As I was working on some O22 post war switch tracks today, I couldn't help marvel at the quality of workmanship and design that went into them.  It's probably my age, because forty years ago I had Lionel O22 switches on another layout and I'm sure I didn't think too deeply about them.  

It's hard to think that if these were made today for the first time, that a design as intricate and well made as this would be a reality.  Look how long these things have been around and we're still using and able to repair them.  

Dan Padova

 

"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill

                                                                                                                                        

Original Post

I would also say that Lionel today is also making some high quality products.  Yes, there are electronic issues but the basic mechanical parts are well built.  We are back to all metal gears, Pittman motors, etc.  The new ZW-L is a work of art and one heck of a beast.

As for Post War and even PreWar stuff, its pretty much bullet proof.  Unless you wear out the gears and axles, these will outlast all of us.  I have my dad's original Lionel freight set from 1938 and his first American Flyer O gauge outfit.  Both still run like a swiss watch and see yearly service during the holidays.

jim pastorius posted:

Personally, I think Lionel engineering and quality  is under estimated and appreciated today. Most people just look at it as "old".

Your comment reminded me of an Ebay posting I saw last night for a vintage 164 log loader.  Yea, the one from the late '80s.....LOL  So I guess that makes post-war stuff ancient and pre-war Prehistoric....HA HA HA

Dan Padova

 

"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill

                                                                                                                                        

Not just trains but most products in the early postwar period were built to last. I think of my Dad's metal Craftsmen tools or our washing machine that lasted over twenty year with four kids. There was no planned obsolesence and people took pride in what they made.

All the best,

Miketg

Heck, I'm still running my family trains from the 1950's, hunting around for my great grandad's from the late 1940's, and have some of my own from the 1930's. I love them. Sold all my can motor stuff.

The Local O Gauge Nut, confined to the attic of the insane asylum known as the family home.

Maybe someone has done this already , but wouldn't it be great to see a side by side comparison of all of the post war accessories and their modern counter parts . I would like to know which one operates smoother , which is quieter  ,etc.  Which ones will still be operating 65 years from now ?

Jim

Enjoy your life now . It comes with a expiration date .

TCA -00-52289  LCCA-25013

As a Marx fan, I am amazed at the quality that was built into their postwar products too. Even though they were "cheap" compared to Lionel they were still built well.

But like it was said before, that's how people built things back then.

Andy

 

When they were passing out brains, I thought they said trains and I asked for a slow one.

Summerdale Junction posted:

Maybe someone has done this already , but wouldn't it be great to see a side by side comparison of all of the post war accessories and their modern counter parts . I would like to know which one operates smoother , which is quieter  ,etc.  Which ones will still be operating 65 years from now ?

LCCA members have been treated to just such studies, with disassembly photos, in dozens of articles over many years in the 6x/yr The Lion Roars  publication. Become a member and catch up!

Rob

ADCX Rob posted:
Summerdale Junction posted:

Maybe someone has done this already , but wouldn't it be great to see a side by side comparison of all of the post war accessories and their modern counter parts . I would like to know which one operates smoother , which is quieter  ,etc.  Which ones will still be operating 65 years from now ?

LCCA members have been treated to just such studies, with disassembly photos, in dozens of articles over many years in the 6x/yr The Lion Roars  publication. Become a member and catch up!

Thanks for pointing that out Rob . I was thinking along the lines of a master print-out with all of the accessories . I stopped saving my LION ROARS  a few years ago after I filled one filing cabinet  . I guess that you didn't notice my signature . Jim

Enjoy your life now . It comes with a expiration date .

TCA -00-52289  LCCA-25013

Considering the technology and materials available in the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, these "toys" are a marvel to me.  Having worked in manufacturing design for 40+ years I have seen a huge change in product development methods.  Today we have various computer tools, CAD design, 3-D printing, and simulation tools that eliminate a lot of error and the need for prototypes.   I can't imagine what kind of model shop and tooling shop Lionel and Gilbert used to design and build their prototype products to evaluate and test.  And they made the most out of every innovation they had.  The vibrator motor was used in countless accessories and operating cars.  I was shocked at how nice the chuffing tender was on a 325A American Flyer Steam Engine I recently acquired. 

