I have one of the new lionel GP9's.  I have not run it in a few months, and as I am scared of burning out the smoke unit  I put a few drops of smoke Mega Steam smoke in. Well nothing so I assumed it was dried out and I added a few more. I blew in the stack still nothing. SO I put it on a circle of track an ran it a 80% speed for about 10 minutes, still nothing. So... I take off the top panel and remove the smoke channel. I now see fluid all over the place, so I hold it upside down, shake, use paper towels ect to blot up the fluid. I put it back on the track and run for another 5 minutes and still no smoke. I left the top panel off so I can see the fan spinning, I gave it another blow and a small wisp of smoke. Ran it on the track for about 10 minutes no smoke... so anything to be done now or do I just need a new smoke until. Will the unit dry out if I do not run it for a few weeks? what about laying it on its side will the fluid run out?  Mostly how can I prevent this from happening again?

Original Post

Peter, We don't think you need a new smoke unit. Relax. Everyone sooner or later tends to overfill a smoke unit.  We would like to help. Unfortunately, we didn't find your contact information in your profile. Please contact us for further information.

The tub has a gasket, and no drain   You'd make a mess every time imo.

I think you're too worried about burning an element. It takes a few minutes and usually smells real bad as the wick burns.   Even burnt, they aren't very pricey.

  A few drops to prime the top wick and you should have smoke. 

If it never starts smoking, don't add more. 

First check for heat /power etc, then add just a few more drops (your nose can usually sense the heat if your fingers cant)     I never add a full dropper unless I know I'm going fully dry and it's warm, and going to run a long time too.

 Some brands do evaporate "fast" while at rest.  I think Lionel's always evap. less at room temp than others. With Lionel's; I've had trains start smoking well right away, years after being boxed with the last fill up, before I even thought to refill them again.

OK so fresh start today, I put the GP9 on the test loop, its been running for about 10 minutes now, smoke unit is on, I can hear the fan, but still no smoke, I get a very faint smell for about a 5 seconds. I took off the top cover the smoke unit is warm not hot, but slightly warm. Blew in no smoke, I think maybe the unit is not getting hot enough. How warm/hot should it be?  

After running for a few minutes with smoke on, the top of the smoke unit should be quite hot to the touch.  If that's not the case, there may be something amiss.  First question, did it ever smoke right?

It's hard for me to believe that 10-15 drops of smoke fluid made such a mess if the unit wasn't already over-filled.  I see a lot of smoke units, and 10 drops of fluid is like spitting in a bathtub.  It takes more than that to make such a mess!

I dont know exactly what buttons need pushed for your unit, but try increasing the smoke output. It may be currently at the lowest setting or off.

Ok so I took the top of the smoke unit off, and where the heating element touched the wick, the wick was almost black. I removed the wick and re-seated it so a nice clean part would be in contact with the element. photo does not show the black spot well.  Smoke seems to be back now, so I guess I burned out part of the wick.  The way this smoke unit fills may cause overflows, its kind of a funnel with 2 right angles, so I think the fluid cant pour in smoothly. see photos  for shape of smoke duct.  Thank you all for your help on this one! 


Images (5)

peter allen - you may have had difficulty getting smoke but I'll say this much - you took great photos - close and clear. 😉👏👍🏻


RE: "The way this smoke unit fills may cause overflows, its kind of a funnel with 2 right angles, so I think the fluid cant pour in smoothly."

Here is an enlarged photo of your GP9  Y-shaped smoke funnel copied from Lionel's parts web site.









It's very similar to the Y-shaped smoke funnel on my Lionel Legacy F7 (6-85206) and I too have had smoke oil wetting the circuit boards in vicinity of the smoke unit.  In my diesel engine, the inside top of the engine shell seals against the two Y-funnel holes (see photo above) with a small and very thin gasket compressed between the inside top of the engine shell and the top of the Y-funnel holes shown in photo above.  I believe that is a weak point in the design of the smoke oil filling channels.  I believe there is smoke oil leakage across the two Y-funnel gaskets when one adds smoke oil through the engine shell 'filler' ports; I doubt that there is a tight seal between inside of engine shell and top of Y-funnel so smoke oil leaks across the gasket into the engine compartment.  This leakage is exacerbated by the rather small Y-funnel channels that go from the two filler port entry holes at a very shallow angle and on into the smoke unit reservoir fill hole.  These rather small channels coupled with the very shallow fill angle going down to the smoke generator cause resistance to smoke oil passing across the gaskets which leads to leaked oil getting into the engine compartment.  I also believe that when the smoke generator is in operation, some of the smoke generator oily smoke passes across the gasket into the engine compartment to some degree thus leading to even more oil-film wetting of engine components like electronic circuit boards.   I plan on changing out the two thin Y-funnel-to-engine shell gaskets with homemade thicker gasket materials to ensure leak-proof seal between Y-funnel and inside of engine shell.



You need to fill those units a few drops at a time and let it settle before hitting it again with a few drops.  Also a very light puff of air after you let it settle for a bit helps as well.

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