Prewar 0 Gauge

Lionel Prewar 0 Gauge 250 and 252 Electric Locomotives 1926-34

The 250 was only cataloged in 1926. The 252 was cataloged from 1926 to 1935. The 250 and 252 are the same engine but the 250 had NO reverse while the 252 had a hand reverse or later an Electric reverse (E unit). These engines are 8 inches long- not including the couplers. The earliest engines had strap headlights. The dark green 250 only comes with a strap headlight. While the peacock and olive 252s come with either strap or cast lights. The other colors only come with cast lights.

250 Dark Green. No reverse.

252 Peacock. Strap headlight. Also found with Die cast light.

252 Olive. Strap headlight.

252 Olive. Cast headlight.

252 Terra cotta, Terra cotta. Also comes with maroon frame.


Yellow-orange, Terra cotta. See text below.

252 Yellow orange, Black frame.

252 Maroon. This was a special for Macys’s. Uncataloged. 1930.

There is a body variation on the strap headlight engines. The earlier engines had wide reverse slots, and the later engines had narrow slots. The photo on the right shows both types of slots. The peacock loco on the left has a wide slot; the olive engine has the narrow slot. In this photo, I have removed the hand reverse lever for clarity. When Lionel changed the body to accept the cast light, the hand reverse lever was moved to the same end as the headlight.
The yellow orange and the terra cotta engines were also made with E units. The plate was never modified to have an E engraved on it. Lionel just rubber-stamped an E on the door. The yellow orange engines can be found with 250 plates on them, but they come in 252E boxes. Lionel was just using up leftover 250 plates. The reverse lever on the top of the engines with E units was used to turn the E unit on and off. The two-position pendulum E unit was not used on the 252. A three- position E unit without on off switch was used. Not all E engines have the rubber-stamped E on the door.

SETS: The dark green 250 came in sets with matching dark green 629/ 630 passenger cars, and the small 4 wheel 800 series freight cars. All colors of the 252 (except maroon) came in sets with the small 4 wheel 800 series freight cars. The peacock, yellow-orange, and maroon came in passenger sets with matching 603 or 607 type cars. The olive and terra cotta engines came with matching 529/ 530 series passenger cars.

Some collectors think the yellow-orange engine only came with the terra cotta frame and the terra cotta engines only came with maroon frames. They think collectors have switched frames to create yellow-orange engines with black frames and terra cotta engines with terra cotta frames. I don’t know if they are correct or not. All the engines shown here were purchased from other collectors. I think there are too many examples of these engines to be the result of switching, plus what happened to the maroon frames?

RARITY: The maroon Macys is the hardest to find. Next are the terra cotta, and the dark green 250. The peacock and olive engines are the easiest to find.

Prewar 0 Gauge

Lionel Prewar 0 Gauge 248 Electric Locomotive 1927-32

The 248 was introduced in 1927 and cataloged through 1932. This was Lionel’s smallest electric engine, and never came with a reverse. The 248 is 7 3/4 inches long- not including couplers.

248 Orange, Brass Number board, Strap headlight.

248 Orange, Painted Peacock Number board, Die Cast Light.

248 Dark Green, Maroon, Die Cast light. Uncataloged.

248 Red, Cream,

248 Terra Cotta, Yellow No handrails by doors. Uncataloged.

 Photo not available.

Same as Terra Cotta but WITH handrails. Uncataloged.

Olive Green, Orange. Uncataloged.

248 Peacock, Orange. Uncataloged.

The dark green and orange versions comes with a strap or diecast headlight. The terra cotta engines without handrails are the result of Lionel using up cabs they made for Ives. In 1930 and 1931, Lionel owned Ives and produced Ives trains in their factory. One of the engines featured the 248 cab without handrails on an Ives frame. Lionel also used some of these cabs without handrails on the terra cotta 248.

Sets: This engine came in sets with the small 800 series freight cars and with the 529/ 629 passenger cars. The early orange engine with brass plates came in sets with the early bodied 603 and 604 passenger cars. The terra cotta locomotive did not come with passenger cars but Lionel made 529 and 530 passenger cars in terra cotta with maroon frames that most collectors put behind this engine. The terra cotta cars came in sets with the terra cotta 252 and the early hand reverse 259 steam locomotive.

