This is a real question...I am new to O scale, have had n scale all my life and I just recently noticed the well detailed legacy engines and I thought it would be nice to have a couple.  My rude awakening came when my tender doors on my used Allegheny crumbled apart simply by daring to open them,  now I see the sliding steam tube system in front has the paint cracking off from them so I suppose that is rotten also( I thought they were plastic? Maybe not)?  I had the absurd idea that lionel was a name brand to trust for durability and zinc rot to this extent is a new concept to me,  have never seen it in any of the 20 year old corgi die cast that I also collect.  The point of this post is to ask:  in future is it likely that someone will start to manufacture all these small parts that lionel does not offer or will there be a market full of broken $1200.  engines out there with no available parts? (I am not handy with parts making myself)...I can't think of anything that compares with this situation in n-scale.  I put my o scale engines in a curio cabinet as I am afraid to run them now lest I break an irreplaceable part. I know many of you can run lathes, fabricate parts and program computers but I am just the average guy with basic skills and it seems like a dim future for the average o-scale modeler like myself.  I may not be rich enough for this hobby as I cant buy $400-$1200 engines and then throw them away in a few years.  Am I crazy to think this way?  Please gently correct me if I am...Bryan

Original Post

I think you will find Lionel and other providers manufacturers  are willing to replace shells that have had zinc rot issues. I had the first Big Boy and it developed a bubble. My dealer sent it back to Lionel and they replaced it for free. This was several years after the release.

Scott Smith

I'd rather be ice fishing posted:

The point of this post is to ask:  in future is it likely that someone will start to manufacture all these small parts that lionel does not offer NO!   or will there be a market full of broken $1200 engines out there with no available parts? YES!   

And not just Lionel, we already have Atlas, MTH and Weaver items with this problem...

My Allegheny was built in the 1990s and lionel had no replacement parts for me nor did they seem overly concerned with my plight.  I ended up moneying my way out of it by buying a whole tender shell with good doors from a helpful dealers NOS and I got the impression that was the last one on earth.  It was not cheap either..Lionel made no effort to help me with some doors from their newer Alleghenies stating the ones they had were being saved for warrantees.  So no love from lionel to me..

In O gauge we're so used to the longevity of PW that I think we've lost track of where the manufactures are going. How old is your TV, cell phone and all of the consumer electronics. The manufactures of our trains are starting to think like they do and assume you will have tossed the trains you bought this year for the "new" ones that they will sell in five years.

Its how it now is.

Best advice with everything in life: carpe diem! Deal with TODAY and the PRESENT! That is really all we have as the past is gone and who knows if we will even have a "future"! Enjoy each moment as you exist in it and be glad you have it. And yes, I am an existentialist, philosophically speaking!

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

Scotie posted:

In O gauge we're so used to the longevity of PW that I think we've lost track of where the manufactures are going. How old is your TV, cell phone and all of the consumer electronics. The manufactures of our trains are starting to think like they do and assume you will have tossed the trains you bought this year for the "new" ones that they will sell in five years.

Its how it now is.

All well and good, but I'm not interested in paying a thousand dollars and above for a locomotive that will fall apart, when I can get a Postwar locomotive that's lived through falls off tables, collisions, mice in attics, Rock and Roll and the Bossa Nova, still be fully intact and run after a standard servicing - and not break $100 - $200!

"Maybe someday, you'll be an Engineer for the Santa Fe!" - in a note to me sent with a P.R. package from the Santa Fe railroad.

Not any different an issue than at any other time in history in this hobby.  All scales of toy trains have suffered from inconsistencies in the casting metals used for ever.  The reason you don't see it in the older trains is that they are gone already. 

Buy brass instead.  It doesn't suffer from such issues.

Jonathan Peiffer

 

Hmm.. I guess I wanted to hear that at any minute cottage industries all over the US were going to spring into action making replacement parts for these masterpieces..I will treasure my allegheny as a priceless antique not to be touched,  I have some legacy gp-30s perhaps those will be ok to run..i do appreciate the responses, it makes me feel that i am perhaps seeing this correctly...

Eddie Marra posted:

All well and good, but I'm not interested in paying a thousand dollars and above for a locomotive that will fall apart, when I can get a Postwar locomotive that's lived through falls off tables, collisions, mice in attics, Rock and Roll and the Bossa Nova, still be fully intact and run after a standard servicing - and not break $100 - $200!

Even lived through disco!

