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This is a recent purchase.   I noticed this sound which others have described as a playing card on the spokes of a bicycle.  You can hear it above the normal engine sounds.

In the video, I turned off the sound to try to figure out this out. It seems to be coming from the engine before the cab.

I took it to local hobby shop and was not fixed as what they noted as not unusual for mechanical noise.  They ran power to the engine but when they tested it was not on a track with just power applied.  So this makes me think it is perhaps a roller or only when there is weight of the engine when on the track.

Couple of questions.  

1.) Is this not normal?

2) Have you experienced this before on any of your engines.

Thank you in advance.

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Last edited by jjwyatt
Original Post

Thank you for the replies I have tried a few different things to try to eliminate it as per suggestions.  I have a buddy who has the ability to do it on rollers so may try that next and see what happens.   Engine works great other than this issue.  More annoying when this is the only one that does it.  

Both very smooth runners, I'm jealous!  In this case I don't personally think it's the driving wheel flanges on the ties, I feel like the frequency of the clicking is too high for that.  @MartyE what loco did you observe with this problem?

Two theories: (1) The plastic comb wheel that serves as the tach surface for speed control is rubbing on the sensor or something inside the boiler shell.  (2) What you're hearing is "slop" in the dog-bone shaft that connects the motor flywheel to the worm gear.  The dogbone could be toggling fore-and-aft in the cups of the U-joints.

To troubleshoot further you could run it with the shell off and observe.  That's the first thing I would do.  To quiet the dogbone, you could pack a little Vaseline or some viscous moly grease in those cups to stop the ball ends from slapping around.  But to totally rule out the dogbone you would have to remove it altogether.  Apply power to hear the motor and flywheel by themselves.

Honestly both locos seem to run great.  It's just a noise and I wouldn't be that concerned.  I don't know your level of mechanical skill.  But I would open it up for observation long before I would take the risk of sending it back to Lionel.  And yes, there are risks...!!

I had a similar issue on a slightly older Legacy steamer. Judging by the frequency/rapid pace of the sound, it's definitely coming from the area of the flywheel and could easily be a stray wire touching it as it rotates. In my case the flywheel was actually touching the chassis of the engine, which I figure came about as the result of shipping damage. It took some effort to create enough separation between the two parts to stop it happening.

I believe it was my Santa Fe ATSF Northern.  After reading this thread though I may go back and check to see if I'm remembering my solution correctly.  I thought for sure it was the nubs on the track but maybe I did end up opening it and finding something.  Old age will do that.  LOL!  I'm pretty sure though I narrowed it down to the nubs but again I'll have to double check.

Hancock52 posted:

I had a similar issue on a slightly older Legacy steamer. Judging by the frequency/rapid pace of the sound, it's definitely coming from the area of the flywheel and could easily be a stray wire touching it as it rotates. In my case the flywheel was actually touching the chassis of the engine, which I figure came about as the result of shipping damage. It took some effort to create enough separation between the two parts to stop it happening.

Thanks.   I have not taken it apart so shall see.   

MartyE posted:

I’d still run it on another track type, tubular would be best.  You’d be surprised how long it took to figure it out. 

What I observed was the exact same noise. It's an easy check without removing the shell.  If nothing else it may save you some time.  

Will be running it this weekend on other types of track 

Thanks to all for your input.   Will run it this weekend with a few other operators to see what they think in person and go from there.   I ran it once more trying to determine location and still seems to be somewhere directly in front of the cab.   Will post back onto this thread future results or root cause hopefully when found.

@Ted S posted:

Both very smooth runners, I'm jealous!  In this case I don't personally think it's the driving wheel flanges on the ties, I feel like the frequency of the clicking is too high for that.  @MartyE what loco did you observe with this problem?

Two theories: (1) The plastic comb wheel that serves as the tach surface for speed control is rubbing on the sensor or something inside the boiler shell.  (2) What you're hearing is "slop" in the dog-bone shaft that connects the motor flywheel to the worm gear.  The dogbone could be toggling fore-and-aft in the cups of the U-joints.

To troubleshoot further you could run it with the shell off and observe.  That's the first thing I would do.  To quiet the dogbone, you could pack a little Vaseline or some viscous moly grease in those cups to stop the ball ends from slapping around.  But to totally rule out the dogbone you would have to remove it altogether.  Apply power to hear the motor and flywheel by themselves.

Honestly both locos seem to run great.  It's just a noise and I wouldn't be that concerned.  I don't know your level of mechanical skill.  But I would open it up for observation long before I would take the risk of sending it back to Lionel.  And yes, there are risks...!!

#2 is absolutely correct... I can confirm the issue is noise from the dog bone shaft. Greased it with Vaseline and sound is gone.  Thanks!

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Wow that's a lot of Vaseline!  if you haven't buttoned her up yet, you might want to wipe off some of the excess, otherwise the rotating shaft will sling it all over the inside of the shell.  Glad you found the source of the noise.

In looking at your photo, in your specific case the root cause is actually a mis-alignment between the motor, and the shaft coming out of the gearbox.  It's not extreme and the U-joints can compensate.  However- if it's possible to adjust the angle of the motor and there's room to do so, you could align them and make the problem go away altogether.

@WyattK now that I can see this in full size, i also noticed that there's a screw missing from the rear of your gearbox cover.  And those wires look mighty close to rubbing on that flywheel.  That could cause noise too, and eventually rub through the insulation causing a short circuit.

For a while Lionel had gotten better about addressing these sorts of issues, but if you didn't address these issues before reassembling the loco, I would go back in and double-check.

@Ted S posted:

@WyattK now that I can see this in full size, i also noticed that there's a screw missing from the rear of your gearbox cover.  

