Fix a seized Lionel motor

I got a 4-wheel Lionel motor over the weekend. It was seized up to the point that the wheels wouldn’t turn, which meant I got it for almost nothing. The fix isn’t always this easy, but it’s common enough to be worth taking a chance on these neglected motors.

In my case, the problem was dried-out lubricants. It happens. I didn’t analyze what was in there; I just wanted to get my motor running again.

This motor was out of a Lionel 2034, so the armature comes out if you remove the brushplate. I found this out because the armature was stuck to the brushplate like glue. Very strong glue at that.

By twisting it, I was able to free the armature. I cleaned the bearing and the axle with contact cleaner one it was free, and re-lubed with Labelle 107, which is a good medium-weight synthetic oil.

Then I spun the wheels to verify they were free. They were. I cleaned the gears up a bit with contact cleaner, then re-lubed those with Labelle 106 grease, and added one drop of Labelle 107 to all of the other axles.

While I was at it, I also cleaned the commutator, which was filthy. It may have been the worst I’d seen, caked on with brush dust and mysterious oils.

But once I put it all back together, it ran with minimal protest. It’s not a glamorous motor, but it was pretty well put together, and it fits a lot of common Lionel shells.

The other common reason for a seized motor is steel wool bits in the gears. Usually this is a problem that requires a trip to the repair shop, as most people won’t have a wheel puller and a press to properly replace the wheels.

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