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You mean you don't have a real store? You do this in your house?

A lady called a while back, looking for someone to work on her husband’s Lionel train.  They had run it for their grandson at Christmas, and realized that it needed some work, probably never having been serviced in fifty years.  When she realized that I do my work at my home, she was apparently taken aback, and told me, “OK, well, if we decide to come over, we will call you.”  I had the distinct impression that it was the last I would hear from her.

I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that I have worked on Lionel trains and accessories since I was a kid – that would be around fifty years ago.  I started this business because I realized that I could do most necessary tasks on these trains, and with the size of my collection, paying someone else to do it was becoming time-and-cost-prohibitive.  I have a full, complete set of service documents on CD and on original Lionel factory paper.  Additionally I have a full range of parts and tools which include light bulbs, circuit breakers, smoke units, etc., all the way to wheel pullers for O-gauge and standard gauge wheels and a two-ton press which will install rivets or wheels on Lionel trains.  I also have complete tools to rebuild the E-units for postwar trains, and am able to order parts for anything Lionel-related if I do not have them in stock.  I don't sell trains (other than anything I have that's extra at the time) or toys.  I service trains.  That is ALL I do, and you can count on my work.  NOTE:  I DO NOT SELL PARTS.  PLEASE DO NOT SEND REQUESTS FOR PARTS.  I BUY PARTS ONLY IF I NEED THEM TO SERVICE A CUSTOMER'S TRAINS.

As an example:  I had a customer bring me an older-model ZW transformer yesterday, complaining that the AU handle (the right hand throttle) which he normally used to run his trains had stopped working.  He also wanted a new set of carbon rollers put on the transformer.   He was apparently expecting to wait for weeks to get his transformer back when he dropped it off with me at about 11:00 AM.  I called him to pick it up at around 1:30 PM the same day, with the broken contact repaired, new rollers installed, and a missing voltage post replaced.  He was astonished.

There are a few things I’d like to point out here:  I got into repairing these trains because as a hobbyist (some might say a guy who has never grown up) they bring back memories of my youth, and because I hate seeing them not work the way they’re supposed to.  It bugs me.  When you drop off your trains with me, I will tell you immediately what’s wrong, what I will need to do (as closely as I can determine) and give you a fairly workable estimate.  If it’s simply a matter of servicing a locomotive (lubricating, replacing brushes, cleaning and testing) you’ll generally have it back within a week.  If I have to order parts you should have it back within two weeks.  You’re not going to be sitting around for a month or two wondering if I have done anything.

One more thing that I need to have you note:  When you bring your trains to a “real” store for repairs, the guy they have repairing trains will generally take them home to work on them.  Just like me.  Just because it's a store it does NOT mean they have special equipment.  Often they will need to call the repairman to pick up your trains, because overhead doesn’t allow them to have a fellow on staff who does nothing but repair trains.  I HAVE no overhead, and you will be handing your valuable items to the guy who does the work – ME.  There will be no wait to begin repairs.  Why?  Because I love Lionel trains, and because I want you happy!  Making those trains run again is a way to bring that train's history back to life, started possibly when a boy first received it at Christmas 60 years ago.

I hope that you decide to trust me with your valuable Lionel trains and accessories.  I will do my very best to make you thrilled that you did, and because I am confident in my work, all repairs are guaranteed for ONE YEAR.

I hope that lady reconsiders bringing those trains to me.  I'll have them humming just like new if she does. 





Visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ArizonaToyTrainRepair
See customers' trains as YouTube stars at https://www.youtube.com/user/AZToyTrainRepair

Note:  To save us both money if you're out of state, please e-mail me with questions at .  It's the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to get information.




Right now -- October 2014 -- I am gearing up for customers who will need help getting their trains ready for Christmas.  Don't wait until a week before Christmas to find out that your train won't run.  Check them out NOW, and e-mail me at if you're going to need some help.  Email is MUCH better than calling, and I recommend it because it costs neither of us a dime, you can send me photos, and you can get all your concerns down in writing so that I understand exactly what you need.

Contact me as soon as possible so that you don't get caught in the rush.  Once I start getting repair orders for Christmas, the turnaround time increases.

Thanks --





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Contact Information
Arizona Toy Train Repair
5547 N. 10th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85013
Tony Ford, Proprietor
Visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ArizonaToyTrainRepair
See customers' trains as YouTube stars at https://www.youtube.com/user/AZToyTrainRepair

Services offered

While I can’t perform miracles on trains that have been heavily rusted or abused, I can generally take a train that’s having extreme difficulty and bring it back to full running order.  Lionel trains were meant to run, and run, and run, and with a little regular maintenance you can pass on that sixty-year-old train to your grandchildren and it will continue to run just the same as when Joshua Lionel Cowen, the founder of the Lionel Corporation, designed it and put it into production.

Repair BookI will be glad to do complete teardown and rebuild of damaged or rusted engines.  Be aware, however, that while parts are available to me for just about everything your train needs, they’re not cheap in some cases, and once I get a line on parts I will give you a full estimate before I order them, which will be within three days in most cases.