Oh no, I took the cover off of the gearbox to remove the worm gear while fiddling around.  I only put the one screw in to hold the cover in place to make sure everything was working when I put everything back together (just so I didn't have to go back and unscrew all 4 again if it wasn't working correctly).  

As far as the wires go, I watched the flywheel spin freely without being attached to the worm and it wasn't coming close to hitting anything, but yeah anything can shift in placement after a while.  I'll keep an eye on it.

@Paul Kallus posted:

I've noticed that sound coming from my Milw. Road S-3. If I don't grease that u-joint will it damage or prematurely wear out?

I don't think it would wear out.  The "cups" should be metal.  I'm guessing that the dogbone shaft is plastic.  If anything is going to fail, I think it would be the pins on the dogbone shaft.  That shaft is an inexpensive part used on several different models.  Even if it ceases to be available, specialty companies like Northwest Short Line, Stock Drive Products, etc., offer kits to make your own universal shaft in any desired length.

That being said... depending on your comfort level with taking things apart, warranty issues, etc., I would do the grease job just to be sure it's NOT a broken encoder ring, or wires rubbing on the flywheel.  My $.02.

@Ted S, ....I’m not 100% sold that greasing these cups is the “cure” for this condition....you hit the nail on the head with Wyatt’s loco as to where the noise was coming from, but I was more interested in the comment you made about the shaft alignment issue you noted, but y’all never did conclude if that was remedied ....free flying slinging grease, vasoline or whatever, seems like a band aid repair ....I’d like to see if someone can verify if there’s a bunch of slop between the dog bone and the slots, or if it’s a misalignment issue or what....I’ve put these dog bones in some builds almost to the max allowable defection with no grease, and to this day have no noise like that....and some of those builds have hundreds if not thousands of hours.....if the grease is the cure, fine, but I’m interested in knowing the offense that leads to that....

Pat

Pat you're the master at motor alignment, custom mounts, etc., I know you know your stuff!  I think whether or not you get noise is a function of several things:

-The degree of misalignment (greater misalignment will cause the shaft to toggle back-and-forth more)

-The length of the dogbone shaft relative to the gap (too short = greater chance of noise.)  I've read some accounts where the shaft was way too short and it fell out, causing the loco to be immobilized!

-The size of the pins, relative to the width of the slots (small pins will chatter more, and allow more movement)

Yes, the grease is a band-aid solution.  But most folks don't have the skills to realign the motor, if there's even room to do so.  Nor to make a new shaft that's a better fit.  Wyatt posted a test run on another thread; it's very smooth and quiet.  If it were my loco I think I could accept it the way it is.

@Ted S.....ahh, yes,...I do remember a couple of locomotives with some discerning shaft issues....good point...99% of the time I wind up having to make custom shafts from brass tubing for my builds....therefore, I can carefully get shaft end play and phase the joints how I want them ( 180 degrees apart ) be interesting to see what’s the issue with some of these....don’t think it’s a widespread issue as there’s only a handful of complaints....if it turns out to be too short of a shaft issue, the better remedy ( without a bumpy trip back to Lionel) would be a custom shaft like this:......

PatE10A2207-6CC2-4CE5-B33B-0773A7104498D0C63B76-76D4-4FCB-B8E7-CDEC19F3617EE40A46C1-023A-4358-AB6E-693C213CF976

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Haha now you started the next great debate  ... whether the pins should be in the same plane, or at right angles!  I was always taught that they should be in the same plane, but I can see that you're a right-angle guy.    Maybe that's why yours are quieter, but this IS a subject for another thread.  One question though- do you epoxy the nylon shaft into the brass tubing, or just jam it in there with a press fit?

I use 3M panel bonder,......it’s a lot of overkill, but I never have a failure....JB weld ( slow set ) would work fine, .....of course, the trick is scuff the ends of the shaft, and scuff the bore of the tubing.....and prep clean with alcohol......the tubing is K&S engineering 7/32” ID tubing ....with either Lionel’s or MTH’s driveshafts, this is a very snug snug fit, so it aligns itself straight.....many ways to skin a cat, one could drill the pieces and pin them, but I like the clean look, and once the panel bonder sets, you’ll rip the brass in two before the shaft spins in the tubing.....

As far as the phase, yes that’s a topic for another discussion....being a mechanical engineer, I follow the millwrights guide....😉..

Pat

Last edited by harmonyards

I dabbled with trying to realign my motor on the 2-10-4, but looks like I may break something before finding any success with that. I noticed after a bunch of laps around the track, the ticking noise of the dogbone started slightly coming back.  Put Vaseline down into the actual sockets of the u joints instead slathering it on top of the whole assembly.  We'll see how long it stays quiet.  

I messaged the repair man that fixed the rods on this engine about this issue. He said that he believes this is a common problem because Lionel doesn't have adequate protection in their packaging when shipping and the motor gets knocked out alignment... don't know how much of that is just speculation or truth. My guess is that it is just a shoddy build and improper quality control when these things are first being put together.  Maybe one day I'll fix the alignment issue. 

Last edited by WyattK
@Paul Kallus posted:

Guys: a dumb question or maybe I am a dumb guy, but I can't get the shell off and I am afraid to pry apart after removing a bunch of phillip head screws! Is there a secret to this S-3 shell removal? It is a very well done model IMO - fully rounded underside boiler.

Thanks.

@Paul Kallus, I'm not sure about the S3, but my 2-10-4 is also a model with cylinder smoke like the S3.  There are 2 screws, one in the bottom of each cylinder that need to come out if you haven't removed them (they are down in deep holes on mine).  Took me a while to figure out those were the last 2 screws I needed to take out in order to remove the shell. 

On mine, there are also 4 screws under the cab that need to come out as well.. so a total of 6 screws.  Again, I'm not sure if the S3 has a similar setup.

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