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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,
New to the forum. 52 Yr old kid here looking to get back into Lionel O-Gauge (casually).
A little background. I had the 1971 Allegheny set with the Wheaties box car. A few years later my dad got me the spirit of '76 Diesel engine. I do remember having to get a better power supply for that and we also had a separate whistle button. We had the trains set up each year around the Christmas tree with a circle and then a small oval. I had so much fun I asked if we could have it up all year. My dad set it up on a board in the basement. For some reason after that it never got much use. I’m sure he got upset as he ripped everything apart and threw it all in boxes.
Fast forward to today. I found the trains and box cars, although in rough shape. In most of the boxes mice decided to nest with droppings. The tracks; in really bad shape. Bent, rusted, some still having mounting materials on them. Although the trains were up high on a shelf the basement had several floods and I’m sure they all have the moldy/mildew smell.

Browsing through many of the helpful threads I “think” I have a general idea of how things work now. I couldn’t believe all the different types of Lionel products available. I have a few questions if you don’t mind:
  • Are my trains/box cars worth it to restore and if so what would be needed to get them to run? I was looking at the various Lionchief sets and the basic Lionchief wouldn’t work as they don’t accept tranformers correct? I didn’t care for the idea that I would have to buy a new remote for any new lionchief engine. I like the idea of starting fresh with a new set that would support new and old.
  • For now I’m thinking of a basic Christmas tree setup during the season and having an oval set up in my basement throughout the year that I actually would use. :) The step up seems the way to go in the Lionchief plus 2.0 if I ever wanted the ability to upgrade. Is that right? I’d like to see if I could get my old trains running and then have a new engine or two as well. Also wouldn’t mind getting a few of the lights, building structures that are available.
  • Fast track. I’m guessing that would work ok with my older trains? I did see O27 mentioned on a few of the boxes. If I can’t use my older sets I’m fine with going all new but I’d like to make sure I do have the ability to upgrade if I get more serious in this hobby. I didn’t see any lionchief plus 2.0 complete sets with track unless I’m mistaken.
  • Not being familiar with all the new options, were the sets of the 70s equivalent to any of the newer models in quality. Better/worse?
Thank you all for your help,
Happy New Year,
Joe
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Hello,
New to the forum. 52 Yr old kid here looking to get back into Lionel O-Gauge (casually).
A little background. I had the 1971 Allegheny set with the Wheaties box car. A few years later my dad got me the spirit of '76 Diesel engine. I do remember having to get a better power supply for that and we also had a separate whistle button. We had the trains set up each year around the Christmas tree with a circle and then a small oval. I had so much fun I asked if we could have it up all year. My dad set it up on a board in the basement. For some reason after that it never got much use. I’m sure he got upset as he ripped everything apart and threw it all in boxes.
Fast forward to today. I found the trains and box cars, although in rough shape. In most of the boxes mice decided to nest with droppings. The tracks; in really bad shape. Bent, rusted, some still having mounting materials on them. Although the trains were up high on a shelf the basement had several floods and I’m sure they all have the moldy/mildew smell.

Browsing through many of the helpful threads I “think” I have a general idea of how things work now. I couldn’t believe all the different types of Lionel products available. I have a few questions if you don’t mind:
  • Are my trains/box cars worth it to restore and if so what would be needed to get them to run? I was looking at the various Lionchief sets and the basic Lionchief wouldn’t work as they don’t accept tranformers correct? I didn’t care for the idea that I would have to buy a new remote for any new lionchief engine. I do like the idea of starting fresh with a new set that would support new and old.
  • For now I’m thinking of a basic Christmas tree setup during the season and having an oval set up in my basement throughout the year that I actually would use. :) The step up seems the way to go in the Lionchief plus 2.0 if I ever wanted the ability to upgrade. Is that right? I’d like to see if I could get my old trains running and then have a new engine or two as well. Also wouldn’t mind getting a few of the lights, building structures that are available.
  • Fast track. I’m guessing that would work ok with my older trains? I did see O27 mentioned on a few of the boxes. If I can’t use my older sets I’m fine with going all new but I’d like to make sure I do have the ability to upgrade if I get more serious in this hobby. I didn’t see any lionchief plus 2.0 complete sets with track unless I’m mistaken.
  • Are the sets of the 70's equivalent to the any of the models today in quality?
Thank you all for your help,
Happy New Year,
Joe
 

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Railroad Tycoon
Joined
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24,167 Posts
Hello,
New to the forum. 52 Yr old kid here looking to get back into Lionel O-Gauge (casually).
A little background. I had the 1971 Allegheny set with the Wheaties box car. A few years later my dad got me the spirit of '76 Diesel engine. I do remember having to get a better power supply for that and we also had a separate whistle button. We had the trains set up each year around the Christmas tree with a circle and then a small oval. I had so much fun I asked if we could have it up all year. My dad set it up on a board in the basement. For some reason after that it never got much use. I’m sure he got upset as he ripped everything apart and threw it all in boxes.
Fast forward to today. I found the trains and box cars, although in rough shape. In most of the boxes mice decided to nest with droppings. The tracks; in really bad shape. Bent, rusted, some still having mounting materials on them. Although the trains were up high on a shelf the basement had several floods and I’m sure they all have the moldy/mildew smell.

