Choo Choo Charlie posted:

POST 60   Homemade Lionel 9278 Life Savers Dome Tank Car

After looking for a reasonable or inexpensive Lionel 9278 Life Savers Tank Car (they are rather hard to find and I have never seen one at a train show) I decided to make one.   They are whimsical and very colorful and always caught my attention.  I do not know what Mars- Wrigley Co., the present maker of Life Savers five flavors hard candy, would transport in a Tank Car.


Lionel Lifesaver Single Dome Tank Car you can purchase


I had three double dome tank car bodies and frames, unmarked and looks exactly like the Lionel two dome tank cars.  I know Lionel used a single dome tank car for their Life Savers car, so I figured a double dome car would work.  If they transported the makings for the five flavors, perhaps they needed  five dome tank cars!

I chose a tank car body that had a sizable chip missing on one side walkway.  I decided to remove the two side walkways as this would make adding the multiple colored strips, by paint or colored tape,  much easier.  I ground the walkways off with a Dremel grinding bit, small file and knife and puttied it smooth.  The center hand rail bracket was also removed as this spot is where the “Life Savers” name label would go.




The ends of the car and domes were spray painted with aluminum paint. 



The colored stripes can be masked off and painted or colored vinyl tape can be used.  I thought the colored vinyl tape would be easier to do but either way will be a chore.  The colors of the stripes should represent five Life Savers flavors which are currently Cherry, Raspberry, Watermelon, Orange and Pineapple.  I purchased a couple of rolls of Life Savers, 5 flavors finally finding them at a Cracker Barrel restaurant  and planned on using the package label for my car Life Savers logo label.  I had problems figuring out which flavors represent which colors on the package so I chose the colors as red, green, yellow, orange and cherry or grape.  I had colored tape from a package of six colors, which included red, green, yellow and white.  I had some acrylic orange paint and made a purple or maroon color from red and a little blue paint and painted strips of white tape to make orange and purple stripes.

I decided strips of 5/16 inch width would look good and give four sets or so of five colors.  I saw the Lionel 9278 Life Saver single dome tank car started with the same order of colored strips from each end and then had to repeat a color or two to make them meet in the middle.  The single dome car has a substantial railing and ladders at the middle of the car.  My double dome tank car will have an open visible middle and walk way and ladders at the dome, nearer the end of the car.  I decided to start the color sequence at one end and repeat it order to the other end.  I was two colors short of finishing the last two colors on the last sequence.  I arranged the colors sequence to use more of the pre-colored tape and less of the two painted colors.  Cutting the tape around the domes was tedious and the tape was old and had to be glued on in some cases.  I found E 6000 clear glue would melt the vinyl tape and I had to use some old auto vinyl trim glue I had to glue it on.


The picture below shows the painted and other colored vinyl tape on the right and the car partially striped.  I removed these strips to allow removal of the hand rail anchor as it was in the way of the "Life Savers" logo label to be attached  and decided to start the striping from the end.



The Life Savers wrapper from the Life Savers tubular package was removed and sprayed with clear spray paint on both sides twice to keep glue from affecting them.  The logo labels were cut out and glued on with auto vinyl trim glue.

I decided to make one short walkway at each dome and install them on opposite sides and use one ladder for each to allow access from both sides of the car.  I made them out of Popsicle sticks and glued them on with J B Weld.  I made a walk way between the two domes so that an operator can climb one ladder and reach both domes.  I added plastic window screen on the top of the Popsicle walk ways to simulate grading. 



I made two ladders out of N scale plastic track ties and cut out every other tie to give one foot distant between each rung.  The ladders and walk ways were painted aluminum.

I added a pair of Lionel trucks to the car frame and screwed the tank car shell to the car frame.  I then glued the ladders on between the short walk ways and the car frame with a little auto vinyl trim glue as they will have to be removed if the car tank body has to be removed from the frame in the future.






This picture shows my homemade large Vanderbilt coal tender, Lionel 6413 Mercury Capsule transporting car, flat car with two small General engines, Aquarium Car and the Lionel Life Savers Tank Car



My new homemade Life Savers Double Dome Tank Car is my most favorite car.  I always say that about my latest homemade car or latest train meet find.  I do know this Life Savers tank car is the car that really stands out on any train consist it is in.



