Friday, October 9, 2020

New brushes for the E6 motor

Putting the E6 motor together again with the fixed parts, it unfortunately still did not work. It seized up and the current draw was too high as well - tripping the circuit breaker used to protect the battery. (That circuit breaker is an original ~1937 Meccano item made exactly for this purpose - 'Retro Tech Holland' here :-)

Measuring the windings of the armature and the stator suggested these were all as they should be - in the 1 Ohm range. Comparing with another E6 motor of similar vintage, showed that the main difference was the resistance of the brushes. This motor has copper-filled brushes with very low resistance, unsure if those are original or later replacements. 

Additionally the brushes are very worn, short enough to tilt and wedge themselves between holder and commutator. Even though the armature rotated freely, when powered the brushes seemed to wedge and lock-up the armature - totally blocking the motor.

Buying new brushes for such a motor is a bit of a challenge, not a common size today. Unexpectedly, there is a ready supply of graphite rods sold as electrode! Sourcing a couple of graphite electrodes of nominally 5 mm diameter was easy enough and surprisingly affordable. The rods are "almost round" and closer to 5.2 mm, but readily ground down to about 4.8 mm (3/16" probably). Then sawing off two lengths of almost 10 mm (3/8" seemed right) and adding a slot gave reproduction electrodes. ('Repro Tech Holland'...)

With the new graphite brushes, the motor again runs - starting up fine without tripping the circuit breaker. With hardly any arcing/sparking too.

To give the motor a test-run - bring it into use again - it was built into a simple crane model out a 1928 instructions booklet.

It still needs some adjusting, as one direction runs smoother than the other. This is not unexpected, probably needs further tweaking of the positions of the brush holders relative to the motor-axle and of course some running-in of the brushes.

How well the graphite electrode brushes will stand up to wear remains to be seen of course, but for now they will do. 

So, the happy outcome is that this wrecked 87 year old E6 motor is again 'up and running' :)


  1. Time to start building a tiny skyscraper! :D

    1. Ah, an idea! :-)
      Reminds me of tourist telling guide: "Very impressive, but I'd like to see one working."