Back in the day, electricity was still a bit of a mystery.  Being able to control a train remotely with a xfmr handle, make it whistle or dump coal at the push of a button was sort of magical.  Today wireless technology, internet, and portable phone communication makes that look cumbersome and tired.

However, once you have been properly trained, there is still no substitute for the smell of ozone, smoke pellets and that wail of a mechanical air whistle.

During the war (WW2) Lionel built stuff for the war effort. This was and had to be top notch, lives depended on it. After the war, the same engineers transferred this energy for excellence to the train product line and it show. I have a 1949 Berkshire (736) that my Dad got me when I was 2 and it still runs great. Too bad we lost that engineering excellence for profits.

What I've discovered about one Lionel postwar steam engine lineage, is that as time progressed quality went down.

My first postwar engine was an early 675. After performing proper maintenance, the engine ran/runs very well. I likened it to a Swiss watch. I then purchased three early 2025s, with the same results. My next find was a pre-war 225. It ran/runs even smoother than the early 2025/675's. Moving along, the 2035/late 2025 engines didn't/don't run near as smooth as their predecessors, and then the loco was discontinued and replaced with the 2055, which was easier to assemble, and even with proper maintenance, have a "coffee grinder" sound, and some somewhat jerky running characteristics. Some run smoother than others, but after this much time and questionable history, they don't perform as well as early 675/2025's.

 

The quality is still there, just not what it was earlier. 

 

 

 

Dan,  You are so right,  the Lionel 022 switches are so well designed and beautiful.  I have about 12 mint pairs for a new garage layout.  At 48" high I can picture the glow of all those lanterns. 

aussteve,  I recently purchased an AF New York, New Haven & Hartford Pacific engine.  I can hear the sound of their puffing smoke in my head.  The last time I saw an AF Atlantic engine chugging and puffing smoke was about 70 years ago at Christmas in a department store.  Can't wait to build my new layout with all those switches.

"Taking apart and Playing with Toy Trains for over 79 years"

USAF 1959-63  "Missile Pioneer"  TM-61C

 LCCA  2018

 

Marty 

San Diego  CA,  "On the 15th Fairway" @ StoneRidge Condos, and "The AMTRAK Pacific Surfliner"

previously  Bridgeport/Stratford, CT    "The New Haven Line"

brr posted:

What I've discovered about one Lionel postwar steam engine lineage, is that as time progressed quality went down.

My first postwar engine was an early 675. After performing proper maintenance, the engine ran/runs very well. I likened it to a Swiss watch. I then purchased three early 2025s, with the same results. My next find was a pre-war 225. It ran/runs even smoother than the early 2025/675's. Moving along, the 2035/late 2025 engines didn't/don't run near as smooth as their predecessors, and then the loco was discontinued and replaced with the 2055, which was easier to assemble, and even with proper maintenance, have a "coffee grinder" sound, and some somewhat jerky running characteristics. Some run smoother than others, but after this much time and questionable history, they don't perform as well as early 675/2025's.

 

The quality is still there, just not what it was earlier. 

 

 

 

Many years ago, I had a couple of late forties locomotives.  A 675, a single motor GG1 and an early turbine.  They all had Nickel, I believe, rims on the drive wheels.  The first thing I noticed was how quietly they ran compared to my mane-traction equipped locomotives.  

Dan Padova

 

"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill

                                                                                                                                        

Summerdale Junction posted:

Maybe someone has done this already , but wouldn't it be great to see a side by side comparison of all of the post war accessories and their modern counter parts . I would like to know which one operates smoother , which is quieter  ,etc.  Which ones will still be operating 65 years from now ?

