What do I have here???

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by jaulette, Apr 22, 2007.

  1. jaulette

    jaulette New Member


    I have discovered some O scale trains and would like to know what I have. I have done some research through ebay and identified a few:

    -Commodore Vanderbilt Engine
    -Lionel 1680 Tank Car
    -Lionel Jr. 1681 Engine
    -Marx 333 Engine
    -Lionel 1682 Caboose
    -Lionel 16
    -assorted track, a number 6 transformer, and a few other odds and ends accessories

    I'm not even sure how to test the trains to see if they work but they all look in relatively good shape. Any ideas on how to get some basic info on what I'm doing. Perhaps a good web site.

  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Joe: Welcome to the gauge.
    First off, an old transformer will likely have a deteriorated power cord. If you can see any cracks in the plastic insulation, do not use it until the power cord is replaced. (Sorry, but this is a safety hazard).
    There are all sorts of books about old Lionel -- McCuohy and Tomas wrote a series of them that may be aavailable through your library. There are also price guides (Greenberg's). Remember that high values are for trains that never were taken out of their boxes; signs of use reduce the value quickly.
    To test the locomotives, you need to connect a transformer to the track, put the loco on and turn the power up. Some of them may need the power turned on and off a few times to get them started. They will probably need cleaning and relubricating before they function properly.
    Work your way through the O gauge forum and there are lots of threads about refreshing old trains.
  3. jaulette

    jaulette New Member

    Tks very much for the info, much appreciated. I checked the transformer, Mint condition and the insulation looks fine. As per the instruction sheet that was still in the box I lubricated with vaseoline.

    Just not sure how to hook up the transformer to the track. Is there a connecting piece, or does the transformer hook directly to the track?

    Tks again,
  4. jaulette

    jaulette New Member

    Additional thought to add..I can't seem to find out much about the Lionel Jr. 1681 Engine. The only listing for that in ebay is a mouse pad...lol
  5. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Standard Marx advice, unfortunately not very good. Vaseline works fine at first but quickly hardens, defeating its original purpose. Some grease from an auto parts store (Lucas Red'n'Tacky is a good brand) will work much better, and will still do its job in a few years. It's also a good idea to put a drop of motor oil or sewing machine oil on the axles.

    The 1681 engine dates to 1934-35. Black and red units date to 1934, red to 1935. It was used in inexpensive sets, as part of Lionel's effort to survive the Great Depression. I believe the locomotive was based on a design that came from Ives, which was an early Lionel competitor that Lionel bought out in the early 1930s.

    The 1680-series Lionel freights also date to the 1930s. They were made for many years (1933-1942 I believe). They're common and inexpensive but attractive. They were primarily used in Lionel's inexpensive sets. Originally Lionel sold them under the Ives brand; when Lionel stopped using the Ives name they stamped the Lionel name on them and continued selling them.

    The Commodore Vanderbilt could be either a Lionel or Marx. Do an eBay search and compare them to what you have. There are always a dozen Marx Commodore Vanderbilts on eBay because Marx sold hundreds of thousands of them. The Lionel version dates to the late 1930s; Marx made its version both before and after World War II, from 1933 or 1934 to 1942, and then again from 1946 until possibly 1955 or so. The Marx Vanderbilt may or may not have any identification on it.

    The Marx 333 was Marx's top of the line locomotive, made from the mid 1950s onward. It's newer than your other stuff.

    As far as connecting the transformer to the track, do you have a lockon? It snaps onto the track and has a terminal for each wire. If not, go to the hardware store and get a package of crimp-on quick-disconnect spades. Connect a spade to one end of two pieces of wire. Connect the loose end to a terminal on the transformer. Push the spade from one wire into the underside of your center rail, and another into one of the outer rails. When you set it up initially, set up a loop of track on the floor, on carpet, in case of derailments. Old trains can be very erratic until they get used to running again. I've had more than one jump the track and end up diving off my table. :(

    The 6 transformer is American Flyer, I believe. It *is* compatible with Marx and Lionel trains however.

    I hope this helps.
  6. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    A little more interesting info on what you have.

    I believe the Marx 333 was produced between 1949 and 1954. It is the only Marx that had the 4-6-2. The early 333 did not have a smoke unit or awnings over the cab windows. In addition the early version had a outer drive rod.

    The 1680 tanker car was a Ives design that Lionel produced up to the start of WWII.
  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Joe: I'm not familiar with the 6 transformer. If it has 2 terminals on it, you connect one to the center rail and the other to the outside rail (either one). If it has more than 2, you'll need more instructions. You could make a quick connection using alligator clips just for testing.
    The lockon is a little device that locks onto the center and outside rail. (Do you know how many years it took me to make that connection?) Marx made them to push into the bottom of the rails; Lionel's clip onto the rail base. They should have 2 spring clips or screw post clips. (If it has 3 clips it's something else.)
    There's a site called Olsen's Toy Trains that has posted copies of instruction sheets and service diagrams. They also sell old parts.
  8. jaulette

    jaulette New Member

    Hi Guys,
    I found the locking device. It went on just like you said it would between the middle and outer rail. The transformer is a #6 American Flyer with 3 posts. 2 posts are 7-15 volts, the other combination is a straight 15. The 7-15 is the set that worked.

    I set up a small oval track on the carpet and put the 1681 on it. It seemed to want to warm up a bit, but after a while of turning it on and off and applying a little pressure to the train it began to move. A little at first, then it took off on it's own with the light working as well...how cool!!!

    The 333 lights up as well but hasn't moved yet, same with the commodore. They are both getting sparks when I nudge em a bit. I'm guessing they have to warm up a bit as well...shake off 40 years of sitting in a box?

    Anyway, thought it was pretty cool and wanted to let you guys know. I can definately see the attraction.

    Tks for your help, much appreciated.

  9. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    If the locos aren't moving, I would guess they need taken appart and give the engines a good cleaning and relube everything. Possibly some rwiring and/or new brushes as well.

    The best thing I've heard for lubricating model trains is fishing reel oil and grease.
    Grease for gears
    Oil for shafts
  10. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Try cleaning the wheels on the Commodore Vanderbilt and 333. I've had a lot of Marx engines that wouldn't budge at first, but once I cleaned the wheels they started running. Cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol will do fine. The cheater's method is to connect one wire from the transformer straight to the copper pickup on the bottom of the engine, and the other wire somewhere on the body and turn it on. If the wheels turn, you know the motor is fine. Then dip a swab in the alcohol, apply it to a wheel, watch it turn black, and then use another swab. You'll have all the wheels very clean in just a few minutes. I let the motor run set up like this for 10-15 minutes before I put it on the track. This trick works better with Marx locos than Lionel.

    I'm glad the 1681 runs; I'm sure it probably won't take much to get the Marx engines running too.

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