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Many Premier diesels have separately added lift ring details on the top of the locomotive; over time the adhesive which secures the rings can weaken, resulting in loose or missing rings. If the ring can be turned easily in the hole or lifts up with minimal force, chances are it needs to be secured with a tiny drop of adhesive.

About four years ago a forum post was made about replacing lift rings on a Lionel Diesel (; several replies suggested detail parts made by Tichy Train Group or Precision Scale, but the alternate rings are not a match. MTH's Premier Parts Guides mentioned a few part numbers for lift rings, but none are in stock. AMCDave suggested using eye pins as a substitute, which was 100% spot on. Eye pins are commonly used in beading and other jewelry making applications and come in a variety of sizes, lengths, and metals. Using a sample lift ring and calipers I took a few measurements and discovered pins made from 24 gauge wire are a perfect match for the MTH rings in terms of wire diameter, eye size and shape. I ended up purchasing a package of 50 pins - plenty for my project, including spares.

With the raw material in hand I set out to begin fabricating rings. Fortunately there was little to do - just a little dab of paint to match and cut off the excess length to match the original lift rings. One huge time (and frustration) saver was to thread a safety pin through the eye of the pin before cutting; doing so made holding the pin much easier and more importantly kept the usable end from flying off the workbench into the unknown - after all the rings are very tiny! Cutting the pins to the correct length is an important step since the the longer pins can contact sensitive electronics inside, causing a short (or blown board at worse); the exact length is not important given the fact the eye part of the pin is the only visible part. After cutting I added a dab of super glue to the straight end of the pin, inserted it into the shell, and rotated it to match the other lift rings.

Take a look at the results below - the top row are replacement rings and the bottom row are factory originals. Not bad for a few dollars worth of pins and less than a hour of time!

Replaced lift rings

Below is a picture of the pins that I purchased for reference. Any brand/length/metal can be used, just as long as the pins are 24 gauge.

24 gauge eye pins, 1

I hope this tip comes in handy the next time a lift ring needs to be replaced!

Special thanks again to AMCDave for his inspiring suggestion.



Images (2)
  • 24 gauge eye pins, 1" long: 24 gauge eye pins, 1" long
  • Replaced lift rings: Original lift rings on bottom; replacement rings on top
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