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I just received a like new 6-38055 Santa Fe Northern #3751. I grew up in San Bernardino and remember it being on display there, which is why I wanted this loco.

Anyway, as any of you who own Lionel steamers probably know, the “bell cord” is a relatively inflexible filament that runs from cab to bell, passing through some guides on the boiler. But to me, it does not look right at all. It does not lay flat, but rather stands stiffly away from the boiler more like a pipe than a line.

Question: anyone have any experience making it look more prototypical? Any suggestions as to adjusting the existing cord or replacing with something else? The bell itself also swings, which is a nice detail but does mean you can’t put any tension on the cord.

thanks for any ideas.

p.s.. I love seeing and hearing the engine run, but there is one thing about the crew talk that kind of irrationally bothers me. They keep saying “over and out” to end the radio dialog. That’s not radio protocol, and it just bugs me! 😀

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@ByronB posted:


p.s.. I love seeing and hearing the engine run, but there is one thing about the crew talk that kind of irrationally bothers me. They keep saying “over and out” to end the radio dialog. That’s not radio protocol, and it just bugs me! 😀

This comment cracks me up. I'm not a major fan of it either. I gotta admit though, it has become a little bit endearing for me.

Anyway, I'm leaning toward the wire. I feel like a thread is going to be heavy enough to hang right.

BTW, don't portray too much slack in the bell cord.  I doubt the engineer...or fireman... would like to pull 4' of bell cord slack before getting a good 'ding-dong' going!  With everything else he's focused on it's no wonder that the cord eventually gave way to a small bell-mounted air cylinder for actuation.

Rich and/or Jack probably have a better perspective on the whole topic.

Last edited by dkdkrd

Follow up….after a month delay due to work commitments.

Bottom line: “Soft Flex” brand beading wire in .014” onyx black worked perfectly!

Long story: Lionel “bell cords” are .014” smooth wire, and they fit nicely through the guide pins and holes without much room to spare. I was surprised and happy to find the above beading wire that a couple users suggested, and conveniently it is same diameter. It also has a nice subtle texture caused by the wire braid that is covered in nylon. I paid less than $10 for a 30-ft spool. It took me all of 15 minutes to thread the wire and secure it. I knotted the cab end and tied a knot on the bell end. I secured the bell knot with a tiny dab of super glue on the wire. I left about an inch of excess wire in the cab. That way, when handling the loco if I press on the cord there is some slack, and it is easily taken up by pushing back into the cab. I think it looks perfect. It has some texture reminiscent of tar covered rope, has a slight drape, but is also taut enough to hold shape and not tug on the bell.

Highly recommended solution!

14C7D1D5-0DD3-4A0A-BCFF-FD18739FD9BD8339471E-478B-4061-9D6D-999D3AF807D0

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  • 14C7D1D5-0DD3-4A0A-BCFF-FD18739FD9BD
  • 8339471E-478B-4061-9D6D-999D3AF807D0
Last edited by ByronB
@ByronB posted:

Follow up….after a month delay due to work commitments.

Bottom line: “Soft Flex” brand beading wire in .014” onyx black worked perfectly!

Long story: Lionel “bell cords” are .014” smooth wire, and they fit nicely through the guide pins and holes without much room to spare. I was surprised and happy to find the above beading wire that a couple users suggested, and conveniently it is same diameter. It also has a nice subtle texture caused by the wire braid that is covered in nylon. I paid less than $10 for a 30-ft spool. It took me all of 15 minutes to thread the wire and secure it. I knotted the cab end and tied a knot on the bell end. I secured the bell knot with a tiny dab of super glue on the wire. I left about an inch of excess wire in the cab. That way, when handling the loco if I press on the cord there is some slack, and it is easily taken up by pushing back into the cab. I think it looks perfect. It has some texture reminiscent of tar covered rope, has a slight drape, but is also taut enough to hold shape and not tug on the bell.

Highly recommended solution!

14C7D1D5-0DD3-4A0A-BCFF-FD18739FD9BD8339471E-478B-4061-9D6D-999D3AF807D0

Love it!….so where does one purchase said wire!….thanx for the update!

Pat

Amazon carries it, as does pretty much every beading supply company on the internet. I bought mine from a guy on Etsy.

I should have noted that it is flexible enough to make a tight knot, but stiff enough not to hang with any slack over the few inches between guides on the engine; just a very subtle drape suggesting a line, not a pipe.

@dkdkrd posted:

BTW, don't portray too much slack in the bell cord.  I doubt the engineer...or fireman... would like to pull 4' of bell cord slack before getting a good 'ding-dong' going!  With everything else he's focused on it's no wonder that the cord eventually gave way to a small bell-mounted air cylinder for actuation.

Rich and/or Jack probably have a better perspective on the whole topic.

There' a fair amount of slack, as illustrated by IRM's 1630:

Bell Cord Slack

It's a simple matter to take up the slack in the cab.  I never exerted much effort when ringing the bell manually.  Yes, as a fireman you still need the cord occasionally, even with an air ringer.  The engineer operated the air ringer.

Rusty

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