I have a 336 Flyer Northern with an excessive amount of wheel wobble due to excessive rear drive axel ‘bearing’ wear. My question is this, is there a way to re-drill and re-sleeve the chassis bearing holes, or some other method of repair other than total chassis replacement?  I know this is an issue on some diesel chassis and it is possible to install replacement brass bearings, but, I can’t find any references to doing this on a steam engine chassis! Any help, suggestions, links or videos would be most appreciated. 

  Thank you for your time and attention,

Love those old AF Trains...

Original Post

Very early production steamer and diesels have bushings but not after those.  Definitely not a 336.  Other things can contribute to wheel wobble as mentioned.  Even drivers out of quarter can give that illusion while running.  To test for bushing/frame wear, turn the engine over, pinch across a pair of drivers with your thumb and index finger and try to move them diagonally front-back, up-down.  Shouldn't feel a lot of travel.  Try it on several engines for comparison.  


S happens


x-Chief Wrench & Bottle-washer of Precision Flyer Repairs 

336’s don’t have bushings, as far as I remember it will only be the early 332’s that will have them.

Have you checked to see if the rear drivers are gauged correctly? 

As Roy says, it could be a rim coming adrift on the insulator. Turn the engine upside down and run it to see if a rim is wobbly.

Check also for any loose hub(s) on axle(s), loose insulator(s) on hub(s), or loose rim(s) on insulator(s).  Could be any one or a number of things.  All the more why a sewing machine smooth and straight postwar steamer drivetrain is a wondrous and beautiful thing to behold. 


S happens


x-Chief Wrench & Bottle-washer of Precision Flyer Repairs 

    The problem is definitely too much play in the rear axle. I have pulled the whole rear axle assembly and replaced with a good axle(no wheels or gear attached) and the play is very significant(most of the play is up and down). You a can see just by looking there is too much wear in the chassis. So my quandary is how do I repair it? I know with this kind of problem on some diesel chassis you can re-drill and re-sleeve the chassis, but I can find no such references to this type remedy for steamers. Has anyone repaired this type chassis problem on an AF Steam Engine.  Yes it was properly quartered there was no binding or locking between the drive wheels, connecting rods etc. I have replaced the AF motor with a "can" motor and electronic E unit. I will also check and replace the other wheels and axles as necessary

    My sincere apology for posting without being more clear what the exact issue is and I certainly appreciate all the quick responses to my post. I again appreciate any help, comments, suggestions, links whatever. I hate to have to discard the whole chassis and try and find a replacement without the same issue(s)..

Sgaugian - I agree there is nothing more beautiful then all the wheels rods and pistons working in unison, Unless the wheels are wobbling.... :-)    I believe I corresponded with you earlier on another 'Channel'... Appreciated your comments there too.


Love those old AF Trains...

I would rebush it

Find a local source for small oil lite bearings

 and bring the axle with you to check the tolerances in person .

  You can  also determine the exact outside diameter measurement that will be required to bore out the existing holes (drill press recommended) in the chassis

  You may be required to cut the bushings to match the thickness of the chassis 


When I rebuild my late diesel chassis I use oilite bushes of the following dimensions, 8mm OD, 4mm ID and 4mm wide.

The Northern chassis sides for where the axle fits are 4mm each, so these will be a perfect starting point. You have probably noticed that the drive axle has two different journal sizes, so once the bushes have been fitted they will then need to be machined to suit the axle.

The larger journal comes out at about 4.56mm, so this hole needs to be drilled to 4.6mm. The other smaller journal is 4.10mm but the problem here is that the knurled bit for the wheel can measure slightly larger at 4.11mm, why Gilbert did this I have know idea. I take this out to 4.15mm but drills of this size can be expensive but it does make for a better fit, so the next common size drill will be 4.2mm.

The next hard bit is to know where to drill the chassis to fit the bushes. I had a look at some of my 336’s and some 6 wheel Pacific/Hudson chassis and the following dimensions are the best I can come up with that might help you and a machine shop. The distance from the bottom of the chassis to the axle hole centre is 12.5mm, this sounds like half an inch but in realty it is just under, I checked several times and I couldn’t get a measurement of 12.7mm which is half an inch.

The other measurement I used was from the end of the chassis/motor end to axle hole centre and this was a bit more difficult but I reckon it is 8.5mm. These two dimensions should be OK for a machine shop.

The other measurement I worked out is the axle hole centres for each one this is 34.35mm and from number one axle to number four axle they are 103.05mm. This could be another measurement to use.

