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Prewar 0 Gauge

Lionel Prewar 0 Gauge 254 Electric Locomotive 1924-34

The 254 was introduced in 1924 and was cataloged until 1932. The 254E with a two position pendulum reverse was introduced in 1927 and cataloged until 1934.

The 4U was cataloged from 1928 through 1932. The 4U came with components to convert the motor to a stationary motor. Teh 4 only came in gray and orange.

These engines are 9 1/4 inches long- not including couplers. 254E locomotives can be found with an E rubber stamped on the door or engraved on the number plate.

4U Orange.

254 dark green.

254 Mojave

254E Pea green, orange hatches and stripe.

254 Olive green, maroon hatches and stripe.

254 Olive. Untrimmed replacement cab mounted on 254E frame.

254 Orange. This is an export engine and has 254 plates but is actually a 4U body and motor.

Stationary motor constructed with 4U parts.

Pea green and olive green engines can be found with or without painted hatches and stripes. Also the olive green and pea green engine can be found with colored celluloid behind the ventilators.

The 254 was also made in red and apple green. The 254/4 was exported to Europe to get rid of the extra 4 bodies after the 4 was discontinued. Both gray and orange versions were exported. The export engines can have 4U or 254 plates but always have “Made in US of America” rubberstamped on the inside of the engine.

There are three variations of the body stamping of the 254. There can be one or two hand reverse slots. The earliest engines have one hand reverse slot, or two diagonally opposite reverse slots. Later cabs have two slots both on the same end of the cab.

Sets: The 4 came in sets with matching 605/ 606 passenger cars. The dark green and mojave 254 came in sets with early 610/ 612 passenger cars. The mojave, olive green and pea green engines cam with late 610/ 612 passenger cars. The 4 and the 254 also came in sets with the large eight wheeled 800 series freight cars.

Rarity: The export engines are extremely difficult to find. The gray 4 is harder to find than any other engine except the export engines. The red 254 is the hardest color 254 to find. The olive green and pea green are the easiest to find.

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Prewar 0 Gauge

Lionel Prewar 0 Gauge 256 Electric Locomotive 1924-30

The 256 was introduced as the top of the line O gauge engine in 1924, and cataloged through 1930. This engine featured two motors, Lionel called this the twin motored locomotive. The 256 is 11 1/2 inches long- not including couplers.


Early 256 with strap headlight, non operating pantographs and rubberstamped lettering

Later 256 with cast headlight, operating pantographs and brass plate lettering.

Early versions had stamped headlights with working on/ off switches, Non operating standard gauge pantographs, and rubber stamped lettering. Later versions had cast headlights, standard gauge operating pantographs, and brass plate lettering.

There are variations of both types of lettering. The rubber stamped engines come with or without a border, and with stamped or cast lights.. The brass plate engines come with or without a black border on the plate.

Sets: The 256 came in sets with the 710/ 712 passenger cars from1924 through 1929. In 1930 it was cataloged for separate sale only.

Rarity: The rubber stamped version with the border is the hardest to find. The rubber stamped version without the border is easiest to find. All 256 locomotives are highly sought after by collectors.

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Prewar 0 Gauge

Lionel Prewar 0 Gauge 253 and 450 Electric Locomotives 1924-36

The 253 was introduced in 1924, and cataloged through 1932. The 253E with electric reverse was introduced in 1931 and ran through 1936. The engine is 9 inches long- not including couplers.

253 Dark Green

253 Mojave

253 Peacock

253 Peacock orange stripe

253E Stephan Girard green, dark green frame.
253 Terra cotta, maroon frame 450 Red. Special for Macys 450 Stephan girard green, dark green frame. Special for Macys

The mojave, dark green and maroon engines come with strap headlights. The dark green comes with orange inserts and die cast light. The other colors come with die cast headlights. The frame on this engine can have two hand reverse slots or one. The E locomotives can have the E engraved on the plate or rubber-stamped on the side of the engine.

Sets: The early strap headlight engines came in sets with matching early 610/ 612 passenger cars. The peacock and two tone green engines came with 607/ 608 passenger cars. The terra cotta engine came with the 613 series passenger cars in sets without baggage cars. The 253 also came with the large 8 wheel 800 series and the small 4 wheel 800 freight cars.

Rarity: The peacock and two tone green engines are the easiest to find. The maroon, gray, pea green and red engines are very hard to find. These are not shown because I need to get pictures from other collectors. The 450 engines made for Macys’s are also hard to find.

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Prewar 0 Gauge

Lionel Prewar 0 Gauge 251 Electric Locomotive 1925-32

The 251 was introduced in 1925 and cataloged through 1932. The 251E with two position reverse was introduced in 1927 and cataloged until 1932. The engine is 10 inches long- not including couplers.

251 Gray. Brass windows.

251E Gray. Red windows.

251 Red. Cream windows.

The gray engine comes with strap or cast headlights. The red engine is found with or without a cream stripe on the at the bottom of the cab.

Sets: These engines came with matching 605/ 606 passenger cars. The red engine also came in an uncataloged set with the larger 710/ 712 cars in red. This engine also came with the large 8 wheeled 800 series freight cars.

