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TEAMYAKIMA

LIONEL - Reliability?

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Hello

 

My local steam museum wants to run a 'O' model railway on a daily basis - 12 hours a day , 363 days a year - and I have recommended Lionel as being the most robust and reliable.

 

The issue is that this will need to be turned on in the morning and left to run itself round and round without any supervision - it will be 7ft off the ground so it will be diifficult to clean the track and it will run in a dirty environment .

 

As a result they plan to clean the track just once a month - hence my suggestion of Lionel rather than 2 rail.

 

The issue is therefore Lionel or nothing .... before I suggest giving it the 'GO!' can anyone please give advice on whether Lionel can operate reliably in such hostile (dirty) conditions.

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I would say that running without supervision is ambitious for any model railway.

 

I did once chat with the owner of a seaside OO model railway that ran daily, and replacing wheelsets was a daily chore as the flanges would wear away completely in a matter of weeks.

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Only limited personal experience of Lionel, and my answer to the brief would, unquestionably, have been LGB.

 

There are plenty of set-ups that thrash LGB locos on this sort of basis in shops, parks, restaurants etc, and they cope fine.

 

Maintenance will be needed, mainly periodic lubrication, changing of collector-skates etc, but anything would need maintenance on that brief.

 

Kevin

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I would say that running without supervision is ambitious for any model railway.

 

Quite agree. Having been involved with the building and maintenance of the Bachmann layout at the NRM I can I can confirm that wear on stock and rails means replacement comes round much sooner that expected.

 

I seriously doubt that ANY manufacturer's product could take the sort of usage that is envisaged in the OP.

 

steve 

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A lot will depend on what era of Lionel you refer to.  Old original post war Lionel is goofproof and would be the best bet; quality mechs in those days.  Later incarnations were cheapened somewhat but would be satisfactory.  Newer electronic  versions are subject to the vagaries of electronic technology and would best be avoided.  Any Lionel era is compatible with each other and there shouldn't be many worries over dirty track.  I clean mine every year whether it needs it or not and even though the layout has been up and running these last twenty years, it doesn't make much difference, perhaps due to the third rail and the heavy locos and rolling stock.

 

Brian.

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It's not the electrics that are the problem, it's physical wear. The wheel/rail interface acting on each other that grinds them away. In addition, the motion on steam locos wears out because the holes get to big to hold the rivets/screws/etc that are supposed to keep it together. Diesels are better but the wheels still wear away.

 

steve

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It's a specialist area, which I had experience of in 00 for window displays, and the wear and tear is quite a lot more than you imagine,

also frankly, Lionel are not what they were, the current items are a mixture of US production and FE, and they have lowered some of the standards with motors etc, using modern DC types with electronic reversing etc. Older Lionel had a reputation for being over engineered simple designs, but cast iron and steel parts have faded to plastic in the current offerings.

 

There is no way an unattended line can run, accidents happen, power outage, wear and tear, and interference from viewer of the exhibit.

 

A difficult factor is the quoted "dirty conditions", how dirty, how hostile, it is really open ended. The odd factor not remembered is that wheels pick up dirt and crud from the track, and can get a deposit on the tyre that cannot be left for to long, it will require attention. The crud can get to 2/3/5 mm thick quite quickly, and cause no end of troubles with derailments. Three rail may help Locos run, but the crud pickup will be there on the stock wheels

 

Such displays must also run at slower speed, the higher and max speed is not rated for continuous running, frankly nothing is in models.

 

So it is back to find out what can be done on care of the line day to day.

 

I would agree about LGB being tough, but mainly at lower speeds and not in dirty conditions. Also the driving wheels are plated brass etc, and will wear though to the soft core.

 

I should add I did work for the Science Museum and they were the leading experts on keeping displays running and resisting Kids, they even had worn examples of hardened stainless steel knobs, that were purely worn by kids touch. Someone suggested titanium and they tried, it worked, no wear, and a thousand pound bill for the metal and manufacture! They went back to replacing the knobs every few months.

