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.

Giving up on American Flyer – yet another rant…

Plasticville StationI’m giving up on American Flyer for now. I’m keeping what I have, and I’ll continue to report on new items as they become available, but it’s pretty obvious that at this time American Flyer is pretty much only good for collecting, not for running. Don’t believe me? Consider this:

  • There is NO new track available (well, Gargraves) and NO new switches available to run American Flyer trains on.
  • There have been NO new American Flyer compatible steam locomotives offered in at least 5 years.
  • Other than a very few Lionel offerings, there have been no new AF compatible diesels offered in the past few years.
  • Most used American Flyer is overpriced junk. The stuff that actually is in nice condition commands a hefty (collectors) price.
  • 99% of people on the S Scale forums are clamoring for “scale ONLY” from Lionel and MTH. Mention AF style trains and you get told to shut up and go away. Short sighted, selfish bastards…

All of which is a shame, because American Flyer COULD be far superior to 3 rail O Gauge trains if decent equipment was available. It’s not though, so all my toy train adventures will be in O Gauge from now on. I’ll keep what Flyer stuff I have and pick up good deals when I can, but it gets increasingly frustrating hunting down used equipment in questionable condition when all I want to do is run trains – especially when I can go to just about any online Toy Train dealer and order whatever I want in O gauge, usually for a really good price to boot.

For the time being at least, all my S Scale endeavors will be, well, scale. I still plan on modeling the SP Jawbone branch “some day,” and I continue to buy good quality S Scale structure kits. I have a good selection of PBL and River Raisin SP locomotives, a couple of brass C30-1 cabooses, a set of SP Daylight passenger cars from American Models (one of the bright spots in their line up), and a few Showcase Line freight cars. Speaking of freight cars, even on the scale side that’s becoming a concern as the supply of S Helper cars dries up, but I digress…

This means the site will be changing a little. I’ll still be writing about my S Scale adventures and what little American Flyer becomes available (assuming it does), but I’ll also be writing about my O Gauge activities. For example, I just scored a Lionel 4-4-2 that I plan on customizing a little, then there’s my Bachmann Ten Wheeler that is in serious need of a detail upgrade, then a couple of RMT BEEPs that will be getting Command Control and a new paint job, then… See what I mean? So MUCH cool Toy Train stuff available in O Gauge, almost nothing available in S Scale. Don’t blame me, I’m just the messenger.