Lionel Standard Gauge - Best Value?

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  • Member since
    February, 2014
  • 94 posts
Lionel Standard Gauge - Best Value?
Posted by Leverettrailfan on Thursday, April 12, 2018 5:28 PM

Just out of curiosity, what classic standard gauge equipment (and for that matter, sets) give you the most entertainment value for your money, why you think so, as well as pros and cons to the model(s). 

And oh, what the heck, any other brands are welcome too, but I am specifically talking about VINTAGE, classic standard gauge. So reproductions and anything non prewar doesn’t count. 

C’mon! If you had to by the best whatever, at the lowest cost, which train/set/accesory would fit the bill best?

let’s hear your thoughts!!!

"If it don't work, then gosh darn it, get a' fixin!"

Can I fix trains? Mostly. How long have I been doing it? Took me years to get much success beyond the "taking it apart" step. Where am I at now? Well, does she run?

  • Member since
    September, 2010
  • From: Parma Heights Ohio
  • 2,507 posts
Posted by Penny Trains on Thursday, April 12, 2018 6:43 PM

Well, entertainment value vs. cost in the realm of Lionel Standard Gauge, especially "Classic Era" (1924-1942) when many of the best and most heavily embellished (Brass, Nickel, etc.) equipment hit the market is highly subjective based on your personal preferences.  In that era there was only one crane car, the 219, and one side dump car, the 218, that had what we would today call "play value".  Sure, gondolas, boxcars and flatcars had the same level of play value as they have today: you can put something in them that didn't come with the car.  And the 200 series cars were then and still often are today the most expensive Lionel Std. Ga. freighters.  They have high couplers and were intended to be used with the high end 400E, 392E and 408E.

Late in the Classic Era Lionel invented the air whistle and the "Chugger".  By then they also had control of Ives' patented electronic reverse mechanism so they dumped their own pendulum type reverse.  These innovations gave Standard (and O) gauge trains the kind of entertainment value so critical to the postwar O gauge line.  Although I've never heard of any serious attempt by Lionel to include a "chugger" mechanism of any type in a postwar (or prewar for that matter) O gauge steamer.

So, with all that having been said, if I had the money I'd go after the 378W Pennsylvania Limited:

I've always liked the 392E and the Stephen Girard cars.

What I have is my little #8:

It pulls original, reproduction and restored cars around as much track as I can afford to lay on the floor.  I get most of my "entertainment" out of restoring these old rust buckets and building new things to stand along side them:

 

Big Smile  I'm Cuckoo For Choo Choo Stuffs!  Big Smile

  • Member since
    February, 2014
  • 94 posts
Posted by Leverettrailfan on Thursday, April 12, 2018 7:30 PM

Well, firstly Penny, that 8e of yours, and the layout, are beyond words!

secondly, by ‘entertainment/play value’, all I mean is “what you can have the most fun with”. So, highly subjective to personal prefference. My idea was just to see what trains people thought had the most fun, for their cost. But hey, I’m hardly a stickler for technicalities. 

Thank you so much for the reply, and the pictures! 

"If it don't work, then gosh darn it, get a' fixin!"

Can I fix trains? Mostly. How long have I been doing it? Took me years to get much success beyond the "taking it apart" step. Where am I at now? Well, does she run?

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