Browsing through many of the helpful threads I “think” I have a general idea of how things work now. I couldn’t believe all the different types of Lionel products available. I have a few questions if you don’t mind:
  • Are my trains/box cars worth it to restore and if so what would be needed to get them to run? I was looking at the various Lionchief sets and the basic Lionchief wouldn’t work as they don’t accept tranformers correct? I didn’t care for the idea that I would have to buy a new remote for any new lionchief engine. I do like the idea of starting fresh with a new set that would support new and old.
  • For now I’m thinking of a basic Christmas tree setup during the season and having an oval set up in my basement throughout the year that I actually would use. :) The step up seems the way to go in the Lionchief plus 2.0 if I ever wanted the ability to upgrade. Is that right? I’d like to see if I could get my old trains running and then have a new engine or two as well. Also wouldn’t mind getting a few of the lights, building structures that are available.
  • Fast track. I’m guessing that would work ok with my older trains? I did see O27 mentioned on a few of the boxes. If I can’t use my older sets I’m fine with going all new but I’d like to make sure I do have the ability to upgrade if I get more serious in this hobby. I didn’t see any lionchief plus 2.0 complete sets with track unless I’m mistaken.
  • Are the sets of the 70's equivalent to the any of the models today in quality?
Thank you all for your help,
Happy New Year,
Joe
Welcome to the forum.
 

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Hobo for Life
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Ok, so you can power the lioncheif on the old transformer, you just need to set the power at a constant 18 volts, if i remember corectly. It will then be controlled by the remote. You can also run you old stuff also, just not at the same time , as 18 volts on the old one will shoot it off the tracks. You can get fasttrack, or the old tube track your used to. They make both, and also diffrent stuff. Any will work for you.
Cleaning, for the cars, blow off the dust, wipe down with a semi wet rag. Use a wire brush on the wheels to get the rust junk off. Oil what moves without getting it on the wheels. Its not hard.
Check your transformer to see if it works. Then power up your engien, post a few pics, people will tell you how to clean and oil it. They usally dont take a lot to fix up, it helps if you are semi handy. Also, post what you want to do, if using newer stuff on the old transformer, you may need some exterior circut protection.
Buy what you like, i have older stuff, pre war, and post war stuff that runs fine after a little fixing up. I also have some newer things.
Have fun! If you do want a permanent set up plan it out. Where the accessories go and what they need to operate. You may need a bigger transformer depending on soze of the layout and whay you have that draws juice.
 

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Joe,

If you're attached to your childhood trains or just think it would make an interesting project, then go ahead and clean them up. Chances are they'll work. If you'd rather use traditional track, Menard's carries new tubular track (if you have a Menard's in your neck of the woods). Yes, the LionChief Plus 2.0 is the next step up from the LionChief starter sets. If you don't care for the new features, then the 70's Lionel stuff is your cheapest route.
 

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I’m with ya , I’m 62 and am hooked. It has begun
Congratulations, it looks like you successfully reset the clock from 62 to six. :giggle: You'll have fun all over again (though a second round of the teen years can be tough for some) ;)

One suggestion: paint the top a solid color before you get much further (ex., dark green for grass) . Better than a plain ply background. It's quick and easy now when you can clear the top and paint unobstructed using a small roller. It'll will provide a scenic backdrop whilst you build the "empire".

I found a medium green on the Home Depot paint department's "seconds" shelf. Paid $9 for a 1/2 gallon (instead of $28). They'll gladly add some pigment to darken the color (as they did for me).


552255


552256


552258
 

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Good idea! I have a 1958 Lionel I want to incorporate into the layout as well. Lots to do and time to do it. Yours looks great, I like that long run. I’m just trying to get some run time in. I’ll keep posting as I progress and you do the same. Gotta go play now 🚂🚂🚂🚂🚂😎
 

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I painted mine dirt brown when it was flat and bare, it's getting a little chewed up with all the track laying activities, but it'll be covered at some point anyway. I'd consider laying either 1/2" Homasote or maybe some of the 1" thick dense blue construction foam sheet on the plywood before laying the track. Mine is 1/2" Baltic Birch, 1/2" Homasote, and I'm using 1/4" foam roadbed.

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I’m thinking foam as well. The ply board can get noisy ,then paint. So many decisions. What a layout, perfect man cave.
 

