I usually like to run my steam locomotives without smoke.  However today I ran an engine I don't think I'd ever run with the smoke unit on.  It is a Rio Grande Berkshire Jr. cab #8624 (6-38624).  I put a few drops of smoke fluid that came with it (#6-02920), and flicked the smoke switch to "On".  Once I gave the engine some power, I immediately smelled the smoke.  However I could barely detect any coming out from the smoke stack visually.  I read the instructions and they stated, "Smoke production is greater at high voltages and when the locomotive is pulling a heavy load or a long consist."  So, I slowed it down until it was in front of me, and I lifted the front end until the wheels started spinning fast.  I gave it more power and then I was finally able to see the smoke puffs coming out.  That made me think the smoke unit must be okay.

My question is whether Lionel has changed the formulation of the smoke fluid over the years or not.  When I've used other locomotives in the past with a bottle of Smoke Fluid #909 & #6-2909, I'd see smoke immediately at average speeds.  I didn't have to run them at their top speeds to get a decent bit of smoke out of them.  I was going to try using the older smoke fluid in the #8624, but I didn't know if the smoke unit was different from the units in the older engines.  I didn't want to accidentally screw up the smoke unit in #8624 using the older fluid.  If, however the smoke fluid formulation hasn't changed, then what can I do to increase the smoke production in #8624.  I want to smell AND SEE smoke when I run it, but it'll run off the rails if I increase the speed all the way to maximum power.  Right now I have it pulling its die-cast tender, 4 cars (including coal dump car and gondola with covers), and its lighted caboose around the tree.  I don't want to increase the amount of cars by much more, because then it'll be chasing its own tail.

"What's the point of being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."

Original Post

If you’re running conventional there’s not much you can do to increase smoke output. It took Lionel a long time to realize engines with can motors do not require high voltage as pulmor motors do. Simply not enough voltage going to the smoke unit. 

Rod Miller

Rod is right about power needs in conventional mode.  You said you put a few drops in, try putting a few more drops in to see if there is any change.  Don’t flood it but if you haven’t run with smoke in a while the unit is, probably, dry.  Add a little at a time.  If there is no change you may need to swap out the smoke resistor for one with a lower rating.

Dan

There is one thing, but note that you don't want to sit around at idle for any length of time with the smoke on if you do this.

Swap out the 30 ohm smoke resistor for something in the 20-22 ohm range.  Note that if you don't keep smoke fluid in it when the smoke is on, you'll quickly cook the wick.

Good information as mentioned by Rod and Dan.   You have a postwar style smoke unit in your engine with a 30 OHM resistor.

You can try and add double the fluid you put in and see if you get any results.    

A lower resistor will help but you will never get the results that a fan driven smoke unit can provide.

Nice little engine.....but has limits with respect to smoke output.

Dave

Hey Phrankenstign, I run locos with regular puffer type smoke units. The regular smoke fluid that comes with the engine really doesn't perform very well. Instead try the Premium Lionel Smoke Fluid... I have found it is a huge improvement, even with the puffer smoke units in starter types of steam engines, and even pulling shorter trains (thus using lower voltage to the track).

Just for your info, I've also tried the Mega-Steam, along with smoke fluids by Crest, Williams, and Model Power. They all work better than does the normal included regular Lionel smoke fluid. My preference from the list above is the Model Power brand, but given they're all made overseas, it could be darn close to the others.

But my first choice above all those is the Premium Lionel Smoke Fluid. It will never be equal to like having a fan driven smoke unit in the engines. But still, it's a vast improvement. So much so I've had visitors ask if I installed fan driven smoke units in them.

So give the Premium type a try.

I don't know much about electronics, so I don't know how to swap out the smoke resistor, GUNRUNNERJOHN.

Which one of those smoke fluids you listed produce the most smoke output, BRIANEL_K-LINEGUY?

Is there a difference between the three Lionel fluids I have (#6-02920, #909 & #6-2909)?  If yes, can either of the older smoke fluids or the 3rd party fluids damage the #8624's smoke unit?

"What's the point of being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."

Some aftermarket brands are suspect. 

I've not heard of older Lionel fluids having issues.

