-103 , it may work.

 

The motor may fit but the issue is the gear. Getting the gears off the old motors is bad enough, in this case since the motors are already toast it doesn't matter if they get destroyed. Its mounting that gear on a replacement without damaging it thats the hard part. You can find that motor no problem its the gear that makes it unique. 

BTW that isn't the only engine with that tiny motor. The starter set 0-8-0s and Docksiders have a similar motor and I believe some on the Lionchief versions had that same small motor carried over.

Pete

@Mallard4468 posted:

I don't recall seeing whether or not Chuck's shop sold the set originally.  If the set didn't come from his shop, extra kudos to him for trying to help.  

I agree with the post above saying that having people chip in is a fine gesture but a slippery slope.  Also appalled at the low quality of the motor.

Some ideas:  1) Help the mother to write a letter to Lionel about the situation.  Any company that cares about their customers (especially new ones) should be willing to take action even though it's just outside of the warranty period.  It would be really disappointing if Lionel won't help out.  2) Find a reliable used PW or MPC engine, and give it to the mother or sell it at cost.  

Hopefully, this is an opportunity to build a future hobbyist.  

FWIW, I agree with the above statements.

Once had an inexpensive HO Pacific, and the motor looked to be very similar to what's been shown here. In HO, it's "okay", but O...?  

In any case, I hope it works out.

Mark in Oregon

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