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I have been struggling to get this whistle tender functional again.  I had it pretty close, to the point of actually whistling, but it was also very chattery and slow to get moving fast enough to whistle.  In trying to clean it further I've made things worse (see video).  I've thoroughly cleaned the brushes and commutator, and the fan/motor spins easily enough by hand, but there is obviously something very wrong.

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Granted, I should have screwed the plate back down before shooting the video, but it makes no difference - still the same problem.  I had put a dab of white lithium grease on each bushing area which doesn't seem to help, I assume oil would have been the proper choice but hope the grease isn't causing this large of a problem.  Possibly a related question if I need to clean that grease up but I was curious anyway, is this armature supposed to be removable?  It does not want to budge and I am hesitant to pull too hard on it.

@Dolph posted:

I had put a dab of white lithium grease on each bushing area which doesn't seem to help,

Use oil, w/ a needle oiler to get the bottom bushing between the poles, run the motor with the tender on its side(brushes "up") to get the oil worked in down in there. After oiling, use Lucas grease in the top bushing reservoir to take up a little slop if the brushplate is worn.

Check the hole size in the fiber brush plate. It should be about 0.126" when new. The armature shaft is 0.125" (1/8").

My guess is that the hole worn too large and the armature is contacting the field plates. The good news is the the opposite bearing in the whistle box is a real one and is probably fine. No need to remove the armature which requires popping out the whistle box backside rivets.

You can repair by purchasing a new brush plate (~$6) Or by drilling out the fiber brush plate armature hole and fitting a real bearing. There is a bearing, part number OM-3, that works nicely for this BUT they don't seem to be sold by any parts dealers that I could find. They are used on at least 1654, 1655, and 1656 locomotives as the armature bearing opposite of the brush plate.

I started to write the same response as @jth877 above, but I see he beat me to it! When I can't get a replacement brush plate, I repair wallowed out brush plate armature holes with a simple Oilite sleeve bearing from McMaster Carr, 0.125" inside diameter, 1/4" length - this is twice as long as the original and adds a degree of stability. I've had 100% success with that so far (maybe 7 or 8 done.) If you can find a replacement brush plate, go that route - it's easier!

What tender is this? Is there a number stamped on the bottom?

One more thing I would check - did you clean the brush wells? They can easily get gunked up and cause one or both brushes to stick, which could cause the problem you're seeing.

Also, check the brush spring tension. I guess only experience can tell your fingers what's the right tension or what's too wimpy. But you can usually sense if there's a difference between the two - if you feel a difference, that is a good indicator that one of them has weakened, usually due to heat. If that's the case, always replace both with new only, no used ones!!

George

@GeoPeg posted:

I started to write the same response as @jth877 above, but I see he beat me to it! When I can't get a replacement brush plate, I repair wallowed out brush plate armature holes with a simple Oilite sleeve bearing from McMaster Carr, 0.125" inside diameter, 1/4" length - this is twice as long as the original and adds a degree of stability. I've had 100% success with that so far (maybe 7 or 8 done.) If you can find a replacement brush plate, go that route - it's easier!

What tender is this? Is there a number stamped on the bottom?

One more thing I would check - did you clean the brush wells? They can easily get gunked up and cause one or both brushes to stick, which could cause the problem you're seeing.

Also, check the brush spring tension. I guess only experience can tell your fingers what's the right tension or what's too wimpy. But you can usually sense if there's a difference between the two - if you feel a difference, that is a good indicator that one of them has weakened, usually due to heat. If that's the case, always replace both with new only, no used ones!!

George

I've seen the straight non-flanged bearings available. How do you get them to stay in place? The oil wick retainer? Is the outside diameter 0.250" . I might order a few to try.

The OM-3 has a nice small diameter flange that when banked up against the inside on the brush plate keeps it from walking out of the hole. It's small enough in diameter that it doesn't short the brush holders.

Thanks everyone, I think you are on to something with the brush plate hole.  Brush wells were cleaned and I have tried both the original as well as brand-new replacement brushes and springs with no change in performance.  I will investigate the plate more tonight but I bet that is it, I remember it looking like it had taken a lot of wear.  BTW this is a #02689WX tender.