Rarity: The red and orange colors are the easiest to find. The other colors are all difficult to find.

Prewar 0 Gauge

Lionel 4 Wheel 600 Pullman O Gauge 1915-25

Lionel 600 passenger set in orange

Lionel introduced the O gauge line in 1915 with 3 different sizes of passenger cars. The little 4 wheeled 600 Pullman cars were the smallest O gauge car. In fact this is the smallest O gauge passenger car ever made by Lionel.

The first year the 600 was made in dark green with a gold stripe under the windows and in dark olive green. In 1916 the gold stripe was dropped.

In late 1917 or early 1918 Lionel produced brown cars that were sold in sets with matching short bodied 150 locos.

Later in 1918 Lionel changed the color of the car to maroon. Maroon is the most common color of the 600 Pullman car as it was made until 1925.

The orange cars shown on this page were probably made in 1921. They are extremely rare.

Some of the dark green cars without gold stripes may also be specials from the 1920s, but they don’t look any different from the cars produced earlier so are largely ignored by collectors. A dark green 600 Pullman with a corporation stamp on the bottom is probably a later special rather than a regular production item.

The pullman was almost always lettered New York Central Lines over the windows and pullman under the windows in gold. The number 600 is usually on the car end to the right of the door, but some cars have the number on the bottom. Earlier cars have “The Lionel Lines NY USA” stamped on the end, later cars have a Lionel Corporation stamp on the bottom.

Dark olive geen cars came in 1915 only sets with gold ventilator 700 locos.

The dark green 600 Pullman came is sets with the 700 and long 150 locos in dark green. Corporation dark green cars without gold stripes may have come with matching short 150 locos or 158 locos. Maroon and brown cars came with matching 150 or black 158 locos. The orange cars came with the maroon 150 loco shown in the photo above.

close up of orange 600 pullmans

Lionel reused the number 600 for a Pullman car in the 1930s.

Prewar 0 Gauge

Lionel 820 Boxcar O Gauge 1915-26

Lionel Brown roof 820 box car from 1915

The 820 Box car was introduced by Lionel in 1915. The first runs of cars were yellow-orange with brown roof as shown above. Few of these brown roof cars were made, and they are very rare. Some guides say the roofs were produced in brown and maroon, but I’ve never seen a maroon one.

The brown roof 820 is much rarer than the brown roof 4 wheeled 800 boxcar.

After a few brown roof cars were produced, Lionel changed the roof color to match the body.

Cars were produced from 1916-26 in yellow-orange and in a darker shade of orange. Both shades of orange cars had Illinois Central or Union Pacific road names. There are quite a few variations of the lettering on the orange cars.

Sometime in 1916 or 17 Lionel made a run of dark green 820 box cars lettered for Santa Fe. My dates are based on a photograph of trains running under a Christmas tree that shows two dark green cars that is
dated December 1917 on the back.

The dark green car is worth more than the brown roof car, because it’s more widely known. The all orange cars are quite common and relatively cheap.

Any box for these cars is harder to find than the car itself, and if in nice shape with all flaps, will bring more than the car.

I’ll add pictures of the other colors of The Lionel 820 boxcar in the future.

Note: The number 820 was also used on a floodlight car made by Lionel in the 1930s.

Prewar 0 Gauge

Lionel Mickey Mouse Circus Train 1935

Lionel Mickey Mouse Circus Set

This is a really desirable Lionel prewar windup train set from 1935 only. It’s O gauge.

The set is pulled by a 1508 loco with Mickey Mouse stoker tender. Here’s a closer shot of the loco and tender.

Lionel Mickey Mouse Barker

Also shown in the photo above is the composition Mickey Barker. Made of compressed sawdust the figure is very fragile and few survived.

The cars are a 1518 Diner, a 1536 Band Car, and a 1536 Animal car. While the cars share the same body, the litho is different.

When sold the set came with a cardboard tent and tickets. These are seldom seen today, but reproductions have been made.

Pride Lines made copies of this set using an electric motor rather than a windup.

