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Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen….

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Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen….
Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 8:23 AM

Three years in on my train room, and with nearly daily operation, it strikes me as just how high maintenance this hobby can be! I just retired a month ago, so I have time. I find I get just as much done, I just work slower....

so, here it is:   The life and times.......

First off, in my infinite wisdom, I had created many inaccessible areas on my layout. First order of business was making a track cleaning car for every scale. I have one for 0, S, H0, and N. I already had one for G.....

Lionel: not many problems here, except the 681( my all time favorite Lionel engine) starting acting up a year or two back,and I shelved it temporarily ( when I get a 'round tuit). Having the time,I rebuilt the E,cleaned comm and brushes. She starts and rolls a train easily at 8 volts. Back to normal.

Lionel 151 semaphore started to stick in the down position. Got lucky with this one; only needed a drop of oil at the pivot!

I purchased a second 2026('48 and '49 version). It runs and smokes great, but the whistle is frozen....

when I get a 'round tuit.....

Flyer: been very well behaved, not problems to report except the constant buildup of black carbon on the rails from the arcing of the tender wheels.

Here's something: clean track and wheels= greater smoke output!

H0:  50 year old brass engines need TLC. Most have all the plating worn off the drive wheels, so the biggest need is track and wheel cleaning.Occasionally, there might be a problem with the rubber " universal " deteriorating and slipping. The three Bowser engines are holding up extremely well,and are running more smoothly and quietly.

Or is it just my hearing?.....

N: 40 year old engines are dropping like flies....sometimes I can clean and finesse them into action.If only I could get brushes.......

Biggest overall project for everything,including G:

track and wheel cleaning,although much less critical on the Lionel side of things....

It's a good thing I enjoy fixing stuff............

Paul

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 10:44 AM

You know, if you're like me you enjoy fixin' 'em as much as you enjoy runnin' 'em!

Most of the time...  Bang Head

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Posted by philo426 on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 11:43 AM

Sure keeps you busy!

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Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 3:00 PM

Yes, I'm a " gear head" when it comes to trains! Love tinkering and fixin'

Sometimes, they even work when I get done......

Paul

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Posted by pennytrains on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 7:15 PM

You can borrow mine!  Wink

https://link.shutterfly.com/da4heQoFVpb

 

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 9:02 AM

There it is!

a 'round tuit!  All my projects shall be completed! But, this also means.... that I have to get to work......

Paul

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 1:00 PM

I relate deeply to the dirty wheels and old rubber! Ever since I allowed collecting HO again into my life, I've found myself cleaning wheels a lot more than I used to. Not just the locomotives, rolling stock too! I find that pretty much all rolling stock tends to get 'gunk' caked up onto the wheels... a mix of old grease and oil, dust, dirt, and oxidation from the rails slowly gets built up. I think heavier equipment gets less of this build up, but almost all my frieght cars need this stuff removed after a while. They all roll a lot better after being cleaned- metal wheels are relatively easy, cleaning up the plastic wheels is a bit more of a pain.
All the HO I've handled for the most part had bad rubber components- flexible drive shaft couplings, traction tires, motor mounts, and so on. Either the rubber dried out, or it melted into nasty black goo. Not a problem if there's cheap, easy to find replacements, but that hasn't been the case for the vintage Marx and Lionel models I find myself needing to replace these parts on. I've had to improvise however and wherever I can!

Vintage N... interesting. I have an Arnold Rapido F unit chassis I got in a lot of junk which I spruced up. It's going to be a parts unit for an ALCo FA I have somewhere with a totalled motor. 
I wonder if one can modify the brushes used in cheap DC can motors to fit those things, I'm not sure I'm ready to try that one yet! I'd rather keep myself to bigger stuff if I can, though I have a friend who's working on slowly reviving his N scale layout, and it might be wise of me to start building up skills so I can work on his trains if/when the need arises.

I agree that enjoying the fixing aspect of the hobby is a very fortunate thing, I don't know where I'd be if I hadn't taken a liking to it. 

In regards to that 2026's tender, I still haven't found a way to garuntee myself a flawlessly operating whistle, but I have more or less established some steps to always take. One thing I've taken to is always replacing the brushes and springs. It won't hurt the performance, and it definitely improved at least one of my whistles. Good luck with it, I hope you get it going again... y'know, when you get a- oh right, Becky's already got you covered there! Laugh

-Ellie

"Unless bought from a known and trusted dealer who can vouch otherwise, assume every train for sale requires servicing before use"

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Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 3:15 PM

On the vintage N: at one time (1979) I considered the Rivarossi steamers to be my premium trains. Eventually, one or two went out of service.I discovered that I could move the motor brushes from a working unit to a non working unit, and...Presto! Instant fix! So, one time I went into a hobby shop and inquired about buying brushes....the guy looked at me like I totally lost it!  Recently,I have seen the Rivarossi brushes on the web,but no word on any of the other makes and models....

