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Hi all, 

I recently bought a Lionel 2026 from 1948 or 1949, and I would like to know if people prefer the early version which is a 2-6-2 or the later version which was a 2-6-4. In my personal opinion, the early version I prefer because it's fancier and is more unique, since the later is basically an everyday 2-6-4, and the earlier one has smoke unlike the later one. Which one do you like better?

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The middle version from 1949 is probably the best of them. 

The later version (1950 onward) with the 2-6-4 arrangement had a sheet metal trailing truck, and the earliest version (1948) had a smoke unit hot wire underneath that often came in contact with the ground rails and shorted the engine out.

The middle version (1949) had the wire problem fixed, while still having the die cast two wheel trailing truck.

Last edited by Mikado 4501

I'm biased.  My very first locomotive was brought by Santa Claus, at Christmas, 1951 (when I was three).  It was a four-car freight set, pulled by a Korean-War version 2026.

I still have that locomotive, all its cars, its original track and 1033 transformer.  The only thing I've ever had to fix on the 2026 was the smoke unit, which eventually became clogged full of incompletely-melted smoke pellets that my preschool self dropped relentlessly into its stack. Some years ago, I replaced the smoke unit's innards, and it's been smoking happily ever since.

My personal history aside, another factor to consider, for those who are choosing, is that the early version (at least all the ones I've seen) uses contact shoes instead of rollers.  Whether you consider that a drawback or not is up to you.


I like them both, but if I had to pick one, it would be the earlier version.  As has already been posted, the one minor drawback are the sliding shoe pickups.
The earlier 2026 has a rather unique smoke unit arrangement. The puffing is controlled by a cam that is cast into the back of one of the drive wheels. The smoke lever is mounted between the motor's side plates and has a finger that follows the cam.  I don't think any other Postwar locomotive smokes that way.

Why are sliding shoe pickups perceived to be a drawback? They work just fine for me. They might actually work better than rollers because they have a larger rail contact area when properly adjusted. I suppose rollers might last longer for high mileage operation, although they can get grooved like sliders.



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Last edited by Ace

I have the 1949 2-6-2 version, which I bought at an antique fair because it looked lonely and out of place, and because I had no PW steam at that time. It didn't have a tender with it. It is a great runner and smoker, and I also like it because it is as old as I am. It is a bit slippery, but runs well with a lighter load. I really enjoy it.

The 2-6-2 version - wouldn't mind having one although I question if I will buy more Postwar. My 681 turbine has been a real trouble maker - every time I try to run it, something shorts, breaks, whatever.

I could never get over that goofy looking trailing truck on the 2-6-4 version, especially with two different wheel sizes and styles.

The earlier version was always my favorite.  It was my first postwar (and for that matter O gauge) train in the form of a laundry hamper full of 1948/1949 Lionel trains and accessories all in original boxes that I got from my dad's 2nd cousin when I was 8 or 9.  About a year ago I picked up a later model 2026 cheap as part of a small bundle I got at a show in order to repair and flip.  You just can't beat the extra details on the earlier version like the full length wire handrails and the extra set of drive bars (I know there's a proper name for them).  Seeing those in action is something else!  When I was looking for something larger for O-gauge cars, I got a 2046 because it had the same great details!

The strange thing to my mind is that Lionel was always so particular about engine numbers and their included design. So why did they make a change from a 2-6-2 to a 2-6-4 while retaining the number of the 2-6-2.

Lionel reverted from 2037 to 2026 during the Korean War materials shortage because the engine was made without magnetraction.
The 736 reverted to 726
The 681 reverted to 671.
Some, but not all of these two engines had the letters "RR" stamped on the cab.
The 2026 was not given the "RR" markings.

Lionel was not consistent.

The 2046 became 2056.

OldBogie posted:

The strange thing to my mind is that Lionel was always so particular about engine numbers and their included design. So why did they make a change from a 2-6-2 to a 2-6-4 while retaining the number of the 2-6-2.


I can guess: they eliminated the die-cast outboard-bearing trailing truck to cut costs, but to avoid having it look too sparse back there they improvised the cheap basic 4-wheel trailing truck. Why they didn't change the number? Maybe so they could phase in the different loco version more easily. Later on, postwar Lionel would often make trivial changes to some items and change the number and boast that it was "new" in the latest catalog.

I think I've heard that one set of the different-sized wheels in the basic 4-wheel loco trailing truck was overstock from prewar items but I don't know if that part is true.

Leave it to Lionel to make a 2-6-4 version of a Pennsy K-4 Pacific. 4-wheel pilot trucks won't fit on O27 locos without serious compromises to dimensions of cylinders, wheels, etc.

2035r Lionel 2035 "K4 Pacific", photo from internet


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Last edited by Ace

Hands down, the early '48 - '49 version.  With the added eccentric crank, die-cast rear truck sideframes, and separately applied handrails lacking on the '51-53 version, it is, in my own opinion, the much handsomer and more desirable of the two.  It also happens to be the first die-cast O gauge locomotive I've ever owned.  At one point I owned three of them.

Yes, it lacks Magnetraction as does the later version, but then the early version does predate Magnetraction by a couple of years and of course the plated steel rims negate the effectiveness of it, but the plated rims is another detail that makes the engine more visually appealing, IMHO.

The earlier version but have had both and can say just like the earlier version 675/2025 vs the later 2025/675 the earlier is a quieter smoother running engine .

Why is that? It has been said that the machining standards loosened later on, its been my observation those early version 2026, 675 , 2025 vs the later ones its true.

My opinion those early ones were indeed the Zenith years for Lionel spur geared motors.

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