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I recently dug out my old o gauge set from when I was a kid in the late 80’s to try and put together for my kids (boy 4 and girl 5) who are obsessed with anything machinery related.

I first setup the old tubular track and controller with my three engines (one MP15 KLine, and two older cheap Lionel plastic steam engines), nothing…no movement or light.

Went to the local shop here in Raleigh, and he set me up with new fasttrack and a new correct ac controller for the k-line. Got it home and they work!

The K-Line needs new traction tires, and is extremely noisy. One steam engine from the 60’s does not work, the other one works with my dc controller but not well and won’t pull any cars.

So I’m looking for a little direction on where to go next. I have many cars that are in great shape and some new in box, but nothing to pull it with that’s reliable. I’d like a new or used Diesel engine, I lean more modern in type and style. Ideally I’d like it to have a horn/bell/lights etc for the kids.

The track seems self explanatory, I just need more of it.

Would I be better just getting a new Lionel kit set with the wireless controller or just trying to look for a new locomotive by itself? What era or style loco would be best to look for?

Any good reading resources for me to brush up on this? I don’t want to get too deep into it without knowing if the kids are into it, but we don’t know now since what I have isn’t great.

64551108-782E-4EEB-9133-AEB12E4CAC67

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Last edited by Rich Melvin
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Brandon,

Welcome.  You've come to the right place.

Many, many people on this forum swear by the older stuff, and rightly so.  However it needs loving care in order to perform.

Have you had the chance to clean and lubricate your two steam locomotives?

Also, your photo doesn't show us the specific transformer (controller) that you've use to get the K-Line MP15 working.  It would be helpful for us to know the details.

You may be caught up in an AC vs. DC thing.

Nice progress so far.  Don't give up.

Mike

Last edited by Mellow Hudson Mike

The new Lionchief diesels are probably what you're looking for if you want something new to run. They are nice looking with the option to run conventional or from an app on your phone. They can also be ran command control with a Cab2 or Cab1L but you'll probably be into that later on. You can probably pick up a cheap engine online somewhere. The price isn't terrible to start with for what you get if you did order new.

If you're good with running conventional, you can definitely find a cheaper Lionel diesel to run. I would look for something after 2005 but if you can score a postwar engine, it'll definitely stand up to all the abuse young hands can dish out.

As far as what you got, I'm not knowledgeable on what's under the hood of that K-line engine but my experience with older engines is that cleaning and some lube will bring them right back to life. No doubt somebody more knowledgeable will come along on here with a specific solution. I would flip the engine over and look for some screws to get the body off. Then see what you're dealing with. Maybe post some pics here!

If it is more for the kids, go lionchief. The ability to use a remote or smartphone (newer stuff) is cool. I really like to run my engines at low speed and be well detailed & scale sized, so legacy is best if you want realism. Just a few pointers: not all o gauge engines/rolling stock is O scale, and most (if not all) modern engines come with sound. While it seems childish at first, hearing the prime mover sounds add a lot to the experience (I can’t say the same for the crew talk). Plus hitting the horn or bell button is fun at times, even for an “adult”.  

@Brandon966 posted:



So I’m looking for a little direction on where to go next. I have many cars that are in great shape and some new in box, but nothing to pull it with that’s reliable. I’d like a new or used Diesel engine, I lean more modern in type and style. Ideally I’d like it to have a horn/bell/lights etc for the kids.

The track seems self explanatory, I just need more of it.

Would I be better just getting a new Lionel kit set with the wireless controller or just trying to look for a new locomotive by itself? What era or style loco would be best to look for?

Brandon,  You may want to start with a SEARCH of the FOR SALE Forum.  I've found many good items at fair prices from other members of this forum.  For reliability at a reasonable price the Williams engines are hard to beat.   John

Last edited by Rich Melvin

Go with the Lionchief. Lionel also has Lionchief Plus engines with electrocouplers and sound features for a great price. Since you have kids, I'd also recommend a few interactive accessories such as a milk car, gantry crane, coal loader, etc. Your kids would have hours of fun. Plus, you mentioned that they like mechanical stuff. For power, your existing AC transformer will be perfect for track power, but I would recommend a CW80 or GW180 since they have higher amperage and accessory power ports as well. You can continue to use your existing transformer for accessories or switches. Speaking of switches, your kids might like a few on the layout so they could switch cars and work the industries.

As for Legacy, it's expensive, but totally worth it. I've been a Legacy user for almost 2 years, and I love it. I would totally recommend Legacy or any command-control system to anyone.

Last edited by Dylan the Train Man

Welcome to the forum.  There is a wealth of knowledge and many helpful members here.  The O gauge hobby is extremely diverse, from toy like trains to full blown scale models, from the old transformer controlled forward-neutral-reverse operation to remote control and cell phone app operating systems.  So recommendations will often reflect that person's slant on the hobby.

You've gotten one train operational, since the kids are 4 and 5 they may not be attached to cell phones yet and since they are attracted to mechanical things I would see how they interact with the set you have before jumping in too far.  Expanding with more track is a good idea to keep their attention.  If after a period of time the trains hold their interest then the LionChief sets would be a good option.  There are several levels of Lionchief so check back in here before you buy.  I would recommend a steam set with sound for the kids, more visual stimulation watching the rods and wheels and the sound of a steam whistle is always a hit.  Also if you go for something with rail sounds steam sounds are more interesting than diesel sounds.