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" the basic Lionchief wouldn’t work as they don’t accept tranformers correct?"
No. You can usea traditional transformer with Lionchief (LC) or Lioncheif Plus locos. LC and LC+ seem the same until you own them, then you discover that LC+ is worth the extra money (LC+ lcos have a switch to run conventionally or with the remote, LC locos run only with their remote, LC+ are better quality and have much better control of speed and such compared to LC). To run LC or OC+ them with a traditonal transformer, set the LC+ loco to run under the remote, then set the locos up on the track, turn the transformer to at near full powerz; to loco will beep - it is looking for its remote's singal. Turn on the remote, and that will now control it.
For now I’m thinking of a basic Christmas tree setup during the season and having an oval set up in my basement throughout the year that I actually would use. :) The step up seems the way to go in the Lionchief plus 2.0 if I ever wanted the ability to upgrade. Is that right? YES
I’d like to see if I could get my old trains running and then have a new engine or two as well. Also wouldn’t mind getting a few of the lights, building structures that are available. SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN.
Fast track. I’m guessing that would work ok with my older trains? YES, I did see O27 mentioned on a few of the boxes. If I can’t use my older sets I’m fine with going all new but I’d like to make sure I do have the ability to upgrade if I get more serious in this hobby. I didn’t see any lionchief plus 2.0 complete sets with track unless I’m mistaken. PROBABLY NOT, BUT YOU CAN BUY ALL THE DIFFERENT TRACK AND SUCH YOU NEED.
Not being familiar with all the new options, were the sets of the 70s equivalent to any of the newer models in quality. Better/worse? BOTH. MY OPINION IS THE SETS OF THE 70S WERE BETTER THAN THE ENTRY-LEVEL LOCOS AND SETS SOLD TODAY (FOR LIONEL, THAT INCLUDES SOME LIONCHIEF (NO PLUS) LOCOS, BUT THEY ARE NOT AS GOOD AS THE LIONCHIEF PLUS LOCOS, THE LEGACY AND VISION GRADES OF TOY LOCOS.
 

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Joe, your rolling stock will run with todays trains no problem. As for restoration, thats a part of the hobby many of us like to do ourselves. May not be "worth it" if you were thinking of sending it out unless it has a lot of sentimental value. Hang on to it and you may want to try your hand on it later. Most of the time all it takes is cleaning and lubrication.
As for layout prep, if you plan a classic post war look then maybe green paint is a good choice. If you plan something a bit more realistic, many scenery experts recommend charcol gray or black. It will make the grass and other scenery details pop out more.
Pete
 

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Welcome back!

In refference to your equipment, "O-27" just refers to the fact that the cars are compressed in dimension and proportion to run on very narrow curves with a 27" diameter. They -especially the early very small boxcars- might look a little odd mixed with modern equipment, but they will run on the same rails and couple up just fine with modern equipment.

If the boxes are stinky I'd toss them out and let the cars air out a bit. If they're not too damaged, they can be cleaned up. No reason not to do so if you've got the time. For basic rolling stock (not passenger cars, mechanical cars or lighted cars) with a stink and grime you could proabbly even just use soap and water as long as you immediately dry them off and put them in front of a fan to completely dry and then lube where necessary.

Also, if you want to stick with "conventional" powered locomotives that run off a regular transformer they are still sold and are considerably cheaper than most Lionchief stuff. No shame in doing both though or switching over to modern control systems entirely.
 

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...

It sounds like the best thing for me to do is see if I can get my existing trains cleaned up best I can and buy some track. ...

Joe
There are lots of options for track. And they'll all run your trains. Some slight exceptions with minimum radius curves for larger engines and longer rolling stock though all post/prewar Lionel will run on O-31 curves or larger. And a very few issues with certain loco's that stall on certain switches. So I'll start a list of current product track you can Google. I'm sure other embers will add to the list

Menards Tubular O gauge (equivalent to Lionel postwar O gauge)
Lionel Fastrack gauge
Gargraves O gauge
Atlas O gauge
 

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Discussion Starter #16
gunrunnerjohn,
Thank you for modifying my posts.

Thanks everyone for the responses. Learning a lot and browsing through all the threads is very helpful.
I'll have to check the transformer I have. I believe it's a 1044 or later model. The box looked in rough shape but the transformer itself looked ok. I'll double check it.

My first goal is to see about getting my current trains going, checking the transformer, and getting a basic track setup. Then at a later (not too late) time expand the track a bit and look into some of the new Lionel offerings.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hello,
Back again. Thought I'd share a few photos. (the caboose is not from the 71 set).

I cleaned the trains up a bit and brought them to a local train shop. Dave from The Train Station (Mt Lakes NJ) suggested to stop by so we can test the trains and run them a bit. Very nice of him. We tested the trains along with the 1044 transformer. All worked! I was actually surprised after over 40yrs of inactivity. It was a good feeling seeing them up and running again. One of the customers was shocked to see a spirit of 76. The locomotive even smoked! Now that was something I didn't expect at all. Dave was really helpful and knowledgeable.

The next step is to get some track. I really don't know where this new found hobby will land. For now I see a small oval(ish) setup on the floor in the basement and one around the Christmas tree.

I'm still leaning on running my current trains and getting a LC+ at some point. I looked at a few of the ready to run sets and was surprised that one of the locomotives had a bit of heft. I think it was polar express. Heavier than one of the other LC engines I handled. Not as heavy as the LC+ ones I checked out. With the ready to run sets, I know they are geared as entry level and may not have the quality as the lc+ and higher sets. Are there any ready to run sets that have a better than expected engine than the others or one that maybe has a better reputation than the other sets?

Joe
Spirit76.jpg
71 set.jpg
 
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