Topics

The Flyer Crawl?

TERRY M STONE
 

Oddly, I was involved in a brief discussion twice at the Spree about ideas to make Old American Flyer "crawl" at more prototypical speeds.   I have considered the before, but have not been able to do it, even with modern can motors.  I'm not sure DCC or other electronic controls are the answer, but perhaps it would be possible with them, though I have my doubts.

I have pretty much decided that the real problem is not voltage control or motors, but gearing and weight.  I came to this theory from my background in motorsports and trucking.  The American Flyer steam locomotives in particular cannot easily run slowly because most have tall, "passenger engine" drivers, and the motor/axle gearing is too high.  As the engine slows, the motor is fed less and less voltage, but at some point "stalls" as it is getting too little voltage to keep the locomotive moving.   The 343 and other locos with smaller diameter drivers have a lower top speed, but also would be more able to keep moving slowly, at least to a point.

Picture a semi tractor pulling a heavy trailer.  The engine RPM's and the horsepower are nearly constant at low speed and to get the truck moving the driver has to use his lowest gears.  If he attempts to move the load starting with the gears used for highway travel, the engine will stall.  Actually, the same is true if he wants to move very slowly using a highway ratio gear, the engine "lugs" at too low speed until it stalls.  ("Lugging" an engine under load is VERY damaging internally!)   And this is what happens to the old American Flyer engines, they stop turning due to too low voltage and high gearing rather than slow down smoothly to a stop.

Remember that it's not only the gears which must be considered.  The weight of the locomotive and train (the old Flyer stuff is heavy) and the diameter of the driven wheels must be considered.  The diameter of wheels is part of the "final drive" gearing.  In auto racing, racers often change gears to suit a particular track and/or track surface.  To "fine tune" this gearing for changing track conditions, they often change wheels and tires to those of a larger or smaller diameter because the wheels and tires are the "final drive" between car and track.  (Of course tires are also very important to the "handling" as part of the suspension "set up.")

And so, making and ol American Flyer (or most old "Toy" trains) crawl as slowly as a modern "model" locomotive is probably not really possible without serious modification.  After all, no one really thought that the same kids who had these toys would still be "playing" with them fifty or more years after they were manufactured!  Children "play hard" and so the toys of the old days were made heavy and durable.  How many times has that VG rated locomotive been rolled over off a curve, dragging helpless cars behind it?  

Perhaps asking the technology of another era to do what modern things can do is asking too much?  What do YOU think?

Stumpy Stone in Ohio



SP4149
 

Since I have installed several can motors in Flyer locos (with flywheels in most).  I think they run quite well at slow speeds, much better than the original motors.

However the more likely problem is how you control the motor.  Old Flyer transformers were mostly 7-15 volts variable AC output.  With a bridge rectifier you get about 5-13 volts DC.  Most DC can motors start turning around 2 volts while the old Flyer universal motors were 7-15 volts to match the transformers.  So installing a can motor will give a loco that is well past starting (or low speed operation) when the transformer is supplying 5 volts to start.

There are two simple ways to improve low speed control; reduce the starting voltage on your power supply to 2 volts or less, or use a PWM DC motor control connected to a DC power supply of 14 volts or more.  Check ebay for dozens of DC motor controller choices.  A lot of choices at under $10, postage included.  Remember the smoke units draw a lot of power, so your power supply should be rated at 4 amps or more.

Much larger O scale models will crawl with gear ratios of only 15:1, which they could not do if the issues were weight and gear ratios. 

ken clark

www.shastasprings.com



On 2018-05-13 14:55, TERRY M STONE wrote:

Oddly, I was involved in a brief discussion twice at the Spree about ideas to make Old American Flyer "crawl" at more prototypical speeds.   I have considered the before, but have not been able to do it, even with modern can motors.  I'm not sure DCC or other electronic controls are the answer, but perhaps it would be possible with them, though I have my doubts.

I have pretty much decided that the real problem is not voltage control or motors, but gearing and weight.  I came to this theory from my background in motorsports and trucking.  The American Flyer steam locomotives in particular cannot easily run slowly because most have tall, "passenger engine" drivers, and the motor/axle gearing is too high.  As the engine slows, the motor is fed less and less voltage, but at some point "stalls" as it is getting too little voltage to keep the locomotive moving.   The 343 and other locos with smaller diameter drivers have a lower top speed, but also would be more able to keep moving slowly, at least to a point.

Picture a semi tractor pulling a heavy trailer.  The engine RPM's and the horsepower are nearly constant at low speed and to get the truck moving the driver has to use his lowest gears.  If he attempts to move the load starting with the gears used for highway travel, the engine will stall.  Actually, the same is true if he wants to move very slowly using a highway ratio gear, the engine "lugs" at too low speed until it stalls.  ("Lugging" an engine under load is VERY damaging internally!)   And this is what happens to the old American Flyer engines, they stop turning due to too low voltage and high gearing rather than slow down smoothly to a stop.