Brandon,

Many of your questions really center around cost.  If you are fortunate enough to have plenty of money to spend with no worries, then I think that the Fast Track, Lion Chief Plus, or Plus 2.0, and remote control is definitely the way to go for you.

If you are on a budget though, and want trouble free performance, then you have to decide whether you want to stay with Fast Track (which I consider to be really really expensive), or go back to traditional Lionel Tubular track, which I like because it is easy to cut and make custom pieces and doesn't seem to me to have some of the electrical quirks of Fast Track.

The older PostWar engines are the old gold standard, but they are generally rough runners and don't have much of the bells and whistles extras you are looking for.  Also, you have to be the kind of person who enjoys opening them up, lubing them, replacing brushes, etc.       (Personally, I don't.)

My recommendation though, after having just jumped back in last year after a 40 years absence, is to always go with a modern locomotive that has TWO can motors in it, and is year 2000 or later.   And, unless you are going the Lionel Lion Chief engine route, always get a Williams locomotive, or better yet a Bachman locomotive, to start out.  Having gone through many new locos in the past year, I have found that out of the box, these are the most trouble free and best looking.

Also, I would highly recommend that if you kids are going to take part in a hands-on fashion, then go with short diesel locomotives until they get older.  Why?  Because the steam locomotives have lots of wheels and small trucks on them, with as many as 12 wheels, and these I found tend to derail easily and are much harder to "place" on the tracks.   The diesels generally have two sets of trucks, four wheels each, spaced apart, and are much easier to place.  Many of the small ones only have four wheels, and you can plop them right down on the rails.   

By way of example, check out the Williams 44-ton Scale locos, at Trainworld, for just $149.

After you get everything set up, and you and your kids have mastered most of the basics, then there is plenty of time to go with big steam locomotives, and I think you will appreciate them more.

And, by the way, there are three major classifications of O gauge cars/locos.  They are tin type, scale and traditional.

Tin type are literally made of tin type metal, with lithograph. 

Scale means the dimensions of the cars and locos are all accurate 1/48 scale to the real world trains (1 inch for every 48 inches).  These look great, but are much longer units.

Traditional basically means toy type, which looks like what you have in your current set.  They are shorter, taller, and much more kid friendly.  These can be run on tighter turns, and are generally cheaper than scale. They are generally more robust, meaning that they don't have tiny rails and accessories that will easily snap off if you pick them up the wrong way.

I highly recommend starting with the Traditional.    There are tons of these out there, new and used, and you won't have a heart attack if you kids drop or step on one.  You can get really nice looking ones for medium prices, or really basic cheap ones at low prices, depending on your tastes.

Sorry for the rambling.  Just my opinions.

Mannyrock

P.S.- From your photo, it looks as if you are going to set your trains up in the attic.

You will, without question, need to put a dehumidifier up there, and hook it up to a drain pipe, unless your attic has working heating and cooling ducts like the rest of your house, or your train set is gonna be a gonner.

You will also need a proper ventilation or fan system, so that the temperature up there doesn't rise up to way above 100 degrees.



Mannyrock

@Mannyrock posted:

The older PostWar engines are the old gold standard, but they are generally rough runners and don't have much of the bells and whistles extras you are looking for. 

Now that I think about it, I liked my new 4-4-2 steamer as a kid but my grandpa's old postwar turbine really kept me interested. It was noisy with odd smells and tons of power and it shook the table when it came flying by.

The kids might dig the unrefined nature of an old postwar engine if they like mechanical stuff. And they're unlikely to damage it depending on what it is. The smoke unit is the only think they could mess up but you could cut and cap that if you wanted.

Welcome, Brandon! As others have noted, you have come to the right place for advice. Like you, I returned to this great hobby after decades of dormancy, and now enjoy it with my 5 grandkids ages 5-12.  My layout (eternally under construction) includes my trusty original 2026 loco and its consist, but I have also added modern units along the way. Again, like others have noted, I highly recommend the Lionel Chief units. They are great for the grandkids to operate with a hand held remote, and include a bell, horn, and crew talk.  Shop around on other areas of this forum and ebay for something that fits your budget.   Many major online train retailers will have sales for the holidays, so you can shop these as well.  BTW, I stayed with the good 'ol tubular track.  Inexpensive and works fine.

Enjoy the ride!

Michael

Brandon, I forgot to include this in my earlier post.  I believe during the 70s and early 80s some of the cheaper Lionel engines ran on DC electricity instead of AC.  Not knowing the vintage of your steam engines this may be a reason why one of them is not responding to the new "controller" (transformer/power pack) you obtained from your Local Hobby Shop(LHS).

@Brandon966 posted:

I recently dug out my old o gauge set from when I was a kid in the late 80’s to try and put together for my kids (boy 4 and girl 5) who are obsessed with anything machinery related.

