027 Track Identity: MARX or Lionel

In a spate of cleaning frenzy, I have unearthed a box of 027 track.  I know that some is Lionel, and I know that some is MARX.  If for no other reason than a mild case of OCD, I would like to separate them.

Some are easy to identify:  the all brown and gray tie are Lionel.  Some of the black tie pieces are stamped with the Lionel name.  5-tie straights are obviously MARX.  Switches and diamonds are easily distinguished.  However, some Lionel track was black tie; to the best of my knowledge, all MARX was black tie.  I have not seen any MARX track stamped with the name or logo . . . .

Does anyone know of a foolproof method (me being a pretty accomplished fool) of telling black tie Lionel that is NOT stamped with the name from MARX?  Pins might be a good indicator, but I am not convinced that some haven't had pins changed over the years.  (Am I correct in remembering that Lionel has always used 027 pins that are indented, while MARX are all straight, smooth pins?)

Is there a clear distinction between ties or insulators or rail forms?

Frisco, MoPac, and T&P near Rolla, MO
Original Post

Not sure if or when they ever stopped stamping lionel right on the track ties, but all the old Lionel O27 track I have in a junk box I just looked at are all stamped lionel.....black tie, brown tie, and silver tie....Marx track to me, and IMHO, is just a little more crudely made than Lionel track....usually, I can spot the two apart from 10 feet away..........Pat

The Water Level Route.......You Can Sleep

Look at the track pins. Lionel pins are shiny, often bullet shaped ends, with a  section between the track end and the bullet end that has a smaller diameter. Marx pins have consistent diameter, rounded ends, and are dull gray in color.

RoyBoy

There's a difference in the crimp of the tie to rail and the Marx tie bottom is straight and folded a little tighter (like a box) than the Lionel which is slightly rounded on the long side and the end fold is not as tight.

If you are lucky, you'll have some Marx O34 which are larger.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

In some instances I have seen Marx track with what looks to be factory installed Lionel type pins. Marx and Lionel both made silver tie track. The most accurate method I know of is to looked at the holes in the ties. Lionel punched the holes clean. Marx pierced theirs causing a flowered barb on the underside.

Steve

Steve "Papa" Eastman

Yorba Linda, CA

Left Coast, Home of the lunatics

Steve "Papa" Eastman posted:

In some instances I have seen Marx track with what looks to be factory installed Lionel type pins. Marx and Lionel both made silver tie track. The most accurate method I know of is to looked at the holes in the ties. Lionel punched the holes clean. Marx pierced theirs causing a flowered barb on the underside.

Steve

Very true Steve!

The Water Level Route.......You Can Sleep

All good info, thanks!

 Harmonyards:  I understand what you mean, but when the track gets old and beat up, it is harder for me to tell.

Royboy & D500:  I know some of the pins have been changed because I have changed some myself. :-(

Steve:  As for the pierced holes, a lot of this track is used, so some otherwise clean holes have been distorted by screws and nails.  Still, that particular tip is very useful.

Moonman:  I have a great deal of 034, and it, of course, is easy to distinguish.  I am a persistent advocate of 034 when folks ask about tubular layouts.

I was unaware that MARX made any silver/gray tie track.  Now I will need to look more closely at that bundle, too.

I need to look closely at the tie crimps to understand this distinction:  "There's a difference in the crimp of the tie to rail and the Marx tie bottom is straight and folded a little tighter (like a box) than the Lionel which is slightly rounded on the long side and the end fold is not as tight."

Mitch:  I have some clearly Lionel with 6 holes, but I do also have some with three.  Your tip will at least help me eliminate the 3-holers!

Looks like I have an evening cut out for me!

 

Thanks, all!

Frisco, MoPac, and T&P near Rolla, MO

Thanks again, guys.  I took a few minutes last night to start the sorting, and, once I actually held some pieces in my hands for contrast, the differences you told me about became very clear.

I hope to continue the job tonight.

Once thing I have rediscovered is an impression I first noticed years ago but had forgotten:  the ends of the bottom flanges of rails on MARX track seem to all spread.  the end of each rail looks like a fan after it has been assembled/disassembled a few times.  I wonder if that effect is because of the pins--which seem fatter than the Lionel--or less stout rail stock.  Lionel does it, too, but not as consistently or as wide.

Frisco, MoPac, and T&P near Rolla, MO

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