Post War Track Condition

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by jcpetri, May 3, 2001.

  1. jcpetri

    jcpetri New Member

    Hi all, newbie here; I just got my set of lionel trains back from my brother. They are about 50 years old and were sitting in boxes for the past 30 years or so. Question: What's the best cleaning solution to use on the track (somewhat rusted) the loco (also caked with age) and other parts? I would like to buy as little as possible new and would rather restore my lionels from my childhood as close to original as possible. Any tips?
  2. George

    George Member

    Don't stink out the house, don't risk cutting and infecting your fingers.

    Go out and BUY NEW TRACK. It's cheap, they come in three foot sections now. If you pop a little more money over Lionel and buy MTH track, it's got a bogus plastic roadbed built into it that looks passable, plus they've attempted to hide the third rail by making it black.

    If you're determined to use that track, try using Ronsonol lighter fluid. If it doesn't work to your satisfaction, bite the bullet and hit the hobby shop.

    Good Luck!

  3. George

    George Member


    Ronsonol is great for cleaning parts. If you need parts for the trains, get them from MADISON HARDWARE. If the track is rusted, write it off and pop for new stuff.

  4. jcpetri

    jcpetri New Member

    Thanks, George; I was trying to keep the "old" look to the entire set, but if I have no luck with the ronsonal, I guess I'll have to go for the new track.

    Thanks again,
  5. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I'd have to agree with George.
    If you're wanting to restore these trains to running condition, it would be in your best interest, & theirs, to use new track.
    If you want that original look, Lionel still makes the same type of track they did 50 years ago.
    Good luck with the restoration!

    P.S. If all else fails, you can do what I did - I inherited my Dad's tinplate set from the 1930's, & it was way beyond repair. (at least as far as what I was willing & able to invest) I cleaned it up, & it is now proudly on display on some wall shelves in my living room.
  6. jcpetri

    jcpetri New Member

    Thanks again, fellas; since it looks like new track is the way to go; what size do I get....underneath my loco it says 027, so do I get 0 gauge or 027 gauge (if there is such a thing) I told you I was a newbie; please be kind in your response; I'm really not a complete idiot, just partial. (LOL)
  7. George

    George Member

    Not being an "O" head, one is closer to scale, and I think it's O-27.

    If you're in the US, I don't know if Charles Ro in Massachusetts is still in business, but they used to have a comprehensive inventory of "O" supplies. I've heard people at shows talking about mail ordering "O" from "Long's" in California, but for nitty-gritty parts, MADISON HARDWARE.


    I like the idea of displaying them on a shelf. I have an old American Flyer tinplate on a shelf too, plus two builder's models from the Budd Corp.

    All The Best,

  8. Shay2

    Shay2 Member

    Hi jcpetri,

    I wouldn't bother cleaning the track. Each track section has to be clean both on the outside as well as the "pin" connectors. Remember electricity has to flow through all three rails from one track to the next. Based on my experience, your just not going to be able to successfully rehab older track.
    If your convinced the old Lionel stuff is what you want it sells on Ebay for very little money, just be sure and ask the seller for close-up photo's as well as overall condition. New 027 track is also available through your Hobby Shop, stop in and talk to them. Leave your check book at home the first couple of times though...their's way to much info to absorb to make the best decision the first time around. I can't forget to mention OGR magazine. (O Gauge Railroad) a wealth of info...

    Cleaning the engine and cars is a different matter. You didn't mention what type engine you have. All early post war Lionel steamers were mostly metal cast bodies. The diesel's are plastic as well as almost all cars. If any decals remain, cleaning with mild soap and water shouldn't hurt but be careful of rubbing to hard as decals and even some lettering can come off. If your thinking of repainting as I sometimes do, remove the body from the truck assembly, scrub it with a soft brush (soap and water)dry it and soak the shell in brake fluid overnight to loosen the remaining paint. Other solution's might attack the plastic. It will take several overnight soakings and brushings to remove all the old paint but this will leave the plastic or metal details unaffected. Then a final washing with soap and water, dry throughly and air-brush the new color on. Decals can be purchased at almost any Hobby Shop or they can order them for you.
    Cleaning surface rust off of truck and contacts on engine's is best done with a Dremel tool with a brass brush. I usually dab on some light oil and let it set for a week before I start. Using a Dremel will clean off all of the surface rust and polish the surface but it's not going to remove rust that has pitted the surface. If things are that bad you might check out Ebay for replacements or your local Hobby Shop.
    I wouldn't run an old engine without first doing a complete lube job. Oil on the bearings and lithium grease on the gears. Apply sparingly at first adding a bit more as you re-brake-in the old engine.

    O Gauge: 1/48, and 027: 1/64.
    Larger, longer trains run best with long straightaways with wide curves, while small layouts with tight curves favor the O27.

