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Trestles N Trains posted:

Let me add another item to the mix of the possible 660. Under a different light, I can see the number 165 under the paint. It is faint but it is there.

From this reply, I am presuming that the crane car in your possession appears to have the number 165, however faint???  I seriously doubt that number, when you compare an actual 165 crane cab, to a 2660 cab, when you look at the front edge, at the bottom of the cab, how the cab extends forward from the vertical line of the cab.  The two don't match the contours where the cab meets the frame.  As CW has pointed out the way the trucks are mounted, they are not of 1941-42 vintage, which would have had horseshoe clip/stud mounted trucks.  The couplers are 1940-41 vintage.

Referring to the second attachment describing the cab, it mentions it is 165 painted over.  Then we get down to the specifics of 650-D frame (my Greenberg book shows this to be 1940-41 issue), Type (4h) IV-H trucks (Circa 1941 by Greenberg, with a stud/horseshoe clip), Type III couplers (1941 style with simulated knuckle, but no lift pin, circa 1941-42), black journals.  ****The one in your possession doesn't match this description.****

J. Flynn is James Flynn, a noted collector, and was one of the other collectors to assist Greenberg with the research for his book.  James Flynn took over the tooling from Marx, for a short few years, and wanted to continue the line of Marx trains,  with the naming as "New Marx", which was later discontinued, and then it became Ameritrain.  From reading the last line of the above description, I have to presume that the two known confirmed sighting are in J. Flynn's collection.

Looking at your example, the trucks are mounted with eyelets, and appear to have the Type 3 couplers.  From what little I could find, I agree that the frame of your crane is definitely a 650 series frame, but I would say that you have a 650-A frame, not the "D".  Using the write-up for the 652, 652x, 2652 gondola frame work, the eyelet was only used from 1935 to 1937, and would have used a Type 3 latch coupler.  Those characteristics only seem to appear on the Early 1935-1937 time frame.  The middle statement kind of says it all, that it should be marked as a 1660 since the rest of the Uncataloged set had 1600 series cars.

It has gotten really comical how this post has evolved, and how we are tearing it apart.  Due to the age of the set, how many hands it actually passed through, none of us will know the true story behind this one particular car.  You may have a "One of a Kind" find.

I don't know what to say. Under a magnifying glass and bright lights, it is clearly a 165.  As far as the chap knows, his father bought it for him as a kid. He is now 77. Please understand, I'm not trying to do anything but show what I have come across and I know absolutely nothing about this car other than what I have shown and what has been offered as possibilities, which are many.  I believe it was a one owner purchase and the car came in the set that was described. That's all I got.

I've had fun dissecting all the quirks.  It is in your possession and I would consider it a real conversation piece, with all the things that seem wrong with it.  The stamping, and the lack of stamping, the overall contours of the cab, versus other styles, makes it very unique.  I'm done with adding any more to the thread, and just enjoy what you bought.  Hopefully it wasn't crazy money, and a decent buy.

John,  you are right, and that is part of the fun of trying to document Prewar stuff.  Most if not all of the available books to search are long out of print, and those being offered for sale have Astronomical Prices attached, which a Sane person wouldn't pay.  You are also right that it is or was a learning process for all of us.  I really doubt if you will find another Complete set #8040, as the one you bought.  At most, possibly just the box, Empty!!!

My personal fixation with Prewar is the Lionel (Loewy K4 torpedo).  I use this forum, CTT, & MTF forums, and there was an article on CTT about the 1688E and one unique version that was not like all the rest.  Lionel's first issued 1688E had forward facing open cab Windows, and a "winged keystone" indentation above the headlight, that is only on the 1936 issue.  I started searching to see if I could find one, and did get one.  I started to see tiny little things that were different from others, and started to realize there were many variations.  The casual collector (not a had core collector) wouldn't notice the multiple changes made from 1936-1941.  The only book to cover multiple variations of the 1688/E was Greenberg that specified 8 versions.  I found more than that.  That body was one of the most used & produced through the 1930's.  It shares the 1588 windup, and the 1668/E locos.

Another thought is we all know how Madison Hardware pieced together trains. Lionel could have had a few 2660 boxes that Madison ended up with, and they had some 165 cabs and booms and some 650 series frames. Put them together like they did with other trains and accessories from that period. Scratch out the 2660 number and use a grocery stamp (remember those before bar coding!) to renumber the box. Notice the words 'electric coupler' was not blanked out? If it had come from the Lionel factory that would surly have been blanked out. 

Just another theory.

Trestles N Trains posted:

I'm looking for one of those critters now, the 1588 and tender. I never really noticed the differences. Thanks for the new project. Its obvious the numbers and color are different, but I didn't realize there were design changes.