Prewar 0 Gauge Prewar Standard gauge

Lionel 5A Test Set 1938 Only

Lionel 5A test stand

Lionel made a series of test stands for service station use. The one shown here is 5A for 1938 only. In 1939 Lionel changed it a bit and renumbered it the 5B. In the postwar period they made 5C, 5D, 5E, and 5F with different capabilities.

The 5A and 5B test stands tested Standard gauge, O gauge, and OO gauge trains in addition to every type of accessory and transformer Lionel made.

Close ups of the knobs and switches are shown below:

Lionel 5A test stand

Lionel 5A test stand

Top view showing T-rail track. I think the end bumpers on this are not correct?

Lionel 5A test stand T-rail track

When you connect an automatic station or semaphore to these terminals:

Lionel 5A tester station terminals

This motor inside the unit simulates a train entering and leaving the block:

Lionel 5A tester Inside view

Here’s an end view:

Lionel 5A tester end View

The Lionel 5A tester is 24 inches long, 7 inches wide at the base, and 7 inches tall to the track platform.

The Lionel 5A test stand came with instructions so the service station operator knew how to connect the accessories, and run the diagnostic tests. The instructions with this testor are mimeographed sheets because there weren’t enough copies needed to warrant the cost of offset printing. The instructions are held in a common file folder with bent over clips.

Here’s a photo of the cover page of the instructions:

Lionel 5A test stand instructions

The instructions also include a diagram of the tester itself so it can be repaired if needed. Here’s a photo:

Lionel 5A test stand diagram

There is a page on the Toy Train Revue website that shows photos of all of Lionel’s test Stands along with some other service station tools. Here’s a link.

Postwar 0 Gauge Prewar 0 Gauge

Lionel 314 Girder Bridge 1940-42 and 1945-50

Lionel 314 Girder Bridge

Lionel Introduced the 314 Plate Girder Bridge in 1940. It was made originally in aluminum, and then the color changed to gray in late 1940. After the war, production continued in gray.

Most of Lionel’s accessories changed from aluminum to gray in late 1940. The story is the aluminum paint was in demand for the war effort and gray was cheaper. Gray is also a more forgiving color. It covers better.

A lot of sellers will use the war story to make their gray 314 girder bridges more desirable. The aluminum 314 bridge is harder to find than the gray one.

There are at least 10 gray bridges for every aluminum one. Gray being more common is true for both the 314 and 316 bridges. The 315 trestle bridge with a light is harder to find in gray.

Prewar 0 Gauge Prewar Standard gauge

Lionel 208 Toolbox With Tools 1934-42

Lionel 208 toolbox with tools

Lionel made the 208 toolbox with tools from 1934 to 1942. It came in sets with the 400E work train, and was available separately. The 812, and 2812 O gauge gondolas came with the tools but without the box when the gondola was part of a work train.

Work trains were a steam engine, tender, crane, gondola, searchlight car, and caboose. Standard gauge work trains were always pulled by the 400E and had 200 series freights. O gauge work trains were pulled by the 260E, the 263E, the 226E, and the 763E.

The tools are nickel plated cast iron, and each measures about 4 inches long. The metal tool boxes come in aluminum as shown above and gray. I’ll add a picture of a gray toolbox in the future.

Prewar 0 Gauge

Lionel 700K Scale Hudson Kit 1939-42

Lionel 700K Kit Hudson Assembled In Primer Grey

In 1937 Lionel introduced the famous 700E Hudson locomotive. This was a scale 1:48 model of the New York Central steam locomotive. The assembled 700E came with a walnut display stand and was the first commercially produced die cast O scale locomotive made.

The 700E Hudson was very popular with the newly emerging O scale operators. By the mid 1930s a movement towards scale or realistic locomotives had grown up in the US and many operators built kits. Factory
assembled scale locomotives and cars weren’t available. So the Lionel Hudson was a first.

In 1939 to accommodate O scalers who wanted to build their own locomotive Lionel began offering the 700E in kit form. 5 kits built the locomotive and tender, and a sixth kit contained a whistle for the tender.

The kits could be built for inside or outside third rail.

To make it easier for modelers on a budget, Lionel sold the kits separately. Some modelers built the locomotive and never painted it black so there are a few original gray 700K locos out there. (The one shown at the top of this page is an original kit locomotive assembled and unpainted.)

