Hello all .... you have all seen the Lionel 763 running with center rail pickups ... here we have an outside 3rd operation . Lionel was desperate to cut into the growing O scale market in the 30's ... the City of Portland in 34, Hiawatha 35 and the Hudson ...December 1937 . O scale had adopted outside 3rd rail in 1929 ... to distance it's self from the "toy train" market . Lionel designed the 700E / 763 to be easily switched from center to outside 3rd with the quick use of a screw driver to found buyers in both the scale field and their home base customers . When the 700 E debut at it's big coming out party at the annual Model Railroad manufactures show February 1938 ...it was running with outside 3rd rail . Lionel's display showed the City or Portland, Hiawatha ( engine only) ..and the Hudson ..engine only ..the articulated COP cars were not accepted in the scale world . It would be a 2 1/2 year wait for Lionel to come out with proper scale ( freight) cars to be pulled by the Hudson . Many scale modelers bought the 763 , half price of it's more detailed 700 E brother to modify for their basement empire. The NYC Hudson is wonderful and great ...but by the time Lionel released the 700/763 more than 10 other NYC Hudson's had been or were still in current production in the O scale market. Purchasers of the 700/763 would buy readily available O scale kit cars to pull behind their new engine.
Robert Foster of East St Louis , Il had to be Lionel's best customer for the 763 .... as he modified some 20 for his Atlantic & Pacific RR ... his work is covered in two articles found in MR and MB 1941 and 43 .
Here you have some photos of two of Foster's modified 763"s ....and a video link to see one in action pulling a string of Foster's Walthers car ...just as it did 80 years ago ...running on outside 3rd rail .