Rarity: Red is harder to find than gray. The red engine with a cream stripe is the hardest to find.

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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.

Uncataloged.


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.

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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.

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prewar 00 scale

Lionel’s 00 Scale Hoppers

0016, 0046, and 0046K.

Lionel’s OO hopper cars were only offered in full scale versions. The scale sets came with or without the hopper car, while the semi-scale sets never came with a hopper car. This car is entirely die cast. Made only with Southern Pacific lettering.

The three rail 0016 hopper comes in grey or black; the two rail 0046 comes only in black.

Earliest version of 0016 is painted grey with black and white decals.

Similar to the car above this 0016 hopper has the decals inward on the car. This car is actually the same color as the one above.

Last color variation is black with white decals.

Undecaled black 0044 hopper. These unlettered cars were sold through Madison Hardware through the late 1970s. Original unlettered hoppers have unpainted blackened steps. Repainted versions have painted steps.

Here’s a picture of an 0044 in the display box:

Introduction to Lionel 00 Trains

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prewar 00 scale

Lionel’s 00 Scale Cabooses

0017, 0027, 0047, 0047K and 0077

Lionel 00 cabooses were offered in both scale (0017 and 0047) and semi-scale versions (0027 and 0077). The 0017 and 0027 had three rail trucks while the 0047 and 0077 featured two rail trucks. The 0047K was a kit version of the two rail tank car.

Two rail cars would run on either two or three rail track, but three rail cars would cause shorts on two rail track.

The semi-scale versions did not have a smoke stack. The earliest versions of the 0017 caboose had maroon painted roof walks and PRR lettering. Later versions had NYC lettering and all red roofs. The other numbers of the caboose are found only with NYC lettering.

Lionel 0017 PRR caboose

Lionel 0017 PRR caboose with maroon painted roof walks.

Lionel 0027 NYC caboose

Lionel 0027 caboose with decal on left.

Lionel 0027 NYC caboose

Lionel 0027 caboose with decal on right- note position of brake wheel and tool box. This may be a factory error.

Lionel 0047 NYC caboose

Lionel 0047 caboose. This is a scale version with a smokestack. Many cabooses are found today missing the stamped sheet metal top of the stack.

Lionel 0077 NYC caboose

Lionel 0077 caboose.

Introduction to Lionel 00 Trains

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prewar 00 scale

Lionel’s 00 Scale Tank Cars

0015, 0025, 0045, 0045K and 0075

Lionel 00 tank cars were offered in both scale (0015 and 0045) and semi-scale versions (0025 and 0075). The 0015 and 0025 had three rail trucks while the 0045 and 0075 featured two rail trucks. The 0045K was a kit version of the two rail tank car.

Two rail cars would run on either two or three rail track, but three rail cars would cause shorts on two rail track.

The cars were offered in black with Shell decals and silver with Sunoco decals. The semi-scale versions did not have the tank underneath the frame. The black cars have catalog numbers rubber stamped on the bottom of the frame. The silver cars either have the catalog number on the decal or the number 2699 on the decal with the number on the frame. There are more variations of the tank car than any other Lionel 00 car.

Lionel 0015 shell tank car

Lionel black 0015 Shell tanker

Lionel 0015 Sunoco tank car

Lionel Silver 0015 Sunoco tanker with number on decal.

Lionel 0025 shell tank car

Lionel 0025 black Shell tank Car. Note the lack of a brake cylinder.

Lionel 0075 shell tank car

Lionel 0075 Shell tank car with 2699 on decal. All later versions of the silver tank have this decal.

Introduction to Lionel 00 Trains

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prewar 00 scale

Lionel’s oo Scale Boxcars

0014, 0024, 0044, 0044K and 0074

Lionel made four different numbers of boxcars. The 0014 and 0024 came with three rail trucks and the 0044 and 0077 featured two rail trucks. The lower numbers (0014 and 0044) are scale models, while the higher numbers (0024 and 0074) are semi-scale models lacking some detail. The 0044K was also offered in kit form. Two rail cars Two rail cars will run on three rail track, but three rail cars will cause shorting on two rail track.

Here are pictures of the different variations:

lionel 0014 boxcar

The earliest version is painted cream with maroon cat walk and multi-colored decals. Only found in 1938 sets as an 0014.

lionel 00 boxcar

Second color is tuscan with black painted ladders. Found in ALL numbers 0014, 0024, 0044, and 0074. A picture of an 0044 in this version is shown below. Made from 1939 to 1941?

lionel 0024 boxcar

Last version has unpainted ladders. found in all numbers? Although this looks like a different color than the car above most collectors consider this a normal variation in paint. The O gauge 2954 Semi scale boxcar is also found in these different shades of tuscan.

lionel 0074 boxcar

This 0074 is a cream painted 0014 factory repainted and decaled as a 0074. You can see the cream paint under the tuscan paint. These can be found in the all numbers?

Most of these cars were sold in small rectangular orange and blue Lionel boxes. The kit version of the 0044K and the separate sale 0044 boxcar came in display boxes.

Here’s a picture of an 0044 in the display box.

lionel oo44 boxcar in display box

Introduction to Lionel 00 Trains