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gavino200

Servicing an old Fleischmann BR 103

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gavino200

This is a very old loco. I bought it second hand about a year ago. It's not very fast (except going downhill). It's been a faithful runner until this week. It just crapped out. 

 

Looking inside, the motor brushes are fairly worn down but not quite to the springs. I ordered replacements. They're the round kind rather than the square type (rectangular prisms, transitioning to cylinder shape where they connect to the springs), but I doubt that will matter. 

 

The motor is a little sooty but not filthy. I didn't open it to remove the armature. 

 

The grears seem clean with not hair or fluff.

 

I'm going to start with changing the brushes and see what happens. Anyone have any suggestions about anything else I should try. I've never tried to service an old n scale loco before.

 

Any tips @railsquid. You're sort of the master mechanic here.

 

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railsquid

I guess try the brushes? I haven't really ever poked about at my German locos.

 

There is some guy who posts on the British N gauge forum who is selling modern replacement motors for older European stock, might be worth a try if the motor is beyond rescue.

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Sheffie

With a multimeter you should be able to test the various coils in the motor and see what their resistances are. Assuming the brushes make contact with a split ring, you should measure the resistance between each pair of sections of the ring that the brushes could make contact with. This will tell you whether the motor core is good or needs replacing.

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gavino200
33 minutes ago, Sheffie said:

With a multimeter you should be able to test the various coils in the motor and see what their resistances are. Assuming the brushes make contact with a split ring, you should measure the resistance between each pair of sections of the ring that the brushes could make contact with. This will tell you whether the motor core is good or needs replacing.

 

Is that a common problem? Do the wires burn up or something? Also, what am I looking for? To see that the coil resistances are all equal?

.

I wonder if I'd need to remove the armature to do that, or if I could just remove the brushes and stick in the multimeter needles,

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Sheffie
10 minutes ago, gavino200 said:

 

Is that a common problem? Do the wires burn up or something? Also, what am I looking for? To see that the coil resistances are all equal?

.

I wonder if I'd need to remove the armature to do that, or if I could just remove the brushes and stick in the multimeter needles,

 

I don't have enough experience of model trains to tell you how common it is, but electrical motors all have a weakness—if they get stuck, and the power isn't cut out, one of the coils can burn out. It's also possible for there to be an internal short in one of the coils (or between coils) which would mean that the three coils wouldn't provide the same torque. In either case, you're in theory looking at a "rewind", in practice a new motor.

 

What you're looking for is for all your resistance readings to be about the same. I'd say anything within 10% of the others would be ideal. Something with half the resistance of the others, say, indicates a coil with a short, and an infinite reading (no movement of the needle) means that coil is dead.

 

As for measuring technique, you can try touching multimeter probes to the brushes themselves, or pull the brushes and touch the split ring at the points where they'd normally touch. The former does risk getting spurious readings, because electrically the coils aren't isolated from the rest of the locomotive.

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Martijn Meerts

I have 3 of these locomotives, and they all have the same issue. Used to run great, but at some point pretty much just gave up. Was never able to fix them to the point where I was happy with how they ran. 

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gavino200

I'm considering buying a replacement Fleischmann motor. But I'm a bit confused. My loco is a piccolo 7375. But according to the Spur n databank there were 7 different releases with this number from 1972 to 2003. I think mine is from the earlier end of that span. 

 

https://www.spur-n-datenbank.de/

 

The Fleischmann website gives a parts list for the 7375. 

 

https://www.fleischmann.de/doc/ET/2/DE/7375_13760.pdf

 

The design and parts look like mine.

 

And the motor looks the same as mine, except that it has a flywheel. There is no place in my frame/chassis to fit a flywheel. 

 

I'm assuming that I can simply remove the flywheel. Anyone think otherwise?

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Martijn Meerts

They’ve been doing new runs of the same locomotive for years, so they’re mostly the same. Although, if the new motor has a flywheel, it’s definitely for a different loco. Flywheels aren’t that easy to remove either. 

