1950's Lionel Showroom Entrance

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1950's Lionel Showroom Entrance
Posted by jimsrpo on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 7:21 PM

As I was responding to another thread about Madison Hardware and other train related places, I began thinking of the old Lionel Showroom.

One of the most unforgettable aspects of the place was the huge mockup of the front of a PRR steam turbine engine.  It just towered over this little kid.

Does anyone know anything about this fantastic display?  Was any part of it preserved?  Was it there right to the time when the showroom closed in the late 1960's?

As my contribution to preserving this experience, I built this mockup of the front end of a PRR Pacific steam engine above the steps leading to my basement train room.  It may be only 4 feet high but as you pass under it and look up, you get part of the feeling of those great showroom days in the 1950's.

But, I've always wondered about the history of the original.

Jim

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Posted by magicman710 on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 7:27 PM

 jimsrpo wrote:

 

Does anyone know anything about this fantastic display?  Was any part of it preserved?  Was it there right to the time when the showroom closed in the late 1960's.

Jim

 

I believe none of the original layout still remains in one piece.

No, none of the layout remained there until the 60s. The layout was replaced in 1957 with a nea one that featured super O track.

A "sort of" detailed history is available here by a post of mine on my forum: http://es44dc.proboards57.com/index.cgi?board=talk2&action=display&thread=1195361161

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Posted by Frank53 on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 7:31 PM
 jimsrpo wrote:

As my contribution to preserving this experience, I built this mockup of the front end of a PRR Pacific steam engine above the steps leading to my basement train room.  It may be only 4 feet high but as you pass under it and look up, you get part of the feeling of those great showroom days in the 1950's.

 

Jim

Jim:

As always, you have done an outstanding bit of work there.

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Posted by jimsrpo on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 7:36 PM

Thanks, Frank.

Grayson,

I know a lot has been written about the showroom layouts themselves, but that entrance display is seldom mentioned.  There is a photo in Ron Hollander's book, "All Aboard", but nothing is ever mentioned about the fate of the big steam engine.

Jim

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Posted by wrmcclellan on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 8:06 PM

Jim,

I do not know anything about the old showroom, but the Turbine front end mock-up you made is simply spectacular! Thanks for sharing it!

Regards, Roy

            

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Posted by Brutus on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 8:37 PM

Man - that is great, do you have any making-of pictures you could share?  Is it wood, painted foam, ???

Sorry, I don't know the answer to your question.

RIP Chewy - best dog I ever had.

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Posted by cnw1995 on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 8:52 PM
Wow, what a great model - the smokebox front and the pilot! Outstanding.

Doug Murphy 'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...' Henry V.

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Posted by LL675 on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 9:23 PM
that is awsome work ! ish I had one of those (and a place to put it!)

Dave

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Posted by 1688torpedo on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 9:49 PM

Hello jimspro!   

About the only fellow I can think of who could possibly answer your question would have been Lenny Dean & he is no longer around as he passed away 3 months ago. He was with Lionel so long that it is too bad no one wrote a Book about him while he was living. Questions like yours would most likely have an answer if such a book had been written. My only other suggestion would be to e-mail Lionel & find out if they have any documentation of what had happened to the Turbine entrace to the Showroom. The worst thing they can say is no. Before I forget. Try Joseph L. Mania of Freehold,NJ as not only does he do restorations & reproductions of Old Lionel Trains, He also knows some of the History of Lionel & since he resides in New Jersey where Lionel Trains were made for many years he may know of some older Lionel Employees who might know the answer to your question. Just type in: "Joseph L. Mania" in your computer address bar & you should get his website & be able to e-mail your question to him. If you happen to be successful with this, please let us know if you happen to find out the answer to your query as many would be very interested themselves as to what happened to the Showroom Turbine Entrance. Take Care & good luck.

Keith Woodworth........Seat Belts save lives,Please drive safely.
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Posted by jimsrpo on Thursday, November 22, 2007 7:50 AM

Thank you all for the kind words on the steam engine front.  It was fun to work on something big for a change.  It is basically just scrap wood, hardboard, a tin can headlight housing, and lots of hex head bolt heads.  I should have taken a few in progress photos.

