Sometimes you do things that don't make a whole lot of sense. I've had a 1681 laying in the bottom of my parts box for years...every time I looked in there I saw it staring back at me. I had always figured it would be nothing more than a paperweight at best. Beat up, missing parts, not worth much...
Finally I couldn't take it anymore...it had surely meant something to some kid eighty years or so ago. I figured it deserved another shot. I patched up what I could, Don Carver of Gettysburg PA helped install a new shoulder gear, new pick-ups, replaced the broken wiring. We agreed no restore...she'd earned her dents and scratches.
The old 1681 returns from the dead pile...the junk box is empty, and despite that I've got more in it than I could ever see, it feels pretty good.
Love the decision to leave the original paint - well done! Erase those scratches and this loco loses its soul; as it is, it's fantastic.
As others have said, who doesn't love the 1681 or the other Lionel Jr. or starter tinplate sets? They're not the most valuable pieces on the market, but they carry the most nostalgia I think. Many times you see original Blue Comets and State Sets in fantastic original condition, but seldom do you see one of the low-line starter trains in pristine shape - and for good reason. I think many of the rich little rascals who's dads could afford the high-end stuff didn't play with them all that much, but the kids who got these sets were genuinely appreciative and used them until they dropped. When this train was made, it was a likely a sacrifice for the family to afford it, but it made for a very happy boy. People made judgement calls to buy trains like this - we'll cut back on groceries for a week or two. The families that bought Blue Comets or Presidents Specials typically didn't face the dilemma of buying Junior a toy train or eating lunch for a few days. So, I think that makes these little trains all the more fascinating, because this train was dearly loved, as almost all of the starter sets were.
If it don't rattle and throw sparks, it ain't a "toy train."