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Creating the perfect Lionel set from the postwar era

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Creating the perfect Lionel set from the postwar era
Posted by Roger Carp on Thursday, November 30, 2023 10:24 AM

We at Classic Toy Trains are launching something new and fun. We're asking you to create the perfect Lionel set from the postwar era. You'll soon be reading all about this and my personal creation on Trains.com

But let's hear what you have to say. Here are a few guidelines:

1.Your set must be different from any that Lionel listed or showed in an advance or consumer catalog between 1945 and 1969.

2.It must have a locomotive and exactly five more components. They can be freight cars or passenger cars; you may replace one piece of rolling stock with an accessory.

3.Whatever you choose for the set cannot have been introduced after the year your locomotive appeared. Also, the components must have appeared in the cataloged line no earlier than two years before the locomotive. So an engine from 1954 cannot have components introduced after that year or last cataloged in 1951 or before.

Feel free to post your idea of the perfect Lionel postwar set here or send to me via email at rcarp@classictoytrains.com

Have fun, be imaginative, and show us what Lionel should have done!

Roger Carp

Senior editor

Classic Toy Trains

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Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, December 1, 2023 10:21 PM

I don't know how I could check the dates, so I will have to rely on what I remember from the late 50s catalogs.  I would have a New Haven rectifier electric, a B&M blue boxcar, a BAR red white and blue boxcar, a NYC jade green boxcar, a Gulf Oil tank car, and a NH caboose if there was such a thing, or a generic Lionel Lines caboose if not.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, December 2, 2023 8:58 AM

OK, I'll rise to the challenge!

In fact I've got several ideas which I'll feed in with several installments.

First off, I'll calling this the "Lionel Back-Yard Series," as in once-famous and now gone railroads which operated in the general area of Lionel's factory in Hillside NJ. Although of course those 'roads were very much alive in the Post-War era.

My idea is to make them as authentically close as possible but still affordable representations of the prototype 'roads using existing tooling and product lines of the time as the basis.  So here comes Number One.

"The Lackawanna Limited."

We start with the good old reliable 2055 Hudson as the locomotive. 

https://www.tandem-associates.com/lionel/lionel_trains_2055_loco.htm

Pretty much prototypical.  The Lackawanna did operate four Hudson types and they were good ones too.  On this Hudson however we drop the "Lionel Lines" marking from the tender and substitute "Lackawanna."  (Honestly, Lionel's slapping "Lionel Lines" on just about everything has always annoyed me a bit.)

THEN we add five 2400 type passenger cars to the set painted in the following scheme:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoebe_Snow_(train)#/media/File:Four_Photos_at_Hoboken_Terminal_in_September_1965_(24011223286)_(cropped).jpg

We can leave off "Phoebe Snow," that wasn't the only train with cars painted like that and the cars can be named for Lackawanna station stops or just numbered, it doesn't make any difference.  And there's a color photo in one of my railbooks of a Lackawanna train pulling into Hoboken with a Hudson on the point and those VERY classy grey and maroon cars training behind.   So we're good as far as authenticity goes. 

So there we are, a set made up of available post-war components and easily done by Lionel.  Whether additional components like track and transformer would be included is another matter.

So, what does everyone think?  And are you interested in the others I have in mind? 

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Posted by Roger Carp on Monday, December 4, 2023 10:04 AM

Many thanks to the two readers who have responded to my challenge to create the perfect Lionel postwar set. Both have shared terrific and fascinating possibilities. Let's here from more of you and see what else Lionel might have done!

Roger Carp

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, December 4, 2023 1:05 PM

Thanks for the kind words Roger!  They mean a lot coming from the "Lionel Maestro" himself!

As promised, here's my second installment of the "Lionel's Backyard" series.

The Erie Mainliner!  

With this one we start out with a 736 Berkshire with Erie markings.  The Erie was a pioneer and enthusiastic user of the Bershire type which turned the "Weary Erie" into a fast freight hauler.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/erie-railroad-berkshire-highresolution-photo--424323596123162539/

 

For the rest of the set I propose the following:

One 6464 Series boxcar, any marking.

One 6425 Gulf three-dome tank car.

One 6462 gondola car, any marking.

One 6311 pipe flat car, any marking.

One N5C caboose with Erie markings. 

The thing is a 736 can pull a LOT more cars than the five we're limited to but hey, we've got to start somewhere!  That's what separate purchases were for!  

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Posted by Roger Carp on Monday, December 4, 2023 2:41 PM

Thanks for the kind words and your ongoing support of our magazine and the CTT Forum. Are you able to create the perfect set using the guidelines set forth above? Namely, only actual items Lionel did catalog during the postwar era and not items it could have developed. Many thanks!

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, December 4, 2023 4:02 PM

Thanks for the feedback Roger!

suppose  I could put a set together from the products Lionel actually produced road names and all, sorry if I misunderstood.

However I'm not sure I see the point.  Putting sets together with existing stock strikes me as reinventing the wheel.  Why not go beyond that and use existing products of the time and tweaking them a bit, i.e. putting prototypically correct markings on locomotives and cabooses, instead of the ubiquitous "Lionel Lines?" 

Anyway, I'll try a bit harder.  It's going to take quite a bit of research on my part with the hope I don't come up with something that was already done 70 years ago.  