Remember that it's not only the gears which must be considered.  The weight of the locomotive and train (the old Flyer stuff is heavy) and the diameter of the driven wheels must be considered.  The diameter of wheels is part of the "final drive" gearing.  In auto racing, racers often change gears to suit a particular track and/or track surface.  To "fine tune" this gearing for changing track conditions, they often change wheels and tires to those of a larger or smaller diameter because the wheels and tires are the "final drive" between car and track.  (Of course tires are also very important to the "handling" as part of the suspension "set up.")

And so, making and ol American Flyer (or most old "Toy" trains) crawl as slowly as a modern "model" locomotive is probably not really possible without serious modification.  After all, no one really thought that the same kids who had these toys would still be "playing" with them fifty or more years after they were manufactured!  Children "play hard" and so the toys of the old days were made heavy and durable.  How many times has that VG rated locomotive been rolled over off a curve, dragging helpless cars behind it?  

Perhaps asking the technology of another era to do what modern things can do is asking too much?  What do YOU think?

Stumpy Stone in Ohio



TERRY M STONE
 

Ken...  I run DC can motors exclusively, S& S and Timko, and I have been using a new MRC power pack designed for G scale trains.  The LGB locos start at about the same voltage as HO engines, so I figure I've got that covered too.  This combination has "tamed" Flyer locos into running very slow speeds, but they still reach a certain point and stall.  And yes, I have considered the huge current draw of the smoke units, so I have tried slower speeds with the smoke unit not wired.

The conversations at the Spree both involved wanting old Flyer to crawl across switches and "snuggle up" to cars in the yard for coupling without "damaging the load inside."  Many, but not all, of my HO and On30 locos will do this, and that was pretty much what the questioners wanted.  I just don't think the old engines can do it

That being said, there are quite a few guys in "Flyerland" who would still like to do it, and the discussions were left hanging because all I could produce is the theory of weight and gearing being the problem moreso than the motor.   However, the motor controller seems like it might be the answer and the cost to test one is certainly low enough!  

Thanks from myself and all those who want to do "The Flyer Crawl!"

Stumpy Stone in Ohio    

SP4149
 

Stumpy,

  S-N-S has their half speed can motor for many Flyer locomotives that cuts top end speed in half while allowing smoke production at lower track speeds.  However there are other low speed motors that we have been discussing on the RepowerAndRegear list  that are very strong and have a very low 12 volt speed.  The problem is that their design is not very compatible with the BEMF function of some DCC decoders.  They work well with PWM and non-PWM DC motor controllers.  I have bought several of the DC motor controllers for some experimentation.  One of these controllers makes a nice hand held unit, coupled with a 9volt DC battery you have a pocket sized power pack.  

  I believe at one time S-N-S made their Flyer worm available for use on other motors.  This is an option I would explore if the worm was designed for a 2mm shaft (the most common shaft size for most of the 12 volt aftermarket motors).  2.4mm could be made to work as well.  The motors I have been trying lately are four magnet six pole DC motors designed for remote auto mirrors.  On straight DC they are very strong and smooth.  I installed one in an old AC Gilbert HO Hudson from the 1950s (which had a 7-15 volt motor).  I had to pull the worm from the old motor (the hardest task in this remotoring). When done, without the smoke unit connected, no load 12 volt current draw for the mechanism was 100 milliamps, less than many motors, uninstalled and less than my best running engines with Sagmai 2032s and flywheels running no load at 12 volts.  Oh and yes the chuff piston was connected as well.  Right now it seems there are tens of thousands of this Mabuchi SF-266SA 18*18MM Square 6-Pole Rotor Mini DC Motor 18*18MM Square 6-Pole Rotor Mini DC Motor motor for sale on eBay for around $2 including shipping.  It is a 2mm shaft motor. A flyer compatible worm with a 2mm shaft ID would allow for some experimentation.

The gear ratio of a Flyer Timko remotored loco is 18.5 to 1 (observed by turning the flywheel)

The Timko motor has a double lead worm, the axle gear appears to be 37 tooth.

Obviously a single lead worm would double the gear ratio.  The S-N-S 'slow' motor appears to have a single lead worm (Same motor RPM, but the single lead worm doubles the gear ratio).

The S-N-S can motor has an uninstalled 12 volt no load of 150milliamps, compared to 40 milliamps of the Mabuchi SF-266SA 18*18MM Square 6-Pole Rotor Mini DC Motor.