Anyway, the zinc pest problem and short-lived electronics full of proprietary parts is one reason that I like the older two-rail stuff. For example, this FM switcher is over fifty years old and has no real problems:

100_0034100_0036100_0045

Later Gator,

  Dave

 

Here comes a Yankee with a blackened soul,
Heading to Gatow with a load of coal.
......Anonymous U. S. pilot during the Berlin Airlift

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It is a shame that in this day and age, that you still face problems like zinc rot that effected the 700e back in the late 30's. Appliances and other consumer products don't last long any more and generally aren't worth fixing, and with cell phones now at the 1 grand mark (and unlike the past, the carriers don't pick up the cost any more), you do replace an expensive item. That said, though, many consumer products like appliances are cheaper than they once were, tv sets today are ridiculously cheap compared to their forbears,and appliances are relatively cheap as well. The thing about 1500 dollar toy trains becoming unusable in 5, 10 years, is that they are not appliances, they are pure discretionary income spending, and something you don't exactly use like you do a phone or appliance, so you are talking something that is relatively lightly used comparitively, that costs a lot. So basically what you have is something that is pretty expensive and might as well have been designed to fail, especially with the electronics, for something that is a pure discretionary purchase (sorry, these days cell phones, especially smart phones, have become so integrated into doing things like working, buying things, controlling things in the house, it no longer is a pure luxury it once was, not to mention try making a call someplace when your cell phone dies...). The other thing is by the time it dies,unlike a consumer good, you likely won't be able to replace it,given these are models of specific engines. You might get lucky and find an NOS someone has, or you might find a used one that is running okay, but that kind of becomes less and less likely, especially given the relatively small production runs for these. 

As someone else said, it is what it is, you are dealing with semi custom product made in small numbers, and you have to buy the thing knowing that there will come a day, not that far in the future, where it will become either a paperweight, or where you revert it to basically conventional operation with a reverse unit to run it. 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

The above post is a very good reason to only buy Sunset Third  rail forever brass engines.  A manufacture who actually responds to customers on this open forum.

The person who dies with the best toys is dead.

Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.

If I felt the way you do I’d stay with N scale. Why drive yourself nuts worrying about zinc rot. I started in Ogauge mid eighties and own more than 20 premium Lionel steamers and have never experienced zinc rot although I know it’s out there. As far as electronics, there will always be something new to keep you running.

Rod Miller

I haven't seen very many posts on this forum about zinc rot and my collector and operator friends have not complained about it either.  I think that this problem is rare.  Many people on this forum have engines that are 20 plus years old.

The only zinc rot problems that I have had was with a few trucks and couplers.  They can be replaced.  I am sorry that you have an engine with the problem but I don't think you will need to worry about most of the engines that you purchase will fall apart.  

The electronics are another story.  There is usually a way to fix most electronic problems.   

NH Joe

 

New Haven Joe posted:

I haven't seen very many posts on this forum about zinc rot and my collector and operator friends have not complained about it either.  I think that this problem is rare.  Many people on this forum have engines that are 20 plus years old.

The only zinc rot problems that I have had was with a few trucks and couplers.  They can be replaced.  I am sorry that you have an engine with the problem but I don't think you will need to worry about most of the engines that you purchase will fall apart.  

The electronics are another story.  There is usually a way to fix most electronic problems.   

NH Joe

 

So apparently my engine is an exception and not the rule?  I think it would have stung less had it not been the first steamer i bought in o scale ,,,as opposed to getting a few good ones then picking up one bad.  I did have this idea that the body would always be there in die cast as opposed to plastic which may have been another misconception.  Learning a bunch from this site anyways...and yes i got all the usual "stick to n scale or quit the hobby if you dont like it" answers that i knew i would get.  I guess its a tough hobby. 

bigkid posted:

It is a shame that in this day and age, that you still face problems like zinc rot that effected the 700e back in the late 30's. Appliances and other consumer products don't last long any more and generally aren't worth fixing, and with cell phones now at the 1 grand mark (and unlike the past, the carriers don't pick up the cost any more), you do replace an expensive item. That said, though, many consumer products like appliances are cheaper than they once were, tv sets today are ridiculously cheap compared to their forbears,and appliances are relatively cheap as well. The thing about 1500 dollar toy trains becoming unusable in 5, 10 years, is that they are not appliances, they are pure discretionary income spending, and something you don't exactly use like you do a phone or appliance, so you are talking something that is relatively lightly used comparitively, that costs a lot. So basically what you have is something that is pretty expensive and might as well have been designed to fail, especially with the electronics, for something that is a pure discretionary purchase (sorry, these days cell phones, especially smart phones, have become so integrated into doing things like working, buying things, controlling things in the house, it no longer is a pure luxury it once was, not to mention try making a call someplace when your cell phone dies...). The other thing is by the time it dies,unlike a consumer good, you likely won't be able to replace it,given these are models of specific engines. You might get lucky and find an NOS someone has, or you might find a used one that is running okay, but that kind of becomes less and less likely, especially given the relatively small production runs for these. 

