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Post 86          9-9-2023,  revised 10-22-2023

Steam Powered Switch Engines Operating on the Layout

There are four Steam Powered Engines available for Operation on my operating and switching layout.  They provide lots of fun switching cars around the layout and keep it interesting.

Marx 400  0-4-0  Switcher

The Marx 400 was 50 cent purchased from my go to guy Dave, in Pittsburgh in 1978 and it has the same great running two gear motor as in a Marx 666, 2-4-2, with two position e-Unit reverse.  This is a superior motor to the more common motor in Marx 999 2-4-2 engines.  Its main short comings is the lack of front coupler and its light weight both which can be cured when I get around to it!  The Marx 400 is a smooth running engine.


Lionel 8516  0-4-0 Switcher

This Lionel 8516 is my best 0-4-0 switcher with front and tender operating couplers and operating tender back up light.  It has an electronic reversing unit.  It was made in 1986-86.  I have had switcher since 3-2005.  This engine is an upgraded Lionel 8310 from 1973-75.



Lionel 8310 0-4-0 Switcher

Here is a MPC Lionel 8510, 0-4-0 switcher, made for Sears between 1973 to 1975, and I have had since fall of 1991.   The tender has an operating coupler.  I added backup light on the tender that works all the time and I added front coupling as shown below.


The Lionel 8310 has an ugly front end and no coupler on the front, making it a poor looking and operating switcher to me.  See how long the support is for the cow catcher.


In 2020, I decided to make a new front end and add a working coupling like my better 0-4-0 switcher, the Lionel 8516 described earlier and the 8516 front coupler is showed below.


A sketch was made for the new front end and I used a spare operating coupling I had.  Some sheet metal and balsa wood scraps were used to assemble the coupler base .


I soldered in the bottom brace.




J B Weld metal filled epoxy setting up with rubber bands holding in position


The hand rail was made from a piece of wire.  Whole unit was painted with semi gloss back paint.

Now this is much more handsome and useful 0-4-0 switcher with operating front coupler



Now I have two great 0-4-0 switchers with operating front couplers.  The old 8516, 0-4-0, on the left, needs a paint job now as seen below.



Lionel 561  0-8-0 Switcher

In 2020, I picked up a Lionel 561, 0-8-0 engine and coal tender made in 2009.  It has operating coupler on the tender, dummy coupler on engine front and a operating tender backup light.   It came from eBay with a detached head light and a loose step from the coal tender and the buyer generously compensated me to keep it.  The parts were both JB Welded back on.  The whistle does not work in the Coal Tender but it may be the diodes in my LW transformers.  I do not use coal tender whistles as my layout has two Lionel whistles hidden in open window layout buildings as most of my coal tenders do not have whistles.


Initially the Lionel 561, 0-8-0 has been derailing on a 5 or so of my 31 Marx 1590 switches.  The derailments seem to occur when going into the curve on the switch.  I believe the issue of derailing on real trains lead to putting a pair or more wheels in front of the driving wheels or make this a 2-8-0 engine.  I have fixed most of my Marx switches by bending the frog flange to be closer to the rail.  My 2-8-4 Lionel Berkshire 756 runs through the Marx 1590s switches without issues.

I bent the curved rail end to the left shown below.  The rotating section bent rail part is on the bottom of picture and touches the straight outside rail on the bottom.


The 561 came with a dummy front coupling.  I had a Lionel truck with an operating coupler that had a cracked frame.  I cut the operating coupling off the frame and installed it in place of the dummy coupling.  It was an easy job.  I like my switchers to have operating couplers in front and the tender in the rear.  The  561 is a good switcher and runs very slow with its DC motor and good electronic reversing e-unit.


Its Coal Tender is boxy, and is my only one that has a raised part of the coal tender.



The picture above is another shot of Lionel 561, 0-8-0 and tender.

Page 6 on Post 56  3/18/2019 shows two Small Engines Used on the Layout.  It shows two 0-4-0 dockside and tank switchers and is copied below to be complete for this post.

There are two are Dockside or tank switchers, 0-4-0 types.