If this is an item that hasn’t been used in years and has been in a box in someone’s attic for years in the Arizona heat, the chances are that to get it running will require rewiring as well as basic services.  I do not do restoration on rusted locomotive bodies, but I can recommend people who do if you need help in that area.

There are some things even I can't fix.  Here's an example:


I can do yearly maintenance on occasionally-run trains.  Often people are just like my dad was, and only run their trains at Christmas.  If you do that, and then put the train away until next year, climate and time will often turn lubricants into sludge that needs to be removed so that the motor can be put back into service again.

Also available:  parts replacement and service on all Lionel accessories.  If I can’t fix it, it can’t be fixed.

I limit my work to Lionel trains, and for now I am fairly specific:  I will work on the following groups of Lionel:

  1. Prewar (1901-1942) engines and rolling stock
  2. Postwar (1945-1969) complete – engines, rolling stock and operating accessories
  3. Modern (1970-1986) complete – engines, rolling stock and operating accessories

If your trains and accessories have not been abused and just need cleaning/new brushes/lubrication to get them going, the work will typically take less than a week unless I need to order parts.

My price for repairs for ALL trains and accessories is $35.00 per hour plus the actual cost of parts needed. There is a minimum one hour's labor charge for any services rendered. 

There are times when I will need to order parts and that will obviously lengthen the time needed.  I will be glad to give a written estimate of repairs before beginning work, but if that requires parts I will need to research prices and availability of parts before I give you the final figure.  I will NOT jack up the prices of parts – what I pay for them is what you will pay for them (including postage). 


If you don’t want your trains and are looking for someone to buy them, feel free to ask me for a price quote.  I’ll show you the latest collector’s book for current prices, explain how they apply to your item for the condition it’s in, and I’ll make you an offer on it if I need it and if you decide to sell it.


I also will occasionally have extra accessories, train cars and engines for sale.  If there’s something you want, let me know.  I may just have it, or be able to get it for you.


All trains will be run on my test track at my house, and you will see the train function to your satisfaction before I send you home with it.  I hate coming back again because something wasn’t fixed right the first time, and you shouldn’t have to deal with that either.

All repairs are guaranteed for ONE YEAR.  If the work I performed, or the parts I installed, fail within that time period during normal use, bring it back and I’ll get the problem taken care of at no charge.

Lionel trains were designed to last, and to give generations of kids a lot of enjoyment.  Please let me help that happen for your trains!


Visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ArizonaToyTrainRepair
See customers' trains as YouTube stars at https://www.youtube.com/user/AZToyTrainRepair


Once the service is done, if you're happy with my work, please consider submitting a review on Angie's List at http://www.angieslist.com .  Thanks!

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All About AZ Toy Train Repair

About me:

Lionel TrainI am a child of the 1950s, the heyday of Lionel trains.  Every kid had trains when I was a kid, and there was always a debate between the American Flyer kids and the Lionel kids – with me, Lionel won out.  Since 1900, Lionel trains have given children of all ages memories to hang onto.

In the 1950s my brother had a Lionel train set that my father would set up every year at Christmas.  It was fascinating to me, and in today’s world of tiny, accurately-scaled N-gauge and HO scale trains, the big O-gauge Lionel trains of the past are something unusual.  Lots of people had train sets in their attics or garages that deteriorated through temperature changes and the passage of time.

My brother went off to college five years before I did, and when he left he also left the trains behind.  They didn’t work very well, and so I took the engine apart, tightened everything up, cleaned and lubricated the motor, gears and wheels, learned how to replace a faulty barrel in the locomotive’s “E-unit,” and when I was done the train ran as well as it did when it was new.  The problem was that when my brother came HOME from college and saw how well the train ran, he suddenly remembered that they were his and took them away with him.  I never forgot the sound and look of Lionel trains, and decided to start collecting them.  Collecting trains from pre-WW2 to the present also means that you need to have things repaired or tuned up occasionally so that they run properly.  As my collection progressed, I realized that it wasn’t easy to find someone who knows how to work on Lionel trains in Phoenix, and it can get a bit expensive if you have a large collection, so I was forced to do a lot of repairs on my own.

As a result, I have become knowledgeable about these trains and what it takes to keep them running.   I have factory service manuals and materials from the days these trains were made, and access to the largest Lionel parts suppliers in the world.  My prices aren’t through the roof, and if you are not comfortable taking these pieces of toy history apart and want someone who knows how to keep your valued trains running, I offer my services.

Visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ArizonaToyTrainRepair
See customers' trains as YouTube stars at https://www.youtube.com/user/AZToyTrainRepair

E-mail me at for information and to save us both money calling back and forth across the country.

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Arizona Toy Train Repair
5547 N. 10th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85013
Tony Ford, Proprietor
Visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ArizonaToyTrainRepair
See customers' trains as YouTube stars at https://www.youtube.com/user/AZToyTrainRepair