Jim

I'm sure that they would be quieter, especially if they had been vibrator motor driven.

Alan

handyandy posted:

As a Marx fan, I am amazed at the quality that was built into their postwar products too. Even though they were "cheap" compared to Lionel they were still built well.

But like it was said before, that's how people built things back then.

I've picked up various Marx cars and engine over the years.  I've always been amazed at how dependable these "cheap" trains have been.  With a little oil and lube they always run great.

Alan

brr posted:


...Moving along, the 2035/late 2025 engines didn't/don't run near as smooth as their predecessors, ...

even with proper maintenance, have a "coffee grinder" sound,...

but after this much time and questionable history, they don't perform as well as early 675/2025's.

You hit the nail on the head  -  the MagneTraction locos used aluminum parallel plate motor construction and were looser & noisier than their non-MagneTraction predecessor equivalents.

Rob

I have several post war engines, mostly all the 20 series steam engines and few doubles. When I'd get one, I pull the shell off, go over the wiring, clean the commutator, clean the brushes, oil the axles, and also put a drop of oil on the center of the drive gears, grease wheel gears. All of these engines run smooth and sweet.

When a friend comes over to see my trains, I'll hand them a steam engine to hold and feel how hefty they are. I'd say,  just think these were toys.

Postwar trains are also far simpler in construction and details.  A 2055 has what, 5-6 parts total for the boiler?

If there was command control and sound back in them days, folks would be complaining about having to change vacuum tubes, frayed cloth wiring and repairing solder connections to the tube sockets.

Rusty

Postwar trains are also far simpler in construction and details.  A 2055 has what, 5-6 parts total for the boiler?

I'd guess that 99 percent of the people who purchased or received a 2055 as a gift were absolutely delighted to have it.
I've owned a number of them, and repaired more. I've seen ones that were babied, and ones that were abused and poorly stored. Just about all of them were easily brought back to life. I rescued an entire train set, lead by a 736 and a 2056 that was submerged in a flooded basement and left to dry on its own. I didn't bother with the track and switches. It wasn't worth my effort. The only piece I decided not to rescue was the transformer.

When it comes to trains, I want trains that I can repair myself, and have a ready supply of parts available. I don't have a lot of choice when it comes to the major appliances in my home. I do with trains.

If another person prefers can motors, todays smoke, sound, and electronics, that is fine with me. I rarely blow the whistle, and almost never use smoke fluid in the engines that require it. To each their own.

I don't know why some folks feel the need to disparage postwar every time someone starts a thread about it.

C.W. Burfle
C W Burfle posted:

I don't know why some folks feel the need to disparage postwar every time someone starts a thread about it.

Read the whole thread.  Missed the disparaging post.  Rusty just pointed out the obvious.  PW trains do have fewer parts and are more mechanical in design.  I just see that as a statement.

Marty

 

Below the Signature...

"Eating Treksgiving dinner with Captain Kirk!"

 

I really don't worry too much about people who disparage PW Lionels. I have had a bunch, worked on a whole lot of hem and given their age, they do pretty well. Especially  considering you don't know how they have been treated.  Think about it -the REAL RR engines from that time period weren't nearly as sophisticated as the new ones.  Just having a radio in the 50s was a big deal.  Lionels and the old EMDs being rebuilt sort of remind me of each other. It is a FACT-the PW Lionel engines were/are a simple, strong, well engineered  long lived piece that will be around for many more years. The nay-sayers better get used to it.

Off subject, just a bit, I was thinking of windows.  No, not the computer kind, but windows.  You know, the ones that we look through to see the outside world, or peek in to see ?????

Having done many restoration projects to historical and some not so historical buildings, I became somewhat of an expert on window repair.  Replacing chains, weights, pulleys, panes of glass, etc.  Repairing the old sash and frames and so forth.  

