I often wonder at these sort of issues re PW accessories...like the 397???
What granular medium did the creative minds of Lionel use in the development/design of the original accessory???
What variations of material, composition, size, et al, did they evaluate predicting human desire to deviate from the printed instructions/recommendations?? What about Cheerios??.....Kitty Litter??....Crumbled old fruit cake??....Grape Nuts???...
Did they really expect an accessory with a rubber belt and 'Magic Fingers' vibratory system to deliver flawless operation in the hands of the common-man 60 years and 2-3 generations later through environmental/storage/usage variability? (answer: Of course not....the future is unimaginable in the toy industry.)
(Better thought-fodder than wringing one's hands over the outcome of a pending election!)
MTH makes accessory 'coal'.....our customers (LHS) seem happy with it.....however it's being used.
I tried some old-and-new 'coal' from my PW+freshly purchased 'coal' supply in my 97, 397, 456, and Gilbert Seaboard Coaler accesories after their installation. Yepper. Coal everywhere. Jumping bits-O-black polymer everywhere. Some of it even where it was supposed to go!! Such happiness from electro-mechanical mayhem!!
So, just what is 'perfection' in the operation of a Post-War accessory?.....especially the coal-flinging variety??Bouncing cattle, flying milk jugs, wayward horseys, stubborn beacons, ......Again, more fun to think about than the world would have us spend our time.
Then, there's that search for an improvement....
I wonder?.....Were the Lionel inventors really lay psychologists???.....Knowing what was good for the mind, skills, and happiness in our later lives if we stayed with the hobby??....
Good Job, guys!