Very nice work. You really should post this on a separate thread so everybody can see the nice work you did on it. I was able to picked this one up at the train show in West Springfield a few weeks ago for $10.   It's in pretty good shape.  Had a little rust that I had to clean off on two of the wheels.  Personally, I think they could have got a little more for it.  I would say yours looks every bit as good as the original!  20200209_192129


Images (1)


Post 61 5/1/2020

Addition of a Wye to the Layout      

No new tracks or major track changes have been made since I added a New Layout Addition board and control panel making an "L" Layout in 1988-89.  I love reversing of the trains and engines and have a reversing oval and figure eight on the main board inside loop and a double reversing dog bone on the Addition board on the outside loop.  I also have a turntable on the main board inside loop to turn around engines.

I now see that in the 1990's I noted on a "Train To Do List" to add a Wye to the layout.  This was found after this current project shown here was complete.  The installation of the Wye at that time would have made it more complicated to put down and take up the train boards from the floor it was on those days.  I make a "Train To Do List" every year since 1980.  It is simply a piece of lined paper with ideas or things that need to be done on the layout or things I thought of finding at a train show or internet.  I start a new list every year and check the items off when done often adding a date.

After studying the layout recently, I thought a Wye would be neat to have on the outside loop where the two train boards form an L. 


The Wye would go where the green and yellow Lionel 3656 stock or cattle corral is in picture below

Train Overhead views 9-21-016 2016-09-21 019


The main problem was figuring out how to fit the two Wye additional Marx 1590 switches in.  I spent time with two right hand switches between the two outside loop straight sections near the two switches that let trains move from one board to the other. 



The next challenge was when the switches were added the two ends of the track on the switches would not line up to be joined with a small section of new track.  I needed more distance between the two new Wye switches to allow them to line up as there were other switches that could not be relocated to give more room.  I gave up for a while but then figured if I cut about ¾ inch from one end of one switch and ¼ inch off the track rail ends of both switches near the new addition outside loop, they almost lined up.  I decided to go for it and cut off the two switches.  I unscrewed the track in the area and bent and pulled enough to get the two switches in place. 


Picture of sawed off piece of switch, sawed with Dremel Moto Tool with fiber cutoff wheel





Playing with the straight track between the two switches I found a 1/2 section of straight track would almost fit and be only a little crooked.  I then cut the ½ section in half and added it to a ¼ section of curved track and it all fitted fine.  I tested my largest loco with the most over hang on curves, a Williams BL2, and thankfully it negotiated the new Wye very well.  I added an uncoupling and operating car track section in the Wye, on the main board outside track also.



Another issue came up with the Wye instillation.  The Wye occupies the space where the Lionel 3656 Cattle or Stock Corral was located.  I wanted to keep the corral on the layout and came up with installing it on the inside loop of the main board, between the outside and inside loop track.  This location is close to the main control panel which is a must as the cows often need help moving between the corral and cattle car.  The 3656 corral platform was too wide to fit in this location between two main tracks, but that location is the only option.   The 3656 cattle corral on the right below is the normal size and butts up against the out side loop.  The 3656 cattle corral on the left is the modified one, detailed in the next paragraph.



I found out the corral platform was 5/8 inches too wide to pass the BL2 loco and decided hack saw off 5/8 inches off the corral platform which was project in itself.  I J B Welded part of sawed off platform to fill in the gap in the platform that was left and added two bolts to allow the top and bottom of the platform to be separated for repairs.  The cows have to be careful with their tails!



There was space next to the 3656 cattle corrals new location for a another Lionel 3462P milk platform.  There is a milk platform on the new addition train board which is very popular with younger visitors so a second milk platform is a nice adder for the main train board.



You can see on the picture below the Wye and other switches can total 5 switches in a row if the train goes from the outside loop of the new layout train board to the inside loop of the main layout board.  You can also see the new uncoupling and operating car track section on the Wye near the cattle corral.



Picture of main control panel with two new mini push button switch control switches at the bottom.  The two Wye Marx switches operate tandem with both being controlled by one push button switch for each direction.  Mini push buttons were added for the new uncoupling section (blue button in top of Y section) and the milk platform (located to the left of the track diagram with other accessories switches).  Wires were run to install push buttons for the Y switches for the addition train board control panel by not the push buttons as this control panel orange transformer only can operate the addition train board.



I am pleased with the new Wye and other changes.  The Wye adds new routes and a reversing route to the outside track for both boards.  The Wye works easily going clockwise from either end but when going counter clockwise, a train must back into the Wye to turn the train around, just like real train Wye's.  Even long trains do not have a problem backing up through the 5 switch gauntlet.  



