Lionel train question...

1936 Lionel engine from my youth… not played with since the 50’s… I am trying to get it to run again around the base of my 2015 Christmas tree… it runs on a small circle track but it seems to slow down the longer it runs… contacts have been cleaned and engine lubricated by a friend, an experienced model railroader… are we missing something?

Maybe the power source, aka transformer. Is it overheating?

Oddball is probably right. Surely some kind of overheating issue. Maybe in the engine’s gear train. I’m impressed the transformer didn’t burn up.

I have tried two different transformers — the original small black unit that came with the set and a larger Type R, 110 watt Transmaster by Lionel dual control — same result… as to the engine gear box, it seems not to heat up… is there a lubrication procedure — everything exposed seems lubricated but not excessively lubricated…

Anything added to the train? Have you tried running it with only the engine?

I will try the engine alone for an extended period to determine if the slow down occurs. To date the extended periods have been run only with original configuration of five — engine, tender, box, tanker and caboose.

I’m thinking, like others, that the transformer is the problem. It is a fact that the warmer they get, the less efficient they become. I’ve seen guys at shows running big layouts with the big ZW transformer. They remove the cover and have fans blowing on the coils. Also if your engine is from 1936, it may draw more power than an equivalent “modern” engine, making the transformer issue worse.

Are you right on the carpet or on a platform or a board of some kind? Is there carpet fuzz in moving parts?

Steam engine? Are the wheels and rods correctly quartered?

I think your old magnets (in the motor) are weak (they fade over time).

You need a motor tune up /overhaul.

Like a weak battery… from rest, it’ll have some pep but soon drop off. My experience is that an old train motor with weak magnets will do the same.

I’ve had similar problems with pre-war Lionel engines. These had magnets that didn’t benefit from jumps in magnet tech after the war.

Time for a tune up.

This comes up with the antique radios I work with. The transformer was designed for 110V and is now running at ~125V; Input power to the transformer primary is a function of V^^2 so it will run hotter. I don’t understand how that affects the voltage at the output but I bet other Lionel enthusiasts have dealt with it and the answer could be googled.

I would be concerned if a transformer was hot enough to reduce the available current/voltage - if that’s the problem.

On radios we sometimes install a bucking transformer, or capacitive or diode voltage droppers. And some are tougher than others and work fine on 125VAC.