Who's is best/safe is the topic of many posts over the years. 

Mega Steam has lots of fans. 

 Ive been using various fluids differences to compliment different loco's outputs.

 

(likely can't reply again, hi all, happy holidays)

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





phrankenstign posted:

Which one of those smoke fluids you listed produce the most smoke output, BRIANEL_K-LINEGUY?

In my small fleet of Lionel 4-4-2's, the Premium Lionel Smoke Fluid has the most visible smoke output, hands down. I don't know what the chemical difference is between the basic and premium Lionel smoke fluids, but there is obviously a big difference in smoke output.

As a side note, I've never had any luck with the Seuthe Smoke Generators, like the ones used by K-Line in their starter set steam engines. Williams at one time was also using them. Even using the Seuthe brand fluid only, they still don't last very long.

I don't think they're being made now, but Model Power had a visually similar version of the Seuthe Smoke Generator, that I had much, much better luck with. I've had the Model Power ones last for several years. They of course recommend using only the Model Power Smoke Fluid, so that's how I stumbled into that one.

Bachmann, also makes some affordable smoke generators that I have also had very good luck with. And the Bachmann units work equally well with any brand smoke fluid.

Is there a difference between the three Lionel fluids I have (#6-02920, #909 & #6-2909)?  If yes, can either of the older smoke fluids or the 3rd party fluids damage the #8624's smoke unit?

"What's the point of being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."

phrankenstign posted:

Is there a difference between the three Lionel fluids I have (#6-02920, #909 & #6-2909)?  If yes, can either of the older smoke fluids or the 3rd party fluids damage the #8624's smoke unit?

I've never used the 909, but obviously there is some difference:

www.tandem-associates.com/lion...l_trains_909_acc.htm

As far as the other smoke fluids I've already mentioned, I've had no damage to the smoke unit. The real difference is the output of smoke. The regular Lionel fluid that comes with the train sets produces the least amount of smoke, and that's probably intentional. Most kids getting a starter set are going to have it set up around the Christmas tree in the living room with Mom nearby. Mom doesn't want a ton of smoke smelling up the living room.

Again, I've used many other fluids and the Lionel Premium puts out the most visible amount of smoke in my 4-4-2 starter type steam locos with the old style puffer smoke units.

Unlike the videos linked above, you DO NOT want to put that many drops of fluid into a puffer type smoke unit... that'll make it not work.

Brianel027, thanks for the correction on how much fluid can be put into a puffer smoke unit!!; my experience is only with Lionel fan driven units; maybe the videos above do not apply to puffers but do show the internals of fan driven units for those that are interested thanks to laidoffsick.

I have used both Megasteam and Lionel Premium with no ill effects.  For fan driven Lionel units, I am experimenting with adding 1 drop of fluid per 1 minute of smoke time with 10 minutes and 10 drops as an add point.  In my fan driven units, anything less than 10 drops only wets the funnel and resistor and doesn't do much for the batting.

RickM46

And now it starts.

phrankenstign posted:

Is there a difference between the three Lionel fluids I have (#6-02920, #909 & #6-2909)?  If yes, can either of the older smoke fluids or the 3rd party fluids damage the #8624's smoke unit?

Since nobody here was able to answer my questions, I decided to try calling Lionel's Customer Service telephone number I saw in a video on YouTube.com.

The guy I spoke to told me the first three smoke fluids were too old.  He couldn't find them in his system, and he recommended that I NOT use them because they might damage the smoke unit.  I told him I'd been using the first two for years with engines (#233 & #239) from the early 1960s.  He told me back then the smoke units used pills.  I told him my dad bought those engines new, and he'd always used smoke fluid.  He never knew anything about smoke pills, and the smoke output was very good.  I asked him if the smoke units in those engines worked differently, because those engines don't have a switch to turn the smoke unit off.  When the fluid has run out, I've continued to run them for hours.  When I later decide to put fluid in them, the smoke immediately starts pouring out again.  The smoke units have never failed to work.  In fact, I never knew anything about the possibility of any wick burning up in those engines.  However the book for the #8624 engine states:

Caution: Slide the smoke unit switch to the OFF position if the locomotive remains in neutral. The smoke unit will become damaged if the locomotive is left sitting on the track with power on.

