Tag Archives: hardware store

When Lionel bulbs burn out too fast

A frequent question I see is why the Lionel bulbs in any given accessory burn out quickly. I can sum up both the problem and the solution in a single word: voltage.

When you have too much voltage, bulbs burn out quickly–sometimes in minutes. When you have too little voltage, the bulbs will last decades.

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Disassemble a Marx 408 street light

The Marx 408 street lights are difficult to disassemble. They aren’t difficult because they’re complicated, because they’re not. But it takes a bit of coordination and more than a lot of brawn to get them apart.

But if you need to rewire or repaint one, you don’t have a lot of choice, so here’s how it’s done.

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Repairing Marx one-way couplers

Marx one-way couplers were an effort to provide trains that could automatically couple and uncouple. The design was exceptionally reliable, as long as the trains were carefully stored after use. It’s not uncommon today to find them in inoperable condition, but it’s possible to repair them.

Prior to World War II, every train manufacturer tried different ways to make trains that could automatically couple and uncouple, with varying degrees of success. None were particularly realistic, and Marx’s design was probably the ugliest, but did I mention it worked really well?

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Get more transformer outputs by using a grounding bus bar

Train transformers have one pair of screws for each output, which is generally enough for a simple layout, but once you have more than one accessory or building with lights in it, you’ll find it’s difficult to attach all of the wires to the transformer posts.

You can get more on the cheap by repurposing ground bus bars, intended for circuit breaker panels, available at hardware stores and home improvement stores. Continue reading Get more transformer outputs by using a grounding bus bar

Why to never use steel wool to clean electric train track

You may have heard to never use steel wool to clean electric train track, especially Lionel, but you may have never heard the reason why.

There is a good reason.

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How to disassemble a Marx 490 locomotive

Disassembling a Marx 490 locomotive isn’t too difficult, but it’s very different from other Marx locomotives.

Once you take one apart, though, you’ll see why it was designed how it was. It was Marx’s lowest-cost locomotive, and it could be assembled without tools, so the labor costs were minimal.

For that matter you only need one tool to take it apart, and since there’s so little in it that can break–not even a headlight–you can find anything you would need to service it at the nearest hardware store or auto parts store.

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How to disassemble a Marx 999 locomotive

Disassembling a Marx 999 locomotive isn’t too difficult, and it’s easier than the Marx 666, but it helps to have some instructions.

The nice thing about the 999 is that if you can disassemble it, there’s a long, long list of Marx locomotives that disassemble in pretty much the same way: the Commodore Vanderbilt, the Mercury, the tin Canadian Pacific 391, and the tin steamers 592, 593, 594, 833, 897, 898, and 994.

Marx designed its trains so that a father or older brother could service them, so it comes apart with simple household tools, and you can get most of what you’ll need to service it at the nearest hardware store, with the probable exception of the bulb for the headlight.

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How to disassemble a Marx 666 locomotive

Disassembling a postwar Marx 666 locomotive, or its plastic counterpart the 1666, isn’t too difficult, but it helps to have some instructions.

Marx designed its trains so that a father or older brother could service them, so it comes apart with simple household tools, and you can get most of what you’ll need to service it at the nearest hardware or auto parts store, with the exception of the bulb for the headlight.

Continue reading How to disassemble a Marx 666 locomotive

Fixing a sink that quit working

My mother in law bought a foreclosed condo, and I helped her get the water turned back on, but one sink just wouldn’t work no matter what I did. I finally found an answer, and since there wasn’t much information online, I thought I’d share what I learned about fixing a sink that quit working suddenly, to save someone else some hassle.

The problem occurred in one of the bathrooms. The shutoff valves under the sink were extremely sticky and didn’t want to turn on. Eventually I got them to turn on, and then I ran the sink, and it worked. Then I turned the valves off and back on a couple of times to loosen them, in case she ever had to turn off the water. They loosened up to the point where they were usable again, but then the sink, which had been working fine a minute before, didn’t work anymore. If I turned the sink all the way up, the best I got was a slow drip. If someone else hadn’t been there with me and seen it, I would have thought I’d gone crazy.

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My garbage disposal adventure

Changing a worn-out garbage disposal can be a 10-minute job–assuming you anticipate everything, use the same brand as the old one, you know what you’re doing, and the person who installed the old one was at least as competent as you.

It didn’t quite work out for me like that the last time.

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