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.
Continue reading When Lionel bulbs burn out too fast
If you have a Lionel locomotive with dirty wheels, cleaning them can be a challenge. Here are some tips for making the job easier.
Continue reading Cleaning Lionel wheels
Lionel produced several 35- and 45-watt transformers through the years, including the 1010, 1025, 1015, and 1016. Lionel MPC produced a similar 4045 transformer in the 1970s. They’re small, but cheap when you can find them, and can be useful when you string them together with other transformers. The problem is the markings don’t tell you what you need to know in order to do that.
Continue reading The common post on the Lionel 1025 transformer
Train transformer starting voltage is a harder question than it necessarily needs to be–because it’s varied over the years. Part of that is because intent has changed over the years.
Continue reading Train transformer starting voltage
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.
Continue reading The common post on a Marx transformer
Sakai trains were made in HO and O gauge by a Tokyo-based manufacturer and sold abroad, particularly in the United States and Australia after World War II. Sakai’s O gauge product bore a curious resemblance to Marx. I have read speculation that Marx once used Sakai as a subcontractor, and Sakai used the tooling to make its own trains rather than returning it to Marx, but there are enough differences that I don’t think that’s the case.
What I do know is that Sakai’s O gauge product was a curious blend of cues from Lionel and Marx and the trains worked pretty well. They’re hard to find today, but not especially valuable since few people know what they are. They turn up on Ebay occasionally.
Continue reading Sakai trains: The “Japanese Marx”
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.
Continue reading Fix a seized Lionel motor
Sometimes you may want to remove an e-unit from a Lionel locomotive and rewire it to run in forward only, whether as a temporary measure while you repair the e-unit, or as a permanent modification.
It only requires a few splices to get the job done.
Continue reading Wire a Lionel motor without an e-unit
The CW-80, unlike postwar transformers, only has two accessory posts. To adjust the Lionel CW-80 fixed voltage, the posts are programmable. If you lost your manual, here’s how to do it.
The accessory voltage was set to 12 volts at the factory, which is usually a good setting, but sometimes they get adjusted, or sometimes you need something different. Here’s how to set it to what you want, in five steps.
Continue reading Adjust Lionel CW-80 fixed voltage
In the 1970s and early 1980s when Lionel was part of General Mills, one cost-cutting measure they took was to attach trucks to car bodies with a plastic doohickey. It’s not really a rivet, but more like a clip, and it doesn’t exactly hold the trucks steady.
Removing them isn’t difficult but the method may not be immediately obvious. And sometimes these Lionel cars really did use rivets. I can explain how to remove those as well.
Continue reading How to remove a plastic Lionel truck rivet