Vintage H0: there was a time when H0 was about the building of kits.

structure kits,car kits,loco kits. A friend gave my some vintage Model Die Casting car kits, and they are die cast metal! Sweet!

And Bowser. I wish I bought more when they were still in production. If I come across a vintage kit,unbuilt and complete, I'll probably buy it, and build it myself!

Just lucked into a couple of Herkimer streamlined car kits. Extruded aluminum!

Paul

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 4:09 PM

Swiss-Colorado-Lines
I purchased a second 2026('48 and '49 version). It runs and smokes great, but the whistle is frozen....

I concur with Ellie, if that whistle's frozen it's probably due to old dried-up lube and possibly some assorted filth in there.  A good cleaning of the assembly plus the motor armature, lubing the same and replacing the brushes and springs as Ellie suggested (or just cleaning them with alcohol) may bring it back to life. 

The above worked on one of mine.  There's a bit of an annoying rattle that I can't do anything about, it's not too apparant with the tender shell off but the shell acts like an echo chamber when I put it back on.  I suspect the noise is coming from the arcing between the brushes and the motor armature, replacing brushes and springs didn't make a difference, it still arcs and make the noise.  Maybe it's endemic to AC motor whistle units and there's nothing you can do about it.  On the plus side, you can't really hear the rattle when the train's in motion.  

It's been said before and it's true, even though they may have babied the engines owners frequently totally ignored the whistle units.

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Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 6:41 PM

Thanks for the tips, Flint and Ellie! So, when I was working, " deferred maintenance " was the norm. I just didn't have the time. I spent several days last week going through the H0 stuff, got all but one running.  Uh-oh ! There's another box in the closet.... Some of this stuff will never run again.

I will usually bundle my projects together, last week H0, maybe next time Lionel tenders! I haven't even opened it up yet, hope it's not too bad...

I was just ecstatic to get the 681 rolling!

Paul

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Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 6:48 PM

Oh!  Forgot to mention: my Flyer display loop is nearing completion! This is the one high up in the corner of the train room. Having big problems posting pictures these days..

But I thought you all might be interested,if I can figure it out.

Paul

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 8:20 PM

A rattle, you say? Honestly I feel like I've got that issue too with one of mine... I have a suspicion that maybe an armature shaft bearing needs replacing. Oh, but I do hate  taking those whistle assemblies apart! Did it once, or twice but I never pulled the armature shaft.
To tell the truth, I've honestly entertained the idea of re-powering them with can motors, after noting how well a 'modern' fan driven Lionel whistle tender worked, which I found replaced the open frame motor with a small can motor. If you think about it, two of the main advantages of a DC can motor are the low current draw and quiet running- two of your biggest enemies when trying to get a tender to operate correctly. I haven't done it yet, but I'm still thinking about it...


I agree that there's virtue in salvaging good parts from a totaled [object of your choice here].  I've definitely done that to keep something going here and there. I tend to save totalled equipment I wind up with, every so often I find that something I had no use for suddenly is just what I need to fix something else.

-Ellie

"Unless bought from a known and trusted dealer who can vouch otherwise, assume every train for sale requires servicing before use"

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 8:55 PM

I hear you on the deferred maintenance... it happens. I usually have the time to tackle my equipment, but frankly I often forget how bad something can get just from not being used. I go to pull out something I haven't played with in a while and it doesn't run right! Out come the tools... or else I have to put it back in a box or drawer and grab a different locomotive/car/accessory to play with in the meantime. 


I've been learning a lot from touching HO again, far more than I ever knew when I was doing HO from when I was 8 until maybe around when I turned 12 or 13. That was when I switched to O-27.
One lesson I've learned with my new forray into HO is... don't try to run it until after you've done work on it. You could blow a winding and/or trash a brush spring if the mechanism is seized or stiff. Some motors are definitely more hearty than others. Another lesson I've learned is that in HO, you don't pull the whole motor apart to service it. Messing with the "flux" the magnetic field has through the armature takes a massive blow to the strength of the field magnet, which will weaken the motor and put you at higher risk of burning it out... yikes!! Until I make myself a magnetizer the lesson has been learned... only pull the armature as a last resort, and goodness please use a keeper!

