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Yup. TRAINZ made them. They work great.  Half my engines take the pellets half take liquid. I changed the resistors to wire wound. The liquid set up engines have a higher resistance for lower temp, and the smoke pellet engines vice versa.  You can certainly put smoke fluid in a pellet engine but the burning oil smell is unpleasant.

Last edited by jth877

I've got five bottles of them and yes they were or are manufactured by Trainz and they do work great. I bought my supply directly from Trainz at York a couple of years ago.

Billyo414, It's safe to use smoke fluid in virtually all of the old smoke pellet type engines just don't overload the smoke unit with an overabundance of smoke fluid.  I have a Lionel 1950 773 Hudson and a 1966 Lionel Hudson both with their original pellet type smoke units and use smoke fluid in them all the time>  I just don't overdo it.  

Slightly off topic - these repros were first made by the guys at Toy Trains Unlimited (now TW Trainworx) in Dallas. I recall visiting their retail shop in the early 2000's and one of the guys making them, almost one at a time, with a press-mold that looked like a pair of pliers.

I would assume that they sold that part of the business to Trainz at some point.

@lionelflyer posted:

I think the first company to make something like the Lionel SP smoke pellets (the ones after 1946) was K-Line.  Unfortunately these were not chemically the same as the Lionel SP smoke pellets.  The K-Line pellets kind of smelled like moth balls.

I have further information on the SP smoke pellets but I don't think I'm allowed to post that information here.


I think you are correct on the K-Line smoke pellets being the first produced after the Lionel smoke pellets.  I bought some of them back in the late 1970s from my local hobby shop.  Later I purchased a few more bottles at York in the early 2000s.  They are hard to come by.  Actually, I can't really nail the smell down as being like moth balls.   The odor in my opinion is certainly not unpleasant; in fact I kind of like it.

Back in the early 70's I heard rumors that Lionel was going  to quit producing smoke pellets. I went down to the local toy store and bought all that they had (about two dozen plastic containers).   I decided to try t o duplicate the pellets.  I gave my brother-in-law (a master's student majoring in chemistry) a bottle to analyze at school. He went to one of his professors who read on the bottle harmless even if swallowed. He popped one into his mouth and said it's not a salt. The product was a chemical that sublimes.  As it is heated it goes from a solid to a liquid and then to a gas, but when it is cooled it goes from a gas directly to a solid which looks like smoke.  We found a chemical that had these properties and I bought a pint jar for about $8.00. I made a pill press and these pills worked quite well. When I went back to order more the price had jumped to $90.00 a pint as this chemical was now being used to produce lasers. Thus ended my project.

@Merlin posted:

Sounds cool. I have 2 older trains I won that took Pellets at a auction. They came with 10 pellets but didn’t work. I guess they have a shelf life but I would like to see how they worked and how much smoke they produces on one pellet.

Common sense tells me you are correct about smoke pellets having a shelf life but I must say that I have used Lionel smoke pellets from the 50s and 60s and lo and behold they still worked.  The same goes for the old K-Line pellets and even Marx smoke fluid.  I know it seems counter-intuitive but the doggone things still worked.  

I'm guessing that the problem isn't the smoke pellets but the heating element.  There is no way the smoke pellets would have a shelf life.  The chemical, unless they were Lionel 1946 only pellets, is not prone to air reactions.

The 1946 pellets used with the smoke bulbs is very unstable and is used as a fertilizer and for nefarious reasons.  The smoke pellets from 1947 on are basically a low melting waxy material.  The main problem with the material is that it melts at a very high temperature and if you turned over the engine with the liquid in it, you could get a pretty substantial burn.  It was also somewhat corrosive to the metal parts.

There are articles on the internet that have very good information on the history of toy train smoke.

Hi Bill,

That is interesting.  I didn't think anyone was making the original ones.  The pure chemical is fairly expensive.  The person at Lionel that supplied them extracted the chemical from a commercially available waxy material.  The waxy material consists of 3 isomers (structures) of the same chemical formula.  Two of the isomers have a very high melting point while the third isomer is drastically lower.  It is the lowest melting material that was isolated and then pressed into pellets.  This material was about 60% of the combined isomers so I guess he got pretty good yield.  He sure did make a lot of them over the years!

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