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I'm looking for feedback on this accessory. I'd like to add it to my Super O D-225 layout, as the original plans call for it, plus it's just cool.

My concern is how reliable are the older models -vs- the newer ones? Can I run the newer models with an ZW or LW? There are a bunch on eBay at the moment, but it seems like this accessory was a bit of a pain to get to work properly? How difficult are they to repair/tweak if needed?

Appreciate any feedback!

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I'll say I have the modern versions (from about 20 years ago - don't think the design has changed a lot since those), and it is true they can be finicky.  Particularly the unloader and the spring loaded "gates" that are used to pull the culverts off the magnet so they can roll down the ramp.

The big thing that drew my eye in your post was you are considering this for a Super-O Display type layout.  I really have to imagine for something like that, you would want items that look correct for the Post-War period, would you not?

These modern versions in addition to operating differently, have major physical appearance differences.  They do have very close looking design for the structure, but the use of can motors that are mounted to the piece that moves back and forth on the beam are an obvious eyesore when compared to the PW vibration motor mechanisms that were mostly hidden under the base.

So each piece has a large grey plastic box on the beam for loading/unloading. There is also a little man holding what is supposed to be a control box with a wire running to the motor assembly on the beam.  This was Lionel's creative way to provide power for the motors.

For the loader, this box houses only one motor since all that has to happen is a grab of a pipe and then a drop in a gondola.  It's still a big cylindrical grey plastic thing hanging on the beam though.  Would look very out of place in company with a bunch of PW items.

For the unloader, this box is even larger, as there are 2 motors.  One for moving back and forth on the beam, and one to raise/lower the magnet to grab the pipes from the gondola car.

I've never worked on PW versions personally (and admittedly, in general I hate vibrotors for most things ), but many people can get the PW versions to work reliably.  I suspect they are a better fit for you here, assuming I'm right on your general "look" for your display layout.


I have the postwar. Once they're "tuned-up", they work great. As to price, if you're looking for mint, yeah, they're expensive, but prices have dropped quite a bit since the new ones came out. If you're looking "under the table" at shows (and boy, do I miss the shows), you can find enough parts to build your own.  That's how I got mine, but it took years to do. The unloader is the hardest to find.

I would go postwar. The electronics tend to fail after a time in the newer ones. Plus they are way more complex. In my opinion the 'electric eye' to prevent loading when a car is not present was unnecessary to add.  These accessories were over-engineered. Watch the boxes, they are even wrong. The culvert unloader pictured on the box shows the postwar sliding counterweight which is not present on the accessory. The sliding counterweight gave the accessory a 1930's industrial look to it.

Last edited by Chuck Sartor

On my D-105 layout I went with all PW accessories for the usual reasons. The look, style, and authenticity. This was also for signals, structures, and transformers.

I will say that the acquisition  process is a slow one. In fact, it took me close to a year to find everything in the condition, and price, I wanted. That's a combo of local buying, York, and Ebay.

But...I will say it was also one of the best parts of the whole process. Actually had a lot of fun on  the hunt.

I would say go with postwar originals also. The later versions are way too complex and I have had parts fail several times to the point they came off of my layout and sit on a shelf. To this day I am just too upset to even deal with them with splitting gears, bad electronics, faulty sensors, etc. Just complete disaster.

So, yeah, stick with the postwar units. I someday will find some for myself.

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