An easy way to fix shiny valve gear and side rods on toy train steam locomotives

toy train valve gearOne thing I really don’t like on model steam engines – toy, scale, or otherwise – is the shiny valve gear and rods. It just looks cheap to me (never mind if it is a cheap locomotive). I always figured that “some day” I’d figure out what color I should paint them, figure out how to paint them without gumming up the works or ruining the looks of the locomotive, or otherwise making a mistake that I couldn’t easily fix. Then I read about something called Neolube. It’s not paint – it’s powdered graphite suspended in solvent. All you do is brush it on and it dries to a nice natural steel looking finish. I decided to try it. The day it came I looked at my first “victim” (a Lionel 4-4-2 from one of their starter sets), shook vigorously for about 3 minutes (as specified in the instructions that came with the Neolube), got out a cheap small paint brush (the kind that comes with children’s watercolor sets) and painted the rods and valve gear. It took less time to do both sides than it did to shake up the bottle. Also, it looks great:) I’m what you might call “artistically challenged” so if I can get good results then anyone can. After doing the rods and valve gear I decided to do the smoke box. That turned out nice also. I got mine from P-B-L (9.95 for 2 oz. bottle). Micromark also carries it. It’s considered a hazardous shipping item so can only be sent UPS ground. Probably best to buy from an LHS if you have one that carries it. Either way, definitely worth the money.

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