The one below is a 0-4-0 MTH 840 Jersey Central dockside tank switcher.  This is a well made, heavy metal body and great running little engine, has couplings on front and back, by far my best small engine.

The second is a 0-4-0 Lionel 8905 dc dockside tank switcher.  It is light weight, plastic and dc which I converted to ac by use of bridge rectifier.  Only runs in forward as I did not install a reversing switch while adding the rectifier.  I like that little smoke stack.

Small Engs & boiler fronts 3-26-2019 2019-03-26 011



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Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Post 87          11-8-2023

TCA 11-2023 Train Show Finds

My meager TCA, Ponchatoula, LA 11-2023 purchases were six cars for $3 per car.  They were a Lionel 2423 silver Lionel Lines Observation car, Lionel 2422 silver Lionel Lines Pullman car,  Lionel 6465 two dome Sunoco silver tank car, Lionel 6462 long 9.5 “black NYC gondola, Lionel 3469 Automatic Dump Car, black Lionel Lines, and a Lionel Lines medal flat car, without a number, with stakes and 8” long.  The passenger cars lights even worked as well as the dump car.  I needed a couple more 2400 passenger cars, long gondola, tank car and another auto dump car.

So it was not that bad of train show.


6 for $3 cars 11-8-2023 2023-11-08 005

You can see my clip on ammeter in yellow that is moved as needed between LWs

6 for $3 cars 11-8-2023 2023-11-08 009

6 for $3 cars 11-8-2023 2023-11-08 007

6 for $3 cars 11-8-2023 2023-11-08 006


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Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Post 88      1-7-2024

Postwar (1945-1955) Steam Locomotive Weights

Postwar (1945-1955) Steam locomotives pulling power is greatly affected by the weight of the locomotive.  Later, some larger postwar locomotives had Magna-Traction which improved pulling power by maybe 20%.  In the postwar era traction tires were not available.  Steam locomotives can not have dual motors like some diesel engines either.  Steam Locomotives with plastic bodies are lighter than metal bodied locomotives and weight can often be added to plastic or metal bodied engines to improve pulling power.

The postwar train guide books like Greenberg's Guides, Doyle's Catalog of Lionel Trains, and McComes & Tuohy's Collector's Guide and History do not report the weights of steam locomotives.   My 44 year journey of acquiring steam locomotives turned out to be slowly up grading them with each group being of a higher weight.

For my 027, 50s style layout, started with light Marx 999 2-4-2 and Lionel 249, 2-4-2 engines.  I had a small number of cars and needed at least four locomotives to operate my two loops of 2 trains on 1 track system and populate my roundhouse whisker tracks.

A few years later I found the Lionel 2018 2-6-2, to be more powerful and heavier thus I could pull trains with a couple of heavier operating cars and passenger cars.  I also acquired at least four of these.

Later I located the Lionel 2026 2-6-4 that I felt was heavier and more powerful than the Lionel 2028 and got four of these.

Next  move to the Lionel 2025 and the 2035 with Magna-Traction which became my go to locomotives for pulling my operating car train with several heavy operating cars.

I had acquired an early Lionel 671 6-8-6 turbine locomotive with light bulb smoke but never have run it much as does not have Magna-Traction and growls a lot.   Recently I have purchased a Lionel 246, 4-6-4 Baby Hudson and a Lionel 2065, 4-6-4. both with Magna-Traction.  These engines are about as large as I can run on my O27 layout with 32 Marx 1590 switches.   

I do have newer, not postwar, a Lionel 756, 4-8-4 w/ 2 traction tires and a Lionel 561, 0-8-0 switcher engine w/1 traction tire.

I decided to weigh most of my steam locomotives and made a list of the locomotive and is weight that may be interesting to others as the weight information is not readily available.

