Tag Archives: lionel train

An easy DIY Lionel-compatible high-side gondola

My preschool-aged boys and I made train cars this weekend. Yes, I introduced my boys to the idea of making train cars from scratch–scratchbuilding.

They aren’t finescale models by any stretch. But the project was cheap–no more than $30 for the pair of cars, total–and it was fun.

Here’s how we made these simple train cars, so you can too. Continue reading An easy DIY Lionel-compatible high-side gondola

How to attach trucks to Lionel train cars with screws

Frequently the trucks (the wheel/coupler assembly that sits under train cars) come unattached. Lionel trains from the 1970s and first half of the 1980s are especially prone to this, though other makes of trains aren’t immune either. And sometimes you just want to change the trucks–some Lionel and Marx O27 cars are just the right size for American Flyer S scale, for example, only the trucks are the wrong gauge.

It’s tempting to try to just re-attach them with a nut and bolt, but as the train runs in circles around the track, the nut loosens and eventually works its way out.

The key is all in the type of nut you use.

Continue reading How to attach trucks to Lionel train cars with screws

Saving memories

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a story this week about vintage baking. It profiled Chris Leuther, an area baker with 30 years in the business who collects old bakery equipment and recipes from long-gone, but beloved and not-forgotten bakeries.

The money quote: “I’ve worked in a lot of bakeries and talked to a lot of bakers, and when it comes right down to it, so many of these places worked from almost exactly the same formula… A lot of times different places made exactly the same cake. It seemed special because it made a special memory — but that’s all it is, a memory.”

Continue reading Saving memories

How to make a Lionel train whistle

How do you make a Lionel train whistle? Well, if you have a whistling tender, a transformer with a whistle button or handle, and it’s all wired correctly, pushing the button or handle while the train is moving will make it whistle.

And if it doesn’t, let’s try to figure out why.

Continue reading How to make a Lionel train whistle

On content farms

It looks like Google has taken action against content farms, low-quality sites that publish articles about anything and everything quickly, and try to make money from the ads.

I can’t tell yet if this has really affected my traffic any–my traffic can drop or jump 20 percent on a daily basis for no apparent reason. But I support the change.
Continue reading On content farms

Homemade toy train track

I found a 1944 Popular Mechanics article on making your own Lionel train track. During World War II, toy production all but stopped, so short of buying from stores like Madison Hardware that sold old stock, making your own was all you could do. Even Madison Hardware had to resort to creativity, building a machine to straighten curved track sections to make straights so they would have straight track to sell.

Practical? Not really, at least not today, when clean used O27 or O31 track sells for $1 per section. Interesting? I think so.

Frequent questions about setting up toy trains and trains and Christmas trees

Here are some train-related questions I’ve been seeing from Google searches that I really don’t think I ever answered adequately elsewhere. I don’t know where they’ve been landing before today, but hopefully this will help. Continue reading Frequent questions about setting up toy trains and trains and Christmas trees

Transformers for vintage trains

A common question is whether transformers for vintage American Flyer, Lionel, and Marx are interchangeable, and what to do if a transformer won’t work.

The simple answer is, yes, a train from one of those makes will run on a transformer from any of the others. They all ran on 0-24 volts AC.

There are two caveats. Continue reading Transformers for vintage trains