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There are cheap conversion kits available that have a low value resistor and some fiberglass webbing that replace the old coil to help them smoke better. Have done a number of the conversions (kits are under $5, but you have to get in there and pry the top off the smoke unit to do the job). Make sure that the little hole in the bottom of the chamber is not clogged - many postwar locos are jammed full of pellet residue - seems like once they are plugged, it's almost impossible to burn out the jammed hole.


I got together with a train friend yesterday, who is very knowledgeable about Postwar Lionel trains. He has a substsntial collection of them and does excellent Postwar train repair work, including working on Saturday afternoons at a LHS.

He told me you can use a few drops of either Lionel Premium Smoke Fluid or MTH Smoke Fluid, instead of smoke pellets, in Postwar steamers, without converting the smoke units to run on fluid, and still get good results. My friend said he knows dealers at train shows that do it all the time.

Do you agree with my friend?

Are there any negative consequences for using a few drops of the fluid in Postwar steamers without doing the conversion?


Yet one more thing that is related to this topic. Years ago I got K-Line Smoke pellets that I thought were excellent, and much better than the original Lionel pellets. (I think the problem with the Lionel original pellets is that they are too old and tend to clog the smoke units, even if you use a little bit at a time and crumble it before putting it in the smoke stack).

The K-Line pellets produced more smoke, and had a very nice fragrance, with much less of a tendency to clog than the Lionel originals.

Unfortunately, I only have 1 K-Line smoke pellet left, and doubt if they are made anymore. Arnold

Do you agree with my friend?

Yes, agree, I have used fluids for decades, but I use enough to saturate the wicking under the wire wound element, a good 14-18 drops or more if it is dry, up to the level of the red line. Older units may need new wicking.

Are there any negative consequences for using a few drops of the fluid in Postwar steamers without doing the conversion?

Not that I have seen. If you do the liquid downgrade kit, you are stuck with fluids only, and the elements burn out quickly.

@RSJB18 posted:

Dan- I converted my PW 2026 a while back. The pellet smoker still worked but I wanted to update to a fluid unit. Real easy project. The little hole in the bottom allows the "puff' to happen when the driver cam rotates around and lifts the piston.


What I did with my 2026 was tear it down and clean out all that waxy mess of a buildup from the SP pellets all those years and freed up the piston.  Then I replaced the wick and added a spring which it did not have.

Thereafter I have been using JT's liquid smoke fluid and it is working better than ever.  Lasts a long time too.  It puffs much better because of the spring.


My 2 cents, as respects to Lionel PostWar steamers:

In the past I tried liquid, produced OK smoke at first but died down quickly. Also, did not last as long as a pellet.

I'm finishing up my supply of K-line pellets, bought when full bottles of original Lionel pellets were going for $20-$30 each (Now about 1/4 - 1/3 that price). Happy with the K-line option, nice smoke rings produced just like the original Lionel's.

I do not find any loss of function from original Lionel pellets (even if some are now powdered) and, IMHO, smell the best. A nostalgic smell.

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