The Mabuchi SF-266SA has a 12 volt rpm of around 7500,  If there is interest I'll hookup my digital motor tachometer and test the starting voltage/RPM and 12 volt RPM of the Timko and S-N-S motors.

ken clark

www.shastasprings.com



On 2018-05-14 03:44, TERRY M STONE wrote:

Ken...  I run DC can motors exclusively, S& S and Timko, and I have been using a new MRC power pack designed for G scale trains.  The LGB locos start at about the same voltage as HO engines, so I figure I've got that covered too.  This combination has "tamed" Flyer locos into running very slow speeds, but they still reach a certain point and stall.  And yes, I have considered the huge current draw of the smoke units, so I have tried slower speeds with the smoke unit not wired.

The conversations at the Spree both involved wanting old Flyer to crawl across switches and "snuggle up" to cars in the yard for coupling without "damaging the load inside."  Many, but not all, of my HO and On30 locos will do this, and that was pretty much what the questioners wanted.  I just don't think the old engines can do it

That being said, there are quite a few guys in "Flyerland" who would still like to do it, and the discussions were left hanging because all I could produce is the theory of weight and gearing being the problem moreso than the motor.   However, the motor controller seems like it might be the answer and the cost to test one is certainly low enough!  

Thanks from myself and all those who want to do "The Flyer Crawl!"

Stumpy Stone in Ohio    

Thomas Stoltz
 

Stumpy wrote:   I have considered this before, but have not been able to do it, even with modern can motors.  I'm not sure DCC or other electronic controls are the answer, but perhaps it would be possible with them, though I have my doubts.

I have pretty
 much decided that the real problem is not voltage control or motors, but gearing and weight.

 

Stumpy,

I have been in recent communication with Ken about PWM controllers for DC operation and I have been playing with a PWM LED dimmer.

Result: My SNS DC can motor converted K5 will crawl about the same as my AM GG1.  I also tried a 282 that I converted to DC with a full wave bridged rectifier (leaving the Flyer motor intact) and it will crawl, but not as slow as a can motor and requires higher voltage.  I find binding of the pistons to be a problem at slow speeds and most engines need to be ‘tinkered’ with a bit to get the pistons to cooperate.  Lubricating the pistons helps a lot.  Even AM steamers need to have their pistons adjusted to run real slow.

Flyer knuckle couplers will not close at slow speeds, especially with lighter cars.  Because of this I now use Kadee or Flyer link couplers.

Ken knows way more about PWM than I could ever hope to learn, but my memory is PWM will get ‘balky’ motors to turn at lower voltages.  The 3 pole Flyer motors are in this category.  I also think the Flyer transformers are very ‘course’ in varying voltage and don’t give you the control you need for slow running.  PWM controllers are extremely fine which allows for much smoother control.  I’ve even used everyday dimmer switches and found them to have better slow speed control than the Flyer transformer.

Tom Stoltz in Maine

SP4149
 

A couple of additions that I have communicated off list on this subject.

  The Flyer motors had double lead worms, that doubled top end speed by reducing the gear ratio 50%.  The S-N-S slow speed motor  actually just has a single lead worm (on the same can motor used with their double lead motors) the result is doubling the gear ratio and cutting speeds in half at every voltage.  My concern is that the single lead worm has a different worm pitch that could cause premature gear wear in the worm gears (axle and smoke piston) designed for the double lead worm used by Flyer.  The second option is using a double lead worm with a slower RPM motor.  Anyone have a source for a Flyer double lead worm for a 2mm or 2.4mm shaft?

  Flyer used universal 7-15 volt motors that would run on both AC and DC.  Their transformers were mostly 7-15 volts to match the motors.  When Flyer introduced DC motor models they also introduced a rectifier to convert AC to DC.  The rectifier loses 2-3 volts so to retain the top end 15 volts for DC motors; Flyer introduced 5-18 volt transformers with the same model numbers as some of their larger AC 7-15 volt transformers.  Rather than rectify in the loco, I rectify the power supply with a large diode bridge rectifier and supply DC power to the tracks.  Stock Flyer locos with universal motors and reversing units work fine on DC.  Only newer locos like Lionel AC and AM AC locos actually require only AC power.

  Modern DC can motors start turning around 1.5 - 2 volts DC, universal 7-15 volt motors start turning around 7 volts, AC  or DC.  I suspect this significant difference in starting voltage produces different results with DC motor controllers (which can be purchased from China on eBay for a reasonable price and with or without PWM, Pulse Width Modulation).  I would expect a PWM DC motor controller might work better with a Flyer 7-15 volt motor than a motor controller without PWM.  I expect better results from a modern can motor than the old Flyer 7-15 volt universal motor.