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And, here is the testimonial from the owner of the bookshop that I linked to, talking about their Accucraft loco, which inter-runs with the LGB ones:

 

"“Caledonia” retires for a “heavy general” after 74,115 miles!

Our doughty little “Caledonia” which has been flying the flag for Accucraft at Barter Books in Northumberland has finally had to come into the ‘shops for a “heavy general” overhaul after clocking up over 3,000 actual miles running on the shelf-top layout in the old railway station in Alnwick. David Champion, responsible for the original provision of one of our locos for the store, commented, “So the final figures (run with all original components) are:

 

Load: Two Accucraft Isle of Man bogie coaches.

Distance travelled – 3294 actual miles, 74,115 Scale miles.

Hours run: 4,117hours.

Days run: 428.

Start Date: 27th September 2011

Finish Date: 20th December 2012

Days off: Christmas Day 2011

 

Doubtless to say, we are thrilled with the loco. It has far exceeded our expectations and been a delight to this year’s 275,000 visitors. I have enjoyed playing with it too!”

 

As far as we can tell the loco now requires some attention to the motor, all the other components appear to be in good fettle and the loco’s tyres are barely worn at all."

 

These things, LGB, Accucraft, and similar, are designed to run outdoors, so are very robust. Now, if the museum in question has a smoke-laden atmosphere, that will not help, but, overall, with maintenance, the brief can be met ...... I'd take the job on.

 

K

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I've seen quite a few places that start an LGB train running first thing in the day, leave it running all day and turn if off at close of business after it has operated all day unattended. For that sort of application, if LGB make a suitable looking model for what you need then I agree with Nearholmer that they're the best option. However LGB is not cheap (other than the entry level sets which are well priced).

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Gents, thanks for your comments

 

Just to clarify a couple of things ....

 

LGB etc are not options - it would be Lionel or nothing as the display would be sponsored - also within reason the cost of replacing the stock is not an issue for the same reason

 

The track would not be accessable to the public it would be above head height

 

The track would just be a plain oval, no pointwork

 

It would be modern (2017) Lionel as the steam engine model they want to use is current

 

I gave the wrong impression when I said steam museum .... the area the train would run is not affected by steam/oil just general dust/dirt

 

Paul

Edited by TEAMYAKIMA

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Surely it's entirely moot if Lionel are sponsoring the display and providing the models? If they don't cope that's their problem.

 

You say you've recommended Lionel, have they been approached on the back of this? In which case why not approach LGB? If not then why are you asking?

Edited by njee20

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Surely it's entirely moot if Lionel are sponsoring the display and providing the models? If they don't cope that's their problem.

 

You say you've recommended Lionel, have they been approached on the back of this? In which case why not approach LGB? If not then why are you asking?

 

Ok, good points.

 

The museum wants British standard gauge trains and so the idea is to use the Lionel Harry Potter set suitably repainted.  The sponsor is not Lionel. The museum has a member prepaired to support the project and whilst he is prepaired to spend money up to a point on maintenance/repair/replacement his pockets are not bottomless and so aloco that needs replacing ever 3 months is not really an option.

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That narrows thing down quite a bit; it looks as though this is about the Lionel Hall class loco and some carriages as Lionel didn't make any suitable  goods wagons.  These haven't been made now in quite a while.  Surely some of the newer manufacturers such as ACE would be more suitable as any parts for Lionel would be difficult to obtain outside the US.

 

Brian.

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That narrows thing down quite a bit; it looks as though this is about the Lionel Hall class loco and some carriages as Lionel didn't make any suitable goods wagons. These haven't been made now in quite a while. Surely some of the newer manufacturers such as ACE would be more suitable as any parts for Lionel would be difficult to obtain outside the US.

 

Brian.

Tennents in Halesowen are Lionel dealers - I think they may have/ can get spares?

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