I'm very happy about the news on the 681, I really need me one of those... can you believe that I own a FM trainmaster, a horizontal motor F3, a Berkshire, and a hudson... yet I don't have a single turbine? It's a problem. I nearly went for a basket case 682 at a show but I decided that it was just too much. Frame gone to zinc pest, no front or rear truck, paint wasn't too great... the shell was intact I think but that's about all you were going to get out of it. I decided that $20 for a shell and some wheels just wasn't worth it. By the time I bought enough parts to have a full loco, I could have my pick of just about any other Turbine. And I probably wouldn't even be able to keep the original paint. If you're only buying the engine for the shell, and even that has had it's value tanked... why bother. Now, if it was being sold for $5 on the other hand... Pirate

Your success story is making me think again about trying to sort out my 736. It was a real mess when I got it, and... in some ways it still is. I thought it at least ran somewhat, but I recently tested it and it wouldn't even do that! I've been baffled by the awful performance it's given me, even after replacing the motor bearings, but now I'm wondering if the cause of my problems is that the motor needs to be shimmed. I'm hoping it's this, because the other possible culprit can only be solved by replacing the motor.

-Ellie

"Unless bought from a known and trusted dealer who can vouch otherwise, assume every train for sale requires servicing before use"

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Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 9:46 PM

Ellie, 

with these old trains, you find what you find,you get what you get...

what I mean is we find trains we want, some are in great condition,others not so much. I got lucky with my 681: cosmetically very good, tight mechanically, smooth running.

But my 726 rr....there's a loco to tinker and learn! And I did, thank you very much! Anemic pulling power, had to crank it up fully. Cleaned everything, no difference. So one frustrating day, I had the shell off, lights were dim in the room, running the chassis on the test track.Then, I saw sparking right where the wire from the field coil attaches to a lug on the motor frame. This is the ground for the entire motor! A dirty connection, so I made a ground wire from there straight to the loco frame. This solved all problems with this particular engine. It was old, and heavily used. This was the condition she came to me...

I guess we just do the best with what we have to work with!

Paul

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, May 12, 2022 11:05 AM

Leverettrailfan
A rattle, you say? Honestly I feel like I've got that issue too with one of mine... I have a suspicion that maybe an armature shaft bearing needs replacing. Oh, but I do hate  taking those whistle assemblies apart! Did it once, or twice but I never pulled the armature shaft.

Me neither!  I have taken the motor assemblies down as far as I cared to, even taken apart the section where the turbine is for inspection purposes, but never found a situation where I thought the bearings were shot.  No wiggle, no wobble, and spinning freely, which is why I suspect the rattling's due to arcing.

I know what you mean about the modern DC motor whistle units being rattle and background noise free, I've seen it myself.  The only problem I've ever had with one of those was a blown controller board, the whistle came on as soon as there was track power and wouldn't shut off.  A replacement board assembly from Brasseur's solved the problem.

Let us know how a DC motor swap in an older tender works.  I wouldn't think a direct swap would work without an inverter board, but you never know. 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, May 12, 2022 11:28 AM

Leverettrailfan
I'm very happy about the news on the 681, I really need me one of those.

A 681's a good one to have!  I've got one of those and I didn't even know I needed one!  I was at Henning's Trains in Lansdale PA and saw one at a REALLY decent price, around $185 as I recall, and since it was at Henning's I knew it was going to work, they overhaul and tune up all the used stuff that goes out for sale.  So, it came home with me!  681's are pretty common so be patient, you'll find a decent one probably sooner than later. 

A quick word on zinc pest.  Actual zinc pest means deterioration and crumbling of the metal and once it starts it can't be stopped.  Caused by impurities in the metal it's actually very uncommon in post-wars, in fact I've never seen a post-war Lionel that was a victim of zinc pest.  What you MAY have seen was zinc corrosion, an whole 'nother thing.  Like any other metal zinc can corrode but it's not hopeless, the corrosion can be cleaned off and stopped just like on ferrous metals. 

Some folks worry about zinc pest on pre-war diecast engines but my attitude is if it hasn't started by now, 80+ years after it left the factory, it's probably never going to start so don't worry about it.

