I bought a Lionel 400E Blue Comet awhile back as part of a big collection. I’ve searched around on this forum and in some Greenberg’s literature to nail down what I’ve got here.

I am somewhat familiar with what it is, but I could use some help in identifying more specifically the authenticity of this, and of course all the nuances to such a thing. Ultimately I'd like to sell the item.

Here’s what I know:

  • Lionel 400E with 400T tender.
  • Nickel Domes / Trim - supposedly pretty rare
  • Turned handrail stanchions 
  • Tender ladder has small gusset attached
  • Previous owner claimed 1935. Literature says likely 1936


Known issues:

The boiler paint has some blotchiness to it. Perhaps this is due to temperature in a warm garage? Maybe sunlight? The tender does not have it, as I know the two were stored separately for a bit.

The paint is also scratched here and there on the light blue boiler and cab. There is no evidence of coats underneath, so hopefully this is original paint.

The darker blue Frame piece paint is nearly flawless. There are maybe only one or two scratches on it, so I’m starting to believe this has been repainted. I don’t actually know though.

The tender is missing one of the handrail stanchions, and one has come out. Looks easy enough to put back in. I *THINK* I may have the missing handrail stanchion somewhere. Need to find it…

The two sheet metal tabs on the stack that hold the stack in place…. One of them has broken off. Interestingly, this reveals the material to be copper. Were the nickel trim domes similar to the copper ones and just plated?

The latching smokebox door is difficult to latch. It’ll work, but I think the sheet metal has been bent ever-so slightly.

Known Unknowns:

I haven’t run it, so not sure how well it works. Would prefer someone who is more familiar with operating these to okay it before I do it. I don’t want to damage anything.

Unknown unknowns:

Other items replaced?
What do you think?


All in all this is a beautiful model, but I would like to sell it, and obviously I’d like to get the most value out of it. I have other hobbies (relax, still trains) and don’t want to spend too much time on it. I’m fine with some things, like cleaning it up. 

So, I could use some advice to help identify / inspect / confirm exactly what I have here and perhaps what it’s value is. An in-person inspection would be good too. I’m located in San Jose, CA if that helps. (The Train Shop in Santa Clara couldn’t help)

Any advice on this forum / recommendations would be greatly appreciated. 


Photos below:






Photos (20)
Original Post

It looks to be in good condition. The spots on the boiler are probably water spots. You might try a little Carnauba wax in a spot to see if it shines up. The boiler paint looks original. The frame looks like a very nice repaint, but it's hard to say for sure. I'm surprised that the motor says "Standard Locomotive" instead of "Bild-a-Loco". I wonder if the pickup plate was replaced? I notice that members of this forum don't like to quote values on items, especially to folks looking to sell. A full Blue Comet set usually demands more than the pieces do separately from what I have seen.  Greenberg does say that the Nickel trim is more rare. I have seen a few though. There are a number of places to find recent sales prices. You can search completed sales on eBay. Live Auctioneers will show prices if you have an account. Worthpoint charges a fee and of course there are the Greenberg guides. My guess is that this one is worth between $800 and $1200. One just like yours sold recently for $990 with boxes.


All, George is correct, the spots are water derived. Frame and Steam chest look replaced. The motor plate is correct.  They changed the language in 1935 from Bild a loco to standard locomotive. I would be interested in purchasing the loco AS IS.  Contact me off line if interested.

Prewar Tin...Any maker, any gauge, anytime!

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