Marx couplers explained

Marx made five different type of couplers between 1934 and 1974. If you’ve never seen Marx couplers explained before, here’s a primer on how to identify them and use them together. And I even have a few repair tips if you need them.

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Types of Lionel knuckle couplers

There have been three major types of Lionel knuckle couplers produced since resuming train production in 1946. Lionel knew it would have to make a splash when it brought its trains back after the end of the War, and the knuckle coupler was one of the keys.

Two of these coupler types are compatible with one another, but one has a gotcha.

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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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Selling Marx trains

Since my advice on selling other makes of trains was popular, I thought I would give similar advice on selling Marx trains. Marx never got the respect that its competitors got, but its trains have built up a following over the years, and in the last decade as I’ve watched prices on competing trains slide, Marx has held its value.

Don’t expect to get rich selling off your Marx trains, but if you keep your expectations realistic, you’ll find an eager buyer, or ideally, at least two interested buyers so you’ll realize a good price at auction.

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Restoring Marx 6-inch frames

Marx 6-inch cars in beat-up condition are cheap and easy to find, but you can dramatically improve their appearance by repainting their frames. If the body is scratched up it still won’t be a showroom car, but you can halve the number of scratches on it and it will look nicer. Here’s how you go about restoring Marx 6-inch frames.

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Remove and install Marx coupler springs

I did not invent this technique. Last week Al Osterud, a veteran Marx collector of many decades, shared a technique for removing and installing Marx coupler springs without the skills and steady hand of a microsurgeon.

All you need is a piece of 1/8-inch K&S square tube, which resembles the tool Marx used to install them at the factory, and a toothpick or a straightened paper clip. Marx wouldn’t make anything that wasn’t easy to put together, which made its couplers so maddening to work on. Why was it easy in the factory and nearly impossible at home? With the right tools, it is indeed easy.

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Attach Marx lighted accessories and hide wiring in one step

A frequent question I read is how to attach tin accessories, such as Marx light posts and light towers, to a layout in a semi-permanent but reversible manner. I have found a way to do this, and as a bonus, it also makes it easy to hide the wires that are feeding the lights and makes the wiring simpler.

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