 

Another question is is whether the motor is the problem. I have 3 of the older ones, and tried to get 1 working one with all the parts, also ordered some new parts for it, but never got it to run well again, even after thorough cleaning of various parts in an ultrasonic cleaner. 

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gavino200
9 hours ago, Martijn Meerts said:

They’ve been doing new runs of the same locomotive for years, so they’re mostly the same. Although, if the new motor has a flywheel, it’s definitely for a different loco. Flywheels aren’t that easy to remove either. 

 

They one I found is for a different loco. But It looks exactly the same and has the same dimensions. Also the motor shown as a replacement in the insert sheet on the Fleischmann website has a flywheel even though there's no space for it in the BR 103.

 

The worm gears were also difficult to remove but it was possible. I hope I can also remove the flywheel without bending the shaft or damaging the armature. There's probably a tool for it but I think I'll improvise.

 

9 hours ago, Martijn Meerts said:

 

Another question is is whether the motor is the problem. I have 3 of the older ones, and tried to get 1 working one with all the parts, also ordered some new parts for it, but never got it to run well again, even after thorough cleaning of various parts in an ultrasonic cleaner. 

 

That's really interesting. Was the motor one of the parts you changed? I wonder if the electronics board could be a problem. Everything else looks solid and mechanically simple. Is there a special lubricant recommended? Just throwing out random ideas.

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Martijn Meerts

I didn’t try a new motor, but I had 3 different ones and they ran fine when removed from the body, even with some load on them. I got new bogies and wheels because they were showing lots of wear but that didn’t help either. Also tried getting all the best parts from them and making 1 good one. When it ran it ran perfect, but for no apparent reason it would just stop on sections of track that no other trains had issues with. 

 

I eventually gave gave up and figured I’d get a new one at some point, but life got too busy and I didn’t get around to it. 

 

I’m looking at getting the new Fleischmann one now, but judging from the picture on their site, the pantographs seem totally out of scale. 

 

The Minitrix ones look nice as well, but I don’t feel like paying extra for sound and a decoder I’ll likely just replace. 

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gavino200

I just checked my motor, out of the chassis with a 9V battery. Weirdly it runs. 

 

I'm going to change the brushes for sure. I've never done this on an n scale loco. People have told me that new style motors like Kato/Tomix don't need brushes changed which I think is odd, but I've found it true so far. But the Lima OO trains that I had as a kid definitely needed brushes changed from time to time. IIRC they used to become unreliable and stall as the brushes got toward the end of their life. The old Fleischmann brushes look very similar to the old Lima OO loco brushes. Did you change the brushes on your locos?

 

This 103 of mine has never really gone as fast as I'd like so I may be interested in trying a new motor anyway. I wonder if the magnets have weakened over time. 

 

I've considered just getting a new 103 but this one looks pretty good. And I bought it last year in a little smokey second hand store in Berlin, so it's sort of a souvenir. Besides I'm getting a bit intrigued by this mystery.

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Martijn Meerts

I did the change the brushes on my motor yes, and let it run in outside of the loco for several hours. The new motors definitely are more friendly on the brushes, but they still need them. A lot of the motors aren't made to be serviced though, so you can't really got to the brushes, and of course, the Kato and Tomix motors are relatively cheap, so often the entire motor is replaced. I have a Tomix locomotive that has run for hundreds of hours without ever getting any service done, and it ran fine all the time.

 

My first BR103 was from my brother. He had a layout but his house caught fire so most of his trains were damaged. So that first one needed a new shell, but it ran perfectly fine. The other 2 were more or less bought for the parts to try and get 1 of them to run. 

 

I eventually want several 103's from different time periods, so I can run several of them with the various sets of cars they ran with over the years. It's going to be really expensive though.

 

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nah00
On 3/5/2019 at 6:39 PM, gavino200 said:

I just checked my motor, out of the chassis with a 9V battery. Weirdly it runs. 

