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.
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.
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.
I saw an old tip recently regarding using sew-on snaps to replace missing Lionel brakewheels. Reproduction brakewheels generally are available, but sew-on snaps work well, are readily available at any store that sells sewing supplies, and they’re cheap.
When faced with a big box of dirty old Lionel track, a common question is whether you can just clean it up by putting it in a dishwasher.
With a few caveats, the answer is yes, but I wouldn’t say I recommend it.
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.
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.
In the 1950s, Lionel started putting magnets in the axles of some of its trains to increase their pulling power and help the trains stay on the track as they highballed around tight O27 and O31 curves. They called this feature Magne-Traction.
In time Magne-Traction was replaced with rubber traction tires, but needless to say, if your locomotive has Magne-Traction, you probably want it to work. Here’s how to make sure it works.
I got an inquiry last week about selling Tyco trains. As a child of the 70s and 80s, I certainly remember Tyco, and in recent years Tyco has gained a bit of a following.
If you’re looking to sell some Tyco gear, you certainly can do it, but you have to keep your expectations realistic. You’ll probably be able to sell it, but don’t expect to get rich off it.
If you have vintage tin lithographed train cars made by American Flyer, Bing, Dorfan, Ives, Lionel, Marx, or another make I’m forgetting and some of them are worse for wear, there are a few things you can do to improve their appearance.
Keep in mind these won’t make them new, and they won’t fool anyone. One reason collectors like lithography is because they can easily recognize a touchup. But you can make beat-up cars look better, and that’s what I’m going to talk about today.