@Dolph posted:

Thanks everyone, I think you are on to something with the brush plate hole.  Brush wells were cleaned and I have tried both the original as well as brand-new replacement brushes and springs with no change in performance.  I will investigate the plate more tonight but I bet that is it, I remember it looking like it had taken a lot of wear.  BTW this is a #02689WX tender.

To confirm that a wobbly armature shaft flopping around in a loose hole is the cause of your problem, I would turn the power on with the motor on my work bench (using jumpers for center and outer rail) and gently apply a thumbnail in a lateral direction to the end of the shaft and listen and feel for the vibration and noise to improve.

I would also not rule out a problem with your whistle relay - best way to determine if it's a factor is to bypass it and wire the motor to run directly off AC.

I would also check that solder blob connection where the orange & white wires meet up - potential for cold solder there - easy way to find out is to run the whistle (as-is) for 10-15 seconds, then feel the solder blob connection for heat - there shouldn't be any, but if there is a bad connection there, it will easily burn your finger "probe", so be careful.

@jth877 posted:

I've seen the straight non-flanged bearings available. How do you get them to stay in place? The oil wick retainer? Is the outside diameter 0.250" . I might order a few to try.

The OM-3 has a nice small diameter flange that when banked up against the inside on the brush plate keeps it from walking out of the hole. It's small enough in diameter that it doesn't short the brush holders.

OK, you asked, so here 'tis. I use JB Weld to hold them in place. If you don't like monkeying with stuff, don't use this process

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After a thorough alcohol rinse to clean the surfaces, I set the sleeve right over the end of the armature shaft and glue it to the brush plate. Setting it onto the armature shaft provides the needed alignment, but you must be careful to not let the epoxy work it's way under the sleeve and get to the armature shaft. You will notice that I ran the epoxy up the side of the sleeve bearing and out onto the brush plate a short distance to provide more "grip" - haven't had one come loose yet!!

I always set it, glue it, and recheck in an hour (JB Weld has a loooong cure time) and if I feel any drag starting to occur while spinning the armature manually, I tear the whole thing apart immediately, clean everything to get rid of the epoxy that snuck in there, and start over - only had to do that once, and that was on one of those tricky upside down brush plates. I recheck the armature for stiffness (leaking glue) every 30 min thereafter for a couple more hours.

You must also be very careful not to short circuit the sleeve bearing to either of the brush tubes. There is precious little clearance there. Most of the time, I push the solder lugs away from each other - their holes are off-center, so pushing them away from one another actually gives a tiny increase in the space from the sleeve bearing.

In the case of your whistle brush plate, I would just remove the oil wick container altogether, or at least remove it long enough to glue the sleeve bearing in place, then refashion things to provide an oil wick to the new arrangement. Someone else on here does this sleeve bearing thing too, but as I recall he uses an even longer sleeve bearing and stuffs an oil wick in the open end and keeps things wet that way.

As I said, I've done several like this and have even tried using flanged sleeve bearings, but the ones I get always had a flange that was too thick and interfered with the brush-plate/commutator clearance. I have though, been able to use this technique with flanged sleeve bearings quite successfully to restore worn magnetraction axle bearings on 200 & 600 series diesels - it also allows you to re-use VERY worn axles 100% of the time! But that's another story.

Again, before I did any of this, I would confirm that it's really needed - do this by direct measurements or by applying some side pressure to the armature shaft while running to see if that improves the vibration, noise or running capabilities. And if it is needed, my first efforts would be to buy a new brush plate. And I would certainly follow Rob's advice on lube before I did any of this. If none of that works, then you might consider giving this a try

George

Oops, forgot to answer the last question - the sleeves I purchase from McMaster Carr are "Oil-Embedded Bronze Sleeve Bearing for 1/8" Shaft Diameter, for 3/16" Housing ID, 1/4" Long". I also purchase the shorter version "Oil-Embedded Bronze Sleeve Bearing for 1/8" Shaft Diameter and 3/16" Housing ID, 1/8" Long" for use in replacing the sleeve bearing in many brush plates used in vertical drive Lionel motors - for some reason, the old bushings seem to break more often than I would have imagined.

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Last edited by GeoPeg

Thanks again to everyone for the tips.  A new brushplate has made a world of difference.  I've not heard a different whistle so I don't have one to directly compare mine to, but online research indicates that totally getting rid of the "growl" isn't easy.  Any opinions on if this still needs some work, or is this probably as good as I am going to get for such an old whistle?

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