With proper care, a Lionel train can last for generations. Just like your car and your house, a little routine maintenance regularly is an inexpensive way to minimize more expensive problems down the track.
We do not pre-oil our models at the factory. This minimizes the mess that can occur when excessive oil wanders from the friction points where it belongs. Lubricating your model takes only a few minutes but can have a lasting impact on your trains.
Everything you’ll need can be found in our lubrication and maintenance kit, 6-62927. This kit includes light oil for lubricating wheels, axles, side rods and other moving parts, a heavier grease for gears and track cleaning fluid and a track eraser for cleaning the rails. It can be found at our authorized dealers, and through www.lionelstore.com.
The oil comes in a plastic tube. You’ll need to clip the end of the tube to get out the oil. Keep this cut as close to the tip as possible to make the applicator as small as you can. Another option is to pick up another bottle with a metal needle-point tip at your hobby shop and transfer the oil to that. The more precise your application, the less you’ll waste and the cleaner you’ll keep your models.
There is no set rule on when you need to lubricate your locomotive. A lot depends on how regularly you run your trains and for how long.
It is a good idea to add oil when you get the locomotive or car. If you bring your train out only a few times a year, oil it each time you take it out of storage. And of course, the squeaky wheel should get the oil! If you notice any new squeaks, a small drop of oil usually does the trick.
Too much oil can be as bad as too little. Just a small drop will go a long way. Not only can excess oil smear over driving wheels and the shell in storage, on the layout it can collect on the rails and around the track bed. Oil on the rails will reduce traction and collect dirt.
Place a small drop of oil on the axles where they go through the frame, or rest in the journals of the trucks. Add a drop to each of the connections of the side rods as well on steam locomotives. You don’t want to oil the center-rail roller itself, but a drop on the sides of its small axle will prevent squeaks. See the photo or video attached to this blog for an illustration of where this oil should be applied.
Don’t forget to oil the journals of your freight and passenger car trucks too. This same oil can also be used on our animated accessories and railcars on any of their moving parts as well.
Free-rolling wheels can only keep rolling if the track is clean! Next week we’ll look at one of the most common problems facing all model railroaders – keeping the rails clean.