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All about the Lionel KW

The Lionel KW is the second most powerful, and second most popular Lionel transformer of the 1950s and 1960s. If the Lionel ZW was Lionel’s Cadillac, the KW was Lionel’s Buick. It was a 190-watt transformer and Lionel sold it from 1950 to 1965. It replaced Lionel’s 150-watt ZW lookalike, the VW.

Finding original KW instructions or an original KW manual online is a bit difficult, but there’s plenty the original instructions don’t mention.

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All about the Lionel ZW

The Lionel ZW is Lionel’s most iconic transformer of the 1950s and 1960s, and perhaps one of its most iconic products, period. Everyone wanted the two-handled, football-shaped, 275-watt powerhouse that was the ZW. It was one of Lionel’s more venerable postwar products, lasting on the market for 18 years from 1948 to 1966. It replaced Lionel’s former top-of-the-line transformer, the Z.

Finding original ZW instructions or an original ZW manual online is a bit difficult, but there’s plenty the original instructions don’t mention.

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Repair Lionel ZW binding posts cheaply

If your Lionel ZW or VW transformer lights up and hums but doesn’t output any voltage on one or more of its pairs of binding posts, there’s a good chance one or more of the binding posts is bad. It’s possible to repair Lionel ZW binding posts cheaply.

By far the most failure prone part of the Lionel ZW and VW is the binding posts where the wires connect to your track. Fortunately, there’s a workaround that works sometimes. But if you want something better than a workaround, a proper repair is cheap and not difficult.

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Keep Marx sliding couplers from hanging up

In Marx’s cheapest sets, it utilized cars that had sliding couplers with only a twist holding them in place. The end of the coupler had a couple of tabs, and a twist secured them without any additional parts.

The problem is, sometimes this twist catches the slot wrong when going around a turn and gets stuck. Then the cars derail as the train comes out of the curve. That’s probably not what you want.

Here’s a cheap, easily reversible modification to keep them from hanging up.

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How to sell Lionel trains

Since I’ve covered other makes of trains, someone asked me how to sell Lionel trains. So I thought I would give similar advice on selling Lionel trains. Lionel is an iconic, legendary part of Americana, so there will always be some market for its products.

That said, don’t expect to get rich selling off your Lionel 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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Cleaning up Plasticville

Plasticville buildings in less than stellar condition are dirt cheap, but restoring them is often possible. There is no need to be afraid of a dirty lot of Plasticville from a train show or Ebay–cleaning up Plasticville is easy.

Of course these tricks work for Plasticville-like buildings from the 1950s as well, such as Littletown, Skyline, Ideal, and Marx.

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The Marx factory fire in Girard PA

The birthplace of scores of classic toy trains fell victim to the Marx factory fire in Girard, Pennslyvania.

The old Marx factory stood at 227 E Hathaway in Girard, Pennsylvania. For a time in the 1950s, Marx was the largest toy manufacturer in the world. Marx made toy trains at the site, which caught fire on July 12, 2016. There were no immediate reports of injuries, fortunately. There was very little news coverage of the fire.

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