My point is that old windows are repairable.  While the new replacement windows and even most of the initial installed new windows in new homes are not repairable or at best very difficult to do without winding up with a botch job.  They want you to just throw it out and get a new one. 

Same goes for post-war trains.  I don't know how many times I have purchased or been given post war Lionel trains, brought them home, put them on the track without even checking them out, and away they went.  And even I could do the repairs.  

I'm not knocking newer trains, but I'm intimidated by what's under the hood.   

Dan Padova

 

"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill

                                                                                                                                        

I have over sixty PW Lionel engines, most are steam, but also F3s, Alcos, GG1, etc.  They all run great and do get exercised when I can.  I did have a maintenance schedule going, but will have to make/find time to get back at it.  Also have Lionel Prewar, Marx, Kusan, Unique Art, Bing, Hafner, A.F. O gauge engines.  Yes, the "older" technology has a lot going for it, were built to last, and have proven themselves over the many years.  And I also have quite a few modern motive power, all makes and types.  They do get run the most due to having TMCC/RS and other "modern" features we all enjoy.  But together, they all have the best thing in common...... they run great, are fun to run, and work on (even my CCII Niagara), and they are all O Gauge!!   Gotta love it..........

Jesse      TCA

C W Burfle posted:

Read the whole thread.  Missed the disparaging post.  Rusty just pointed out the obvious.  PW trains do have fewer parts and are more mechanical in design.  I just see that as a statement.

Thanks, I did.
We'll have to disagree on the intent.

This has been a positive post about PW trains, but Really?  Quality did not taper off as the PW years marched on?  Why plastic trucks?  Why plastic shells?  Sure it was 60 years in, but your looking through fogged glasses if you believe everything was just perfect.   I know you on this kick that every one poo poo conventional trains, but it really is quite the opposite.   Go pickup a  RK or Premier engine from 1998 to 2000.  Examine it against the quality of your PW train from the 50s.  Shell construction, frame, bearing, linkage.  Material, thickness, blemishes, paint, details.  Tell me which is better quality from a purely mechanical construction perspective.  We will avoid the features and electronic aspect.   G

MTH Authorized Service Center

Authorized ERR Dealer

Lionel Independent Repair Tech

Virginia Train Collectors Member

This has been a positive post about PW trains, but Really?  Quality did not taper off as the PW years marched on?  Why plastic trucks?  Why plastic shells?  Sure it was 60 years in, but your looking through fogged glasses if you believe everything was just perfect.  

No argument from me on this.

Go pickup a  RK or Premier engine from 1998 to 2000.  Examine it against the quality of your PW train from the 50s. 

I like the quality of the MTH items I've had. (Williams too) I haven't had much other MTH pass through my hands. I am also happy with the quality of most Modern era Lionel trains. While they made some mistakes, I think they started making improvements over some of the active (late 1960's) line almost right away.

C.W. Burfle

3G  What is your problem ??  The thread isn't about comparing PW trains to the 80s 90s stuff. It is about the inherent designs and construction of the PW  pieces. You are the one going  relatively  negative.  Remember that the PWs were made by the thousands every day, more than the 80s.  They were toys not collector pieces. Plastic wasn't necessarily cheap either. Plus the later  products were built on a foundation of the earlier models like most things. 

Dan Padova posted:

As I was working on some O22 post war switch tracks today, I couldn't help marvel at the quality of workmanship and design that went into them.  It's probably my age, because forty years ago I had Lionel O22 switches on another layout and I'm sure I didn't think too deeply about them.  

It's hard to think that if these were made today for the first time, that a design as intricate and well made as this would be a reality.  Look how long these things have been around and we're still using and able to repair them.  

The O22 switches are certainly very durable. I've rebuilt and modified several of them and have them in regular service. The non-derailing feature is unique and useful. For the most part the old Lionel product line was heavy-duty and made to last, although it was also quite expensive for its time.

For me, the main attraction of O-gauge trains is having predominately American-made Postwar items that still run well. I got practically all of them for cheap because I was able to do my own repairs on durable old items that were mostly built to be repairable.

