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Discussion Starter #1
I can't seem to find any definitive info on how to maintain a 2037 smoke unit. I never owned a "smoker" as a kid, and now I will be acquiring a 2037. WHY? Because I CAN! My question is if I never add any oil, will the smoke unit burn out? In other words, should I ALWAYS add 5 or 10 drops of oil to keep the wick moistened? How often? Can someone give me some general guidelines or a schedule on this?
I really don't want to use the smoke feature all the time. How I wish there was a switch to shut it off at will. Has anyone made a mod like that?
 

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The 2037 as it came from the factory would have been designed for smoke pellets vs. fluid which came later. People often feel they should convert these pellet units to the more modern liquid style heating element, but I tend to disagree as it then does require keeping fluid in them constantly or at least installing a switch to shut the heating element off when not in use. I use fluid in all of my original pellet units with fine results and they're much more robust than the modern style. If it hasn't been converted, then you should be fine to just add fluid whenever you feel like it vs all the time.

That's not to say the original heating elements don't fatigue and fail over decades of use, but replacements are available.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The 2037 as it came from the factory would have been designed for smoke pellets vs. fluid which came later. People often feel they should convert these pellet units to the more modern liquid style heating element, but I tend to disagree as it then does require keeping fluid in them constantly or at least installing a switch to shut the heating element off when not in use. I use fluid in all of my original pellet units with fine results and they're much more robust than the modern style. If it hasn't been converted, then you should be fine to just add fluid whenever you feel like it vs all the time.

That's not to say the original heating elements don't fatigue and fail over decades of use, but replacements are available.
I didn't receive my order for the 2037 yet. But, how can I easily tell if it is a pellet or liquid type smoke unit without taking the body off?
 

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A picture is worth 1000 words, or so they say...

This is one of my pellet smoke units. The heating element has been replaced with a modern repro one, but the older ones look about the same when viewed through the smokestack. The Pellet units also have a metal cap on the smoke unit that you might be able to see when viewed down the smokestack. I believe the conversion kits come with a black plastic cap. The conversion kits I believe also use a ceramic coated resistor, so you won't see the wire windings and it'd be a much smaller part than the original wire wound pellet elements assuming you can even see it when looking through the smokestack. I don't have any converted locomotives in my collection so I can't say 100% what they look like.

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The 2037 as it came from the factory would have been designed for smoke pellets vs. fluid which came later. ...I use fluid in all of my original pellet units with fine results and they're much more robust than the modern style. If it hasn't been converted, then you should be fine to just add fluid whenever you feel like it vs all the time.
I had a 2037 and sold it. Used fluid to test the smoke unit. Worked fine.

jpepe3691: See if there are any obvious signs that the body was ever removed. Scratched paint in the screw head on top and around the pin on the side. The pin needs to be removed, punched out from one side, along with the screw to remove the body. That's not definitive, but may give you a good idea.

IMG_0265.JPG
 

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Another thing, you mention specifically checking the smoke unit without taking the body shell off. With any Postwar Lionel locomotive, I highly recommend giving it a proper servicing before putting it into service (unless it's known that it was serviced recently) which typically involves removing the shell. After 50+ years, they generally require a good cleaning and lubrication, if nothing else, to keep them going for another 50 years.
 

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For one, just add a switch in the cab. For smoke you can go with pills or liquid. The longer you wait the more of a chance of burning it out. Cut the wire to the smoke unit and run it to the switch and run it back.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
For one, just add a switch in the cab. For smoke you can go with pills or liquid. The longer you wait the more of a chance of burning it out. Cut the wire to the smoke unit and run it to the switch and run it back.
I really think this is the best solution. To be able to switch the unit on or off. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Another thing, you mention specifically checking the smoke unit without taking the body shell off. With any Postwar Lionel locomotive, I highly recommend giving it a proper servicing before putting it into service (unless it's known that it was serviced recently) which typically involves removing the shell. After 50+ years, they generally require a good cleaning and lubrication, if nothing else, to keep them going for another 50 years.
I've had my 2036 apart, so it's probably very similar. Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I had a 2037 and sold it. Used fluid to test the smoke unit. Worked fine.

jpepe3691: See if there are any obvious signs that the body was ever removed. Scratched paint in the screw head on top and around the pin on the side. The pin needs to be removed, punched out from one side, along with the screw to remove the body. That's not definitive, but may give you a good idea.

View attachment 543360
WOW! Beautiful parts diagram for the 2036/2037. Thank you for that. It looks like the biggest difference as far as removing the shell on both is the rear pin on the 2037. Now I see what everybody is talking about-tapping out that pin from the side. I'm really starting to lean in the direction of a smoke SWITCH mounted in the cab section. This way I will have the best of both worlds.
 

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Yes, the 2037 is an odd one to take apart, but not bad. As you said, it should be similar to your 2036 if not identical (I don't own a 2036) You need a center punch and a hammer. Note that one end of the pin is knurled while the other is smooth. You want to tap it out from the smooth end so you don't have to force that knurl through both sides of the shell.

Enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yes, the 2037 is an odd one to take apart, but not bad. As you said, it should be similar to your 2036 if not identical (I don't own a 2036) You need a center punch and a hammer. Note that one end of the pin is knurled while the other is smooth. You want to tap it out from the smooth end so you don't have to force that knurl through both sides of the shell.

Enjoy!
Thanks- good point.
 

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This is from a modern engine but the shell of the 2037 is different and needs a cab mount. I drill through the shell. Then with the two wires soldered to the switch I wrap it in electrical tape and epoxy it to the cab floor with the switch knob protruding. I done it a few times for other people but could not locate a picture. These switches are easily found on ebay.
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Discussion Starter #14
This is from a modern engine but the shell of the 2037 is different and needs a cab mount. I drill through the shell. Then with the two wires soldered to the switch I wrap it in electrical tape and epoxy it to the cab floor with the switch knob protruding. I done it a few times for other people but could not locate a picture. These switches are easily found on ebay.
View attachment 543382
Great idea! I know what you're saying- I don't have that "ledge" where I could mount a SPST switch. But I do see where you drilled the holes for the wires to go through and int the floor of the cab, where I can use some double sided tape to secure the switch. Thanks for the idea- Nice photography!
 

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The 2037 was the first Lionel my dad bought me back in the early sixties. I had it refurbished and had to put another motor in it, but it runs.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Mine was the 2036, part of a set that somehow Santa set up overnight on Christmas Eve, back in the late 50's!
It's still running like a champ! Just had to do some lubrication and light cleaning. But, always wanted the SMOKE option, so I ordered the 2037 as it's companion.
 

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2037s are nice engines, and pretty affordable since so many were made over the years. I have the 2037 that was given to my grandfather and his brother for Christmas in 1954 and it still runs great (after a bit of TLC). They were generally in the lower end sets Lionel was producing, but they were nice because they still had all the features Lionel had to offer at the time.
 

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I've never bought a used Lionel smoker with pill unit still installed that didn't need the shell to be removed and the pill unit itself cleaned out of years' worth of pill residue wrecking the smoke airhole (for puffing effect) and the clogged up unit that is easily cleaned out with a screwdriver or anything to break up the residue. Best of all, IMHO, is to replace the pill element with an easy to replace liquid smoke - it fits straight into the pill unit with a new cap and easy instructions and then great smoke. Pills are expensive and the residue will keep collecting after several pills have been used up. Needless old-tech when the upgrade is so inexpensive and more satisfying. My #2018 (same as #2037) is my best smoker, better than some modern bigger engines, etc...
 
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