I always wanted to build a 700K so since I had acquired most of the parts I decided to build my own Hudson kit.

The first kit 700K-1 came with the frame with wheels mounted, the crossheads and valve gear need to be mounted.

I lost the picture of the frame before adding parts, but you can see it under the trimmed boiler shown in the third kit.

This portion was a mess. Because I was using parts from junk Hudsons I used the best of each part I had and bought the missing parts. The frame I used came from a 763E so this loco has blind center drivers.

I had Don Hagar replace one of the wheels and straighten the frame. The wheel Don replaced broke in the mail on the way back so the frame had to make a return trip. Don didn’t charge me for the shipping or the work required to replace the wheel.

This whole process of getting the frame ready to mount the valve gear took 2 months acquiring the parts and dealing with the broken wheels.

Then I sat down to start putting the parts in kit 1 on, and the cranks and crankshafts on the parts engines were either modified or broken. I ordered replacements from Sal Olsen.

Sal sent me the wrong rivets to attach the cranks to the crankshafts, and one of the cranks was defective. Another month as the parts went back and forth.

Everything sat in boxes for months waiting for the parts. Some of the time was occupied by other pursuits, but it was quite frustrating to sit down and start working only to realize something was missing or broken.

If I wasn’t already bald I would have been pulling out my hair.

Anyway I finally got kit 1 put together. Here’s both sides after the assembly of kit 1:

700K-1 frame assembled

700K frame with valve gear

The second kit 700K-2 included the motor, e unit, collectors – inside and outside, the headlight and a lead weight.

The second kit went together in minutes. I test ran the loco to make sure everything was correct only to find a short in the e-unit. I don’t have an e-unit to cannibalize for parts so I decided to temporarily wire the engine without the e-unit so it only runs forward.

Here’s photos of both sides after the parts in kit 2 have been added to the frame:

700K frame with motor

700K-3 assembled

The third kit contained the boiler and cab assembly and all the trim. Below is a photo of a Hudsonboiler without the trim installed.

700K boiler unpainted

I added the trim to the boiler while I was waiting for the frame parts. Here’s both sides of the boiler after mounting trim. I set the boiler on the frame before the parts in kits 1 and 2 were added to the frame for these pictures.

700K boiler primer gray with trim

700K boiler primer gray with trim

The next step is mounting the boiler to the frame. Another short showed in a wire coming off a brush at this point. The original wire is cloth covered and it was pinched between the cab and the frame. I’ll
rewire it when I put the new e-unit in.

Here’s pictures of the trimmed cab mounted on the frame with valve gear from step 2:

700K boiler mounted on frame

700K boiler mounted on frame

Kit 700K-4 contained the ash pan, ladders, coupler and pilot, boiler front, lead and trailing trucks and some small bits of valve gear that attach to the boiler.

These parts were easy to mount. Because I used a 763E frame, I don’t have the holes to mount the coupler chain assembly. When I pull it apart to mount the e-unit I’ll drill the holes and mount the coupler chain. The boiler front also needs the lower grab irons.

I did get the rest of the loco assembled, and here’s pictures of each side:

700K finished model

700K finished model before painting

Now I am supposed to take the whole thing apart and paint it black. Not going to happen. I do have the decals and will letter it in the future.

Kit 700K-5 contains the tender, and kit 700K-6 contained the whistle. I have a tender in my box of parts, but I don’t want to repaint a nice looking tender so this loco won’t have a matching tender until I find a restorable 700T tender. Got one?

Postwar 0 Gauge Prewar 0 Gauge Prewar Standard gauge

Lionel 115 Station 1935-42 And 1946-49

Lionel 115 stop station

Lionel added a stop mechanism to the popular 112 station in 1935 and called it the 115 stop station.

The station can be found with two different shades of red. Either lighter red as seen here, or a slightly darker shade of red that was produced only in 1935.

This station is the same as the Lionel 117, but has added lights beside the doors.

The station was also made in the postwar period. It’s the largest Lionel station made after the war.

Clean examples like the one shown above will bring a large premium.

Reproductions of this station have been made.