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I believe that the Lionel 247 Columbia Series has sealed plastic smoke unit.  How can you test if these go bad and what is typically the problem?  How can you repair?  It looks like you would have to replace the whole unit since it is sealed -- if you could find one-- and what does that take (soldering)?

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I have a 247 which is a poor smoker using a traditional Lionel sine wave transformer. Switching to a newer chopped wave transformer such as a CW-80 dramatically increased smoke production at any given operating speed. Just be warned that you must keep the unit supplied with fluid or it will melt down and be destroyed.

Last edited by GregR

I bought a new CW80 and that did not seem to fix it.  I purchased a 233-50/236-50 thinking that was the correct replacement, finding a NOS version, but it was not correct for my model.  The OEM unit is not melted down.  Any identification of the one that is installed?  The 233-50 is on the left (not installed).  Other recommendations?  Worst case, is this model OK to run without fluid?

Smoke UnitsLoco


Images (2)
  • Smoke Units: Replacement 233-50 on left.  Original still installed.
  • Loco: Other side installed.

Actually found the correct unit (247-8) as OEM and it looks like two solder points only (and the lightbulb), but is there some wool or other media under the smoke unit? Maybe that is actually my issue if that is the case.  I was not expecting it to be open ended underneath.  I want to make sure that everything is sourced before removing the old unit.

The PDF for assemble and disassemble are really vague.  With the correct replacement part is it possible to just swap the unit, solder, and call it a day?  I hear that the engines are a pain to work on, but if I do not need to open the engine to swap smoke units that seems like it would make it easier.

Those Columbias are actually pretty easy to work on.  It just takes a little patience to get the chassis, rear truck, etc., settled inside the shell upon reassembly.  Wiggle everything around, and make sure the smoke unit chimney is lined up with the external smoke stack before tightening any screws.

Also- the 247 came two ways.  One variation has a full, round boiler front like the 250 and 249.  The other has some kind of radiator or air aftercooler molded into the body shell above the pilot deck.  The version with the radiator was continued into the 1970s / MPC era.  So if you're not concerned about keeping it original, I'm pretty sure that a smoke unit from an early MPC-era Columbia (like 8042, 8141, etc.), would be a bolt-in replacement.  Look in "junk boxes" at your next local train meet.  My $.02.

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