  I have Timko and S-N-S motors in my inventory.  Previously I have tested DC motors for use in HO to O scale models as part of my support of the RepowerAndRegear list (results available at  http://shastasprings.com/repower/Motor_RPM_Table-2013.htm)

If there is interest I will test the Timko w/flywheel and S-N-S motors (full speed, half speed, 0-8-0, and Casey Jones) I have on hand.


ken clark

www.shastasprings.com



On 2018-05-15 08:47, Thomas Stoltz wrote:

Stumpy wrote:   I have considered this before, but have not been able to do it, even with modern can motors.  I'm not sure DCC or other electronic controls are the answer, but perhaps it would be possible with them, though I have my doubts.

I have pretty
 much decided that the real problem is not voltage control or motors, but gearing and weight.

 

Stumpy,

I have been in recent communication with Ken about PWM controllers for DC operation and I have been playing with a PWM LED dimmer.

Result: My SNS DC can motor converted K5 will crawl about the same as my AM GG1.  I also tried a 282 that I converted to DC with a full wave bridged rectifier (leaving the Flyer motor intact) and it will crawl, but not as slow as a can motor and requires higher voltage.  I find binding of the pistons to be a problem at slow speeds and most engines need to be ‘tinkered’ with a bit to get the pistons to cooperate.  Lubricating the pistons helps a lot.  Even AM steamers need to have their pistons adjusted to run real slow.

Flyer knuckle couplers will not close at slow speeds, especially with lighter cars.  Because of this I now use Kadee or Flyer link couplers.

Ken knows way more about PWM than I could ever hope to learn, but my memory is PWM will get ‘balky’ motors to turn at lower voltages.  The 3 pole Flyer motors are in this category.  I also think the Flyer transformers are very ‘course’ in varying voltage and don’t give you the control you need for slow running.  PWM controllers are extremely fine which allows for much smoother control.  I’ve even used everyday dimmer switches and found them to have better slow speed control than the Flyer transformer.

Tom Stoltz in Maine

Chris Harding
 

Tom Stoltz said:
"I have been in recent communication with Ken about PWM controllers for DC operation and I have been playing with a PWM LED dimmer.
Result: My SNS DC can motor converted K5 will crawl about the same as my AM GG1.  I also tried a 282 that I converted to DC with a full wave bridged rectifier (leaving the Flyer motor intact) and it will crawl, but not as slow as a can motor and requires higher voltage. ... Ken knows way more about PWM than I could ever hope to learn, but my memory is PWM will get ‘balky’ motors to turn at lower voltages. "

I thought PWM (Pulse Width Modulator) only varies the width of the pulse, not the voltage.  If the problem is with motors not operating properly on lower voltage, then the full voltage (but only for a very short duration that the PWM allows) should solve the too-low-voltage problem.  Is there a minimum duration below which Flyer motors stall even with 12-15 volts?   Do 3-pole motors require longer duration than 5 or 7-pole motors for a given RPM?

Tom also said, "I’ve even used everyday dimmer switches and found them to have better slow speed control than the Flyer transformer."  Some years ago, I tried using the Flyer transformers but with the track power leads going to the fixed 15-volt terminal instead of the base post.  This gives a voltage of 0 to 8 volts instead of 7-15.  I found it worked quite well but with several caveats: the voltage controller works in reverse of what's normal--the maximum voltage occurs when the controller is in the "off" position, and the minimum is when the controller lever is full "on"; accessories that use the base rail as part of their power circuit won't operate unless their other power wire is connected to the base post; using other transformers for adjacent track blocks may cause temporary shorts to occur when a train is passing over the rail joints between the adjacent blocks.

Chris Harding

Chuck Kemper
 

Stumpy,

Is the speed you see up until the 38 second mark in this video, the type of speed you are referring to or slower?

https://youtu.be/_Rd8nUjwDi8

TERRY M STONE
 

I'm not sure about the others in these discussions at the Spree, but that seems to be about the speed that I understood to be the desire.   The folks with modern engines are quite happy with their performance, but of course the engineering and price are quite different.  I don't think that any or many of those in the conversations are  operating with DCC, TMCC, or other control system.  I use DC can motors, but I am among a minority as most use AC with the old Flyer transformers.  

I suggested DC and a modern MRC power pack made for G scale which is what I am using.  This allows for slower speeds and cooler motors during hours of running, but doesn't completely allow the locomotive to "crawl" like new ones can of course.  My 2-8-0 made form a junk box Flyer #343 does best, but has smaller drivers.  This was what started me thinking about gearing a few years ago as driver diameter is comparable with a car or truck's rear axle gearing being the "final drive" ratio.  Of course on real steam locomotives this is true as well as taller drivers made for speed and smaller ones for power.

However, this series has opened up a lot of new ideas and I hope the guys at the spree are reading them too!  I have e-mailed the ones who I have addresses for to follow this as well!

Stumpy Stone in Ohio

Chuck Kemper
 

For info, the video above is a 295 Pacific with a Timko DC can motor with flywheel. It is under the control of an Electric Railroad TMCC Cruise Lite board installed in the tender.