Improving the Lionel AF Baldwin's performance

Lionel's new AF Baldwin Diesels are good looking attempts to improve on AC Gilberts Baldwin offerings. Unfortunately there are some short comings in the design even though it looks as if they tried to improve things like the power pickup and drive reliability. 

Running on American Models turnouts and track really shows up these problems. 

There are three problems.

1. Derailing on open frogs due to excessive power pickup tension.*

2  Electrical dead spots when crossing open frogs.

3. Jack rabbit starting and stopping.

Click on Drawings for LARGER View

*Note: Lionel has improved the design of the pickup shoe in the next run of Baldwins starting with the NYC model. They cleverly retooled the pickup so the spring space is longer and are using a smaller wire. The bevel is larger on the pickup also so this pickup modification (#1) should not have to be done on later engines.   

  1. Reducing  Power Pickup
   Shoe Pressure

The tension/resistance of the power pickup slider is so great that it almost lifts the wheels off of the track.
Cut  heat shrink tubing from pickup. Unsolder wire from pickup. Remove clip and pickup will slip out of truck. Replace Power wire with smaller gauge flex wire soldering back on pickup. Replace original spring with 3 turns from AF Bronze brush spring. Re-assemble pickup into truck with "C" clip. Replace the small piece of heat shrink tubing as original. Be sure to leave a loop in the pickup power wire to ensure free movement of pickup.
2. Add Power Pickup Wheel
If you look at the power pickup scheme, there are three pickup contacts on one rail (S) and only two power pickup points on the other rail  (N).  By replacing the Traction wheel with a plain wheel Part Number 640-8153-186, you now have three pickup points for both rails. The amount of traction lost is a small trade off for the improved power pickup. When replacing the Traction wheel pull off the insulated wheel and drive gear off of the axle first, then you can drive the axle out of the traction wheel easily. Then press on the plain wheel and reinstall the gear and insulated wheel.

3. Add TMCC to improve Starting, Stopping and Slow speed performance.

Lionel missed the boat on the gearing of the power train. Geared like a rocket it makes switching duties out of the question. I have a modification to increase the gear ratio and also by converting to Lionel TMCC the starting speed is lowered to almost to a  crawl.

Using a MDB board and R2LC receiver the conversion is economical and easy to do.

The Heatsink needed a bit trimmed off of the bottom so it would fit into the depression in the chassis to reduce the height enough to clear the body. Drill and tap the heatsink while you have it removed from the MDB PC board to mate with the existing holes in the chassis. Be sure the insulators for the triacs are re-installed so the heatsink is electrically isolated from the triacs.  The antenna is just a piece of solid hookup wire. The headlights need to have the leads lengthened by splicing  extensions onto them to reach the connectors. Re-use the Lockout switch as the Program/Run switch.

Lionel Should have offered the Baldwins with TMCC


Makes a decent engine after modifications

TMCC wiring Diagram