Going through my Pre-War trains and accessories and realizing that most or all of it needs to be rewired to operate safely. Trying to pin down whether Lionel used cloth covered wire or rubber coated wire...solid conductor or stranded as a rule. I'm seeing different combinations of both on items which appear to be untouched originals.

I would assume all rolling stock should have stranded due to the vibration and movement, but I prefer working with solid core on static pieces like street lamps, signals and houses. I would like to be accurate from a historic standpoint and modern cloth covered wire meeting today's safety standards  is readily available as most of you know. 

Thoughts..comments ? 

Last edited by G-Man24
Original Post

In my experience with later prewar trains, Lionel used #22 or #24 solid push back insulated wire.   The push back wire has a fabric insulation.  To install a length of wire, it is cut to length, but the insulation is not stripped. The insulation is just pushed back on the wire. After the wire is soldered, the insulation is pushed back into place leaving little bare wire showing.  Connections to trucks or couplers were made with a stranded wire. It was probably a natural rubber insulation, but it is usually gone. For these applications super flex plastic insulated wire, silicon jacketed fine steamed wire , and finely stranded fabric insulated push back wire are all available. 

The old fabric covered wire insulation tends to turn black with age.  Close examination may show signs of color. In my experience in some cases Lionel used yellow for connections to brush holders, green to field connections, and, only rarely, red for center rail power. All other was black. 

All of these wires are available.  Jeff Kane, The Train Tender is one source. 

David Johnston posted:

In my experience with later prewar trains, Lionel used #22 or #24 solid push back insulated wire.   The push back wire has a fabric insulation.  To install a length of wire, it is cut to length, but the insulation is not stripped. The insulation is just pushed back on the wire. After the wire is soldered, the insulation is pushed back into place leaving little bare wire showing.  Connections to trucks or couplers were made with a stranded wire. It was probably a natural rubber insulation, but it is usually gone. For these applications super flex plastic insulated wire, silicon jacketed fine steamed wire , and finely stranded fabric insulated push back wire are all available. 

The old fabric covered wire insulation tends to turn black with age.  Close examination may show signs of color. In my experience in some cases Lionel used yellow for connections to brush holders, green to field connections, and, only rarely, red for center rail power. All other was black. 

All of these wires are available.  Jeff Kane, The Train Tender is one source. 

Thanks great info and I agree the original rubber insulation looks like it was natural rubber. Glad you explained the push- back wire or I would have been stripping back the ends.  In regards to locomotive wires feeding the brush holders or manual operated reversing switch, passenger car lighting, etc... ie parts that don't move but are still subject to vibration, would these have had stranded wire? 

All of the accessory wiring like street lamps and signals look like they used black wire exclusively. Did they ever use a tracer or painted end to keep the hot wire identified or you just have to keep track of it yourself ?

Dieseler I agree it may sound like work but it's fun restoring this stuff back to working order. I enjoy trying to make it look exactly the way it was made originally.

Last edited by G-Man24

The solid push back continued into the early post war era.  Stranded wire was not used, except for special cases, until Lionel went to plastic wire insulation. This must that been about 1949.  I have not seen traces to identify wires except on the transformer 110 volt cords. With non electronic AC trains, most wiring was not polarity sensitive. 

David Johnston posted:

.... Stranded wire was not used, except for special cases, until Lionel went to plastic wire insulation. This must that been about 1949. 

Here's an example of why it's confusing. Two control signals an 078 and a 78. The 78 is obviously Pre War Standard gauge and it has the same ancient looking  rubber coated stranded wire which is crumbling . I guess it could have been re-wired 50 years ago but I doubt it, looks orignal.

 

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I've rewired many pieces of prewar equipment, particularly locomotives.  The main problem is rubber insulation that has dired up and flakes off when you pinch it.  I find that I can get most of that insulation off by pinching it with my fingers or pliers.  After unsoldering one end, I slip on fabric insulation that I buy from Dr. Tinker.  While the insulation is new, I am usually able to use the original metal wire.  I've done that even with O and standard gauge engines from the 20's.

Malcolm Laughlin

 

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