Was this car known to come both with one brake-wheel or two? I have seen several in new condition where clearly there never was a brake-wheel pinned on one side. And of course others have both brake-wheels. Perhaps later in production Lionel removed one of the brake-wheels to cut costs? Note photo.
I wouldn't be able to warm up to plastic BW inclusion as a "version" for collecting. There was simply too much chance at odd balls, no matter what Lionel "planned". ...maybe to judge a C-9/C-10 but otherwise it seems to mekinda redundant..(hey, spellwreck almost made sense!... seems to me, to be kinda redundant; is what it said before it changed at random) I'd sooner go for the slight color differences within the major shades normally collected.
Riveted brakewheels would be another story though.
My aunt gave me a 3444 back in the 1950's. I have kept it in its original box since then. (I have run it from time to time over all these years.) I just looked at it and it has just one brake wheel. I hope that helps.
Thanks. The brake-wheel is classic PW stamped steel with a metal stud to pin in place. Clearly the plastic hole would show signs of wear if the wheel had been pulled out. Yeah I am not looking for brake-wheel variety....just want to make sure I have a complete as built by Lionel product. The Gondola is otherwise new condition. Adding a repro brake-wheel would ruin it for me. I am a purist. I assume as Lionel progressed through the years, small extra parts got excluded...or either they made more use of what was on hand.