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On my newly acquired 2037 Lionel Steamer, which has the old pellet style smoke unit, I've read that some have intentionally NOT converted to the liquid smoke unit mainly because the newer style is more prone to burning out if it is not kept moistened, and there is no shut off for it. So, to keep things simple, many recommend to stay with the pellet style unit (after cleaning out any pellet residue left behind), and use the smoke fluid. OK. That's what I've been doing. I examined the "wick" or "padding" in the chamber and although it is brown stained, it seems to be absorbent, and definitely NOT dried up.
My question is how often and how much fluid should be added? I followed one guy's advice, and added 10 drops of JT's Coal Fired fluid, and it works just fine. But the next day not so much. Do I have to add 3 or 4 drops every day if I use the engine every day? What kind of schedule would be recommended. I'm reading recommendations of fluid amounts all over the place from no more than 2 or 3 drops to 10 drops. Totally confused. Am I overthinking this? In other words, no smoke- just add 10 drops? 2 or 3 drops? In other words Add as Needed?
 

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As John mentioned, it's as needed when the smoke emission starts to diminish. The fluid is very much a consumable so it definitely doesn't last as long as you might think. As far as drop count, basically you're limited to how much the bowl of the smoke unit can hold without overflowing through the little tube in the middle where the air from the puffer cylinder/piston comes through. 2-3 sounds light to me, 10 sounds more like what I generally put into mine. I've gotten to where I don't really count drops from a JT's dropper, I've got a visual amount stored to memory and I just eyeball it.
 

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I've responded to this thread but I wanted to add a little something. I'm not sure about the wisdom of fluid into a trad pellet smoke unit for one big reason: There's no soak-padding under the filaments to prevent fluid from clogging the tiny air hole that makes it Puff and not just flow out over the smokestack, which is taken care of if you install a liquid unit. The liquid conversion kits come with both liner for the unit's base that is not totally closed in around it, but has space for the air hole to provide the puffing mechanism, plus a liner for the unit to fit under the smokestack. The pill units don't have the base liner - important detail, as I see it. Wrong? Can someone who's done both comment?
 

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The pill units do indeed have a wicking material under the element. They’re usually a crusty nasty mess from years of melted pellets being absorbed into it. New pads can be acquired and are included in the rebuild kits sold by Henning’s trains. Best results would probably be obtained by replacing the original pad if the Heating element is in good shape. I’ve also just simply used a tuft of pink fiberglass house insulation which also worked ok.
 
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