    O and 027 are the same track dimensions, (height and width) Your old stuff is refered to as 027 and the engines are sometimes marked that way on the bottom. The difference is in the size or scale size of the loco's/cars. O Gauge being a little bit larger in appearance. Both will run on either old style or new style track. (the 027 refers to the radius of the curve track sections) New engines from Lionel, MTH (Mike's Train House) Weaver, K-Line, etc. are made in both sizes. The largest new engines can require an 032 or 054 minumum curve radius. The sharper curve can be negoiated by smaller (shorter) engines. IE. Almost anything made by Lionel up to the early 1980's will negoiate an 027 radius curve.

    PS. I have a photo of an Sl, Lionel 6-8-6 Turbine on my web site that I rehabed from pieces/parts, check it out.

    Let us know how your making out on this project.

    Rush Run River Logging Co.

    [This message has been edited by Shay2 (edited 05-04-2001).]
  9. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    O27 is what you need.
    Charles Ro IS still in business, & George is right, they will carry anything & everything you need to get you started. I'll try to get back with you on how to reach them. I'm not sure if they're on the web. Try a search?
    I would avoid eBay until you're really sure about what you're doing, & what you want.
  10. jcpetri

    jcpetri New Member

    Thanks for all the great input, everybody; this is just great...and I'll keep everyone posted as to how the project is coming. I checked with my Dad (he has a great memory for 80 yrs. old) and he told me he bought the initial set with the 027 loco in 1951 and added on until about 1954 or so.

    I have four engines: three metal cast steam loco with the numbers 2035, 2026, 1666 on the side; he told me he bought the 2035 with the 6466W tender as original. I also have a plastic body Diesel Switcher Erie 610 all being powered by a 90 Watt Multi Control Transformer Type 1033. I also have a 75 Watt TRAINmaster transformer type 1034.

    I had a few pieces of "decent" track left and found that everything still works; the tender's whistle still works, all the locos work, the flagman, the oil rig, and a few other accessories....but not in perfect condition so I'm assuming the track is the problem. I've also sent away for a "Restoration Starters Kit" with should help me in taking apart the locos and cleaning and lubricating them for better performance.

    At this point, I'm going to keep the original look of everything and just clean them as best as possible because as I stated earlier, I want to keep as much an original look as possible.....that way it really takes me back to my childhood. When the nostalgia wears off, then I may begin to paint and restore everything to "like new" condition. At that point, I'll begin to add on. I plan to have the entire display put on a 5'x9' old ping-pong table.

    I'll keep posting the results of what I've been able to do with more questions I'm sure, and once again, I really appreciate all the input you guys are giving me. I like to get the opinions and tips from people who are NOT trying to sell you something at the same time.

    I'm going to do a few searches as per your suggestions to continue to learn about how to best enjoy my restoration project and my "reborn again" hobby. I'm 54 years old and since these trains have gotten back to me, I feel about 10 years old again.

    thanks again,


  11. wt&c

    wt&c Guest

    Hey I jhave a #1666 too It has bad wiring and needs to be taken to my hobby store, it's missing the cowcatcher but everything else is there. does your #1666 run??

    NARA Member #8
    The Appalachian & Atlantic Railroad
  12. jcpetri

    jcpetri New Member

    Yes, my 1666 runs; will tell you how well it runs once I get some good track, but it's running so far on the bad track; I also intend to clean it up and lubricate all of the locos soon.
  13. George

    George Member

  14. wt&c

    wt&c Guest

    thansk for the suggestion george ol buddy

    NARA Member #8
    The Appalachian & Atlantic Railroad
  15. jcpetri

    jcpetri New Member

    Okay, I'm started. Got my 2035 Loco running great on the NEW track. You were all right; the old track was just not making it. I lubed and oiled the 2035 and it runs great. Same with the 1666, but I've got a front wheel that has to be replaced. Any tips on how to replace a front wheel on the 1666?????

    I've got the 1045 Watchman working great. It's amazing that this stuff is over 50 years old and still works great. Now I'm working on the 1121 Switches. I've having a little trouble because the right hand switch kind of "sticks" and I have to help it go in one direction. Hopefully a little cleaning up with help it.

    I've got the 6466W Whistle Tender that works, but it seems like it gets a little stuck and needs a second or two in the "Whistle" position of the transformer because it works well. I don't see anything to oil or lubricate to get it moving/sounding well the first time. Any tips on that one???

    That's all for now, fellas; thanks again for all the input. I'm having a great time and I'm shocked that everything works as well as it does....I guess that's Lionel for ya...."they don't make em like they used to".
  16. George

    George Member



    Remember, the trains and accessories you're operating were made by people who fought a world war on two fronts without a computer - AND WON! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    For the wheel, find an authorized Lionel repair shop near you. If you're stuck, I believe you can mail your engine off to MADISON HARDWARE and they'll fix it for you, as well as inspect it for anything else that might be a problem.

  17. jcpetri

    jcpetri New Member

    Thanks, George; will reply to your point of winning the war without computers.....that's why that generation is called "The Greatest Generation" as opposed to MY generation being called, "Baby Boomers". There will never be another generation like "The Greatest Generation" and it's been all downhill for the country since then, in my opinion.

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