Skip to main content

Considering the high prices of new lionel engines, and the possibility that parts may not be available after 5 years, in order to prevent these beautiful engines from becoming non-operating shelf queens:

Would it be a good strategy to pre-emptively buy parts that are likely to fail now, while they are still available?

Which parts are likely to fail and should be purchased if one is to follow this strategy?

Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Probably the hardest parts will be the control boards, which as far as I know can't be repaired (GRJ or one of the other experts can weigh in on that). It may not even be easy to get the boards as spares and would likely be pretty expensive (from what I recall being told, often with parts they keep inventory for repairing under warranty. There also is the option down the road of finding scavenged boards from other engines, or there may be someone with enough skill that can repair old boards.

Couple of things I can think of:

1)When you get them, try to have them run often. If there is some kind of borderline defect or the like, by running it regularly you likely will see it before the warranty runs out.

2)Like with any modern engine, understand it isn't a post war engine that runs through anything. An obvious one is having quick react circuit breakers (if using older power) and especially having TVS on the outputs, even if it is a modern transformer.

3)If you are someone that likes to open the engines up, do what people who work on electronic components do, have a ground strap on your wrist and or touch metal to make sure you have dissipated any charge built up. That kind of thing can fry a board's components.

4)On the layout itself, do extra effort to make sure you don't have derailments that caused shorts, that is what causes surges and the like that can fry boards.

5)Do regular maintenance on them, the lubing and the like they recommend. An engine that has any kind of binding can cause extra power draw and heat that can hurt electronic components.

So what if down the road it blows out, and there aren't parts to repair it? You have some options:

1)Put an electronic reverser in it and run it in conventional using tradition method.....

2)If it is Lionel, you could get a ps 3.0 upgrade kit (assuming MTH has them).

3)Or buy an ERR upgrade kit. Obviously with either of these options, you lose legacy features.

4)Or if you really get mad, convert it to DCC. Has the added advantage that DCC control boards are not unique. On the other hand, you lose legacy features.

If it's any consolation. I have command control locomotives that are 15- 20 years old that have never had an issue.

Alot of folks seem to think more modern electronic trains automatically burn up after a few years.

I would go a step further on bigkids number 2 and say get a modern transformer for your modern trains. Use the postwar transformer for accessories.

Why spend hundreds or thousands on new trains and operate them with an antique transformer?

If your running command. Lionels 180w bricks have some If the fastest breakers in the hobby. They can also be found more affordable on the secondary market.

I " suspect" many of the "magic smoke" threads on this forum may involve a postwar transformer.

Last edited by RickO

Seems like most folks concentrate on electronic failures, either DCS or TMCC/Legacy.  That really does not bother me because you can remove failed circuit boards and install new ones, maybe even better ones in the near future.  I have a couple of engines that were sold with TAS boards and an older TMCC engine that are all now running with ERR boards (and running better).  I have an engine sold with PS1, upgraded to PS2, did not run well, so gutted it and put in ERR.

My concern is the failure of mechanical parts, especially the drive gears.  If a part is failure prone, will there be enough in stock to support the demand for that part as the engines age?  For example, the gear in my Legacy PRR K4 is a known weak spot so I am watching how I run it (not a lot of cars).  When it does fail, will there be any replacement parts left to fix it?  Should I buy a spare now?

Maybe this will become a non issue as 3D printing gets better.

Last edited by CAPPilot
@RickO posted:

If it's any consolation. I have command control locomotives that are 15- 20 years old that have never had an issue.

Alot of folks seem to think more modern electronic trains automatically burn up after a few years.

I would go a step further on bigkids number 2 and say get a modern transformer for your modern trains. Use the postwar transformer for accessories.

Why spend hundreds or thousands on new trains and operate them with an antique transformer?

If your running command. Lionels 180w bricks have some If the fastest breakers in the hobby. They can also be found more affordable on the secondary market.

I " suspect" many of the "magic smoke" threads on this forum may involve a postwar transformer.

Or, if you run a postwar transformer with modern trains, use adequate external circuit breakers.

Decent layout wiring and adequate circuit protection and magically boards won't blow up. I run 180W Powerhouse bricks on my layout (DCS & TMCC) and have never nuked a board in a locomotive. I've got 20-25 year old command locomotives as well that still work fine on original boards.

A lot of great advice here, thanks.

I have found this thread very instructive and reassuring.

After being very active reading much that has been posted on the Forum during the past 3 years, I have taken steps to pretty much eliminate many of the pitfalls mentioned.

This includes having all track (main lines and sidings) powered by modern MTH Z4000 transformers with fast ac th ing circuit breakers; re-wiring the entire layout to greatly reduce the rat's nest of wires that previously existed and otherwise simplify, organize, color code and improve it; rarely disconnecting modern MTH and Lionel steam engines and tenders; and adding the correct amount of smoke fluid to all modern locomotives before starting them up. I also replaced my previous Atlas Connectors with Heavy Duty Atlas Connectors (better suited for O Gauge) that turns power on and off for my numerous sidings.

Doing the above has greatly reduced my need for repairs.

Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari
@RickO posted:

If it's any consolation. I have command control locomotives that are 15- 20 years old that have never had an issue.

Alot of folks seem to think more modern electronic trains automatically burn up after a few years.

I would go a step further on bigkids number 2 and say get a modern transformer for your modern trains. Use the postwar transformer for accessories.

Why spend hundreds or thousands on new trains and operate them with an antique transformer?

If your running command. Lionels 180w bricks have some If the fastest breakers in the hobby. They can also be found more affordable on the secondary market.

I " suspect" many of the "magic smoke" threads on this forum may involve a postwar transformer.

Good points.

FWIW, just yesterday I took my old Lionel N&W A 2-6-6-4 off the shelf for the first time in twenty+ years (not a figure of speech), placed it on the track, powered it up and ran it. It works. It is TMCC, pre-Odyssey. Sound, lights, coupler, chuff (but too few of them....) - only the bell did not respond. I don't care. I haven't even lubed it yet. It will run pretty slowly, too - even stiff as it was.

I have had some train electronics croak. Most do not.

Add Reply

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

www.ogaugerr.com
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×
×