Weights of Mostly Postwar Steam Locomotives    1-6-2024

Lionel 8905  0-4-0  docker plastic body, can motor   .91 lbs

MTH 840  0-4-0  docker metal body,   2.81 lbs

Lionel 8310  0-4-0 switcher engine metal body    2.78 lbs

Lionel 8516 0-4-0 switcher engine metal body   2.62 lbs

Lionel 1862 4-4-0 General heavy plastic body,   1.68 lbs

Lionel 8004 4-4-0 General, light plastic body,  type VII motor   1.50 lbs

Lionel 8005 4-4-0 General, light plastic body,  DC can motor    1.22 lbs

Lionel 217  2-4-2 plastic body,    1.83 lbs

Lionel 248, 2-4-2 plastic  body, lead weight added     2.38 lbs

Lionel 249, 2-4-2 plastic body, lead weight added      2.26 lbs

Lionel 1110, 2-4-2 metal body    2.98 lbs

Lionel 1130, 2-4-2 metal body, repaint & renumber 111    2.98 lbs

Lionel 2018, 2-6-2 metal body , smoke    3.54 lbs

Lionel 1666 2-6-2 metal body    3.61 lbs

Lionel 2026 2-6-2 metal body, smoke    3.61 lbs

Lionel 2026 2-6-4 metal body, smoke    3.64 lbs

Lionel 2025, 2-6-2 metal body   4.45 lbs

Lionel 2025  2-6-4 metal body, smoke    4.56 lbs

Lionel 2035, 2-6-4 metal body, smoke,  w/ Mag Traction     4.43 lbs

Lionel 2046, 4-6-4 metal body, smoke,  w/ Mag Traction      4.36 lbs

Lionel 2065, 4-6-4 metal body, smoke,  w/ Mag Traction      3.67  lbs

Lionel 671, 6-8-6 metal body, bulb smoke    4.68 lbs

Newer Lionel

Lionel 756, 4-8-4 metal body w/ 2 traction tires    4.82 lbs,  

Lionel 561, 0-8-0 metal switcher engine w/ 1 traction tire    2.31 lbs

Other Brand Steam Locomotives

Marx 400, 0-4-0  switcher,  plastic body, lead weight added    1.80 lbs

Marx 999, 2-4-2, metal body   1.75 lbs

Marx 666, 2-4-2, metal body   1.19 lbs

Marx 333, 4-6-2, metal body   2.91 lbs     plain regular 333?

Marx 333, renumbered  3004, 4-6-2, metal body, weight added   2.93 lbs

Marx 333. Renumbered 3083, 4-6-2, metal body, weight added   3.03 lbs

K Line/Marx 3438, 4-6-2, metal body w/2 traction tire   3.29 lbs

Roundhouse full of Lionel 2035 2-6-4 Locomotives



Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Post 89      3-15-2024

Passenger Cars Added and Run

I added a Marx 3152 Santa Fe tin passenger and a Lionel 2432 Santa Fe passenger car from the junk car box.

I located a Marx 3152 Santa Fe tin passenger car body without trucks or couplings.  I found some Marx trucks with wheels and Marx coupling in the spare wheel box and added them.  This car is more gold colored than my other three Marx Santa Fe passenger cars.  This new car allows a four car train of Marx tin passenger cars.

I also found a Lionel 2432 passenger car body without trucks, roof and frame assembly.  I located a Lionel set of long necked coupler passenger car trucks (one with a pickup) in spare wheel box, a frame assembly, a spare Vista dome roof and window strips.  I added mini 12 volt Christmas tree sockets and bulbs by installing them on the floor in short pieces of ball point pen shaft as holders.  The Lionel later 16000 series passenger cars have light bulbs standing on the floor versus on brackets near the roofs and installing them on the floor let be use lower wattage mini Christmas tree light bulbs.



I can now have a Vista dome car to run with the Lionel 2400 passenger and observation cars I got at the 11-2023 train show and described in post 88 above.




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Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Post 90   4-23-2024

Addition of Ice Cream Cone to Roof of Frosty Bar

An addition was made to the Plasticville Frosty Bar.  A Dairy Queen Ice Cream Toy Whistle was added to the roof of the Frosty Bar.  After removing some of the whistles insides, a 12 volt mini light was installed and Frosty Bar with Ice Cream on the roof became the focus of that corner of the layout.







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