Keith,

You're right - Lenny Dean was the man to ask.  His passing really severed some important historical ties with the Lionel of old.  Joe Mania as you said is very knowledgeable on that era and Ron Hollander who wrote "All Aboard" also comes to mind.  When I have time I'm going to have to do some serious research and report back.

Happy Thanksgiving all,

Jim

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Posted by 1688torpedo on Thursday, November 22, 2007 8:13 AM

Hello jimspro!

 I forgot to tell you what a nice job you did on that Boilerfront. It is First Class & Super also! Take Care.Thumbs Up [tup]Thumbs Up [tup]Smile [:)] & Happy Thanksgiving also.

Keith Woodworth........Seat Belts save lives,Please drive safely.
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Posted by mickey4479 on Thursday, November 22, 2007 10:04 AM
That is fantastic work!  Happy Thanksgiving.
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Posted by NYC Fan on Thursday, October 20, 2011 8:53 AM

It was there the last time I was there which was the holiday season of 1962. When we went in 1963 the showroom was closed and we were told that Lionel was at the NY Coliseum.

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Posted by NYC Fan on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 5:55 AM

For those who saw the showroom, which diagram of the location of the turbine do you remember? And, what year, approximately was it?

or

 

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Posted by Condector on Sunday, August 18, 2019 8:09 PM

jimsrpo

As I was responding to another thread about Madison Hardware and other train related places, I began thinking of the old Lionel Showroom.

One of the most unforgettable aspects of the place was the huge mockup of the front of a PRR steam turbine engine.  It just towered over this little kid.

Does anyone know anything about this fantastic display?  Was any part of it preserved?  Was it there right to the time when the showroom closed in the late 1960's?

As my contribution to preserving this experience, I built this mockup of the front end of a PRR Pacific steam engine above the steps leading to my basement train room.  It may be only 4 feet high but as you pass under it and look up, you get part of the feeling of those great showroom days in the 1950's.

But, I've always wondered about the history of the original.

Jim

 

Dear Jim:

 

I am not sure in the post, above if you are referring to the 1949 showroom display or its replacement.

The most favored one, when I talk to Lionel fans in the TCA is the 1949 postwar display.  We were told that it closed after Christmas 1957 to build the new Super-0 layout and believed that for years.  Then, some film clips showed up together with a copy of a letter to dealers that there was a shortage of Super-0 track and it has been firmly established that the 1949 postwar layout lasted one more year.  It was dismantled after Christmas 1957 to get ready for the 1958 toy train retailers.  I don't think anything survived except what was on the Super-0 layout.  It is a nightmare thought to me, but there was a very strict time deadline, so I imagine all the track and hand-built structures were simply cut into pieces and dumped.  It would be nice if some of the hand-built structures were preserved, but there has been no proof of it.  As for the Super-0 layout, it remained in its original form for 1958-1959 until 1960, when a lot of structures were replaced with space nonsense (see "The Wonderful World of Trains available from Tom McComas) to see for yourself.  As to what happened to the Super-0 layout, nobody knows 9 (without going through boxes of CTC, I can tell you in 1996 they did an article on the Super-0 layout and its demise).  Some people claim that it was placed in a warehouse to take a country tour, but no one knows where and it can't be located today.  I strongly suggest you try and obtain a copy of Roger Carp's book "The World's Greatest Toy Train Maker," subtitled "Insiders Remember Lionel."  I don't know if the book is still in print, but I doubt it.  Try to find one on E-BAY.  All the key people who had the know about Lionel are in it, and unfortunately, today all are gone.  Roger writes excellent top-notch books and is coming out with another one about the 1950 Showroom Display, and I am sure none of you want to miss it.  It may sound stupid, but buy a couple of extra spare copies as, like all Roger's releases, you will love this one.

abner

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Posted by Condector on Sunday, August 18, 2019 8:12 PM
I suggest you obtain Ron Hollender's copy "All Aboard" (named after the company employee newsletter) and there will be a diagram that will show you. There is a lot of other valuable information as well.

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