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Posted by pennytrains on Thursday, May 12, 2022 12:43 PM

You know, I was thinking.  (LOOK OUT!)  I've had that old TUIT for about 40 years and it hasn't put driver tires on my Dreyfuss or cleaned and lubricated my 2035 either!  It must be broken!  Laugh

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Thursday, May 12, 2022 1:47 PM

$185 is way out of my price range, Flintlock- the most expensive loco I ever bought was my 2321. It almost broke the bank for me at $160 or so all told, but I absolutely had to have it. Have I spent that much in one go before? I could probably count it on one hand. But never for a single item. 

I buy stuff on a budget! And then I work my magic, and most stuff either runs again or sits around until I get parts for it, or use it to give parts to something else.

Trust me when I say... I know exactly what zinc pest looks like, unfortunately I've had plenty of run ins with it. Unfortunately, it was unmistakable. I saw a vid on YouTube of a 682 and in the description the owner says that it had zinc pest in the frame. Postwar zinc pest is definitely an extremely rare condition, but it's also definitely not something that never happens. The 682 I saw at that show definitely had a bad frame... it was swolen with cracks all over. The shell was intact and pest free but the paint wasn't that great iirc.

Becky, yikes! It must be... you should probably fix it
you know
When you get aro- ah. Right. Whistling

This talk of whistle tenders has me wanting to take a stab at one again. Maybe I'll do that before the weekend hits, if I have time. I need to clear my 1946 American Flyer 151 Hudson off the work bench. Unfortunately I've come to the conclusion that the field magnet is too weak for it to run. Back to being a shelf queen until I make myself a magnetizer.

-Ellie

"Unless bought from a known and trusted dealer who can vouch otherwise, assume every train for sale requires servicing before use"

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, May 12, 2022 1:59 PM

Leverettrailfan
$185 is way out of my price range, Flintlock-

Yeah, it is what it is, I can understand.  Back in the 90's they were going for anywhere from $275 to $375 depending on condition.  Since the "Post-War Boom" for lack of a better term is pretty much over they've gotten more reasonable.  I would have had hard time dropping that kind of money on a 681 myself! 

Post-wars are getting very resonable now.  OK, there's guys displaying at shows who haven't gotten the word yet and are still trying to get 90's prices on them but they're the exception.

OK, if you've seen zinc pest on a post-war I won't argue the point, just because I've never seen it certainly doesn't mean it's never happened.  I suppose there's always some that slip through the cracks no matter how good quality control is.

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Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Thursday, May 12, 2022 5:26 PM

I like the look of the Turbines: small drivers flailing away like mad!

Cool, and unusual engine! Nothing else like it! 
Plus, my soft spot for Pennsy......

Paul

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Thursday, May 12, 2022 5:29 PM

I'll be honest, I think that was the first or second time I'd ever seen something postwar that had been stricken with zinc pest. Lionel definitely had good quality control in the postwar era, and it shows! Frankly the fact you've never seen a pw with zinc pest sounds like a fantastic thing. I hope I don't see another!!

I once saw a turbine at a show for $55, no tender. It looked to be in good shape. I made the mistake of hesistating, it was gone in the 10-15 minutes between when I spotted it and when I had my wallet ready. Wasn't even close to when the show had started! If I get a do-over, I won't make the same mistake twice, that's for sure.

"Unless bought from a known and trusted dealer who can vouch otherwise, assume every train for sale requires servicing before use"

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, May 12, 2022 6:41 PM

Leverettrailfan
I once saw a turbine at a show for $55, no tender.

Man, at $55 that was a steal, even with no tender!  You can always find an "orphan" tender someplace. 

I can understand the hesitating too.  Typically when I go to a show I don't get anything on the first pass, I want to see what else is there before the wallet comes out.

Unless  I run into something I know  someone else isn't going to have, but that's only happened once.  It was a limited run Lionel trolley with "Bergen County Traction Company" markings that I never  expected to see in Virginia and it was on the first table I came to.  No "second pass" for that one, I wasn't taking any chances!  No, I didn't rip my pants getting the wallet out!  

One of these.

https://www.trainz.com/collections/train-eras/products/lionel-6-58238-o-gauge-bergen-county-palisades-trolley-2015-tca-car-ex-box?variant=39745945960570

The seller only wanted $75 for it, another reason I didn't hesistate.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, May 12, 2022 6:52 PM

Swiss-Colorado-Lines

I like the look of the Turbines: small drivers flailing away like mad!

Cool, and unusual engine! Nothing else like it! 
Plus, my soft spot for Pennsy......

Paul

 

The Turbines were a hell of a lot more successful for Lionel than they ever were for the Pennsy!  Ironic, isn't it?

