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I have a Lionchief Plus Great Northern 171  4-6-4 Model 6-84937.  I've had the engine for about a month.

When I add the recommended 15-20 drops of smoke juice, the train smokes a lot for about 15 minutes and then runs out of juice.  My "layout" for this train is a loop hanging from my kitchen ceiling and a lot of the time I just want it to run in the background.  But I don't want to have to worry about burning out the smoker.  So my questions are:

Am I doing something wrong? or is this normal for this train type?

What can I do differently to get the smoke to last longer or to guarantee I won't run out of juice and damage the engine?

Any advice is appreciated!

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Its working as it should. I never get more than that amount of time before more smoke fluid needs to be added. That goes for my lionchief plus trains and MTH. As far as what you can do different I cannot help with. Maybe one of the more seasoned folks here can chime in and give you some ideas on mods you can do that will supply less power to the smoke unit so the fluid will last longer. Of course that will result in less smoke output.


If your using JT mega steam which is what I use it will not last as long as a thicker fluid like the lionel fluid. I have to say, I was not expecting the lionchief plus engines to smoke as well as they do. I just purchased a RS3 diesel and a 0-4-0 A5 and have always heard they do not smoke near as well as MTH engines so I was not expecting much but I was very impressed with the smoke output. Very similar to my MTH engines. Maybe it is the JT mega steam being a game changer for the smoke world but I've also heard the LC+ engines in recent years smoke much better than they used too.

Also, its always nice to be part of a forum topic with gunrunnerjohn and Arnold C. Marty too. I enjoy reading your posts and comments.


We all know that 20 drops is a starting point for Lionel smoke units. Most go to 30 or 40 drops as recommended from the forum. I’d like to see Lionel change their instructions to say 20-40 drops and inform that 15-20 minutes of smoke output to be expected. May just save a lot of returns for low smoke output. We all know who pays for the cost all of the returns.

In my MTH models after they sit awhile, I do 20 drops. Wait a few minutes. Then do 10 more drops and run after a couple minutes of soaking. After the smoke starts to diminish I do 10 more drops after a period of cool down time. My lionchief plus models I just received I just did 20 drops and waited a few minutes and ran them. They smoked great but was afraid to use the same amount of fluid in them that I do with the MTH engines. Are the reservoirs the same size on fan driven smoke units? Ive read that legacy models are larger than LC+ but havent received my first Legacy model yet. Its on preorder. Does anyone have a comparison of reservoir sizes between MTH Imperial Railking, LC+ and Legacy? I have yet to need to open any up.



The LC+ smoke unit reservoir is a bit smaller than most Legacy or MTH smoke units.  I typically use at least 20 drops to start an LC+ LC+ 2.0 smoke unit and then 10-15 drops when they slow down significantly.

Most of the MTH RK or Premier smoke units have the same size reservoir, they are the same smoke unit.  The difference between diesel and steam are the length of the mounting posts.  For some small locomotives, MTH does have a small single resistor smoke unit, that one has a much smaller reservoir and you need to be more mindful of overfilling it.

There are a handful of smaller smoke units in various Lionel offerings as well, I know the TMCC Mogul is one such locomotive with a small smoke unit.

The bottom line here is probably that you need to be somewhat aware of the characteristics of your specific locomotive and the size of the smoke unit.

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