All About Aurora Postage Stamp Trains
About 50 Year Old Toy Trains

Effects of Age

Be aware that even mint items can have issues. Styrene tends to shrink and become brittle over time, which can cause trucks to drop off, wheels to loosen and parts to crack. Paint on some locomotives will chip and flake, even when sealed inside a box. In particular, the gold paint on Baltimore & Ohio diesels will fade, turn black, and rub off. This is among the best B&O locos I've seen, and the gold is already starting to fade:

Here's a caboose inside a 100% sealed set tray:

Notice how most of these replacement wheelsets have fallen apart inside their blister packs:

Locomotive Issues

The effects of age can adversely impact locomotives, which is why old locos should never be run without servicing. Issues include, but are not limited to:


Shrinking plastic. The plastic hubs that insulate the wheels from the axles on one side of each wheel set can shrink, causing the wheels to spin freely and lose their gauge (just like the wheelsets above).


Brittle plastic. The truck cover plates can become brittle, in which case they may crack down the center where the screw holds them in place, and/or the fingers that hold the ends to the truck frames may snap off.


Dried lubricant. Over time, oil and grease can turn to a yellowish paste or a dry, dark brownish-grey residue. Once this happens, it's useless. Dried lubricants should be removed before applying fresh, because the residue can draw good lubricant away from moving parts.


Metal fatigue. Soft alloys can become fatigued over time, particularly when press-fittings are involved. For example, the metal couplings attached to the motor shaft may become loose and spin freely.

Bottom line: these are mass-produced toys, not heirlooms.

See Also...

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