This is the first time I have used this forum to find information. I was very surprised with all the input

You will be hard pressed to find a complete 1588 windup, in running condition. They may come up on eBay with just the body, but nothing else.  The windup motor is the downfall, as they are rarely found, intact and working, if you can find one.  The Lionel motor wasn't very well made, compared to Marx windups, and there is one Forumite here on OGR "Windupguy" who is into restoring, or modifying windup motors.  He has a 1588 that he adapted a Marx motor into it, and Steve "Papa" Easton also has a 1588.  It should have a 1588T tender, which is a four wheel tender, also hard to find.  The 1588 had 2 variations with just the body casting, and both were made in 1936 only (sold probably into 1937).  The unique characteristic of any torpedo body that is a 1936 ONLY casting is a 3/4" square roof hatch, (raised area) on top of the cab.  The same holds to the 1688E with the roof hatch.  From 1937 on, the roof hatch was eliminated.  The other thing on the 1588 is what looks like a "winged keystone" similar to a 238E, but only in the casting, just above the headlight, and below the smoke plate.  It is a small indentation into the casting, and doesn't have an inserted name plate like the 238E.  One 1588 casting has the keystone, the later casting didn't have the keystone in the body.  With the keystone, makes it early 1936, without it, puts it and end of 1936.  It comes down to little subtle things that can be noticed by studying the bodies of the 1588, 1688, 1668.  They all shared the same basic mold, that got modified through the years of production, and combined as a group, with color variations, nameplate variations, mold variations there are a total of 25 variations.

The 1588 body shown in the attachment is different than the 1688/1668 with the Sand Dome and Safety valves are molded into the body.  The 1688/1668 had separate dome and valves inserted later during assembly.



Images (3)
  • 1688E keystone
  • 1688E roof hatch
  • 1588 domes
Last edited by TeleDoc
Chuck Sartor posted:

Another thought is we all know how Madison Hardware pieced together trains. Lionel could have had a few 2660 boxes that Madison ended up with, and they had some 165 cabs and booms and some 650 series frames. Put them together like they did with other trains and accessories from that period. Scratch out the 2660 number and use a grocery stamp (remember those before bar coding!) to renumber the box. Notice the words 'electric coupler' was not blanked out? If it had come from the Lionel factory that would surly have been blanked out. 

Just another theory.

Reading all of this , it seems that a WWII post-shutdown clean-out could be a definite possibility. The set makeup itself is different than a typical set. The set box clearly has a factory label on it. Lionel could have easily created the uncatalogued 8040 number, thrown in a couple of extra gondolas, put a small O-gauge engine in (again hastily over-stamped), did the 165/650 part combination on the crane, added track etc, then shipped the whole thing out to major stores (Madison would be a likely destination). A very interesting read to say the least.



     This bantering about a supposed 1660 Crane Car has actually been going on sense I was a kid, in reality no place in the Lionel inventory has it ever been listed.  Here in the Pittsburgh, Pa area many of the stores would let you built your own train set, from what ever they had in their inventory at the time, numbers were mixed and matched all the time, when forming these train sets.  Just because a 2660 Crane Car was put with a 1600 set does not make the 2660 Crane Car a new 1600 number, that is in no way true.  Boxes in this area, in that era had all kinds of different numbers stamped on them, from the individual stores.  In order for there to have been a 1600 Crane Car it would have had to have, a Lionel inventory number as it's proper identification, so far nobody has ever established there actually is one.


Now 'Trestles N Trains' has an Outfit #8040 consisting of 258, 1689T, (2) 1667, 1682 and 1660. Dave McEntarfer (I have a copy of his updated listing of Lionel's Promotional Outfits) has seen a #8040 with this consist — 258, 2689T, (2) 2667, 2660 and 2682.

Doesn't prove anything just shows that Lionel was sweeping the floors to provide toy trains for Christmas 1942.

Ron M

Apparently this thread isn't going to die just yet.  Okay, the service book states 1942, so that definitely dates the set to 1942.  I think we can all agree that train production ceased, and to fulfill any type of order, or supplies to dealers, sets were assembled with what was available at the time.  

Your reference to McEntarfer show completely different numbers.  Namely 2000 series numbers.  Trestles n trains has what would be a "Similar" set, but with 1600 series cars.  The one printed documentation mentions a "660" number, and makes an assumption that the crane car should have been numbered 1660, to follow the number sequence of the existing cars in the set.  The box he has does show the number 1660, but the stamping is NOT consistent with factory stamping, as can be observed on all re-stamped boxes from Lionel.  The 1660 stamping isn't a Lionel stamp.  As stated earlier, the factory numbers run from 1651E, with the next number 1661(steam loco).

Trestles n trains can sit back and laugh with how long this thread has gone, and have a good story to tell, but the bottom line is that absolutely no one can find absolute proof that there is or ever was a 1660 number.