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Posted by pennytrains on Monday, December 4, 2023 9:31 PM

Y'all will have to check me if I have anything wrong on the timeline, but I'd pair the 2035 with the 6466W, red 6462 gon, X6454 Erie, 3472 milk car with 3462P, 6555 Sunoco, 3461 lumber and a Tuscan 6457 Lionel Lines bringing up the rear.  Add a figure eight of O31 with 2 UCS remote control track sections, a standard UTC lockon and throw in a KW to create what I'd call a fine starter set.  Big Smile

I know, I'm over on the car count but maybe it's an uncataloged set.  Wink

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 8:40 AM

Good suggestion Becky!  If you're over the car count that's OK with me, this is fantasy stuff after all.  And as far as I know the cars you listed were around in one form or another.

This isn't easy, is it?  

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Posted by pennytrains on Tuesday, December 5, 2023 9:59 PM

You could drop the X6454 Erie boxcar if necessary Wink

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 10:03 PM

pennytrains
... red 6462 gon, ...

I inhereted my older brothers Lionel set, including a chipped short black gondola, in the 1950s.  The first thing I bought was a used NYC red long gondola.  In the 1960s I sold my Lionel trains to help pay for an HOn3 brass 2-8-2.  Soon I was into college and never got back into HOn3.  I have since gotten back into O gauge, but mostly MTH and Atlas scale equipment.  I have recreated some of what I was missing in my old set, and also bought a D&RGW GS gondola, but you reminded me I still have no NYC red gondola.  I would have included it in my perfect set, but I didn't remember it in catalogs, or know if it might have been to old to qualify.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, December 8, 2023 10:58 AM

OK, back for another try.

For starters and for a bit of guidance I pulled out my David Doyle book  "Postwar Lionel Trains 1945-1969" for some guidance.  I turned to the "Cataloged Outfits" section for what the sets were like and...

SUFFERIN' SUCCOTASH!!!   Surprise  

From 1945 to 1969 there were over 400 different sets produced of different configurations and contents.  Yikes!  It'd take me all year to research them all as to what they did and didn't have. 

(No wonder Lionel was in trouble by the 1960's.  Maybe they should have standardized on a few starter / deluxe sets and let it go at that? I mean really!)

Alright then.  What I did was arbitrarily pick a mid-Fifties set for starters, the "Super Streamliner" from 1954 which consisted of a Santa Fe 2353 A-A diesel lash-up and four 2500 Series extruded aluminum cars.  Then I decided to spin it a bit into...

"The  Super STEAMliner Set," consisting of the old reliable 2055 Hudson with a 2046W tender (1952-1955 production) and FIVE (Why be stingy?) 2500 (1952-1960 production)  streamline cars.  Now THAT would make a truly striking set!  Silver cars pulled by an action-packed steam locomotive with smoke and whistle.

Maybe it could come with track and transformer plus a passenger station, maybe not.  I'm more concerned with the train itself.

The Hudson.

https://www.tandem-associates.com/lionel/lionel_trains_2055_loco.htm

The 2500 Series cars.

https://www.tandem-associates.com/lionel/lionelcarpass.htm#2500

 

 

Thoughts anyone?  

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Posted by 8ntruck on Friday, December 8, 2023 2:11 PM

Thoughts -yup, make it a Super O set.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Friday, December 8, 2023 4:40 PM

8ntruck

Thoughts -yup, make it a Super O set.

Great idea!  We'd have to substitute an the engine though, Super-O track was introduced in 1957 and the 2055 was dropped in 1955.  No problem, there's others available like the 646:

https://www.tandem-associates.com/lionel/lionel_trains_646_loco.htm

Or the 665:

https://www.tandem-associates.com/lionel/lionel_trains_665_loco.htm

Both good candidates.

 

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 4:35 PM

Ummmm, isn't there anyone else out there?  Hmm

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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 9:26 PM

I think one of the impediments to response is that most people don't have catalogs handy to see what was available to meet the criteria of the challange.  Just yesterday I happened to find a 1959 lionel catalog form when I was a kid.  I tried to find a website that displayed catalogs, but only found sites that sell old catalogs.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, December 13, 2023 7:40 PM

MidlandMike
I think one of the impediments to response is that most people don't have catalogs handy to see what was available to meet the criteria of the challange.

It looks like you kinda-sorta vindicated my original post.  Not knowing what came before I went for the complete fantasy angle as in "What kind of product tooling was available and what can we do with it?" in addition to using actual 'road names and trying to appeal to the advanced hobbyist, which Lionel could never 100% decide to do.   

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Posted by 8ntruck on Sunday, December 17, 2023 9:30 PM

I've got a couple ideas, but I don't have access to my catalogs and other reference material at the moment.  

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Posted by Rene Schweitzer on Thursday, December 21, 2023 3:06 PM

Rene Schweitzer

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Posted by cnw1995 on Thursday, January 4, 2024 9:20 AM

That was a fun article! I didn't know enough about what was possible to pick from beyond a good 'fantasy' list.

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

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Posted by RRSue on Sunday, January 14, 2024 2:44 PM

I think I have that set, except with an A-B-A locomotive. I believe most my sets are similar, although I have some with Art boxcars and then 1940s steam engines. I guess I'll have to get numbers

 

 

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Posted by GGH on Thursday, January 18, 2024 4:42 PM

My set would be..                                                                                                 736 Berkshire Steam Loco with 2046W Tender. (50-51) and (53-68)

1. 6356 NYC Stock Car ((54-55)                                                                          2. 3356 Santa Fe Horse Car (56-60)                                                                    3. 3424 Wabash Brakeman Car (56-58)                                                              4. 3530 Generator Car (56-58)                                                                          5. 6417 Pennsylvania Caboose (53-57)                                                                These cars are all large with Bar End trucks.

 

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