General Tips & FAQs

From kitbashing ideas to dazzling TrainMaster™ magic, from wiring diagrams to spectacular scenery, the real expertise comes from you -- and so do many of these hints. To submit your own hint, please go to Talk to Us and drop us a line. It may show up on Lionel.com!

Meanwhile, this is the place to find the information you need to take your hobby to the next level of fun.

Cleaning Dirt Build-Up on Wheels and Track

Light oil spray is an excellent solvent for the dirt that builds up on car and engine wheels and track rails. I use Q tips saturated with light oil spray to remove the build up on wheels and a cloth saturated with light oil spray on the rails. If the build up is severe, I first use a utility knife to scrape off the sediment, then finish with light oil spray.

W. J. Zide
Lincroft, N.J.

How To Clean Lionel Track

So you just went to your neighbor's garage sale and you found a treasure, a box full of Lionel trains and accessories. You're so excited, you cannot wait to set it up to see that new treasure running down the track. But to your dismay, you look in the bottom of the box and find out that the track is not in very good condition. There is all kinds of dirt, grime and even some rust on the rails. What can you do to get it in a condition that will allow your train to run smoothly without stopping or hesitating?

Rust can be removed with sandpaper. Non-metallic kitchen scouring pads work well too, but never use steel wool on track. Small particles tend to stick to the rails until they are picked up by a locomotive. This can cause damage to your locomotive. Check each section to be sure all three steel pins are in place and tight. If necessary, crimp the track around the pin with needle-nose pliers to ensure a tight fit. The top running surfaces of the rails are most important surfaces to keep clean for good operation. They must be free of dirt, oxide and rust. Try to wipe the surfaces to keep clean rails with a soft cloth occasionally after use to clean off any minor dirty spots. A hard eraser will take off any stubborn spots of grime.

Now that your track is clean and electrically sound, your locomotive should now be able to ride the rails with no problems. Make a habit of cleaning your track on a regular basis. It is also a good idea to keep the wheels and center rail electrical pick ups on your train free from grime. Regular lubrication and maintenance of your trains will allow you to enjoy them for a long, long time.