If you have a Lionel locomotive with dirty wheels, cleaning them can be a challenge. Here are some tips for making the job of cleaning Lionel wheels easier.
When faced with a big box of dirty old Lionel track, a common question is whether you can just clean it up by putting it in a dishwasher.
With a few caveats, the answer is yes, but I wouldn’t say I recommend it.
Some people try to fix rusty track, while others argue it isn’t worth the bother. But if you’re in the latter camp, you still have options besides trashing it: Make display shelves out of it.
My local train shop offers questionable track to his regular customers for free whenever he gets it, rather than trashing it or selling something that an unfamiliar customer might be unhappy with. I turned down a box of O31 track recently, then came to regret it a couple of weeks later when I remembered I could have used it. But that’s OK–he’ll probably have more next Saturday. Or the Saturday after that if not. I had plenty of disused track in a big tub under my layout anyway.
If you have vintage tin lithographed train cars made by American Flyer, Bing, Dorfan, Ives, Lionel, Marx, or another make I’m forgetting and some of them are worse for wear, there are a few things you can do to improve their appearance.
Keep in mind these won’t make them new, and they won’t fool anyone. One reason collectors like lithography is because they can easily recognize a touchup. But you can make beat-up cars look better, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.
When I was 19 or 20, I paid a visit to my old grade school to do some computer repair. My fifth-grade teacher dropped in, saw me cleaning up the contacts on a circuit board, and asked why I wasn’t using Everclear. Cleaning electrical contacts with Everclear is, at least, a practice people talk about a lot.
Well, I couldn’t legally buy Everclear yet, for one thing. But let’s talk about why Everclear is good for cleaning electrical contacts but there are other things that can be better.
When you want to phase transformers, it’s good to know the common (in Lionel terms) or base (in American Flyer terms) post. It’s a shame that Marx didn’t label which of its posts was common.
But it’s easy enough to figure it out. That’s a good thing, because Marx transformers are dirt cheap. I bought one for exactly one dollar at the last train show I attended, and the vendor wanted to sell me a box full of them for $5.
When it comes to Marx repairs, the reverse unit is the end of the innocence. Motor repairs are rather easy; reverse unit repair can be as hard as you want it to be.
I’ll share some things I do that seem to make it go easier.
I had a Marx motor that wouldn’t run, and I fixed it with almost no effort. If you need to get a Marx motor running again but can’t put a lot of time and effort into it, I’ve developed a quick fix. It’s only temporary, but if you want to run trains today instead of fixing them, it can get you out of a pinch.
You need a screwdriver and one drop of Rail-Zip.
I had a Marx 999 that didn’t run well when I pulled it out of storage. When pushing it along the track a few times didn’t yield any measurable improvement, I decided I’d better take it apart and give it a thorough cleaning.
In this case, I worked on a Marx 999, but everything I did applies to any other O gauge train Marx made except for the very late 490 locomotives, whose motors don’t seem to have been designed to let you do any more than replace the brushes.
If you have an A.C. Gilbert-manufactured American Flyer steam locomotive made between 1939 and 1967 that still runs but has seen its better days appearance-wise, there’s an easy way to touch it up to make it look better. Here’s how to touch up American Flyer paint.