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I have a few dozen of the 9800s standard O boxcars that suffered paint cracking/crazing during a long 30+ year storage in cardboard boxes (not the lionel OEM box) and most had some newsprint wrapping. Most, maybe 60~70% of the rolling stock stored this way came out trouble free and looking good. Some have with a smidgen of color fade in the plastics too - where you will see a difference in the 'body' cast red and the 'parts' cast red. But some have appeared with cracked and/or peeling paint and/or yellowed. I know newsprint in old cardboard citrus & liquor boxes is NOT an ideal storage setup for toy choo-choos, but in the 80s this was still a popularly held belief among the western NY train enthusiasts. (where my grand-dad lived) that newsprint was safe. For a minute I held a theory that the ones that suffered the damage were wrapped in color newsprint - but that wasn't the case. some were in black & white, some in color, a few unwrapped.

I have made lemonade out of some of the ones that looked poorly and redecorated them.

In the pictures: The 9802 white plastic cast Miller reefers took all sorts of yellowed and browned/ambered patina that would not wash out.  I should have taken pics of those, but forgot to. The 9803 Johnson Wax and 9802 Miller cars took the worst of it. The 2333 Santa Fe repaint had lousy looking silver paint from a non-hand-washing grandchild (ME!) in the 70s & early 80s


Images (7)
  • 9803 boxcar plastic color fade: 9803 boxcar plastic color fade
  • 9803 paint ageing: 9803 paint ageing
  • 9803 paint cracking: 9803 paint cracking
  • 9803 paint cracking: 9803 paint cracking
  • 9803 paint cracking: 9803 paint cracking
  • 9803 Johnson Wax repaint to Lehigh Valley: 9803 Johnson Wax repaint to Lehigh Valley
  • 9802 Miller repaint to Lackawanna: 9802 Miller repaint to Lackawanna
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The easy way mitigate the paint deterioration is declare yourself a scale and realist model railroader.  In real life, newly painted or like new rolling stock is very rare.  Most of rolling stock I see needs painting or is full of graffiti.  As time goes by you will begin to over look or not notice the paint flaws as much.  Most of my trains have lots of flaws as they are 1950s and bought used and inexpensive.


I'm guessing the cars weren't kept in a temperature / humidity controlled area. Cracking like that I believe is primarily due to thinner based paint and/or shellac type finishes (i.e., not acrylics) being exposed to extreme temperature shifts, especially extreme cold and/or dry conditions. I know many old (pre-1980s) guitars and basses have similar cracking in the finish, due to exposure to cold and dry conditions.

As Charlie says, weathering can hide imperfections in paint color and such, but for the cracked ones, I don't know if there's much that can be done other than stripping them and redecorating.

Yeah -

They never lived in an attic but were box-stored in basements... Or worse... a basement closet for a number of years. Next to the sump pump 😳🥴🙄 But they were in forced air HVAC homes (greater air circulation than in radiator heated homes) but still far from ideal - and more humidity than the living spaces above.

One box seemed to have something like chemical induced discoloration, I didn't get pictures of those before I sanded & repainted. This is the first box with cracking. Anyways...

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800-980-OGRR (6477)

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