By Jim Kelly
Special thanks to Dennis Waldron for his advice and assistance with this project.
I recently acquired a 1937 Lionel 700e scale Hudson. I knew that the loco had some problems and was not in running condition when I purchased it.
The Baker valve gear was only partially (incorrectly) assembled and was partially held together with wire.The radius rod on the engineer's side was bent and the valve guides were broken off on both sides of the steam chest. One valve stem and crosshead was missing. The lubricating lever was missing.
The front pilot was incorrect and was missing the scale drop-down coupler, nut, bolt, and pin. The front steps to the catwalk were missing from the engineer’s side. So I knew I would have some work to do to get this Hudson straightened out.
1937 "01" series serial number stamped into the frame under the pilot truck.
The 700e is unique in that, since it was offered in kit form, we have detailed assembly instructions available. I had the option of having the loco serviced by a competent repairman, but I opted to tackle the project on my own workbench. I wanted to learn about the piece as I disassembled, repaired, and re-assembled it. I also wanted to inspect the motor and gear box and do the lubrication myself.
Upon disassembly, I discovered a few more issues that needed to be addressed and I discovered more missing parts. In addition to the parts I already knew about, I would need to procure a crosshead support for the engineer’s side, and a part known as a “flexible coupling,” which is a part of the drive mechanism.
I disassembled the locomotive using the 700k assembly instructions as a guide. Since I do not have a rivet press in my workshop, I did elect to have the Baker valve gear rebuilt by an experienced repairman. I ordered parts from a couple of sources. When the parts and rebuilt valve gear arrived, I began the process of rebuilding the loco.
The first step was to check the condition of the grease in the worm gearbox. Not surprisingly, the grease had hardened.
Since you should not mix different types of grease due to compatibility issues, I removed as much of the old grease as I could before re-greasing the worm gears using molybdenum grease as per spec.
I checked the condition of the motor brushes and armature and found them to be in good shape.
I added some oil directly to the felt that surrounds the motor rear bearing.
The “flexible coupling” which was provided by one of my parts dealers is apparently new old stock. Unfortunately, it’s as hard as a rock!
On the left, the NOS Lionel part. At one time it must have been supple, but no longer. I made a trip to the plumbing supplies department of my local hardware store where I found a large diameter reinforced rubber gasket from which I could fashion a new flexible coupling. My first try at fashioning the coupling is on the right above. I made the next one a little thicker and this did the trick.
The idea is to fill the gap but not to put any forward or backward pressure on either end of the drive shafts; you don’t want to force the motor shaft back because this might force the face of the commutator against the brass brush tubes. You also don’t want any pressure in the other direction which would then be additional pressure on the frame. Many 700e frames are already bowed down in the front.
In fact, I had to shave material of the bottom of the new, correct 700e reproduction pilot so that there was sufficient clearance between the bottom of the pilot and the top of the track rails.
After performing the cleaning and lube job on the motor and gearbox, and installing my home made flexible coupling, I began the reassembly “by the book,” as if I were building a 700k.
The valve gear hanger and valve gear assembly were interesting and fun to install. Everything went into place quite well.
Here's the solution to broken valve stem and crosshead guides sometimes missing from original 700e steam chest castings. Rebuilt 700e steam chests are available that have been machined, drilled and then new valve guides have been epoxyed in. Note the repair I did in my shop to the valve stem itself. The original stem broke off so I installed a brass replacement stem into the valve stem crosshead with epoxy. This is a miniature repair!
With the lubricating lever installed on the engineer's side, the complete Baker valve gear is restored to functionality.
Finally it was time to put the loco on the treadmill and begin the process of breaking in the new valve gear.
(Press the arrow to see the valve gear in action)
At first, the running was a bit rough, but quickly the loco settled into smooth
operation. What a sight to see: this grand 700e scale Hudson in running condition
again after almost 70 years!
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