His recommendation to increase the smoke output was that I put a few drops into the smoke stack of the #8624.  Then I should put the engine in neutral for awhile to let the smoke unit heat up.  I should then run the engine forward.  That should result in an increase in the smoke output.

He told me as far as he knew, the smoke units in the 1960s used pills, so he doesn't know how those worked.  He then told me the third one was probably made in the 1990s.  He recommended I not use that one either, because it may also damage the smoke unit in #8624.  I asked him how he knew when that third one came out.  He told me the numbering convention was different back then.

Since I originally asked him what the difference was between all four types, I never mentioned THE THIRD ONE CAME WITH THE SET ALONG WITH #8624 in 2008.

  1. #909 Smoke Fluid
  2. #6-2909 Smoke Fluid
  3. #6-02920 Smoke Fluid
  4. #6-37841 Premium Smoke Fluid

 

I asked him about other brands, and he told me he recommends only using Lionel's Premium Smoke Fluid to avoid risking damage to the smoke unit.

 

The bottom line from him was:

Use only Lionel's Premium Smoke Fluid, because the older ones and other brands may damage the smoke units.

 

I don't trust his judgment based on the following reasons:

  • He didn't know anything about the formulations used in any of the three older ones.
  • He thought only pills were used in Lionel's smoke units in the 1960s.
  • He wasn't specific about how long the #8624 should be in neutral before running it.
  • He misdated the third one and then recommended against using it.

 

I would have respected him much more if he'd just told me, "I don't know, and I don't know how to find out the answers to your questions."  Trying to appear authoritative when he doesn't know something makes me not ever want to call Lionel's Customer Service again.

 

"What's the point of being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."

ADCX Rob posted:
phrankenstign posted
  • He thought pills were used in Lionel's smoke units in the 1960s

That's correct.  Some used liquids, but the 665, 773(both cataloged to 1966),  736(cataloged to 1968) and 2029(to 1969) all used SP pellets.

I made a mistake.  He thought only pills were used in Lionel's smoke units in the 1960s.

"What's the point of being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."

I'm not surprised that some of the history is difficult to find. As for smoke fluids, I've never heard of anyone who knew positively what the formula was for them. I got a glimmer of an idea in a post from a former Lionel employer (I'm blank on his name at the moment) as to the newest Lionel Premium fluid that it doesn't dry out when sitting. That seems like a reason to use it and forget the old ones. Do you know what the mechanics are on the older smoke units you have? Is it a platform that a pill would have rested on (they used to use a light bulb with a dimple in it) or is it a resistor in a pile of fiberglass?

Chuck TCA LCCA ARRL BMWMOA

He shouldn't have tried to sound like he knew what he was talking about if he didn't. But to call up a place like Lionel in 2019, ask the questions you did, and expect the customer service rep to know the answers about products from the 60s or earlier is ridiculous!

cjack posted:

I'm not surprised that some of the history is difficult to find. As for smoke fluids, I've never heard of anyone who knew positively what the formula was for them. I got a glimmer of an idea in a post from a former Lionel employer (I'm blank on his name at the moment) as to the newest Lionel Premium fluid that it doesn't dry out when sitting. That seems like a reason to use it and forget the old ones. Do you know what the mechanics are on the older smoke units you have? Is it a platform that a pill would have rested on (they used to use a light bulb with a dimple in it) or is it a resistor in a pile of fiberglass?