When I drill out the diesel chassis i initially use a 7.7mm drill and then finish with a 5/16” reamer. Then I just press in the bushes. The same principal should apply to the steam chassis. The only thing I would do as a safeguard would be to add a temporary spacer between the chassis sides when pressing in the bushes, just in case it tries to distort the sides inwards.

These measurements are as close as I can get to and you should check them out to make sure they are going to work. I haven’t done one yet myself but I can see a need for a single jig/tool which will cover most of the 4,6 and 8 wheel standard chassis. Another project for retirement.

Hope this helps you or anyone else thinking of giving it a go.

You received a lot of info but. If you do not know how to install bushings into the chassis or remove and quarter the wheels and do not have the tools and parts. 

Send the chassis to a repair shop and have them install the bushings and quater the wheels for you. Check with portlines hobby and other shops I think one is sNs on line.


Hi Guys -

Hey, I really appreciate all the input especially the post by UKAFLYER, and from everyone else too! With that said, after posting the original post and reading your replies, I checked the other 6 wheels and except for two loose flangeless rims all are in great shape. I replaced the rear wheels, drive gear and axle, the quartering is good, except for the wobble is still so significant it causes some binding. So, it will definitly need to be rebushed. So my current plan is to order the same parts required for rebushing a diesel plus two pulmor wheels, then find a local machinist and have it redrilled and press the new bushings in place and of course replace the wheels etc and re-quarter! If I have any unexpected issues i will certainly post follow- ups...  

Again,  I sincerely Thank you all for your Time and very informative posts. I think this is good info for anyone wanting to restore a steam chassis.




Love those old AF Trains...

Before you order the diesel bushes from Doug it may pay to ask the dimensions of them and if they are oilite.

I personally in your position would get the bushes that are used on the earlier models. Again, ask Doug if they have been pre drilled for the two different size journals. If they are then that saves the machine shop a job.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, get the machine shop to go over my measurements to make sure they are happy with them as well.

Good luck. 

I have now started to draw up some plans to make a jig now, just need to find a machine shop myself to get one made.

The steamer bushings from Doug are not the same as the early AF production replacement diesel bushings he sells which are not the same as most if not all of the Oilite bushings repair people otherwise use to bush latter production diesel trucks that never had bushings to begin with.   And none of them are the same as replacement bushings for early production Lionel AF diesel trucks.  Be sure you know which one you should be using, on which engine, and have the right drill bits on hand.  

Steamer bushing large ID - 2643 - you'll find it slips on the large OD end of the drive gear knurled axle, but finish it with a #14 anyway.

Steamer bushing small ID - 2642 - you'll find it won't slip on the small OD end of that axle or the ends of a plain axle without getting drilled with a #19 (this was news to Doug after selling them for years, but he confirmed it with me one year ago, unless his manufacturer/machinist changed the design since then)

Replacement bushings for early production AF diesel trucks - 611- set of four, two large ID and two small ID for one truck; knock in (out) the old, press in the new, per the instructions Doug provides with them.  If using them on later production diesel trucks, also follow the directions Doug provides with them, but you'll need to drill a 3/8" hole first.  In either case, finish the small with a #19, and the large with a #14.

Oilite replacement bushings - available from different sources including Hobby Horse Products -- you'll need the correct drills - for example a D, #14, and #19.  HHP sells an AF diesel truck re-bushing kit with jig, bits, bushings, etc.  Google and contact them for more information.    

Early Lionel AF diesel truck bushings - about as available as hen's teeth, but if you find them, while smaller in OD, the procedure is much like replacing early Gilbert diesel truck bushings, except they only go half way into the frame so you need to draw out the worn ones (can't knock them through).  They work well on those specific chassis, just hard to find.  

If you want to get into the re-bushing biz there are a few things you'll need, otherwise leave it to a pro.  I haven't seen Ed's work first hand, but he is a great guy and I have every reason to believe that whatever work he does is top shelf, first rate, A-1, you get the picture.  I know from firsthand experience that Neil Bishop re-bushes AF diesel trucks to perfection, although I don't think he does steamers.  

Some of the key things to have if you go the DIY route:

  • Low run-out multi-speed drill press
    • A mill is even better
  • Correct size drill bits -- sharp and high-quality
  • Cutting oil
  • Correct types and sizes of bushings for each job
  • Jig for holding the truck/chassis in position
  • High-quality, deep enough throat depth vise or x-y to position and hold jig(s) steady
  • Arbor press
  • LocTite (red)
  • Practice before you work on something "real", patience and experience before it gets "easy"

Have fun with your trains.



S happens


x-Chief Wrench & Bottle-washer of Precision Flyer Repairs 

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