 

I have two motors that have the same issue. Out of the chassis attached to a battery they'll run fine but try to put them in a locomotive and you get nothing. They're in my 'things to work on when I retire' box. There also is a special tool for pulling flywheels but I have to advise against it because it can be way more trouble than it's worth. 

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gavino200
8 minutes ago, nah00 said:

 

I have two motors that have the same issue. Out of the chassis attached to a battery they'll run fine but try to put them in a locomotive and you get nothing. They're in my 'things to work on when I retire' box. There also is a special tool for pulling flywheels but I have to advise against it because it can be way more trouble than it's worth. 

 

Thanks nah. That's interesting. Did you clean off the metal on both sides at the contact between the motor contacts and the pick up strips from the light boards. 

 

There has to be something all these cases have in common.

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nah00

I cleaned everything I could think of, even tried the motor in a different chassis of the same locomotive. No luck. 

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Martijn Meerts

I thoroughly cleaned even the motor, took it apart, cleaned what I could in the ultrasonic cleaner, new brushes etc. In my case the motor did run even in the frame, but after some time it'd just stop running. It wasn't because the tracks didn't get power, because it would happen wherever on the track, completely random.

 

We did run it almost all the time when it did run well, so it might just be it was used up and worn out.

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Martijn Meerts

Well.. I caved in and ordered a brand new BR 103 (Fleischmann 737811). I'm still a little apprehensive about how the pantographs look on the picture, but we'll see. I did consider one of the ones with sound, but saw a video review of a Minitrix BR 103 with sound, as well as a somewhat older Fleischmann one, and they just confirmed I really don't want sound in N-scale unless speakers improve drastically.

 

First new train I've ordered in a long time, and I didn't really want to buy any new trains, but the BR 103 is somewhat of a special and emotional locomotive to me.

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gavino200
4 hours ago, nah00 said:

I cleaned everything I could think of, even tried the motor in a different chassis of the same locomotive. No luck. 

 

That's really interesting. The motor didn't work in the chassis of an identical loco. But that other identical loco was functioning with it's own motor, right?

 

By chance did you try the motor from the identical but working loco in the chassis of the problem loco? 

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gavino200
1 hour ago, Martijn Meerts said:

Well.. I caved in and ordered a brand new BR 103 (Fleischmann 737811). I'm still a little apprehensive about how the pantographs look on the picture, but we'll see.

 

 

No shame. It's a beauty. 

 

1 hour ago, Martijn Meerts said:

 

First new train I've ordered in a long time, and I didn't really want to buy any new trains, 

 

That's pretty wise. I'm considering stopping buying new trains. I have a good amount. New trains equal new problems and can be a time sink. I feel they almost get in the way of my modeling progress. 

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nah00
Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, gavino200 said:

 

That's really interesting. The motor didn't work in the chassis of an identical loco. But that other identical loco was functioning with it's own motor, right?

 

By chance did you try the motor from the identical but working loco in the chassis of the problem loco? 

 

Yup, that was the REALLY aggravating part. It was an EF510, I swapped another motor in thinking there's some weird short on the chassis but it ran fine. Tried the problem motor in another chassis, nothing. It's really strange. 

 

I kind of agree with you on the new trains thought, I have quite a list of things to fix and it keeps getting longer. Though you do get to a certain point where things stop really catching your eye or you 'rediscover' things you have in your collection you forgot about. I found a complete ten car Keiyo Line 205 series I forgot I had yesterday. 

Edited by nah00
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Martijn Meerts

There also comes a point where fixing is no longer possible, not worth it or starts taking up too much time. I think this BR 103 is the first train I ordered in at least half a year, probably more. 

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gavino200

I got my replacement motor in the mail today and installed it. The train works as well now as it ever did. The flywheel was super easy to remove. I also got my replacement brushes today. I may experiment with trying to get the old motor working again when I have a bit more time. 

 

 

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