Operating trains on the outside loop is now more involved and requires more planning before throwing a switch as there are two more switch choices.  The layout now has 31 Marx 1590 switches.



Images (14)
Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie


 Nice work on installing your wye and being willing to still make adjustments to your established layout. 



Thanks for the kind comments.  I have corrected and added a few more details to the above write up and it seams I always find errors and improvements after publishing.


I am working on getting some flood lights on the new milk platform and the relocated cattle corral.  I am also installing more flood lights on the barrel loader and moved Ice station.  Notice the hobo camp in the Wye.  They moved from the left bottom corner of the main board layout.

I am finding the Wye requires a little mental planning to operate but I am learning.




Images (1)
Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Post 62   5/10/2020

New Flood Lights on Cattle Corral and new Milk Platform after Wye

Below are pictures of the new flood lights for the cattle corral,  milk platform and Ice Station.  I did a check on the load of the small 12v transformer that most of the lights on the main board are on except the Building lights.  The smaller transformer was running warm when all lights were on for 30 minutes and I checked both transformer outlet voltage with various lights on and off and determined to lower the load on the smaller transformer.  So I move the flood lights from the small transformer to the larger one was loaded much more than the other 12v transformer rated at 40 watts.  I have a clip on ammeter but it is for higher amps and would not read changes in the 0 to 4 amp range.



This is a good picture the flood lights with room lights dimmed and of my Operating car train.  First is the barrel car with the barrel loader in the back ground, the second car is a the refrigerator car with the Ice station in lower right corner, next is the cattle car and corral, followed by the Milk car and the milk platform and the last car is a gondola which can receive barrels, canisters, atomic canisters from the gantry crane and logs or coal or whatever.



These light poles were made from Christmas plastic bells and plastic balloon sticks curved with a hot air blower heating gently.



Images (3)
Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

I love your layout & what you have done recently adding the wye, but I am curious why you added an operating track behind the horse corral.


Thanks for the kind comment.   I have been going back to old posts, mostly on page 1 and adding more detail and revised the post on the the control panels.

And thanks for the good question.  I have about 15 uncoupling tracks on the layout and only three are operating sections including the new one.  I have one homemade operating section at the barrel loader that I made by adding one contact between the rails to unload barrels on the barrel loader.  I made the section because it was easier than tearing up the tracks to add a regular operating section and it does not have to work in both directions at the barrel loader. 

Half of my uncoupling sections were operating sections and I tore out the operating sections as they were uncoupling my old Marx tilt couplers if I have remembered correctly.

I desire more operating sections because I have the following cars that will operate with the operating section:  two 356 225 operating barrel cars, three milk cars, two cattle unloading cars and a 3459 and a 3469 coal unloading cars that will also unload logs.  Some can be placed almost anywhere with a Lionel dump tray but some have to have a platform.

That spot on the Wye seamed like a good spot to put a uncoupling track and I really have not decided what to do with that triangle.  The operating part of the section has a wire that currently goes no where.  I could hook it up to a new push button and dump log or coal into a tray for the kids as the least thing to do.

More places to operate the operating cars gives the youngsters more things they can to do.  Even 3 year olds can operate the milk car at the milk platform.


Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

A couple of pictures of giraffe train in new Wye.


Lionel 2035 pulling the giraffe train into the Wye curves



Navigating the curves and then Wye



Giraffe train heading to the top of the Wye




Images (3)
Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

POST 60   Homemade Lionel 9278 Life Savers Tank Car

...... I do not know what Mars- Wrigley Co., the present maker of Life Savers five flavors hard candy, would transport in a Tank Car.

Almost certainly Mars-Wrigley uses tank cars to haul corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup to their plants, both of which are prime ingredients in Life Savers candy. In fact, tank cars are used to haul these syrups (they're ubiquitous in American food products) to a variety of food manufacturers, including soft drink makers. I see lines of them all the time outside a nearby Coke-a-Cola bottling plant.

Nice job on your "home made" Life Savers tank car. I have the two Lionel-made ones, the MPC era no. 9278 from 1978-79 (love those MPC era tank cars), and the Cal Steward special production version, no. 52476, from 2007. Really like your 2-dome version.

This post-war style layout is great. There's something magical about these layouts that modern-era stuff can't match, particularly, I suppose, for those of us old enough to remember them from the 50s and 60s.

Last edited by breezinup


Thanks for the comments and insight on tankers for corn syrup.   I am still looking for a Lionel Life Savers tank car.  On several occasions I made a Lionel copy car and later found and bought the Lionel car. That is okay as I enjoy making or modifying cars.