I don't know how the smoke units work in my older engines (#233 & #239).  My dad bought them new, and he always used the #909 Lionel Smoke Fluid.  When I got old enough to know how to set up the trains, I started using that smoke fluid.  I liked having the engine smoke all the time.  Later, my dad took me to the local train shop.  I asked him to buy me more, because the first bottle was about half way gone.  I later misplaced the first bottle, so I ended up using about 3/4 of the second bottle:  #6-2909 Lionel Smoke Fluid.  I'd never heard of any Lionel engines using smoke pellets until my sister married a guy who had a train set from the early 1950s.  His engine used the Lionel Smoke Pellets.  I don't know how the smoke units in #233 & #239 work.  All I know is I can run them until the smoke fluid runs out.  I can run them for as long as I want without having to turn the smoke units off.  Neither has an on-off switch for the smoke unit, so there's no way to switch them off.  However I've put them away for years sometimes before using them again.  To this day, I can put drops of smoke fluid in them, and they start smoking immediately.  Whatever the design is for those older units, I'm surprised the #8624 has a wick that is in danger of burning up.  I watched both of the videos RICKM46 provided a link for, and one of them showed how allowing the wick to dry out by leaving the smoke unit on could cause the wick to burn preventing smoke from flowing freely afterwards.

 

Train nut,

I don't know what kind of information is available to Lionel Service Representatives through their database system.  I'm sure people call them for information about replacement parts and service requests for products produced over the years whether the items date from prewar, postwar, MPC, LTI, or the modern era.  If the answers to my questions weren't available to him, he could have told me he didn't know and the information wasn't in his system.  That would have been fine with me.  I didn't expect him to lie to me.  It was frustrating to me when he insisted 1960s engines used smoke pellets, because the units requiring smoke fluid weren't developed until later.  He made it seem as if my memory was wrong, when I know it isn't.

"What's the point of being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."

cjack posted:

Second sentence...and maybe send it to Lionel Customer Service.

 https://www.tandem-associates...._trains_239_loco.htm

I don't think I'll be communicating with Lionel Customer Service again.

btw I've been trying to figure out the set number that included my #233.  That was the first set my dad bought, and it included:

  1. #233 2-4-2 with plastic body, headlight, smoke, & MagneTraction
  2. #233W black Lionel Lines tender with whistle
  3. #6162 blue NYC gondola with 3 white canisters
  4. #6465 green Cities Service two-dome tank car
  5. #6343 red Lionel Lines Barrel Ramp car with 6 barrels
  6. #6476 black Lehigh Valley Hopper
  7. #6017 brown Lionel Lines unlit caboose.
  8. #1073 60W Transformer
  9. #147 Whistle Controller
  10. #909 Smoke Fluid
  11. #1008 Camtrol Uncoupler
  12. Hookup wire
  13. #1013 O27 Curved track (12) Not sure.  It may have had only 8 without the #1020 O27 Crossing
  14. #1018 O27 Straight track (4)
  15. #1020 O27 90 degree crossing  Not sure.  It may have not been included.

The set box it came in was thrown out after the basement it was in got flooded in the early 1970s, but I think it looked similar to the set box pictured with #239.  I've been trying to identify the set number using different price guides, but the only set I've found with similar contents is the #1648 5-Car Supply Line Steam Freight from 1961.  However it's listed as having:

  1. #2037 2-6-4 with smoke & MagneTraction
  2. #233W black Lionel Lines tender with whistle
  3. #6062 black gondola with 3 orange reels
  4. #6465 green Cities Service two-dome tank car
  5. #6519 Allis-Chalmers
  6. #6476 red Lehigh Valley hopper
  7. #6017 brown Lionel Lines unlit caboose

 

I'm not sure, but my dad's set may have also come with telegraph poles (like those in #150) and a set of signs (either like those in #308 or #309).  It's possible they came in a plastic bag rather than boxes, but I can't be certain.  I do remember the locomotive and tender having their own boxes.  I think the locomotive came in a corrugated brown box, while the tender came in an orange box with corrugated cardboard lining it's box.  The five cars didn't have boxes.  There were silhouette cutouts in the packing carton for each car to be slid into.  I remember always carefully repackaging everything in the box whenever I was done playing with the set.

When I bought #239 later, I used to pit both engines against each other face to face since they looked identical to one another apart from the numbers.  It was #239's die-cast heavy metal body VS #233's light plastic body with MagneTraction.  I'd make sure both had plenty of smoke fluid before starting.  Then I'd announce:

On your mark!

Get set!

Go!!!

I'd give both locomotives FULL POWER!!!

#233 would lock down on the track, while #239s wheels would spin freely despite its much heavier weight.

