Help in indentifying an old HO engine...

I have an old engine from the 50's that I've had since new. Since I grew up in Norwalk - and Athearn was "just down the street" in Carson - it
was easy to assume that it was an Athearn. It "looks" like an Athearn - -- everyone that sees it (including me for the longest) *thinks* it's an Athearn - until the shell comes off - then the head-scratching starts.
The engine feels heavy for a "plastic shell" engine... most all of the weight - 13oz. - is in the frame / drive. And it's that drive that's "driving" me nuts! What is it??? I sent an email recently to Athearn - and they answered back the they aren't sure-- it's so old - BUT they are almost certain the shell is indeed an Athearn - they are also almost certain the drive is not.
The engine runs fine - in fact it's quite powerful - we once put a goodly sized (all metal) engine behind it (wired this one to go "the other way") it was funny to watch this old beat up engine drag that big fella around the track backwards with it's wheels spinning!
Here are some pixes - any one know? sure - guesses are welcome too!
http://www.comcents.com/athearn.jpg
As noted - it's a big beat up - and I'd like to fix it back up - if KCS and NS can fix up their "F" units... I guess I should too...
Thanks for looking and any info....
--
randy guttery

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wrote:

Man, did that take me back! I had an identical engine (except that mine was an SP Black Widow) when I was in high school back in 1959. The motor and drive train are identical and did indeed come with the shell, so if the shell is Athern, the rest must be Athern too. It was a good runner and could pull more cars than I owned. It could creep along quite slowly also.
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That is the first Athearn drive, I still have mine it was my first H-O diesel, I got it in 1955. There was a Japanese Clone "OLYMPIC EXPRESS" with a bronze frame made a little latter that could pull even better. Roger Aultman
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video guy - www.locoworks.com wrote:

Yup!!! STOCK Athern. Late '50s if I remember correctly.
It MAY have been some of the equipment marketed as 'Globe'. The time period is about right.
Chuck Davis
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Charles Davis wrote:

Was there there a mechanisim after this not like the more recent offerings? I have/has an Athearn F7 which had ridges on the chassis sides for clipping the body and a motor much larger than the 80s/90s black framed types.
Greg.P.
(yeah, I do have several US models)
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Randy, you have one of the original "Globe" plastic F-7 diesels. In the 1940's, both Athearn and Globe made very similar metal freight car kits that were generally considered top of the line. Around 1950, Athearn bought out Globe and discontinued the Globe metal cars. In the early 50's Athearn also bought the incomplete die work that Silver Streak had started for a plastic diesel. Teheran completed the dies, and began offering the kits as unpowered dummies: the ones I bought in plain gold paint cost $0.98 for the A and $0.89 for the B. They were an immediate hit, and several firms began offering powered chassis kits to use with the Athearn/Globe bodies, including Hobbytown, Kemtron, Lindsey, and Athearn itself. Many think the Athearn chassis was the best, and that is the kind you have. The original Globe Kits came in a deep red and black short box that could only accommodate one diesel. This was later changes to a pink and white box, which came in a short version for the diesel, and a longer version for the initial offering of the plastic Athearn/Globe ATSF inspired fluted passenger cars (RPO, coach, vista dome & obs). I have a gold F-7A on the same power chassis you illustrate in one of these pink & White boxes with an original instruction sheet that at the bottom left says "Globe Models: and on the bottom right "by Athearn". Some good data is available at http://www.hoseeker.net /
These are a real classic in the hobby. I'd strongly recommend keeping the unit as it is, and if you want to get rid of the blemishes, instead buy a newer Athearn F-7 shell for a buck or two, fix it up as you wish, snap it on for regular use, and preserve the ability to shift back to your piece of HO history. Geezer
snip

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Geezer wrote:

Wow!!!
I'd love to have a picture of that.

Double WOW!!! - Bookmarked! and Wow. Well there's a picture of the Mobilgas tank car I have - (A506) What a resource - THANKS!

