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Lubrication and Maintenance for a Typical Lionel Steam Locomotive

Lionel produced and sold hundreds of thousands of train sets from 1945 to 1969 in what is commonly called the Postwar Era. We will address the lubrication and maintenance of a six wheel steam locomotive that will most likely apply to the model train you own. Here’s what you do to keep it in tiptop running condition.

Clean the wheels (where they touch the track) of built up grease and dirt,. Use tweezers to remove carpet fuzz, hair, and tinsel from the gears and axles. Clean grease and dirt from the center rail roller pickups with mineral spirits, denatured alcohol, or a spray degreaser. Pay special attention to the roller axles. DO NOT OIL the roller pickups. Ensure the wheels roll freely and that no debris is caught in the gears.

Oil the locomotive drive wheel axles at six points. Oil the front and rear trucks where the axles touch the truck frame. Oil the two intermediate gears in the center on the pivot stud. I use clean 30 wt motor oil for these applications.










Lubricate the gears with a lightweight grease such as Lubriplate 630AA. Apply the grease sparingly




Oil the armature shaft at two places; where it protrudes through the brush plate and the armature bronze bushing on the other side of the motor on the bearing plate. Use one drop of the 30 wt oil at these two spots.








Oil the valve gear, the drive rods, and the side rods on both sides of the motor with a lightweight machine oil you can buy at a hobby shop. Make sure you oil all the pivot and slider points.



Clean the boiler shell and the wheel spokes with a spray wax/cleaner such as Armor All. Scrub the boiler and wheels with a soft toothbrush and wipe clean with a soft cloth.