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Model Railroads/varney diesel engine


I recently received a Varney train set(88 wheels set) original box from the 1950s (?)  The engine components are encircled with possibly lead or some type of metal that is dry, brittle, cracked and falling apart to the touch.  I noticed the wheels are simply held in place by this crumbling metal.

Is there any way to restore this engine or purchase the metal part that is falling apart in my hands?

Hi! Jeff thank you for your question.
 Unfortunately your Varney locomotive was made of a Mazak construction that was a bad batch which had impurities in the metal.  This unfortunately was a common occurrence with toys and hobby items in the 1950's and 1960's.  The metal self destructs over time; becomes distorted; spongy; at times increases in size.  Even today some manufacturers have sold recent locomotives and still have the problem.  I'm not sure from your description what part is actually falling apart.  If it is the trucks there is little hope, as the axles and gears have to be in an accurate relationship for the diesel to run.  Replacing the parts with other Varney parts (even if you can find them) means that if they are from the same batch they'll have the same problems.  I've noticed that some of my locomotives, from different manufacturers, some European, have the same problem.  The only way you could replace the Varney diesel is to replace the whole mechanism with one made by a different manufacturer, or have someone machine new trucks made from brass.  That would be very, very expensive, if you could find a model machinist who could manufacture the parts necessary.  If the Varney diesel is a EMD F7, you might be able to buy a F7 or F9 diesel from another manufacturer and swap the bodies, with modification.  Purchase of a new F7 or F9 will cost you probably more than what you paid for the Varney set, though.  Sorry about your recent purchase, but it is a common problem with 1950's HO trains.  That is one reason manufacturers switched to plastic.

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Frank Edgcombe


I CAN NOT DIAGNOSE equipment problems or ESTIMATE DOLLAR VALUES of your equipment, by email. I have been active in model railroading for forty years. I can answer, or find answers, to questions on most aspects of model trains, railroad equipment or buildings. I have a good knowledge of prototype railroads. I have been employed by five model railroad equipment manufacturers/suppliers and worked for a prototype railroad. I have served, twice, as the president of a local model railroad club. I have been employed as a Reference Librarian, at a university, for the last fifteen years and am used to tracking down resources for patrons.

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