Point well taken. I had no idea (obviously) of the history in that engine.
Again - thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge!
best regards...
--
randy guttery

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Thanks for all the information, Geezer.
Perfect example of what Usenet was originally intended to do.
Pete
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P. Roehling wrote:

Indeed - now I'm off to find some lubricant for the trucks - the grease that's in there is near hard... Be a shame to tear up the plastic grears to force things like it is. BTW - what is a "typical" free-run current for one of these old motors (I'm assuming 4-5Amps is way too much (at 12 volts - just holding it in my hand)?
Thanks again! best regards...
--
randy guttery

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Assuming that it's the old 5 pole open frame motor that was in most of my Athearn engines from the late 60's.
Anywhere from about 0.4 to 0.8 amps. (Really well tuned ones were probably around 0.2 amps.) I don't recall the current changing very much from no load to running with say 10 cars.
4-5 amps may be indicative of a failed winding. I don't recall the stall current but 4-5 amps seems very high. May also indicate a dirty commutator or some sort of leakage path thru the brush holders. (Tho I'd expect smoke from that path at that current.)
Does it turn at all, does it turn freely when removed from the engine?
--
Fred Lotte
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Fred Lotte wrote:

This is an earlier motor - from the early to mid 50's.

With the motor out - and freshly oiled (Hammond Organ Oil - pretty good stuff for bushings) - it runs 1A at 12 volt. Stall current is 6A @ 12V.
Interestingly - with 5V applied (again, no load) it's run current is 1A.

Does now - and now that the trucks have been degreased, cleaned and lubed (mix of Vaseline and with dry lube containing teflon using just enough Vaseline to keep the teflon in place) running on a track at 12V current is 2A - putting my hand in front of it (making the wheels spin) has no effect on current (and it pushes like a mule!). I don't have a layout (nor many road worthy cars) to test with - seems like it's much happier now -- sounds like I remember from years ago.
So it seems it's ready to "hit the rails" again. When I was at the hobby shop I picked up 6 9" sections of track which is just enough to display the 9 cars I have on one of my wife's display shelves in the living room. One of these days I may look into doing something more with it. At least it's been "preserved" for now (and won't be damaged if someone does run it).
Again - thanks to all who have provided so much info and help!!!!
best regards...
--
randy guttery

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Randy or Sherry Guttery wrote:

One amp at 12 volts and no load is high. 2 amps under load at 12 volts is very high. It may be that over the years the permanent magnets in the motor have lost some of their magnetic strength. For a 1950's motor the magnets will be Alnico, which doesn't retain its magnetism as well as modern ceramic mognets do. It is possible to "recharge" alnico magnets by putting them in a really strong magntic field. I've never done it my self but you might be able to find an electric motor shop that can do it, or knows someone who can. It might also be that the insulation on the rotor windings has deteriorated over the years allowing some turns to short together. This will cause the motor to draw excessive current. It is possible to rewind a motor, I have done that. You buy a spool of magnet wire of the same size, unwind the old winding, counting the turns as you go. Then neatly wind on the same number of turns of new wire and solder the ends to the commutator. I've done it and it takes an hour or so. You may have to do some looking to find a shop the carries magnet wire. When measureing the diameter of magnet wire, you need to strip off the varnish insulation and measure just the copper. Best stripper for magnet wire is ordinary paint remover. Every time I tried to strip it with a knife I wound up nicking the wire. You might check how hot the motor gets after running a while. If you can hold the back of your hand on the motor case for the count of ten, it's running cool enough. If not, it's running too hot. Continued operation at over temp will eventually burn out the motor. On the other hand, if its going to be on static display, you don't care how buch current it draws.
David Starr
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David Starr wrote:

10 minutes at 2 amps barely brakes the "chill" off the motor... Before (cleaning / re-lube) - approximately a minute at 4 amps and the motor was just starting to get warm- so I didn't push it. I do a lot with vintage / antique radios - so I'm pretty familiar with magnet coils -- motors, speakers, transformers, etc. - have even re-wound the shadow tuning indicator out of a 1937 Philco console - (that's 1000 feet of 40 gauge magnet wire). You can see some of Sherry's and my radios here:
http://www.comcents.com/radio.html
the Philco 37-640 is the console with the shadow meter.

