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Might be a longshot,,,but does anyone know of a supplier for 2R drivers that will replace the original drivers on a Visionline Big Boy or any of the other Lionel locos?  I have 2 heavy mikados, 2 Light mikados and couple of pacifics I want to convert eventually.

I have several MTH steamers as well.  Thanks in advance for any known good sources.

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I haven't found anything.  I had three engines converted by having the existing drivers turned down but the person that did two of them is no longer in that business and the other person is very busy.  It is fairly expensive to have them turned down, but it a labor intensive process.

I've picked up some drivers on here and on auction sites over the years, but never found anything that specifically fits Lionel engines.

There are a driver centers and tires available from Stevenson and Precision Scale, but unless you have a metal lathe it would be nearly impossible to true up the drivers and get them in the tires.

Hopefully someone else has a better answer.

I have 2-railed a number of Lionel/K-Line/MTH steamers.  I am adept at a lathe, and taught my brother how to do this stuff commercially.  It really is time consuming - I think he can still do it at maybe a bit more than $100/axle.  I won't touch it for fear of turning my hobby into drudgery.

Here is what I would do - find a set of 2-rail drivers on the used market (Lobaugh Challenger or USH would be best, although you might find a set of Sunset drivers out there), machine a new frame, and mount the original rods, cylinders, etc. on the new frame.

A less expensive way is to sell the 3-rail model and buy a nice 3rd Rail model.

I will find a photo of my Lionel FEF for you.

This is the spectacular Lionel FEF.  I can park it next to a USH and it wins hands-down.  Problem is it comes 3-rail only.  This photo shows USH drivers in a Lobaugh frame, with custom nickel silver side rods.  The rest is Lionel.

I mention in another thread that I am always trying to pay it forward.  This locomotive came in the mail as a gift from a wealthy customer.

Lionel converted 2

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  • Lionel converted 2

If you are stuck on the Lionel model I wouldn't think twice about taking Bob's brother or anyone capable up on the $100 plus a little per axle. A layout as big as your layout will cost many thousands of dollars. Dropping another grand  or two to fulfill your dream probably isn't going to make a big difference in life.

Personally the 3rd Rail model would be my route since I'm not hung up on the Lionel gizmos and I could install what I want to suit my needs.

For the MTH engines, there are most likely equal or better out there in 2 rail and install the electronics to suit.

Last edited by christopher N&W

On the other models: we put a Williams Mike mechanism under a Lobaugh Berkshire.  Going the other way is a possibility - and you could sell the 3-rail mechanism for a hundred bucks easy.

But cheaper to buy the Williams Mike outright, then sell the 3-rail Mike.  I have a perfect Williams 2-rail Mike that I would sell in a heartbeat for $400, free shipping.  Have not yet listed it - grey UP paint.

I think the 3-rail Mike brings $300 and maybe $50 shipping on eBay, so even at my exhorbitant pricing you are out only fifty bucks.  Way cheaper than 2-railing.

There’s a lot more to it than just 2 rail insulated drivers.  The control electronics would have to be changed significantly to keep the sound and smoke and they would have multiple variations of the same engine.  If they just made them DC only with no other features I don’t think there would be much of a market.  Bob is right, if there was enough of a market for it, they’d do it, but at this point, it would be too much of an investment for only a small percentage of the sales.

@Tom D. posted:

There’s a lot more to it than just 2 rail insulated drivers.  The control electronics would have to be changed significantly to keep the sound and smoke and they would have multiple variations of the same engine.  

John Sethian converted Lionel engines to 2 rail, kept the Lionel electronics with the sound and smoke features, and has run them on his 2 rail layout. He's actually done what this guy is looking to do so I'm curious what info you have to the contrary. How do the electronic boards know whether they are being fed by 2 rail AC track controlled by the Lionel system or 3 rail AC track controlled by the Lionel system?  Also, Lionel Legacy equipped engines are available in S scale which is 2 rail and what did Lionel significantly change in the electronics to make that work? Nobody in another thread that was started by this gentleman could provide those answers as to why not. It wouldn't be the way I'd approach it on my layout, but I'm looking to understand why it technically won't work. I understand most 0 scale 2 railers would not invest in the Lionel system whether it works or not so you guys are right that there would be no market for it in 2 rail 0.

Last edited by christopher N&W

Also, Lionel Legacy equipped engines are available in S scale which is 2 rail and what did Lionel significantly change in the electronics to make that work?

Lionel did nothing to the electronics. As you said they work the same no matter how many rails are under them. John Sethian is a perfect example of someone running 2 rail trains using the 3 rail control systems. Eventually Lionel did add DCC compatibility in S scale since there was interest in the NMRA standard from the S scale guys. It will probably never happen in O because the interest isn't there.

Nobody in another thread that was started by this gentleman could provide those answers as to why not. It wouldn't be the way I'd approach it on my layout, but I'm looking to understand why it technically won't work. I understand most 0 scale 2 railers would not invest in the Lionel system whether it works or not so you guys are right that there would be no market for it in 2 rail 0.

Agreed. I run DCC and have no interest in the proprietary systems predominantly used in 3 rail. I have used them in the past and although they can do wonderful things I didn't care for them. My opinion.

One thing I would like to add is that Bob2 has mentioned many times how turning drivers is "drudgery". I have no doubt he is correct but I wish there was some way a machine could do this job for us humans and therefore take the drudgery out of it. You order a set of drivers/wheels for say a NYC Hudson (I have seen wheels for sale) and the machine cuts the tires out for them and you press them together. A guy can dream can't he?

The number of rails isn’t the issue it’s a matter of AC power on the 3 rail and DC on the 2 rail. The Lionel electronics handle the reversing, motor speed, and other functions much like but not exactly like DCC does.  I’m not saying it can’t be done, but they would have to be modified or redesigned.  I have a Lionel 4-8-2 that I paid someone to turn down and insulate  the drivers.  I was able to use the lighting circuits with a little modification.  I plan to use the smoke unit too and maybe the sound at a later date.  But it does require reworking the factory boards for straight DC operation.

I agree if you want to run 2 rail AC, the engine would work as is.  My comments about incompatibility were directed toward the standard 2 rail DC or DCC operators, not 2 rail AC and I should have been more specific.

Last edited by Tom D.
@Tom D. posted:

I agree if you want to run 2 rail AC, the engine would work as is.  My comments about incompatibility were directed toward the standard 2 rail DC or DCC operators, not 2 rail AC and I should have been more specific.

Okay good. The OP had stated in another thread, which you probably did not even know about, that he intended to use the Lionel Legacy system with his Lionel engine.

@Hudson J1e posted:

You order a set of drivers/wheels for say a NYC Hudson (I have seen wheels for sale) and the machine cuts the tires out for them and you press them together. A guy can dream can't he?

Great wish. I got a key made at Home Depot recently. A bunch of lasers shot at the original key for a few seconds, the machine then cut the new key, and it worked better than any key I've ever had made.

@bob2 posted:

On the other models: we put a Williams Mike mechanism under a Lobaugh Berkshire.  Going the other way is a possibility - and you could sell the 3-rail mechanism for a hundred bucks easy.

But cheaper to buy the Williams Mike outright, then sell the 3-rail Mike.  I have a perfect Williams 2-rail Mike that I would sell in a heartbeat for $400, free shipping.  Have not yet listed it - grey UP paint.

I think the 3-rail Mike brings $300 and maybe $50 shipping on eBay, so even at my exhorbitant pricing you are out only fifty bucks.  Way cheaper than 2-railing.

Bob,

That Williams Mike is appealing.  Sent you an email about it.

Rob

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