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Posted by pennytrains on Thursday, May 12, 2022 7:27 PM

Here's the most expensive locomotive I ever bought.  $400 back in 95(?).  Now it's brainless and runs only on DC.  All the fancy electronics are in a zip lock bag stored away.

https://link.shutterfly.com/TTJtYlYZYpb

 

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, May 12, 2022 8:51 PM

pennytrains

Here's the most expensive locomotive I ever bought.  $400 back in 95(?).  Now it's brainless and runs only on DC.  All the fancy electronics are in a zip lock bag stored away.

https://link.shutterfly.com/TTJtYlYZYpb

 

 

Yeah, been there done that.  In my case it was an MTH Y6b, bought it used for around $600 and the board package blew due to a pinched wire, apparantly waiting for years to strike.  I wasn't going to spend another $275 for a replacement board package, no way.  So, I ordered a 12 amp electronic E-unit from Dallee Electronics, easy install and it brought the engine back to life.  I had to do some re-wiring to get the smoke unit working and had to install a Williams whistle and bell unit in the tender after making a pick-up assembly. Good runner now.

I'm not buying any more mega-bucks engines unless I can "steal" them. I've got all the prototypically correct models I want even though I know anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of the cost I paid is in the electronics I'll never use since I run conventional.  From now on it's post-war, MPC, or early Kughn era. I can fix 'em when they break and I can customise them if I want.  

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Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Friday, May 13, 2022 9:08 AM

I have a lot of ideas...some are better than others.....

one pipedream I had was to kitbash a Turbine looking engine in G....

of course, this never got off the ground! Many times I have tried to figure how to incorporate the Lionel trains in the garden. I have finally concluded that it would be terrible for the trains, they would absolutely choke. So,I just keep the Lionel and Flyer trains inside.

Most expensive engine? For many years it was my LGB Forney, purchased new in 1996 for the then princely sum of $500. It sounds so cheap now!I have taken to buying used LGB engines from the era before dcc.They are cheaper, and I can fix them myself( but they never break!).LGB is more expensive, but worth every penny with with so few repairs needed.

I keep toying with the idea of adding a Lion Chief loop. They have a really cute Lion Chief Plus Pennsy K4 ! I have finally decided against it because I use Postwar transformers. And, I like to do my own repairs, hence this thread !

Paul

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Friday, May 13, 2022 12:31 PM

That's why I stay away from the fancy electronics- they cost big bucks and I can't repair them if they fry- and I get the impression it's not "if" they fry, but "when" they fry.

I like to do my own repairs, and I'm always eager to find new ways to fix things, and to work on things I haven't done before so I can expand my field of repair knowledge. I learn best by doing things "hands on" after all Smile, Wink & Grin

I've heard nothing but good stuff about LGB. I keep having flashbacks to when I last went to the Brimfield flea market. There was a guy selling a HEAP of LGB stuff. He only wanted $75 for everything. It was a steal and a half by any standard, rest assured. I didn't bring enough money by a long shot, because I needed to borrow cash from my dad and he didn't have much on him.
I'll never forget how that one got away from me!

-Ellie

"Unless bought from a known and trusted dealer who can vouch otherwise, assume every train for sale requires servicing before use"

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, May 13, 2022 12:49 PM

Leverettrailfan
Brimfield flea market.

Brimfield!  We went there back in the early 2000's, two years in a row.  WOW!

I didn't see any train stuff I was interested in but got some other things and we had a ball.  Probably won't be going back though, I still have the energy to cover it all but the wife doesn't.  Covering all that ground is not for the weak!

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, May 13, 2022 12:54 PM

Leverettrailfan
That's why I stay away from the fancy electronics- they cost big bucks and I can't repair them if they fry- and I get the impression it's not "if" they fry, but "when" they fry.

I've said it before, that's the problem with sophisticated electronics.  They can last 20, maybe 30 years or more or blow tomorrow.  You just never know.   We had brand-new copiers that blew their main boards right out of the box but thank goodness they were few and far between.  Embarassing, to say the least!  

In the copier repair business "in the field" board repairs ended almost 40 years ago, we had to send them out to specialized board repair outfits.  Just too complicated now. 

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Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Friday, May 13, 2022 2:20 PM

Nothing against all the new stuff with all the bells and whistles. It is very tempting to dive in. But I enjoy fixing the trains almost as much as running them!

 And as already been mentioned, the Postwar trains, Lionel, Flyer, and Marx are a great value right now! Most parts are easily available, generally pretty simple to work on!

Having a Zen moment fixing trains.....

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