At least for the foreseeable future it is (unfortunately) going to be (what we call in radio collecting circles) a shelf queen... So I'm not going to do any more than I have at this point - After all - it is "vintage". If someone wants a yard mule - there are many fine examples of more modern stuff that would likely be more appropriate.
I was just interested in what it is (was) - and the best thing to do to prevent it from deteriorating or doing any damage if someone were to try to run it without "checking things out". Thanks to much advice here - I now have a better idea what it is - and I think it's safe to run it "a little once in a while".
best regards...
--
randy guttery

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Doesn't sound like any of the HO motors I've worked with. Did you double check the ammeter scale? (I would.)
--
Fred Lotte
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Fred Lotte wrote:

OK - I pulled it off the shelf - and have now done some "serious" testing. First thing is that the power supply I was using apparently didn't like the "motor" load - as I checked it under load - it was not holding 12V - and in fact seemed to be "pulsing"... So I went to a 12V 7AH battery (new one - not quite fully charged) voltage was 12.4 (no load) to 12.35 full load - still had 12.4V no load at end of testing. It seems the power supply was causing higher current readings as the motor tried to cope with the unsteady supply.
Once on a stable supply - the no-load current for the motor started out at just under an amp. I let the motor run (no load- wheels in the air) for ten minutes. At the end of that time - the current had dropped to 600 ma. I let the motor cool for a hour - at which time it measured room temperature (77 degrees). Again hooking 12V to it - wheels still in the air - I ran it for a timed 5 minutes. The frame temp was 93 degrees. At the end of the five minutes load current was still 600ma. I placed the wheels on the bench - (I don't have enough track to run it) and blocked it in place. Running current went up to about 1250ma. I let it run three minutes like that (just about full load of cars, I'd think) motor frame was 99 - up from 80 degrees at the start - so roughly a 20 degree rise at full load after three minutes - and it seemed like it was leveling out...
That may not measure up to today's "stuff"... but for a 50 year old engine - I'm OK with it... esp. as noted - I don't intend to run it all that much. Again - this motor looks more like it's full-sized cousins - rather than the usual hobby motor of the era I've seen in other things from the time.
Just for those who missed the pix before:
http://www.comcents.com/athearn.jpg
Again - thanks for the thoughts and ideas... best regards...
--
randy guttery

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Randy or Sherry Guttery wrote:

Might be your first test supply might was going into current limit. If the supply thinks the load is pulling too much current, the fancier supplies protect them selves by reducing their output voltage.

600 mA is a very reasonable no load current for an older locomotive.
I let the motor cool for a hour - at which time it measured

Drivers slipping is full load. 99F is barely warm to the touch. Nothing cooler than 98.6 F feels very warm to your fingers.

Sounds like your original current measurement came out a bit high. For a 1950's locomotive, 1250 mA is a very reasonable current for drivers slipping, and a three minute run drivers slipping with the motor still cool to the touch is about as good as it's going to get. I'd say your motor is just fine.
David Starr
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David Starr wrote:

Actually - it's a cheap switcher out of some old piece of computer equipment - capable of 8A (supposedly) 12V and 12A 5V (1.2A -12V).
The inductive "kick" was probably screwing with the regulator...

Certainly good enough for sitting on a shelf... Some day maybe it'll once again have more than 9 inches of track to run on.
best regards...
--
randy guttery

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Randy or Sherry Guttery wrote:

These power supplies do not play well with motors, actually. there was a thread about this a while back, and I forget the technical reasons. Should work fine as source for layout lighting, though.

Try an electrical lubricant (eg, ConductaLube, made by AeroCar). It will reduce contact resistance at the commutator, and you should see a drop of 30% or more in current draw at any given load.
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I wouldn't put anything, especially anything conductive, on the commutator. Lubricants tent to clog up the gaps between com plates with carbon dust soaked in oil and also prevent free movement of the brushes in the brush holders. It may appear to improve things but the gain is short term.
What happens between the brush and com is as close to voodoo as any electrical thing gets. The surface of the com plate carries a film made up of brush and commutator material, and whatever is in the air... usually moisture. Solvents, smoke, gasses, oils, etc nearly always do bad things to the film.
The surface has to be CLEAN (before the film is formed) and even, and the brush pressure between 3&4 pounds/sq inch. Given the tiny size of these brushes, that's a very small force. If things are working right, there will be very little sparking and the com surface will have a uniform color, usually copper (but sometimes darker) with no streaks. Too much brush pressure wears the brushes and acts like a brake while too little will electrically erode the com and brush surface.
--
Fred Lotte
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Fred Lotte wrote:

The product I recommend does none of these things. It just works as I describe, is all. It also cleans the commutator (as you rightly recommend doing in the part I've snipped.)
[...]
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