Top critical review
8 people found this helpful
Great "first train" train set. Mine had one issue.
on December 11, 2013
I've been into Lionel Trains for decades: Buying, running, and repairing them. I haven't purchased a new set in ages and bought this for our Grandson. The cars are as detailed as the "typical" Lionel cars from the 50's and 60's. The helicopter and it's car are also just like they were "in the golden days." All of the cars (except the work caboose) even have sprung trucks. The engine and tender are more detailed and have nicer features than similar locomotives, again, from the 50's and 60's, "in this price range." The Fastrack works well but is noisier than the old track. The transformer is designed well and the bell and whistle buttons work as they should.
The reason I gave it 3 stars is because the engine binds as it moves. It is noticeable on curves and is very noticeable when running it slow. The engine will move a few inches, then slow, move a few inches, then slow. If you run it real slow the engine will stop.
As I said I've repaired many a Lionel train so I troubleshot why it was doing this. The problem is the same problem that many Lionel's had in the past. The front wheels have a cam, that move a lever, that raises and lowers a piston in the smoke unit. That's what gives you the puffs of smoke. On this engine, the piston was bottoming-out in the smoke unit. The lever was trying to push the piston up further, but it couldn't, so the cam had resistance on it and the engine slowed down everytime the cam rolled around to the "up" position. I opened the engine up, re-bent the smoke lever so the piston didn't bottom-out, and the engine rolls fine. The problem is, most people won't want to do this.
Other than that issue, and now that I've fixed it, I am very happy with the set. It was a great choice for our Grandson's first electric train/Christmas Tree train. I gave it to him a few days ago and he's loaded his dinosaurs and balls in the gondola and has taken them on many rides.
You must understand that this is a few hundred dollar train set and not a $1,500 train set. There is a difference and your expectations must be realistic.
I hope the binding in our engine was a fluke and that other sets are fine. The beauty of buying on Amazon is that if your set has issues, you can easily send it back and get a refund.