U33C U-Joint Problem Request for Help

I have a U33C Lionel Legacy Northern Pacific #3309, item #6-48161, that was previously repaired several years ago under warranty by Lionel that appears to  have failed again.  I have tonight requested a Repair Authorization at my cost, hoping I can receive the authorization. 

Has anyone tried to repair.  I have some abilities and tools, but at this point am hoping it can be repaired by Lionel at a reasonable cost.  The run time on the engine is believed to be less than a half hour since the intial repair, and total run time is beleived to be less than an hour total.

Mike

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original Post

 I don’t think you’re going to get an RMA Number from Lionel for an out of warranty repair. I don’t think they’ve done any out of warranty service work for a few years

MTH Authorized Service Tech

President Chief Operations Officer, The Lenny Lines

 

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Matt,

Understand.  Hoping that since they did the intitial repair and I am willing to pay for the cost, I might be given the opportunity.  I thought it was worth a try at least.    I believe, unfortunately, you are probably right.  And appreciate your response very much.

Mike

 

 

Rod,

I did include the information on run time in my request, and am hoping since  Lionel did the intial repair and I am willing to pay for the repair, I might be given the opportunity.  Hoping for the best.  I do have also a plan B.  Thanks for the time and the willingness to help.  Truly appreciated.

Mike

Do you know its actually a U joint problem? I repair most all my own trains, with the exception of some of the K line cruise control driver boards which are a nightmare. This is a Lionel Lion drive system so it maybe something else.

TCA Number 16-71884

I should have been clearer in my intial question.  I believe it is a "u-joint" problem, but I do not know for sure and my expereince is limited.  Earlier when I had what seemed like a similar problem, Lionel did repair under warranty and the technician's report noted it as a "u-joint" problem.  After repair, it initially seemed good.

The engine does not move forward properly.  All other functins seem to be working well.  The one powered truck also seems to work properly, but the other powered truck seems like it is trying to turn but not well and seems disengaged.  The engine doesn't move forward properly and struggles and stalls. 

Thanks for your good question and helpful response. 

Mike

 

 

 

Well, that's one of the single motor units with a couple of geared axles with a U-Joint, so it's quite possible that's the issue.

I suspect if the U-Joing separates, that truck would be pretty hard to push with that worm gear engaged.  It doesn't seem that this would be a very difficult repair, the drive shaft is in stock for $12.  That would be $6 during the 1/2 price sale coming up, buy a couple of them, the engine has two.

If they keep breaking, that engine looks like a candidate to kitbash with a metal U-joint instead of that plastic one.

Attachments

Photos (1)

U-Joint Update.

As expected, unfortunately Lionel will not authorize repair at my cost.  Referred to service station.  In more carefully reviewing, and at the suggestion of a member, I removed the 8 screws holding the body to the frame, and now notice the U-Joint appears not connected.  Do not know steps to reconnnect, or if broken.  Cannot easily see how to reconnect.  The body has many connections to the shell for lights, etc. and concerend to go  too much further as to cause more damage.  I have some tools and skills, but it all looks very complicated and fragile, but also amazing engineering in some ways. 

Welcome suggestions, likely taking to an authorized reapir station. 

Thanks.  Mike

 

 

 

Can't really tell from those photos, they're too dark to really see if it's broken or not.  It looks like it just slipped out of the other end, but without seeing them up close, I can't say. 

The end of the shaft does not look to be broken because the end is well defined. I suspect Gunnrunnerjohn is correct: the rectangular shaft has slipped out of its connection in the fuel tank. It happened to me as I was changing the electro-couplers to Kadee scale couplers, but it is easy to fix simply by reinserting the shaft into the fuel tank opening. The hard part is loosening the truck enough to maneuver the truck and shaft enough to reinsert it without bending or breaking anything. It's worth a try. Good luck.

One of our club member's U33 had a failure where the square piece (which was hanging down in your picture) broke off the rest of the unit.  The part came from Lionel and we fixed it at the same show the next week.  This involved removing the truck, unplugging a JST connector for the pickups in the truck, and fitting the new U-joint, bushing and gear into the truck. the shaft.  Reassemble the truck and insert the square portion into the female receiver on the motor.  Re-attach the electrical connector and then the truck to the chassis.

I'm not sure what the female portion on the motor shaft looks like or how it could fail.   If the pieces just slipped apart the female portion on the motor shaft may be too far away from the truck and it came out in a curve.  Sliding the female receiver a little (emphasis on a little) away from the motor and closer to the truck might be the solution - no parts needed.  You may not even need to remove the truck to do this if you are able to assemble the u-joint and then adjust the female portion.

As memory serves, I removed the fuel tank thinking it was necessary to do this.  It turned out to be the most difficult part of the reassembly because of the location of the screws.  I didn't have to access the motor shaft, but as you may have to, take pictures as you go.  Make sure you have a good set of precision screwdrivers handy.   The other thing I seem to remember is that you have to plug in the JST connector with the truck really close to the chassis, as the wires are very short. This must be done with tweezers.   If you don't have to remove the truck you won't have to worry about this.   If you do... take your time.

After you reassemble, run the loco through your smallest curve with as little ambient noise as possible, listening for any roughness in the u-joint. 

Nick C.

