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You can find umpteen threads on this issue in the recent past. Basically I think most people use either Lionel Premium Fluid or Megasmoke. I have not found any great difference in smoke output between them but have stuck with Lionel's own product for recent Legacy engines where I find the smoke units more finicky/less output than with older models. Lionel Premium is obviously a different formulation than others because it does dissipate/evaporate in the container over time whereas neither Megasmoke or indeed MTH smoke fluid do, at least in my experience.

Possibly related point: A long while back Mike Reagan commented on this Forum that Lionel Premium does not leave the same residue on the smoke unit wicking that Megasteam does. I have not seen any great difference in the two in this respect but someone whose engines get more run time than mine might be able to comment.

Stick to the manufacturer. I have an all Lionel controlled fleet, so I mostly use Lionel Smoke fluid, until I run out. I hope Lionel makes larger smoke fluid containers so they can sell their own smoke fluid in larger ounce quantities, like mega steam and mth. At my club layout, I have tested out mth smoke fluid on mth engines, and I see a better result by using mth smoke fluid on an mth engine, and same with lionel. As far as mega steam, it seems to be the ¨Control¨ in the everlasting smoke fluid experiment, as over time I have noticed that it works best on all manufacturer trains and smoke boxes. Speaking of which, its not just the smoke fluid that produces google smoke, its also about how you treat your wick and batting. 

I have heard opinions of every variety, here and in hobby shops and club settings.

For the record, I have every readily available smoke fluid on hand — Lionel (several variations), MTH (regular and Christmas scent, my overall favorite), Williams by Bachmann, JT’s Mega Steam (two scents and Nada), LGB and maybe even a few drops of leftover K-Line.

I use to stick with the brand-for-brand approach, and still do while the product is under warranty. But for out-of-warranty locomotives, I now use what I feel like.

Frankly, I no longer believe manufacturers carefully balance the smoke units with the fluids they market. It’s likely a loose association at best.

So use what you like.

I don't think there is a best, just different. Thinner seems to smoke more and dry out faster and too thick cools some elements too much to smoke.

E.g.,  Add thicker Protosmoke to my post war and they are mostly happy. But use it on the fluid Generals and you might need to. wait a few days before they smoke again. On the oppsing side he 3 drop resevoir means thinner fluid vanishes quickly. It does best mith a medium viscosity; old 1960s-70s tubes work best. (I dont.have the Lionel Premium) 

  I found a grape scent I like from Pat's/P&P's that I've used.for years now just because I like it.'s smell. 

  I've been mixing them for many years and all I've seen worth noting is on pellet type, fluid on wicked pill residue makes a goop that doesn't seem to flow or melt, it just gums up the wicking.

I use Lionel Premium Smoke Fluid and a ZW-L transformer with great success. Since I switched from the old transformer to the ZW-L transformer, I get more smoke from my Lionel Legacy engines.  I don't fully understand why, but I do get better results.

Scented smoke fluid sounds like a good idea, but the smell will stay with that engine for a long time. Think about a permanent "Peppermint" engine... do you really want that?

RickO posted:

All of the "popular" smoke fluids work well.

I have to admit, I was skeptical about Lionels so-called "premium" fluid.  However, after trying Lionels premium fluid for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

It will be my smoke fluid of choice from now on. I experience more smoke for a longer duration in all of my locos, even an older TMCC model long overdue for a rewicking.

I'll 2nd that!

Train Nut posted:
RickO posted:

All of the "popular" smoke fluids work well.

I have to admit, I was skeptical about Lionels so-called "premium" fluid.  However, after trying Lionels premium fluid for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

It will be my smoke fluid of choice from now on. I experience more smoke for a longer duration in all of my locos, even an older TMCC model long overdue for a rewicking.

I'll 2nd that!

I'll third that - Lionel premium

I buy what irritates my nose the least - Megasteam baking bread and Christmas Bayberry are good, and I'm currently running unscented.   I haven't seen the gunk Mike R. warned about when I open up a steam generator for a tune up, but an old bottle of scented Megasteam on the shelf shows separation of clear fluid and colored fluid (the scent?).  Will have to try Lionel Premium if I ever find it at a LHS.

Smoke fluid is basically mineral oil.  I would expect the train mfgs. to test the oil's flash point and use what is safe for use in their smoke units.  I recall that Mike at MTH told us to use mineral oil up until they were bottling their own brand, at which point, the generic mineral oil was no good.  Lionel's Mike R. recommended using only the Lionel branded oil once they started shipping bottles of Premium. 

Other than scents and other additives, is there much difference among the various brands?  I would love to see a analysis of the different brands using a standard smoke unit measuring the temperature and resistance of the heating element, along with the volume of smoke produced, viscosity, flash points, and other chemical attributes of the oil.

For my visionline and legacy steamers with the wistle steam effect I will only use lionel premium. It is thiner and flows better through all the various tubes and funnels to the various smoke units and out the appropriate holes for each feature. Now for just plain single stack smoke units like mth or older lionel tmcc or legacy I will use megasteam for all those. Mostly due to the size and cost factor. I can order bigger  ounce bottles of megasteam vrs. The small lionel bottles that are less than full when brand new.

How I know lionel fluid is thinner than megasteam you say. Go to youtube and watch laid off sicks video on 20 drops of smoke fluid. It will give you some good advice about smoke units and fluid comparisons. Then you can decided what will work for you. Every engine and smoke unit is different so one size fits all does not exist or apply here. There is know right answer. Just what works best for you in your particular engines and what amount of smoke output is acceptable to you.

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