As someone else said, it is what it is, you are dealing with semi custom product made in small numbers, and you have to buy the thing knowing that there will come a day, not that far in the future, where it will become either a paperweight, or where you revert it to basically conventional operation with a reverse unit to run it. 

I had to replace my flip phone the other day because the one I had for about six years gave out.  Cost $49.95.  Why you ask, don't I have a smart phone?  Well, I'll tell you.  I don't have time to own a smart phone.  Everyone I know spends every minute they have on their phone.  No body gets anything done anymore because they are on the phone.  How does that relate to zinc rot.  Not really sure but all my phones from the bricks to the flips have been really good.  And, if I could buy any of my engines without electronics I would.  They too, like PW Lionel would probably be running 50 years from now.  Maybe this relates somehow.

I'd rather be ice fishing posted: Learning a bunch from this site anyways...and yes i got all the usual "stick to n scale or quit the hobby if you dont like it" answers that i knew i would get.  I guess its a tough hobby. 

Well, that's the thing: people who respond like that are doing NO ONE any favors, least of all themselves. I don't see the point in that.

I have a couple of HO scale John English steamers from the 1960s(?) that show that rot issue; fortunately, they were made at a time when you were expected to know how to fix things yourself, and parts were available to do so; very much like PW Lionel and Flyer. Thanks to the web, and resources like eBay, you can always find the parts you need if you look long enough.

Will the same be true of modern releases? Only time will tell, but these very sophisticated electronic systems we see now (to say nothing about the rot issue) seem hard enough to trouble shoot and repair when "new"; a quick glance at recent posts on this site bear that out.

10, 15, 20 years from now will these trains still be "user-friendly"? Guess we'll have to wait and see...

Mark in Oregon

romiller49 posted:

If I felt the way you do I’d stay with N scale. Why drive yourself nuts worrying about zinc rot. I started in Ogauge mid eighties and own more than 20 premium Lionel steamers and have never experienced zinc rot although I know it’s out there. As far as electronics, there will always be something new to keep you running.

N scale has plenty of problems with zinc pest - a lot of Rivarossi for Atlas steam engines and diesels have crumbled frames (and if the frame isn't crumbling then the motor is probably junk from overheating). I recently got an Intermountain SD45 that had a chassis that crumbled when I removed it from the shell. Possibility of repair for the Rivarossi is slim - best start scouring Ebay and the ever popular combing the junk boxes under tables. The Intermountain folks will send me a replacement chassis once they find a new supplier (sound familiar)?

Fred Brenek posted:

Actually, the one that's really killing me is all of those scale Lionel GG1's with zinc rotting side frames.

I feel your pain because I've got one of those myself.   And still no replacement parts from Lionel!

Chief Boob (Retired)

Zinc pest has been an issue for you Trains in the past, especially the pre war era.  Take dorfan dust, for example. Usually modern castings are stable, but sometimes a certain batch of models has issues.  Marklin ho scale has had a few cases of this in modern history. 

New Haven Joe posted:

I haven't seen very many posts on this forum about zinc rot and my collector and operator friends have not complained about it either.  I think that this problem is rare.  Many people on this forum have engines that are 20 plus years old.

The only zinc rot problems that I have had was with a few trucks and couplers.  They can be replaced.  I am sorry that you have an engine with the problem but I don't think you will need to worry about most of the engines that you purchase will fall apart.  

 

Exactly what I would say. Basically, zinc rot is very, very rare. 

Where are your trains displayed?

Mine are in a basement average temperature 60 degrees 45% humiditystores this way in cotton or microfiber cloths20181009_194645

sme engines 20 years some 10 years some 1 or 2 years

           OPKKS RR

The Transcontinental RR 

     "Tryin ta git it rite"

part of the D Reg U Latd Co

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I hope you're right.