L/AF u33c's can be prone to the square shaft sliding out of its socket when the truck is pivoted far enough.  The shaft either slides out unharmed and you need to pivot the truck back to that rotational extreme again and gently realign its flats with the walls of the socket, slip it back in and try to refrain from pivoting it that far again in the future.  Or under certain conditions the shaft will break which means you need to replace it with the worm gear and shaft assemble GunRunner provided a photo of.  Drop the power truck, one screw, you can leave the shell on.  Be careful, the aft bearing can slide off and there's a very small, thin, clear washer behind it.  Do not lose, misplace, or fail to have that tiny washer properly located when you install the new assembly.  Another thing these engines are prone to is are misaligned truck rotational-limiting plastic plates.  They are hot glued at the factory to the top side of the chassis (remove shell to view/access).  Some were not correctly located when installed.  One result can be unequal left-right degrees of truck rotation - it will swing further to one side than to the other.  Be sure yours are allowing equal truck rotation/pivoting.  If not, typically the side that is limited from rotating far enough can result in the engine derailing and/or a broken/sheared shaft when driven through a 20" (and especially <20") radius curve to that side - particularly at speed and/or pulling a significant load/train.  The side that is allowed to rotate too far will often be the side from which the shaft pops out of its socket when the truck is rotated to its fullest extent.    

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David Horn

I know a lot of members have layouts set in stone with 20 inch radius. Just wondering if this problem would be less severe with a wider curve. Logically, yes, but is this a weak point for the U33Cs?

Will the new run of U33Cs have the China Drive the other Legacy locomotives (SD70s, and the GEs) have?

Quick Casey posted:

I know a lot of members have layout set in stone with 20 inch radius. Just wondering if this problem would be less severe with a wider curve. Logically, yes, but is this a weak point for the U33Cs?

Will the new run of U33Cs have the China Drive the other Legacy locomotives (SD70s, and the GEs) have?

Well, I've run my E-L U33C on SHS R20 with no issues.

The catalog states "powerful maintenance free motor" (singular.)  While catalog descriptions can be sometimes a little off the mark, I seriously doubt Lionel would spend the resources re-engineering and retooling for the drive to dual motors (new frame, new truck blocks) on such a low volume product.

Rusty

I too had to reinsert the square drive shaft end on a U-33C my friend owns. It appeared impossible for the shaft to disengage from the square hole it is designed for but never the less it did just that. Like Dave Horn says it's a delicate but definitely do-able repair.

As with most repairs you'll need at least 3 hands to complete the job and in that regard it's advised to enlist a friend to be there to "hold that part steady while I ....etc.etc.etc". You may need to rotate the wheel sets during this process to allow the shaft to "square-up" with it's mating socket. You will need to remove the single screw that holds the truck to the chassis and the JST plug on top of the truck. Go slowly in all the repair and you'll do fine.

The repaired engine ran just fine and continues to do so. I believe the initial problem came from rough handling of the engine by the owner who has been known to lift engines up by the trucks for whatever reasoning on his part.  I try to lift diesel engines by the lower edge of the shell where it engages the chassis and if possible always use 2 hands for added safety.

Mark

banjoflyer posted:

I too had to reinsert the square drive shaft end on a U-33C my friend owns. It appeared impossible for the shaft to disengage from the square hole it is designed for but never the less it did just that. Like Dave Horn says it's a delicate but definitely do-able repair.

The repaired engine ran just fine and continues to do so. I believe the initial problem came from rough handling of the engine by the owner who has been known to lift engines up by the trucks for whatever reasoning on his part.  I try to lift diesel engines by the lower edge of the shell where it engages the chassis and if possible always use 2 hands for added safety.

Mark

The reasoning for lifting diesel locos by the trucks is so you don't damage the body paint- even with your natural hand oils-  and any add on details on the roof.

member:Golden Spike Club Charter Member

Thank you very much for the knowledgeable and thoughtful replies received regarding my Lionel American Flyer U33C possible U-Joint problem.  I have just posted an new image with better lighting and clearer identification of the problem,  I believe.  It  seems clear I do have a U-Joint problem, what is less clear: is it broken, or dislodged.  I will later tonight try to fix using the suggestions made, which are most helpful.  It initially seems very challenging to get access to the drive, with very limited sight lines and restrictions with wires and clearances, but will work on later this evening.  My sincere thanks to "gunrunner john","tokelly", Nick, David, "Quick Casey". Rusty, Mark, "prrhorseshoecurve", and many others.  

Truly appreciated.  Mike

PS:  I believe this engine was exclusively run on was SHS "24" track, although possible also briefly could have been run on SHS "19" track.  The engine was most gently handled, but the limits if any on the trucks do not seem correct when picked up, which I have not done by the trucks, rather the base body.  Still learning.  Thanks.

Thank you!!!  With several good ideas, detailed descriptions and encouragement (importantly also luck), a few minutes ago I was able to fix my "U-Joint" problem on my Lionel American Flyer U33C Diesel.  It was as suggested a dislocated "U-Joint", likely from the swivel of the truck just enough to do so, and I am pretty sure that is what it was.  Access to the "U-Joint" was particaurly difficult, and I could with some maneuvering get very close to reengaging, but after multiple tries decided for me this was not going to work.  Plan B was to remove the fuel tank, which was only four accessible screws.  Once removed it was quit easy to reengage, and fortunately all the screws went back on quickly, with the help of a magnetized appropriately sized screwdriver.

I am so.... excited to have this nice engine running again, and I feel like a little kid.  There for me is great satisfaction to fixing things.  Thanks to all your help.  I am truly appreciative.  With gratitude.  Mike

 

Guys,

Might this be a possible candidate for universals from Hobbytown of Boston. I recently purchased a number of these to replace universals on my AM diesels. If the motor shaft and gearbox shaft sizes are compatible.

https://hobbytownofboston.com/

Ray

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