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At the Lionel repair facility in Canfield, Ohio, technicians fix thousands of the famous model trains every year.
Yet until just three years ago, its repair operations were disorganized to the point that fixing customers’ trains could take months, and often those repairs did nothing to fix the problem.
But in 2010, Lionel hired a team in this small northeastern Ohio town that had been fixing its trains (and others as well) as a private business.
Last week, I drove to Canfield to check out the repair operation as part of Road Trip 2013 knowing that it could be a treat.
There’s no way to list all the different kinds of problems that show up in the mail, but Hull said that among the most common are broken smoke units on locomotives, dysfunctional motors, and burned out light bulbs. Tearing down kitsWhen you walk into the Canfield facility, one of the first thing you see is a large stack of sampler kits. Sometimes, they’ll encounter a brand-new part, and if so, they photograph it, give it a part number, and add it to their exhaustive database.
In some cases, they’ll be used in refurbished trains, which Lionel sells at a discount.
Although Lionel has been in the model train business for 113 years, the Canfield facility only works on trains made from the 1990s on.
But fixing trains from the 1990s on is a team effort, thanks to a rigorous training process. For Hull, running the repair facility is both a grind, given the long hours he works every day, and a treat.


It has fans (and customers) just about everywhere, and its products can sell for hundreds of dollars. They were so good at the job that just three years later, they’ve gotten the turnaround time on repairs down to about a week, created a fully-functional automated customer service system, and found a way to keep the company from manufacturing unnecessary duplicate parts. After all, who doesn’t love seeing model trains ripped open, torn apart, and put back together again?
Sometimes, customers will go through the trouble of returning their new collectible simply because one of its LED lights isn’t working.
That’s why the facility has shelves full of mint-condition shells and chassis that can be used to make the problem product like new again. This is new to Lionel, though it’s hard to imagine a company with its reputation not having had such a system in place for years. When someone brings a Lionel train back to their dealer, they get their money back, and the train comes to Canfield, where it meets a technician hungry for its component parts.
That’s when the products started having complex electronics, requiring more sophisticated repair techniques.
And that training applies not just to the technicians, but also to the team of customer service reps who answer the phones and who have learned to diagnose most problems over the phone. After all, he spends his days around model trains, and is constantly doing his best to help Lionel’s customers get back up and running. Some parents believe in an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a Facebook post for a Facebook post.


All told, the facility stocks about 120,000 different parts, stored in countless bins on site, large and small, and in a big warehouse nearby. The goal is to avoid waste by finding a use for almost any part of any train that comes through the doors.
For older models, though, Lionel has developed a network of hundreds of local dealers who, in addition to selling Lionel, can also fix its more simple trains from earlier decades.
By the time a train arrives in Canfield, the technician who handles it will already be able to tell a great deal about what’s wrong with it, what parts are broken, and what might be needed to fix it, all thanks to the diagnostic skill of the people who answer the phones. And on the shelves in another, I found dozens, if not hundreds of chassis, all waiting to make their way into complete Lionel products. And before any repaired or refurbished trains go back out through those doors, they’re first tested for several hours on a large oval track. You can download this as nice desktop wallpaper by right click and save as into your computer. Don't miss to check all from this kind of lovely popular desktop background by viewing the similar high definition wallpapers design below.




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