How To Restoration & Repair Prevent rust and mold on your trains with silica gel

Prevent rust and mold on your trains with silica gel

By Hal Miller | September 15, 2021

| Last updated on October 21, 2022

Those packets keep your Lionel, American Flyer, and MTH locomotives and rolling stock dry

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Hal Miller with MTH trains box
Hal Miller shows an MTH Trains box damaged by moisture.

Water is the enemy of toy trains. But we have tools to fight back. In fact, they might already be in your train box, and if they’re not, they should be. You can prevent rust and mold with silica gel.

Science to the rescue

What I have here is a locomotive that sat in a damp basement. And as a result, we have a little mold formation. Actually we have a lot of mold formation on the box.

Locomotive wheels
These locomotive wheels should be rusty but were saved from moisture by silica gel.

You might expect the contents of the box to be a total loss. It might be rusty or mildewed, but it’s not. I’ll show you why.

So what’s the miracle that saved these locomotives?

Science. Chemistry. Silica gel.

Many of us, when we open up a locomotive box, throw out the silica gel packs. Don’t do it. Silica gel is a desiccant. That means is any dampness that gets around your locomotive or into the box is absorbed by those little packets. That’s why these locomotives didn’t rust.

A silica gel packet held between two fingers
The silica gel packets that come in a train box.

How to get more

If you’ve already thrown out your silica gel packs, never fear. You can buy it on its own in a jar, or you can frequently find it in other products that need protection from moisture like shoes and electronics.

You can buy it in bulk at craft stores where they sell it for drying flowers. It can also be ordered in quantity through It’s easy to make your own packages to put in containers where trains, track, and other items are stored.

Here’s how to clean track that’s gotten rusty.

So remember, the next time you get a locomotive, don’t throw away the silica gel packets. They can prevent rust and mold effectively and are cheap insurance for your expensive toy trains.


One thought on “Prevent rust and mold on your trains with silica gel

  1. Good advice, especially here in Florida where I live. Everything is damp, so we buy and use the extra silica packs mentioned.

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