Occasionally #239's wheels would spin so fast, #239 would gain an advantage and push #233 back a few inches.

#239 would be smoking furiously!!!

Then #233's MagneTraction would take over!

#233's wheels would get traction and move #239 back to where they started.

#233 would shoot forth a few puffs of smoke in that brief instant before it's wheels locked down again.

Then the cycle would repeat!

Neither engine ever gained more than a few inches at a time---it was always a stale mate!

"What's the point of being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."

The 233 set is 11242 as per David Doyle's 1945 to 1969 Lionel Trains book and lists all the cars you listed.

It was called the Trail Blazer Steam Freight. Doyle's book doesn't list accessories.

Chuck TCA LCCA ARRL BMWMOA

Überstationmeister posted:

#1646 from 1961 included:
233 with 233W
6343 Barrel ramp
6162 Gondola with canisters
6476 LV hopper
6017 Caboose
1073 Transformer
147 Whistle controller
Oval of 0-27 track

Someone probably added the 6465 Tank car and other ancillaries.

I'd forgotten to list the track.  It was an oval.  However I'm positive the 6465 tank car came with it, because I remember all five cutouts.  Each silhouette was unique, and I was always meticulous about placing everything just right so the box would close easily.....plus my dad always kept an eye on me to make sure!  The price guide I have lists that #1646 set as having a red 6476.

My dad used to buy a lot of stuff at the Spiegel store, and I think it may have been an uncatalogued set from there.

The only cars my dad bought separately were the #6434 Poultry Dispatch lighted car, the #6517 Lionel Lines bay window caboose, and the #3444 Erie cop and hobo gondola.  Each one had its own box.  There were no others for years, until the early 1970s when I was about 10 or 11.

As I was writing the first paragraph above about the individual cars in their unique places, I started remembering certain things.  The trickiest to insert was the barrel ramp car because of the angled ramp.  The tank car would not fit properly unless I spun the wheels so the couplers would be pointed in towards the middle.  I wouldn't have had that memory, if the tank car had NOT been included.

"What's the point of being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."

cjack posted:

The 233 set is 11242 as per David Doyle's 1945 to 1969 Lionel Trains book and lists all the cars you listed.

It was called the Trail Blazer Steam Freight. Doyle's book doesn't list accessories.

Does the book state where the set was sold?

I found a picture of the set.  Its contents appear to be identical, except for it containing a RED hopper.  The picture shows all of the contents I mentioned including a #1008 Camtrol uncoupler which I'd forgotten about.....and Yes!  I do have that item also.

So does anyone have a similar set with a BLACK hopper?  I've never had a red hopper.

 

EDIT:

I just found another picture of a 11242 set.  It showed a picture of every item in the set including:

  • #1645-15 envelope which contained:
    • 3 No. 81-32 Connecting Wires
    • 1 No. 927-60 Oil Capsule
    • 1 CTC Lockon
    • It's possible this was included with my set also.
  • #6476 red Lehigh Valley hopper - Mine is definitely black.
  • #6343 red Lionel Lines Barrel Ramp car with 6 barrels is not included in the set.
  • No track is shown.  Since the transformer Lockon, and wires are included, I have no doubt track was included also.
  • The first set didn't show the inside of the box, but it included 12 Curves, 4 Straights, and one 90 degree crossover
    • We have had a 90 degree crossover since the 60s, so it's possible my set came with the same figure 8 layout.

 

Unfortunately, the picture shows the empty box that has rectangular compartments for each of the items.  That is definitely different than my box with the cutout silhouette holes where the rolling stock was stored.  This set is close, but no cigar!!!

"What's the point of being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."

Royboy, so you're saying I could disconnect one of the wires from the motor, connect the diode to it, and then connect the wire that was originally connected to the motor to the other end of the diode, right?

I just read a bit about the Zener diode.  It appears to me the electricity flow in one direction is unaffected, but the other direction is limited to, in this case, 5v.  Do I put the diode on the positive side of the motor or the negative side?  How do I know which side of the Zener diode is positive and which is negative?

(I'm sorry to ask what to many others may seem like very basic questions, but I've never really known much about electronics in general.)

"What's the point of being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."

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