I saw on a Z scale forum this same issue with some recent released Geep 38s, I believe. It's possible I suppose, that the QC issues we see in other aspects of our models could sometimes appear in the form of impurities in the metal parts as well...

Mark in Oregon

Eddie Marra posted:
Scotie posted:

In O gauge we're so used to the longevity of PW that I think we've lost track of where the manufactures are going. How old is your TV, cell phone and all of the consumer electronics. The manufactures of our trains are starting to think like they do and assume you will have tossed the trains you bought this year for the "new" ones that they will sell in five years.

Its how it now is.

All well and good, but I'm not interested in paying a thousand dollars and above for a locomotive that will fall apart, when I can get a Postwar locomotive that's lived through falls off tables, collisions, mice in attics, Rock and Roll and the Bossa Nova, still be fully intact and run after a standard servicing - and not break $100 - $200!

Its any consumer good. They are all junk. 2005 bought a 55” hitachi plasma tv, like $4200 then  beautiful tv loved he picture . It lasted about 5 years. Board failure which i tried to replace myself but never got it quite right . Next up sharp 70” was cheaper as prices come down. Worked great 3-4 yeaes and then black screen. Funny part comes next. We buy a samsung 65” suhd quantum. Meanwhile I hit up my bad caps electronics forum and find my sharp is prone to a specific screen failure since it has foil se mosfets down each side of the screen. From the forum I learn you can sometimes remove the right side foil (which is the fail prone section) and live on. Did the trick and walla, she worked and still does to this day with no apparent changes is screen quality.  The best part of the story is I fixed it to put in my garage. 😎 but wife refused that option .  To this day the 65” Samsung sits mint in the box. Having long since wasted the extended warranty she bought with it. We’ve never plugged it in. So, what are the chances it will work someday? Lol. 

So to me it’s all junk. If a high volume  everyday item like a tv can’t last 5 years why on earth would you think a train would? No offense, but seriously?

 

ps, I love prewR and postwar and I agree they are indestructable!

Dennis Holler If its old and broke, I like it

I agree with New Haven Joe above. I have not seen many posts here about zinc pest (rot) so I don't think it is all that common. The posts I remember seeing on the subject were about trucks, wheels, etc. that were apparently also available as replacement parts. I don't recall seeing them about the main body of the train other than some very old items, like pre-war. Seems to be something that just happens from time to time, although I think pretty rarely. From what I have read about it, it has been a problem in most or all scales at one time or another, as others have also pointed out above. 

Several of my engines are over fifteen years old without rot. I've never seen it myself. And all work fine with some repairs done.

In the meantime -

I threw away a useless $900 VCR plus tapes.

I' m on my third generation of home computer and third generation of cell phone.

Third car too.

and discarded several CRT TVs.

But my Lionel and MTH engines are still a joy to run.

 

 

 

Yes, Zinc pest has been a problem since the first diecast zinc alloys were used.  It is the result of lead (Pb) or other impurities in the melt. So if you think about it, it means if I am making a run of boilers on a machine and my melt is poisoned, all of them will be bad.  If I make ten separate runs, and only one run was poisoned, then 1/10th of my production is bad.  This is also why you will find locos with bad wheels but other parts good for example.  These attachments are not mine, but are representative of what is going on.  I've seen zinc pest In everything that you can think of that might have used a zinc alloy casting, and you probably have as well. Slotcar frames, automobile outer mirror castings (Triumph in my case), kitchen appliances (blender etc) heater duct blower motor frame on my 72 Porsche, etc, etc, etc.  That shell is a an MTH railking tender I saw on ebay.  So considering it is the result of poor quality control in effect, and most of your train suppliers get stuff from China, and do not have control over the factory, AND the failure does NOT usually manifest itself immediately, it should be easy to see how this can happen repeatedly and really, there is not much Lionel or MTH or XXX can do about it after the fact.  We all know most of these mfr's do not really stock spare parts any more.  They make  xx number of extra items and those are robbed for spares as needed. When Lionel lived in Michigan, they did have spare parts, shells etc. They also did their own casting...

2018-02-14 21-02-47_Metal Failures_ Mechanisms, Analysis, Prevention - Arthur J. McEvily, Jirapong K2018-02-14 21-03-15_Metal Failures_ Mechanisms, Analysis, Prevention - Arthur J. McEvily, Jirapong K-1mth railking zinc pest tender

Dennis Holler If its old and broke, I like it

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