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Notice the Bright Spots near Center of the Car.
These lights are slowly warping the background insert.

LIONEL 9308 Aquarium Car MELTDOWN and Power Pickup Operating Issues

By John Halajko, AKA Dr. Brass, TCA 84-20653                Spring 2021

Preventing MELTDOWN of The LIONEL 9308 Background 

The First Issue of the Modern Era LIONEL 9308 Aquarium Car has a heat dissipation issue. Shown below is John Bonfanti's car that has been lightly used by inspection of the power pickup rollers.

Background Top Shows Melting

Closer Look at Top Damage

Bottom View of Lionel 9308 Aquarium Car – Lightly Run Based on Wheels and Rollers. Note area where roller assembly meets truck side. (circled)

So how does one prevent further damage caused by operating, especially when using the higher voltages required for DCS or TMCC. There are two ways. Use LED bayonet replacement bulbs. Yepper, you can now buy LED replacements that are plug compatible. Some LEDs cast a narrow beam and may require adding some aluminum foil to help scatter the light. The second method is to cut a hole in the background sleeve like the Post War issue shown below and adjust the bulbs to be as far away as possible from the background sleeve.  If you choose this option, inspect the car after operation to assure the hole in the background top is working.

Note Hole in Roof Top of Post War Aquarium Car

Preventing Loss of Roller Assembly

It is well known by operators that the Aquarium Car style roller assembly will loosen and fall off. For operating in a consist, I recommend changing to a different truck or gluing the existing assembly in place to the truck side. See the photo with area circled in red, marking the location. Prior to gluing carefully inspect/repair of the roller wiring. Use a glue that forms a rubbery solid when dry. One can also park the car on a siding and enjoy the animation until the more permanent repair is complete.

There may be other Modern Era Aquarium Cars with a melting background sleeve like those that use the car's movement to power the fish motion.

Lionel Post War Aquarium Car bottom

The above photo shows the Post War Truck. It is mechanically stronger than the Modern Era Assembly of the Lionel 9308 which loosens and falls off due to the vibration of the assembly at track joints.

Second Decade.
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