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Lionel (and MTH as well) over the years have issued a number of engine models unpainted with the die cast and brass parts exposed.  Was wondering if anyone has ever gotten one of these engines painted? And what was required to do the painting?   The look like they are clear coated to protect the raw metal.  Figuring the clear coat would have to be removed prior to painting. And if an engine was repainted who did the job?  Thanks

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I and a few others have repainted steam engines. Same process, strip the old paint and repaint. In my case all have been simple black with graphite smoke and fireboxes. Haven’t tried anything like a Daylight. Not that hard to do yourself. Hardest part is masking off the smokebox depending on how much piping is involved.


I have to ask why anyone who bought one of these would, by definition, want to paint it?

An already-painted one only needs re-lettering, if the current road name is wrong or not your preference.

But, I guess if you ran across a Pilot or Engineering (MTH) version second-hand it might make sense. They sure look nice all naked, though. If Lionel had offered the PRR S-1 6-4-4-6 in a Pilot version in their last catalogue I probably would have broken down and ordered one.

The Lionel Pilot locos are over sprayed with a clear coat; the MTH Engineering locos are bare metal, I think. My MTH French Chapelon Pacific Engineering version seems to be bare. Not sure; haven't checked in years.

D, to answer your question, in my case, I bought a pilot Legacy Pacific because I got a decent deal on it at York (new on close out) and I thought pilots were kinda cool.  It’s been on the shelf and I just look at it, but it really doesn’t move the needle. I’ve been waiting and waiting for a Polar Express freight engine (I don’t like the Bi-Polars). So, I have this pilot engine sitting around collecting dust and I’m thinking I should send it to one of the painting experts on the forum (I’m not nearly good enough) to have it painted up as the missing PolEx freight engine. It’s not so much that I intended to use a pilot, it just so happens to be that the engine I have sitting around doing nothing is a pilot.

I've painted a number of steam and diesels over the years, as well as freight and passenger cars. I was lucky to picked up several unpainted Lionel pre-production engines and have since painted most all of them.

It takes a lot of time and patience, but the end results is well worth the effort. Here are some before and after photos of just a couple I have completed.


Note the Worthington feedwater heater on engine 5509 and the addition of an oil bunker on the tender.


Images (6)
  • CB&Q 2-8-2
  • CB&Q 2-8-2 custom painted by RJB
  • PRR 0-6-0
  • PRR 0-6-0 custom painted by RJB (1)
  • UP 4-8-4 (3)
  • UP 835 Painted by RJB (1)
Last edited by Ray of sunshine

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