Lionel 2x55 tank car questions.

This is a question for the postwar car experts.  I'm writing a description oif cars in the Lionel 1945-1949 catalogs for a seminar that Steve McCabe and I will be leading at the TCA convention.  My basic sources are Doyle (2006) and Greenberg (1991).  I could use some input on a couple of discrepancies

Greenberg says that in 1947 the gray 2855 could be distinguished from the 2555 only by the number stamped on the fream.  Both authors state that the 2855 had corner steps.  The corner steops are shown in the catalog illustration but not in the photo of a 2855 in either book.  

Can anyone help to clarify the situation.  Is there evidence that cars were actually produced with the corner steps ?  Were there any other physical differences amont the 2755, 2555 and 2855 ?

Malcolm Laughlin






Original Post


I just did a quick look at my inventory pics of my Postwar.  I have a new, in box, 2555 as well as others.  None have steps on them.  However, I also have a 2755 in great condition and it does have steps located in line with the leading wheel/axles on each truck.  Would have to go upstairs to the train room and locate my PW reference book or the catalogs for those years for other info on the 2855.  Hope this helps.

Jesse    TCA  12-68275

I checked my Greensburg PW publication this morning.  The description for the 2855 car states they came with four steps.  However, the illustration pictures show the gray version 2855 with four steps, the black version 2855 has no steps.  As stated above, my 2755 has four steps, the in box 2555 has none.  Whether any version did always come with steps is an interesting topic, perhaps it was possible either way when use of combined prewar and postwar frames?

Jesse    TCA  12-68275

Lionel put steps on about 1/3 to 1/2 of the 2555s in sets 2101, and 2103, made in 1946. Ditto for steps on the 2458 automobile car. Those were early sets with flying shoe couplers, which I study at length. I have no idea about those same cars in later sets.

Dashster posted:

Lionel put steps on about 1/3 to 1/2 of the 2555s in sets 2101, and 2103, made in 1946. Ditto for steps on the 2458 automobile car. Those were early sets with flying shoe couplers, which I study at length. I have no idea about those same cars in later sets.

I'm interested in your comments on flying shoe couplers.  I repaired and sold the 1945 set about four years ago.  In the eBay listing, I was able to say that each car had one working flying shoe coupler.  Even that was a challenge.  I had to buy two other cars to get enough working flying shoes.

I ahd thought that the flying shoe was used only on that 1945 set.  From what you say, they were still being sold on cars in 1946.  I'm curious as to how much of 1946 production had flying shoes.  Do you have any idea of what portion of the 1946 fleet had flying shoes.  Was it like 10 percent, a qurter or a third or.... ? 

I'm interested in questions like this because I'm trying to define what should be included in a collection that is representative of what we might have seen in visiting a layout typical of the late 40's.  Note that using my definition of a complete collection, unusual or rare variations are excleuded.












Pre war and post war frames are the same, 2755-17.  The steps are an added detail and can be added to any of these cars if desired. Likewise the warning placards. The 2855s had 4 placards. The 2555 and 6555 only had two but the other two can be added. Any sheet metal tank can be converted to any other with the addition or subtraction of these details including trucks and paint and decals appropriate for that car.

As for the flying shoe trucks, I will defer to the experts but believe the '45 set came with whirly wheels. The later flying shoe trucks came sans whirly wheels but with thicker axles. 


In the few months Lionel was making trainsets in 1945 and early 1946, numerous changes were made in the flying shoe coupler. The best resource on the variations in the flying shoe coupler is Greenberg’s Guide to Lionel Trains, 1945 to 1969, Volume II, Behind the Scenes, second edition.

Flying shoe couplers were used mostly in certain sets.  The tinplate Pullman series in 1946 all used them. (blue 2430-2431 series, green 2440-2441 series, brown 2442-2443 series) Sets 2101 and 2103 used them (Same or similar items to those in the 463W with the 3559 dump car thrown in.) and in the early O-27 sets, specifically sets 1405 & 1411. Flying shoe couplers were also dabbled into sets 1409 as usually a car or two have flying shoe couplers. Someone else can determine what a representative number would be.

As to electrically operating flying shoe couplers, I recommend against it. The very tiny spring is 70 years old, maybe rusty, and the only way to repair it is to pry off the head, replace the spring if you can find one, (like from a different broken flying shoe coupler) and gluing it back together. It is easier to just replacing the entire coupler. Repairing later slide shoe couplers is a walk in the park

As to the universal frame for the tank cars, I believe it was stamped 2955-17. (I’m on a trip and don’t have my train shelves handy) And though the part number remained the same, the frame was strengthened by filling the open sections on the ends starting with 1946 production on the cars numbered 2555.   I defer to Pete for decals and placards for 2555 and later production, but add there were two variation of 2755 decals on the 2755 tank car and two variations on the Sunoco decal as well in 1945 production.


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