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Hello everyone, I  wanted to hear from historians which Big Steamers did Lionel produced Pre and Post War.


Examples are Big Boys, Cab Forward, Challengers, etc.....


I am getting back in the hobby now that I retired from the Army and will be turning 38 this year and look forward to traveling thru the US and attending train shows.



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Eddie G is correct.  Big articulated steam engines like the ones you listed were not produced by Lionel until the modern era starting around the mid- 1990s; long after the pre- and postwar periods.


Only other Lionel "big steam" apart from examples from the postwar era that Eddie mentioned are prewar tinplate Standard Gauge sized trains like the 384E and 385E for example.


During the entire postwar era Lionel was always looking to find ways to produce trains more economically, and a big articulated steam engine would certainly not fit that ideal.  Most layouts back then would have been hard-pressed to be able to run them as they mostly had O-27 or O-31 curves; high-rail layouts with wide curves to support large steam engines didn't really begin to gain notice until the 1990s.

Yeah, and it turned out that the 700E became an icon both for 3-railers and for the 2-rail scale crowd.  I still have one 763 in my collection converted to scale 2-rail.  Its tender is spliced from two shortie die cast 2226 tenders.


I wonder if all these marvelous die cast models will become collectors items in the 2030's?

In the 1970's and 1980's a man named Bob Gale in Horsham, PA (near Philly) sliced, diced and "kitbashed" common Lionel postwar locomotives to make everything from switchers to Big Boys, 4-12-2's, and "scale" GG-1's. He called his best models "Super Classics." Now and then one turns up, most likely at a big meet like York. His Big Boy comprised two Berkshire running gears. I think his 4-12-2's had 2 motors.


As John posted, "O-31" and  "0-27" were standard. Introduced for the UP M-10000 streamliner in 1934, "0-72" was an option. Super "O" was a bit wider at "O-36." MPC trains were designed for "0-27." I vaguely recall a photo of a prototype articulated (maybe a UP Challenger) in Lionel or American Flyer archives. But sales of toy trains were falling rapidly (thanks to TV, slot racing, and HO). Designing and manufacturing a big articulated that required "0-72" was not feasible.


In the 1970's, K-Line and Lionel introduced 42" and 54" diameter curves and 3-foot straight sections in "0-27" and in "O" (as well as "0-72" curves and straight sections). That track made "Hi-Rail" layouts possible.


Here is a photo of Lionel's largest steamer - Reading T-1 No. 2100, produced in 1989 when Lionel CEO Richard Kughn was one of 4 owners of the real No. 2100. She was designed for "0-42," not "0-72."

WowakT-1 003


I think that the first mass-produced "O" Gauge articulated was a die-cast UP Challenger by Mike Wolf in 1994. He took a big risk manufacturing it.


We enjoy so many trains of all sizes today that it's hard to imagine how threadbare the toy train market was from the 1960's through the 1980's.


O scale 2-rail locomotives, including articulateds, were imported by Max Gray and others. But they didn't run nearly as well as locomotives do today. And they didn't have sounds.


All in all, it's hard to believe how far we "O" Gaugers have come. And how fast!


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Originally Posted by Lee Willis:
Originally Posted by zhyachts:


Oh, that is cool.  Can you tell us more about it.  Nice!

Picked it up at York in the 70's for 25 bucks. I use it to pull nine small 6000 series box cars. They match quite well. A couple of 027 engines put together.


There are several of these kicking around.

There were O-scale big steamers even in the 30's - and most of these were 3RO at first - that it, outside third rail format. Scale Craft; Mi-Loco. Lobaugh offered them, also. Challengers, among others. You see these types of locos on eBay every so often, both the outside 3rd rail and the later 2RO format. US made, of course, if that's of interest to you.

But Lionel? No - their Pre/Post War true O-scale offerings were the MILW Hiawatha 4-4-2, the PRR B-6 0-6-0 and the NYC 700E Hudson and its descendants. 

To my knowledge, Lionel's diesels (all Postwar) were at least nominally 1:48 models, except the Alco FA2's.

the thing to remember is that in the 40’s 50’s and 60’s, lionel was selling toys. very nice toys, expensive toys even, but toys none the less.

big can mean different things to different people, but in terms of shear size the 773 and the other “scale” hudson’s probably take the cake, but lionel did make locomotives based on larger prototypes like berkshires, 4-8-4 northerns, and ofcouse the s2 turbine. 

in terms of diesel power, the fairbanks trainmasters would be the go to, and for electrics, probably the gg1.

Last edited by Signalwoman

Lionel's biggest "scale" engine till modern times was the 700e scale NYC J1e Hudson 4-6-4.  Other brands offered kits of larger engines and a few with the wallet depth to afford more than one of the Hudsons could "bash" them into something larger by cutting things, splicing boiler and frames together to make larger engines.  Way back then, the selection was much more narrow than it is in todays marketplace.  Lionel was the big dog in the show back then.   And the scale movement was just taking hold right before WWII, prior to that, the tinplate world of colorful "toy" trains was the thing.  If you watch the video on Amazon Prime about the history and development of the prewar 700e, you will better understand what the modeling world was like back then. Its also just fascinating to watch!   AD

Last edited by artfull dodger

After Richard Kughn purchased Lionel and before Lionel developed the relationships with Korean manufacturers to produce what we would consider today top of the line scale engines, Mike Wolf produced several O Scale engines for Lionel along with other items.  The largest steam engine he produced thatIMG_9959.1IMG_9955.1IMG_9957.1IMG_9953.1 was sold under the Lionel badge was the Pennsy Steam Turbine, a full three inches longer than the Reading T-1.  At the time, Kughn owned a 1:1 steam engine himself which Mike produced for Lionel, the Chessie.

In terms of size I have included four of the engines, smallest to largest.  T&P, Chessie, Reading (same size as Chessie) and the Pennsy Steam Turbine #6200.


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