Trestles n trains can sit back and laugh with how long this thread has gone, and have a good story to tell, but the bottom line is that absolutely no one can find absolute proof that there is or ever was a 1660 number

Other than the Project Roars book on uncatalogued 1960's sets, which was written from actual factory documentation, there is no absolute proof that anything written in any price guide is accurate. When you come right down to it, the information presented in prices guides are a matter of opinion. Certainly some of the opinions are better informed than others.

I just spoke with the owner of the set. He received the set from his grandmother when he was three. That would make it 1942.  Of course at three, he would have no information about the set or the crane car. As for the folks who would know, they are no longer with us.  I have to believe, if the Lionel dealer changed the number, he would have to have some information from Lionel there was a number change and the dealer could have changed number. Also, if the number was changed while sets were being assembled at Lionel, how many sets had this car included. All great possibilities. The grandmother lived in Idaho.

Last edited by Trestles N Trains

I was just reading through this interesting tread. One thing I noticed in the photos is that the boom is a 165-11 boom, not the 2660 boom. In one photo the base of the boom can be seen from the top. Near the pivot pin there two small holes in the web of the boom which are used to attach the 165-14 contact. This contact is used to conduct power front the center pin to the magnet. These holes are not in the 2660 boom. 

Trestles N Trains posted:

I was just wondering if anyone has come up a 8040 prewar set yet.  Spoke with Bruce Greenberg a bit ago and he says the set is consistent with 1942.  Still looking to verify the contents. 

The number does seem consistent with other uncatalogued sets of the immediate prewar era.  They are all sets designated with numbers in the 7000 or 8000 range.  Unfortunately the TCA book does not acknowledge a set #8040.

The topic sent me scurrying to find my own example of this crane, hoping it was also an oddball.  Just another run of the mill 2660 I'm afraid.


Trestles N Trains posted:

IMG_9427I just purchased a prewar 8040 set. In it, it had a 1660 overprinted 2660 box. The crane itself had no identifying numbers. Would this be considered the 660 crane?IMG_9424IMG_9426

The  8040 Outfit was a 1942 set. The car and loco contents were: 258/2689T, 2667, 2667, 2660, 2682. (An O-27 Work Train.) Now if Lionel ran out of electrically operated trucks they would have substituted non-operating trucks.

Ron M

Trestles N Trains posted:

Hi Ron,

May I ask where you got your info. The 2660 came in two forms - both were numbered, this one is not. This crane also is missing the two slots the plate would have gone into. The rubber stamp version also had the two slots on the cab.  ????  Do you have a 8040 set?



My source is Dave McEntarfer, the author of Greenberg's book on Prewar Lionel Outfits. The 8040 is not in the book, but I have a copy of his updated listing of Lionel's Promotional Outfits.

You have to remember that Lionel was forbidden from manufacturing ANY toy trains starting 1 January 1942 so Lionel scrambled to assemble outfits from whatever items they had on hand and so there are a number of variations out there.

Ron M


Going along with Ron M's most recent post, I may be able to answer a question about missing slots.  I will use the exhaustive study I have done on Lionel's Torpedoes, that ran from 1936-1941.  A lot of the body variations, of which I personally own, I have come to a conclusion that when products were molded, or made, any necessary hole were done after the fact, for final assembly.  The Torpedoes were made as 1558 windup, 1688/1688E, & the 1668/1668E, which all shared the basic shell.  Granted, certain Mod's were done to improve the bodies, but all the E unit slot, motor mounting holes, and odd quirks of extra holes & slots, couldn't have been done without them being machined or drilled, after they were initially molded.  

The missing slots could be just the case with the crane car.  So, assume that you have a rare or unique variation, and leave it at that.

Trestles N Trains posted:

Interesting. I have been speaking with Bruce Greenberg on a daily basis and he has not mentioned anything about a list.

I've known Dave McE. for years and provided info to him on some mid '30s Promotional outfits, when he was working on the book. I got a copy of the updated, not published, list for TCA's National Toy Train Library. This is used to answer questions that are asked of the NTTL.

Ron M

It has been awhile since I have been on. It is great to see all the feedback that has been written. The set has been shown to sveral people/. The trucks are a match, nothing restored. Could the dealer in Utal changed things for the original buyer, maybe. As far as I know there wa only owner of the trains. The grandmother also made sure the crane would be played with, so she bought a wooden military set with eye hooks on the toys so the carne could pick them up. She also bought 2 pieces of wooden road bed that fix perfectly in the gondolas. The wooden toys was made by Skaneateles Handicrafters from NY

John's Outfit 8040 has been featured in The Train Collectors Quarterly January 2024, Vol. 70, No. 1. The author Jim Flynn did not know the Outfit number, did not have the set or individual boxes, and was also confused as to the number of the crane car.  John's outfit and car with the original 1660 overstamped  2660 Box is quite a rare piece. 

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