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Find an old washing machine. Cut out the wiring harness. They are made of "MTW" (machine tool wire) which is flexible and comes in several gauges and colors in each machine. You will get enough for a dozen trains from one machine, free. You don't need to worry about heat in a toy train.

The original looks like old school heat resistant wire with that asbestos coated cloth look to it.

John

If the wire is cloth covered, Lionel used #22 or #24 pushback wire postwar until they went with vinyl, maybe early 1950s. It is solid wire making connections much easier to male than with stranded.   With push back wire the insulation is just slid back, not stripped. After the connection is made, the insulation is just slid back into place reinsulating the connection.  Reproduction push back wire is available from several of the parts vendors, including The Train Tender.  Comes in several colors. There is also super flex push back wire that I use on box couplers.  

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