Looking backward it can be very hard to tell how good something was or wasn't. The postwar products were pretty rugged, there is no doubt, maybe in part because they were built as toys, for kids to play with, outside maybe the 700e they weren't worried about scale fidelity, oversized rails, and so forth. The old open frame universal motor was a beast, and because it is relatively simple, it is easy both to maintain and repair. Keep in mind,too, that Lionel in the post war period could afford to use heavier duty components, it could use heavy grade steel and so forth, because they were both popular, and yes, expensive, so they could afford to do that.  

The thing about quality looking back, though, is we are seeing things from the perspective of the equipment that has survived, which may in fact reflect seeing the units that were superior coming through. Given how much product Lionel turned out back then, what percentage of them were DOA? What percentage of them died soon after being bought? What percentage simply fell apart? We don't know that, there isn't really any way to tell other than apocryphal stories ("you couldn't kill those things"). I am not saying they weren't well made or different than what we have today, I am saying we don't really know how good or bad they were, I don't know if old lionel records are available, what percent came back for warranty work or DOA.....to be honest, given the size of lionel back then, it could be that their quality control was very poor, as it was for many things back then, they could potentially have what was common, that 50% of the product coming off the assembly line was DOE or needed rebuilding (to give you an idea, auto makers like GM spent 50% of their floor space and time rebuilding cars that came off the lines, and that kept up well into the late 70's)..when you are a big, profitable company, as many businesses were back then, it would be the cost of doing business. 

I am not saying post war was bad, just trying to put perspective on what they were. Are modern trains better made? Some of that is in the eye of beholder, we hear stories, for every person who says how bad modern trains are, there are others saying they have had a great experience. When we are talking engines especially, with the complicated electronics flaws in quality will be a lot more evident then with the more simple engines and such of the post war period. I do think the post war stuff was rugged and reliable, and it is pretty evident when you compare that stuff to the items built in the MPC era, especially the early one, where they were using cheaper materials with the same technology , there is no comparison, the PW was more rugged and reliable.

The thing is that modern technology in of itself doesn't have to make something less reliable, cars today are infinitely more reliable than anything back in the good old days, and a lot of that is because of the complex systems that control it, the thing with cars is that people have come to expect them to be reliable and last, which wasn't true back in the day, and with Lionel, MTH et al, we would wish they would last, but given the nature of the market, its size specifically, they have a captive audience so the same kind of thing you see with cars is not going to happen. 

 

 

 

 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

Rusty Traque posted:

Postwar trains are also far simpler in construction and details.  A 2055 has what, 5-6 parts total for the boiler?

If there was command control and sound back in them days, folks would be complaining about having to change vacuum tubes, frayed cloth wiring and repairing solder connections to the tube sockets.

Rusty

 

 

Reminds me of this quote, "Anything that is complex is not useful and anything that is useful is simple. This has been my whole life's motto."  - Mikhail Kalashnikov (Inventor of a different kind of postwar product. lol)

Andy

 

When they were passing out brains, I thought they said trains and I asked for a slow one.

Old mechanisms always fascinate me, and I consider myself a good example - of a mechanism, that is!

Here is an 022 Switch Track drawing, likely not CAD drawn.

Lionel 022 switch phantom view

Alex

Happy O-Gauge Railroading!

  Alexander Müller

See My Mostly Completed Layout Here

YouTube: 03Patines

Latest Video: Passenger Trains

OGR Articles: Runs 256, 263, 267, 292

OGR  forum member since 26 January 2008

Attachments

Photos (1)

If you want to impress yourself with PW engineering, buy and take apart a 3360 Burro Crane and then keep repeating to yourself.....this was a toy, this was a toy.             Some forgotten engineer put a lot of time into that bad boy.

Roger

Add Reply

Post
OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
330-757-3020

www.ogaugerr.com
×
×
×
×
×