Following are some tips and guidelines for the maintenance and cleaning of your model trains. Whether your trains are Lionel or another manufacturer, any set benefits from regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly.
Lionel locomotives are designed in such a way that checks can be done by removing the cover. Remove the screw that is located under the smoke stack in order to remove the cover. Spread the diesel engine's body at the sides until the pins release and pull upward gently. Then turn the engine upside down to access the wheels. Pare off any layers of dirt and grime with an X-acto knife. Finish by applying an eraser to the model's wheels which will remove the rest of the debris.
Locomotives also require regular oiling of the moving parts to keep them working smoothly. Your owner's manual will have instructions for applying the oil as well as the best oil to use. Take care that the oil does not drip onto the rails because oil can interfere with the electrical conductivity of the set and keep your train from functioning properly. A thin oil, such as a 3-in-1, is recommended.
Cleaning and maintenance should also be done on the commutator ad the brushes. Dirt can build up on these parts which will prevent the motor from getting electrical power. If left unattended, the locomotive will fail to work. Cleaning need be performed only about once a year, however. One technique for keeping the commutators clean is to run the locomotive slowly without the body. Apply Rail-Zip cleaner to a clean rag and apply the rag to the commutator while it spins. You will also need to clean the brushes. You can purchase television tuner cleaner from most electronics stores and use it to spray the brushes. Let the cleaning solution drip off and then dry the area by wiping with a clean rag. Put the body back on after you have cleaned it.
You should also perform maintenance on the wheels of the freight cars. Clean wheels are necessary for any Lionel model train set to run smoothly. One way to clean the wheels is to mount a straight section of track on an 18-inch 2×4 board. Then, cover the heads of the rails with a rag or paper towel and slowly drip rubbing alcohol onto it. Place a few small drops of Goo-Gone on the rails prior to running the cars. Run the locomotive over the rails, back and forth until the wheels appear clean and glossy.
It is said that Lionel trains are built to last. Customers report some of the highest satisfaction ratings in the industry. However, regular maintenance is important for any set to keep it functioning smoothly. Some regular maintenance can keep your train set running properly for years!