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Maintaining Your Lionel Trains

Over the last 50 years or so there have been many articles written about the topic of cleaning and maintaining Lionel toy trains. Some have been very good while others tend to lead the reader astray as to the correct oils and lubricants to be used as well as the methods to be employed to clean your trains. We're not going to join the latter group, as a matter of fact we will take a cue from Lionel and let them guide us through the methods they recommended for cleaning, lubricating and maintaining their products. Let's take some pages right out of Lionel's maintenance manual!

Lionel Maintenance Manual Page 1

Lionel's marketing executives, including the owner himself Joshua Cowen, stressed realism by correlating Lionel trains with real railroads and their operation, which included maintenance. To make their point Lionel even went so far as to ask whether you had ever noticed how carefully enginemen lubricated the important parts of their locomotives. You may have had this opportunity during the 1950's, but not present day. During the 1950's Lionel wrote an abundance of literature with respect to their products, and one important aspect was the care and maintenance of engines, rolling stock and accessories. They spent a great deal of time detailing the correct way to do so.

Lionel Maintenance Manual Page 2Lionel Maintenance Manual Page 2

The intended message was that you should oil and lubricate carefully and not over do it. Too much oil or grease is worse than too little. As we move on we will cover what we believe to be some of the better oils and lubricants to use on your Lionel trains, but first a word of caution - Do not use 3 in 1 Oil on your trains! In the early 1940's Lionel cautioned its use due to its affect on Lionel castings, and in the 1950's they stated that 3 in 1 Oil would attack the plastic bodies as well as the paint.

Scroll over the image to the left to enlarge it.