Anyone do much Prewar Lionel restoration/collecting? I like to buy them cheap, regardless of condition, just so I can restore them. I could maybe spend less if I just bought them already in good shape, but what fun is that? The most I've even spent was $70 (for my 115 City Station), but most pieces were bought for under $30. Here are some pics of some of my prewar trains, which are displayed on shelves below my N scale layout. The "Peacock" 253 and cars was the first set I restored, during the Covid lockdown. The loco was really rough, from it's shell to it's swollen and cracked wheels. It was completely rebuilt by me, during which I learned a lot about prewar train construction. The "Blue Comet" set was next, and it still features a 100% original mechanism, including the wheels. It just required paint, and all of the trim pieces, which were gone. The cars were really rough, and looked like they had been in a house fire. I know the paint scheme isn't original, but I like it. The all red set was really rough, and the loco looked like it had been stepped on. It was a real test of my sheet metal skills! The cars are much older, and the baggage car is actually an Ives piece, refitted with Lionel prewar trucks and couplers. The 262E steam loco was mostly complete when I bought it (for $20!), but lacked a tender, and didn't run. During teardown, I realized the E-Unit drum was missing, so getting it to run was easy enough. The tender took me a while to find, but I eventually got one. It and the loco are both painted with black appliance epoxy spray paint. Super shiny and super tough! All nickel trim is original - just cleaned up and polished. The #115 station is my most recent restoration. It was also mostly complete, but was badly stained and faded. It got stripped, and repainted with "Antique White" spray with red trim. I also rewired it, so the station stop feature works as advertised. (The pics I took during the restoration were still on my phone, so I included a handful, so you can see what I started with. Yes, I also added windows next to the clock on front and back. Lionel never had anything in those holes, but there were tabs inside the station, as if they intended to) Lots of other stuff can be seen, but I've probably bored you all enough!
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That is fantastic. We have become a throw away society and when I see restorations like yours it warms the heart. This is a labor of love and you must be proud of yourself with the beautiful collection you have amassed. Thanks for posting.
Great job on the restorations! Remember these are your trains and can be painted any fantasy color scheme you want. That’s one of the great things about prewar trains is all the high gloss colors. Restoration and repairing these toys are a very rewarding part of the hobby.
These look great! Thanks for posting..
Beautiful work! Please share some more. Tinplate is never boring!
Nice job. I like the blue 253.
The vast majority of my prewar Lionel is standard gauge. I only have one prewar O gauge piece in a hopper car. My newest addition is a boxed #10 passenger set that came from a TCA friend a few weeks back. No photos yet.
@Jonathan V. posted:
Anyone do much Prewar Lionel restoration/collecting? I like to buy them cheap, regardless of condition, just so I can restore them. I could maybe spend less if I just bought them already in good shape, but what fun is that? The most I've even spent was $70 (for my 115 City Station), but most pieces were bought for under $30.
Jonathan, I don’t collect pre-war and agree that you have done a great job with your restorations, but I actually preferred the look of the original train in your 1st above photo over the restored train in the 2nd above photo. To my eye, the train in 1st photo had a very nice naturally weathered look and color.
I did prefer all of your other restorations over the originals in your OP. Arnold
Arnold D. Cribari;
Thank you. The top photo (the green one) is ALSO a restoration that I did. The only difference being that it is restored to it's original color, as opposed to a "fantasy" paint scheme.
You can see some of my PreWar here:
Trains Upstairs too - Standard Gauge (warrenvillerailroad.com)
Seeing your username, I'm not surprised that you like the blue one! It's definitely one of my favorites as well!
There are a few members in my TCA division who have repainted prewar Lionel and I think the results can be quite stunning. One member sadly now deceased used automotive paints to do amazing restorations that had a luster that the originals never had. I look at it this way, if the original piece has deteriorated to the point it needs to be restored then there is no reason not to paint it anyway one wants. I think sometimes we get caught up in the whole "authentic" and "original" realms when at the end of the day a poor-quality original is fair game to paint anyway one wants or keep in its existing condition.
Case in point for me is Doyle McCormack's 1:1 former ATSF PA that he brought back to the US and restored to Nickle Plate colors. Up until the recent sale it was his locomotive, and he could do anything he wanted with it.
The best part is that these now nearly 100-year-old toys have second, third, or even fourth lives to keep current and future generations engaged in this wonderful hobby.
I myself enjoy Lionel's short lived prewar OO line of trains and its mini 700e NYC Hudson. Just wish the 3 rail track was not so salty price wise. Very hard to build even a 4x7 layout. I do have a loop of Gargraves 3 rail OO track, but nobody wants to make switches to work with that track sadly. AD