I first setup the old tubular track and controller with my three engines (one MP15 KLine, and two older cheap Lionel plastic steam engines), nothing…no movement or light.

Went to the local shop here in Raleigh, and he set me up with new fasttrack and a new correct ac controller for the k-line. Got it home and they work!

The K-Line needs new traction tires, and is extremely noisy. One steam engine from the 60’s does not work, the other one works with my dc controller but not well and won’t pull any cars.

So I’m looking for a little direction on where to go next. I have many cars that are in great shape and some new in box, but nothing to pull it with that’s reliable. I’d like a new or used Diesel engine, I lean more modern in type and style. Ideally I’d like it to have a horn/bell/lights etc for the kids.

The track seems self explanatory, I just need more of it.

Would I be better just getting a new Lionel kit set with the wireless controller or just trying to look for a new locomotive by itself? What era or style loco would be best to look for?

Any good reading resources for me to brush up on this? I don’t want to get too deep into it without knowing if the kids are into it, but we don’t know now since what I have isn’t great.

64551108-782E-4EEB-9133-AEB12E4CAC67

Brandon,

Welcome to the forum. Your K-Line set is a classic and a lot of fun.  A 90 degree crossover or some switches make things extra interesting.   

Part of the noise might be the new track.  Lionel fast-track is durable and great stuff for kids.  It is however notoriously noisy on a hard surface.

Like the others said, this forum is a great resource.   Please post some pictures of the other engines and anything you know about how old they are.   The ac/dc problem might well be the issue.   We will gladly help you figure out what is going on with the other locomotives. And as mentioned,  lionchief locomotives are great for kids.

The MP15 should be the easiest to get running well. Traction tires are cheap and it probably just needs a clean and lube. I have a few of the MP15's and the K-Line Alco's. If maintained properly, they will last a long time and perform quite well. The growl at slow speed is normal. Check out Brasseur's for the traction tires. Brasseur's/The Train Doctor K-Line parts page. K2100-X004 for traction tires, $1.50 each.

Last edited by Mike D
@Mannyrock posted:

Well yes.  It can't hurt to get a cheap Lionel Scout locomotive from the 1950s, for about $60.00, and let her rip!   Loud runners, but pretty bullet-proof for kid play.  Fairly easy to oil.

Mannyrock

That's exactly what I was thinking. But then again, I was a kid that liked hit and miss engines and the like. I'm not sure if his kids are like that or what. If they're into all things mechanical, a post war engine will be perfect.

Thanks for all the responses!

It looks like a newer Lionchief train set would be best for the kids interests as of now, maybe I’ll pick up some older stuff just for me.

I did order some new traction tires for the MP15, and am trying to find some maintenance instructions for it also.

For the other steam engines, one is a Lionel 8902 designed to run on DC. It didn’t operate very well, and I’m not really attached to it so I may just keep it for display.

@Brandon966 posted:

Thanks for all the responses!

It looks like a newer Lionchief train set would be best for the kids interests as of now, maybe I’ll pick up some older stuff just for me.

I did order some new traction tires for the MP15, and am trying to find some maintenance instructions for it also.

For the other steam engines, one is a Lionel 8902 designed to run on DC. It didn’t operate very well, and I’m not really attached to it so I may just keep it for display.

A dc only 8902 was in starter set as a kid.  I ran the heck out of it as a kid.  Eventually I put a fresh motor in it, and a modern reverse unit so it now runs off ac power on the rails.  If it has sentimental value it can be made to operate on ac for a very modest investment.

@boomer0622 posted:

Don’t forget to lube the wheels on the cars as well. I have found that older cars that have been setting for a number of years can have a lot of drag . Sometimes you will also need to clean the crud off the wheels.  

Just to clarify for a new user...

"Lube the wheels" refers to the axles and bearings - don't get oil anywhere near the surface that makes contact with the rails.  And don't get oil on the rails for any reason.

Just to first clarify, you said the dealer hooked you up with an a/c controller - I assume you mean an a/c transformer that will let you control the k-line engine. The reason I ask is that some/many LionChief engines come with a wireless remote controller that only controls the operation of the engine, but you will still need to provide power to the track, such as with your a/c transformer. 

I agree that a Lionel Lionchief steam engine and tender would be a good choice for a starter train and, since you said you already have a lot of cars, you can buy just a "stand-alone" Lionchief engine and tender, such as the 2-4-2 series, and hook your existing cars to it.

In addition, some Lionchief engines not only come with a wireless handheld remote to control the engine, but also can be operated via Bluetooth on a cell phone or tablet just by downloading the free Lionel app; which may peak interest in young children.

As to the sound issue, putting a piece of carpeting, mat, indoor/outdoor carpet or similar deadening material under the layout should help reduce the noise level. Just make sure all your wiring is insulated and no bare wires or bare metal is touching the material.

I'm assuming you went to Nick's Trains on Glenwood Avenue.  He's a good guy and can also do repairs for you.  He also offers used stuff.  I've been buying stuff from him for a couple of decades.

I like your idea of buying a new Lionchief set, or maybe Lionchief Plus so you can also operate it the traditional way.  Most of my engines come from sets and I just add other cars as I find them.

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