Yes I am a product of the Lionel 50s style layout and in the 1970s when I started my layout for my young children that was the obvious choice for me.  I have been a modeler since childhood and it usually revolved around making a model to float or fly and I made and flew or floated model airplanes and boats through college days.


Train Nut

Thanks for the below comment and picture of yours on 2-9-2020 and I apologize for being so late.

Quote from Train Nut on 1-9-2020       "Very nice work. You really should post this on a separate thread so everybody can see the nice work you did on it. I was able to picked this one up at the train show in West Springfield a few weeks ago for $10.   It's in pretty good shape.  Had a little rust that I had to clean off on two of the wheels.  Personally, I think they could have got a little more for it.  I would say yours looks every bit as good as the original ! "

I usually post homemade cars on a separate topic I started on Homemade cars that has running for a few years.  I liked the picture of the super Lionel Live Savers car you picked up at a great price.  I see they left a silver ring where the hand rail brackets were.  That would have been an easier way than my cutting around them with the colored tape.  They also used pre-printed colored plastic tape to install the life savers colored rings.

Thanks for the comments on this project.


Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie


There is now a Table of Contents for this Topic.  It is located on Page 1 and the end Post 1 for your and my convenience.


                                           Table of Contents

Page 1

Post 1  5-16-2016   Table of Contents & Overview of Action Packed 50’s period 027 Operating Layout

Post 2   5-17-2016  Layout videos and comments posted

Post 3   5-20-2016   The Beginning - Childhood Layout

Post 4   5-24-2016   Resources- Books and Magazines & Layout Track Plan and Features

Post 5   5-27-2016   Procurement of Trains, Track, Switches etc.

Post 6    6-4-2016   Project during planning – Tootle Wooden Pull Train

Post 7   6-11-2016   Main Board Construction

Post 8   6-20-2016    Active Touch Track Plan Diagram Control Panel Construction, Wiring and Transformers  revised 4-10-2020

Post 9   6-25-2016   Turntable Construction & Operation - Scratch Built and Inexpensive  revised 9-2019


Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

A couple of pictures of giraffe train in new Wye.


Lionel 2035 pulling the giraffe train into the Wye curves



Navigating the curves and then Wye



Giraffe train heading to the top of the Wye




Your layout is GREAT! You and Mitch Marmel should do "Dueling Giraffe Trains". Also, I love the church in your photos. Is that scratch-built or is it manufactured?


Thanks for the compliment on the layout. 

The church is a Dept 56 ceramic building, a Christ in the City Series, Church of the Holy Lights model.  I am sure it came from a garage sale several years ago.  It is a real up grade from the small Placticville Church I had for several earlier years.  I really like the great stained glass windows on the Dept 56 church and they look great with when lighted. 

This church my only better quality Dept 56 building as most of my buildings are Plasticville, modified Plasticville or scratch built from 1/8 inch Masonite with often brick paper glued on.

Train Lots 5-10-2016 127

Train layout & room 1-19-2015 010

Train layout & room 1-19-2015 014



Images (3)
Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Post 63    7-2-2020

Marx Trains Run on the Layout

My childhood train was a Marx 999 freight set and an oval and figure 8 track plan with four Marx 1590 metal frog switches.  I stayed with Marx switches since I had four and they would pass fat wheeled Marx engines like the 999.  Here are some  pictures of many of my Marx engines and cars.

Marx 400, 0-4-0


Marx 999, 2-4-2



Marx 666, 2-4-2



Marx 333, 4-6-2,  re-numbered



Lionel 3435, with shell casting from Marx 333 4-6-2, with DC motor



Marx 961, diesel switcher, 0-4-0, no reverse, w/999 motor



Marx 8769, 0-4-0 Republic Steel diesel switcher w/ 999 motor, no reverse



Marx ( no number, Like 702), 0-4-0 diesel switcher with reverse w/999motor



Marx 1998  ALCO S-1, 2-4-2 diesel switcher



Marx 1998  ALCO S-1, 2-4-2 diesel switcher with Lionel SW 1 body



Marx 1095, F7, A  Repainted



Marx 1095, F7, A  Repainted



Marx 1095, F7, B  Repainted



Marx tin Passenger cars two 3152 coaches



Marx tin Passenger, 3197 parlor car, added pickup and lighted marker lights



 Some Marx Cars





Happy 4th of July 2020



Images (20)

Add Reply

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
Link copied to your clipboard.