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So here is the problem- there is NO seal on the pump.

look at Lionel support parts listing

https://www.lionelsupport.com/38-Water-Tower-6-14086

#5 the water pump is a DC can motor, and the shaft seal area or lack of is where water will- not if, but will over time leak into the motor and rust it.

The fix is- get yourself a nice brushless pump https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08RWP6GJF

This replaces the original pump with a 100% sealed pump. The impeller is spun by magnetic field so again there is no seal to fail.

https://www.lionelsupport.com/Support%20Part%20Images/19462422414ADCAF0D-01.jpg

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Again, I have seen these and always wanted one. My concern was that I knew from other forum posts the pump could be a problem, and I was lucky enough to get a pristine one with no box. That said, I knew and took the pump apart to examine the construction. It is a simple gear pump, one gear on the motor and a second idler gear, however there is no rubber seal of any kind of the motor shaft. It simply is a relatively close fit to the house and the motor is not made of stainless components rated for water. So my theory on failures is the water weeps up the shaft into the front bushing the motor and could even fill the motor with water. This rusts the non stainless parts (armature, housing, bushings, shaft) and locks the motor up. Meanwhile again, there is nothing over time to prevent the water in the tank above the motor so gravity- from slowly pushing water out and through the motor. The more wear one has or slop- the faster the water runs out.

Knowing this and knowing much better modern totally sealed pumps exists that are brushless and no parts in the water are metal to rust. The circuit already rectifies and regulates DC for the spout motor and this pump draws very little power. Also the impeller when not spinning lets the water drain backwards and refill the tank. The pump will run at lower regulated voltage and is extremely silent. A nice and relatively cheap upgrade.

This follows a general design- make it simple, make it flawless, and make it last- this meets all of those.

Last edited by Vernon Barry

Thak you everyone for the replies.

There is no hose on the exterior.

There is a round "dish" on the top, accessible when the roof is removed. The dish has a hole in it, to allow water to flow into the exterior tank when the user adds water. It looks like the dish can be removed, but it might be sealed (?).

As soon as I begin to add water, water starts running out the bottom.

When I connect it to power, the spout raises and lowers as it should.

When I apply power and the spout is down, I do not hear any sounds like a pump working. This goes along with Vernon's comments on a defective pump.

Should a working pump make any noise?

Would a bad pump account for water leaking out when there is no power switched on?

@Jeff2035 posted:

Thak you everyone for the replies.

There is no hose on the exterior.

There is a round "dish" on the top, accessible when the roof is removed. The dish has a hole in it, to allow water to flow into the exterior tank when the user adds water. It looks like the dish can be removed, but it might be sealed (?). The ENTIRE tank lifts off the upper base. There are 2 O-rings on the long threaded posts that may be preventing easy liftup of the entire tank. The hoses are long enough to let you lift the case and see the hose connections at the pump.

As soon as I begin to add water, water starts running out the bottom.

When I connect it to power, the spout raises and lowers as it should. They are 2 separate circuits- the pump motor an the spout motor. The circuit board has 2 bridge rectifiers, a handful of caps and regulator. Again when  you activated- both get power but if one motor was bad, does not stop the other motor.

When I apply power and the spout is down, I do not hear any sounds like a pump working. This goes along with Vernon's comments on a defective pump.

Should a working pump make any noise? Yes- near impossible for the original gear pump to be silent unless it is locked up and NOT spinning.

Would a bad pump account for water leaking out when there is no power switched on? Yes, again, either a hose failed- but that coupled with the pump not making any noise- probably a good reason why. The hoses an the pump are at the bottom of the system from gravity- so a bad or missing pump, or bad hose or whatever- the water runs right out.

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Again, remove the small O-rings by slightly lifting up the entire tank compared to the base of the water tower.

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The lowest hose on the tank is stuck between the circuit board and the spout motor gearbox. Be careful lifting and you may need to remove this hose connection to the inside lower nipple of the tank.

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Video of the modified pump in action with plain water. Pump near silent until it runs dry and can run dry without issue.

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Hi Vernon,

Thank you for all the information, photos, video, and link to the motor.

A few questions before I try pulling the tank up.

Is there a place for the two wires coming from the motor to attach to the circuit board (by solder?)?

Does the new pump just lay loose on the floor of the tank?

The hose attaches to the pump with a zip tie?

@Jeff2035 posted:

Hi Vernon,

Thank you for all the information, photos, video, and link to the motor.

A few questions before I try pulling the tank up.

Is there a place for the two wires coming from the motor to attach to the circuit board (by solder?)? Same output as the original motor- just validate polarity with a meter since this is a DC only pump and won't take reverse polarity. Again, the old pump was a DC can motor- the new pump is a DC brushless electronic motor- but at the end of the day it's just DC and just 2 wires.

Does the new pump just lay loose on the floor of the tank? Yes, no need to get fancy.

The hose attaches to the pump with a zip tie? Yes, it's that simple.

With Vernon's fantastic assistance, the water tower is operating perfectly.

I did ask Vernon a few questions by email, and he answered those and even included more helpful photos.

I followed Vernon's clear and simple instructions: disassembly, properly wiring the pump, installing the pump, and connecting the hoses. Vernon also sent links for a replacement pump and two different hoses (the original pump did not work and was disconnected, and the hoses were missing...what a surprise when I opened up the tower!).

Thank you, Vernon, for being so patient and answering my numerous questions.

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