The Lionel 675, 2025 and 2035 locomotives are three of the most iconic and sought-after engines Lionel produced in the postwar era. They depicted the Pennsylvania K-5, an ill-fated 4-6-2 Pacific locomotive that was intended to replace the iconic K-4, a popular locomotive that had roamed the rails for one of the largest railroads in the United States since 1911, and was later recognized as the official state locomotive of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the K-5 proved less successful and only two were ever made, although the PRR did run both of them into the 1950s.
Some documents identify the 675/2025/2035 as a K-4, but Lionel’s own service literature from the period says it was a K-5.
Lionel’s version proved far, far more successful than the real thing, almost becoming an icon itself. The first edition of Krause’s Standard Catalog of Lionel Trains, 1945-1969 featured a Lionel 675 from 1946 on its cover.
Someone asked me the other day about the dimensions of the metal ties on vintage electric train track, presumably to cut some wooden ties to match. So I pulled some track out of my stash, got out my caliper, and took some measurements.
Vintage electric train track from American Flyer, Lionel and Marx had large gaps in between the ties. Filling those gaps makes the track look more finished and a bit more realistic.
Matching them exactly using the wood and the tools available to you may be difficult, but you don’t have to be exact. I have some tips for that as well.
I have a method of testing electric train track from Lionel, American Flyer, Marx or any other brand. The key is to test it one piece at a time, so you know any problem you found is isolated to a single piece of track.
Here are a couple of different ways to test, depending on what tools you have available.
Disassembling a Marx 999 locomotive isn’t too difficult, and it’s easier than the Marx 666, but it helps to have some instructions.
The nice thing about the 999 is that if you can disassemble it, there’s a long, long list of Marx locomotives that disassemble in pretty much the same way: the Commodore Vanderbilt, the Mercury, the tin Canadian Pacific 391, and the tin steamers 592, 593, 594, 833, 897, 898, and 994.
Marx designed its trains so that a father or older brother could service them, so it comes apart with simple household tools, and you can get most of what you’ll need to service it at the nearest hardware store, with the probable exception of the bulb for the headlight.
Disassembling a postwar Marx 666 locomotive, or its plastic counterpart the 1666, isn’t too difficult, but it helps to have some instructions.
Marx designed its trains so that a father or older brother could service them, so it comes apart with simple household tools, and you can get most of what you’ll need to service it at the nearest hardware or auto parts store, with the exception of the bulb for the headlight.
A common question is whether Marx trains will work with Lionel crossovers, or vice versa. The answer is not well, but with a caveat. A big caveat. Here’s what to look out for with Lionel crossovers and Marx trains.
A frequent question, especially for those who are just discovering or rediscovering vintage Lionel and Marx trains is what sizes of track are (or were) available, and how many pieces come to a circle.
Unlike other scales, Lionel marketed its track by diameter, not radius. As you undoubtedly remember from geometry class, radius is the distance from the center of the circle to the edge, while diameter is the distance from edge to edge. So a circle of O27 track is approximately 27 inches wide. O27 track stands about 7/16 of an inch tall, while higher end O gauge (also sometimes called O31) track stands about a quarter inch taller, at about 11/16 of an inch tall.
Here’s a question from the search engines: Can you mix Lionel and Marx track?
Generally speaking, yes you can. Just stick with O27 track, and you can mix Lionel, Marx, and K-Line as needed. Dad had a mixture of Lionel and Marx track in the 1950s–my theory is that someone tipped my grandfather off that you could buy a Lionel O27 starter set, expand it with cheaper Marx track, and once you had the track assembled, no one would know the difference. When we set his layout back up in the mid 1980s, we added some K-Line O27 track, because it was what we could find. I have a mixture of all three brands to this day. Read more