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I was shopping for a 2657 prewar caboose, and I noticed in the Greenberg's Guide that there is a 2657 and a 2657X.  Now I know that Lionel made at least two variations of this caboose, one with stamped lettering and numbering and one with silver plates.  Is that the difference?  There are a lot of other rolling stock items that have similar X distinctions.  What does it mean?

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Over a period of one year or several years, Lionel made small changes in their models called variations. They would not document these variations in the model number. So you could have two models with the exact same number but with known variations, such as color, shape, or parts changes. With locomotives, the variation could be the lettering... white lettering or silver lettering; rubber stamped lettering or heat stamped lettering. With cars the variations could be the color of the plastic used in the casting or the size of the lettering.

When you have a car that has an X following the model number it means something very special, but it has nothing to do with variations. It means simply that it was boxed to be included in a packaged train set. Sometimes there was a car that was not available as a separately packaged item to appear on a dealer's shelf. But a dealer could remove a box from a set and put it up on his shelf for sale.

In the picture below, there are two identical 3361 operating lumber cars. One was in a box with an "X" meaning that it was boxed to be included in a set. Notice that it is in a smaller box since it had other packing around it. The larger box was packaged to sit on a dealer's shelf. I suspect that market researchers discovered that customers were more likely to buy a model off the shelf that was packaged in a larger box, whereas the package for the train set was already large enough.


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I don't know if this is always the case, but the "X" often identifies an item that didn't appear in the catalog, such as a department store special / promotional outfit. the John Schmid book there is a list of sets that started with an X......X-500 NA up to seems to be just from 1960 and 61.

I showed these pics in Weekend Photo Fun a week ago......a steam set that was a department store exclusive for Abraham & Straus.....


.......with the uncommon 3386 giraffe car.....




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The 'X' is a variable factor, it does not mean the same thing in all instances.In the case of the OP, Mr.Brown instance, Bob Bartizek tis correct. The 2657X is equipped with 2 couplers, instead of the standard 1 coupler for a steam switcher set. In the case of the 3361 log dump car the 'X' indicates the receiving bin was not included in the box, rather it was packed loose in the set box. No 'X' the bin was included with the car for separate sale. Also notice the font difference between the 2 cars.  The 167x controller the choke coil was of different value for the lower voltage of double 0 motors. As for the the 773, the 'X' means it was for separate sale and a lockon was not included with the locomotive, as  locomotives in sets the lockon was packaged with the locomotive. As for the ,1 not sure what symbol meant. As far as an 'X' for uncataloged sets, the practice dates back at least to 1956, and probably earlier.

Last edited by Chuck Sartor

Chuck is right. In prewar it typically means that is not "normal" production as in the case of the 2657 caboose. BUT it could refer to several different things. Deco, Trim, equipage etc. For example, I have a 250x Prewar electric loco, and it has an e-unit in it from the factory.  The set also contained 603-604 cars (603x and 604x) and the only difference is the Body color which is 256 orange, versus the normal yellow orange. There are tenders marked "X" and generally the "X" means a difference in the drawbar, and or coupler configuration. I won't comment on postwar as Im not an expert.

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