Lionel Polar Express locomotive shorts the layout.

Massey Nov 16, 2021

  1. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    Hey guys! I picked up a Lionel Polar Express set last week with the LionChief Remote control. So this train as the story was told to me was only ever used at Christmas and then stored away. It had all the track, the throttle, cars and locomotive/tender. I had to buy a new power supply and got a Lionel branded one. I finally got to run the train today and it made a couple laps then stopped. The light near the plug in went out as did the lights in all the cars. Typical short circuit/over current issue. I figured this may be from dirty track as this track was pretty bad, so I cleaned it up. Scotchbrite pad and alcohol, now I have shiny rails... but now as soon as the train hits the curve it stops and all the lights go out, and stay out. If I move the loco nothing, but if I lift the loco off the rails power is returned. Just the loco being lifted, the tender can stay on the rails and everything is good. I cant see any damaged wires coming off the tender plug (part of the drawbar) and when the train runs it runs smooth and quiet.

    So there is the scenario, and before I disassemble everything looking for an issue, I was hoping someone could direct me as to some possible common issue to locate. I am mainly HO and N modeler, this is my first "big" train Oh and the chuffs and smoke are turned off too.
     
  2. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    I'm an idiot... OK so it isn't shorting it is not getting enough power. I checked the rating on my power supply and it makes 600ma at 18V... I am guessing that the train ran better with the dirty track because the lights in the cars were not always working due to poor contacts, and now that I have clean rails, and wheels, the cars can draw full current. After I checked the current output on my power supply I removed all the cars and the train ran fine. I added one car and it ran ok still. A second car and I noticed I needed more throttle for the same speed as before and adding the 3rd car killed it all together. I should have tested this before, I know better, I am really good at electrical stuff. Lesson learned. I also didn't know Lionel had so many different power supplies. I found 500ma, 600ma, 1500ma, 2000ma, and 2300ma all for the "LionChief" sets.
     
  3. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

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    On the cover of the owner's manual, the transformer output rating is listed as 18 VDC, 2000 mA.

    https://www.lionelsupport.com/media/servicedocuments/6604730218250PERemoteControl.pdf
     
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  4. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Don't feel bad. This happened to many folks back in previous decades, with older style power supplies. Even though they came with a set, the little bricks provided were barely usable. (They were excellent paper weights!) An interesting way to sell some of their larger capacity transformers...! Even stepping up to their #1032 (75 watt) or #1033 (90 watt), was usually barely adequate. Add an accessory or two and you needed to once again move up.
     
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  6. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Dad had a very early production dual motor F-3, which is still in the family. Talk about a power hog! It seems to make more noise and ozone than torque.

    They got better after just a year or two. Sometimes rarities are rare for a reason.
     
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sounds like you may be describing something like the 2333 Santa Fe pair?
     
  8. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    A-B-A, actually, Variation C or D with the GM stickers on the doors. One double powered, two dummies.
     
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  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Ooooo. Nice!
     
  10. country joe

    country joe TrainBoard Member

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    The motors on those post-war engines are super reliable but eat up a lot of power. An engine with two motors like the F3s required a bigger transformer just for the motors, but also had incandescent lights in the engines and cars. I had New York Central F3 A-B-A 2354 from 1954 and a 1033 90 watt transformer couldn't run it. My dad put 2 1033s in phase and the F3 ran like a champ and could pull every freight car I had with ease.

    The 1033 could easily handle a single motor engine like a post war steam engine pulling 3 passenger cars or a freight trains with a lighted caboose.

    Newer O gauge engines with can motors and passenger cars with LED lights use very little power. I can run 3 passenger trains using one GW 180 watt transformer with power to spare.
     
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  11. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    So the new 3amp power supply showed up today. Wow what a difference. I had removed the lights in 2 of the cars so I could run the train and even then the 3rd car with the lights still in went dim as I ran the loco. Tonight I reinstalled the lights (incandescent) and even ran the sounds and smoke generator. The lighting on the cars didn’t dim a bit, and the loco was even able to operate at a much slower speed without getting wonky. Now I’m happy!
     
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