If you’re fixing an old train or some other electrical device, some of the wires have crumbling insulation, and disassembly isn’t an option for whatever reason, then you can repair crumbling insulation with a $6 product called Plasti-Dip.
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.
I got a 4-wheel Lionel motor over the weekend. It was seized up to the point that the wheels wouldn’t turn, which meant I got it for almost nothing. The fix isn’t always this easy, but it’s common enough to be worth taking a chance on these neglected motors.
I’ve told you about the best way to fix plastic toys, but it dawned on me the other day I’ve never mentioned how to fix diecast toys. Diecast toys don’t break as often as plastic, but it can happen. The good news is that you can fix them too.
In my example I will be fixing a Lionel 671 train from 1946, but the same technique works with anything made of diecast metal of any age.
Someone asked me the other day about the dimensions of the metal ties on vintage electric train track, presumably to cut some wooden ties to match. So I pulled some track out of my stash, got out my caliper, and took some measurements.
Vintage electric train track from American Flyer, Lionel and Marx had large gaps in between the ties. Filling those gaps makes the track look more finished and a bit more realistic.
Matching them exactly using the wood and the tools available to you may be difficult, but you don’t have to be exact. I have some tips for that as well.
Gluing small plastic parts back together is a two-part challenge: First you have to find a suitable glue, and then you have to find a way to hold the pieces together while the glue cures.
Challenging need not be impossible though.
How do you compare the Commodore 64 vs VIC-20?
The Commodore 64 and its predecessor, the VIC-20, look a lot alike, and the VIC-20’s design certainly influenced the 64. The 64 is the best selling computer model of all time, and I argue the VIC-20 was the first really successful home computer.
But even though the two machines are closely related, there are significant differences between them. It’s important to remember that in the 1980s, two years was a comparatively long time because the market was moving so fast. Plus, the VIC-20 was always supposed to be an entry-level machine. In 1982, the 64 was supposed to be fairly high-end. Let’s compare and contrast the two venerable machines.
If you want model fence for your train layout, there’s an affordable solution sitting in your hardware or home improvement store for providing easy model corrugated or wooden fences for train layouts.
Bakelite was the world’s first synthetic plastic, invented in 1907 and was commonly used for everyday objects in the mid 20th century. Lionel used it for transformer cases well into the 1960s. As a general rule, if a vintage Lionel transformer case isn’t metal, it’s probably Bakelite. For example, the highly desirable Lionel ZW and KW transformers used Bakelite casing. If you’d like to try to repair Bakelite transformer cases, read on.
Today, Bakelite is a specialty material. Although it’s generally a strong material, there are other plastics that tend to be more durable in everyday use, and they are cheaper. Another problem with Bakelite is that it is difficult to repair, although it’s not impossible.
A comment over at Lifehacker got me thinking about plywood as flooring, which led me to a blog post at Quarry Orchard. The author is one of many people who have had success making floors out of strips cut from ordinary 4×8 sheets of plywood, the variety that sell for around $14 at home improvement stores.
I’d be a bit concerned about durability but there’s a lot to like about the idea as well.