The Different Types of Coupler Heights

I bought a nice 3651 log dump car from the Lionel prewar era recently at my local weekend train show.

Now I'm not as knowledged with the prewar era of Lionel as I am with postwar and especially modern era. Mostly the different coupler heights, since that's something we DON'T have an issue with in the later two eras.

Which locomotives and cars were made to pull/accomadate cars like the 3651? I have a repro 263E by MTH and its couplers are too high, so I'm guessing they go with the 2800 series cars, right?

I have seen die cast engines like the 224E and 225E pull cars like the 3651, but what about the 226E?

Again, prewar stuff is sort of alien to me, despite me wanting to get into it deeply. Help in this area is much appreciated.

Thomas

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Original Post

Thomas,

   Your 263E Engine & 12 Wheel Tender, both the original Lionel and the MTH Repro were engineered to pull 800 series type rolling stock including the big 810 Crane Car, the 2600 rolling stock was sold with the mid sized 249E and the smaller 259E.  Also remember the Pre War rolling stock & engines/tenders came with both Black Auto Couplers and Latch type Couplers, depending on which set you purchased.   The 3651 log dump Car, which I happen to have also,  will pull behind either the mid size 259E or the smaller 259E engines and tenders, with the proper matching couplers.  The original Lionel 226E came with the 226W Die Cast 12 Wheel Tender and 2800 rolling stock.

Hope this helped you a might.

PCRR/Dave

Never worry about what other people think, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

There is a bit of wrong info here... lets clarify (just hope I don't make it more confusing).

There are basically 2 heights to O gauge Lionel prewar couplers....low, and high.  The difference is due to wheel tread diameter and truck design.

Generally speaking 600, 1600, 1700, 2600, 2700, 2900, and 3600 cars are Low couplers.

Generally speaking 800, 2800, and 3800 cars are high couplers.

Locomotives sometime came with low or high couplers... 225E has a 2235W  for low coupling, or 2245W for High coupling. The 226 has a 2226W for high coupling and a 2226WX tender for low coupling. other were designed for one height of coupler.... the switchers had individual numbers....227, 230, 232 for low, and 228, 231, 233 for high...   Now, there are generally big locos for premium big cars, and smaller, less expensive locos for small, low coupler cars...there are exceptions...like 2900 semi scale care...premium big but low coupler cars.

There are high and Low couplers in both Latch and Box Couplers  the numbers work this way....800 have manual couplers (box OR Latch),  the (2)800 are electric box and the (3)800 are operating cars

 

Prewar Tin...Any maker, any gauge, anytime!

Gentlemen,

 Rob English has pretty well covered it correctly, Jim C was incorrect in his easement of the Tin Plate coupler engineering.  One last thing to add to Robs good post, the 2600 series rolling stock came with a Lionel 655  Transition Box Car, the Box Car has a Black Box Tin Plate Auto-Coupler on one end, and a modern auto-coupler on the other, to enable Tin Plate Trains to pull post war and modern rolling stock.  Remember also that you can join Latch style & Auto Box Couplers with the correct size rolling stock.  

Thomas's question about the 3651 Car is answered in this manner, the car came on a  Mid sized or small Tin Plate Train Set, like the mid sized 249E and the smaller 259E.  It will not match up with a 263E Engine and 12 Wheel Tender, knowing which rolling stock to match to a particular Tin Plate Train is part of the learning curve when dealing with Tin Plate Trains.   Lionel built Tin Plate Trains in different sizes at different costs so people could afford to purchase their products.  Cost was a big factor in the early 1900's,  many families could not afford a big 263E/260E/400E type Train Set, but they could afford a 259 smaller Lionel set.  The odd ball was the Mid sized Lionel 249E type Train set, which was more expensive than the 259E but came with the smaller 2600/3600 rolling stock.  These mid sized type Lionel Train sets are a little harder to find today, because not as many of them were made and sold, cost again being the main factor. Most families either purchased the larger 263E type or the smaller 259E because of the money they made in that era.

 

PCRR/Dave

Never worry about what other people think, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

Sorry to argue Dave, but no Lionel sets came with a 655 (2655?) transition cars...or any other types of cars with mixed trucks.  Lionel stamped adapters to couple latch/box couplers to knuckle couplers.... they NEVER mixed the pre-war with the postwar in the way you describe....

... your description of the 249E is a little incomplete.  Lionel had many price points for their train lines. You are spot on here.  From the 700E Hudson with scale cars, down to the 259E with 1600 series cars,  there are at least 5 "levels" in the late 1930's. But collectors have long described things by coupler height and car number related to size....not the price point. And they sold OODLES of 249/261/262 "mid"sized sets....most are not even scarce.... though as always there are exceptions...  As the trains were going toward the die cast 224/225/226/700 locos the 249/261/262 showed up in department store sets ...some of which were scarce or even rare.

To be precise, the 3651 showed up in 1939-1942 sets pulled by:

224

225

265

1663

1666

 

You are correct in the statement that there is a learning curve.  As you can see  the 3651 was never with 249E or 259E.

Prewar Tin...Any maker, any gauge, anytime!

How am I wrong in my assessment of coupler engineering? I misspoke about the 800 series having box or latch (non-operating). Latch couplers still mate with box couplers.

The difference is in the wheels as Rob said. Three couplers latch,box and operating latch. Not different heights of the couplers but different sizes of the wheels. 

Jim C

 

Rob English posted:
 

You are correct in the statement that there is a learning curve.  As you can see  the 3651 was never with 249E or 259E.

Rob,

True that the 3651 was never packaged in an outfit with these locos, but it could be coupled and run with them. 

Over the years as a youngster, I got an 810 for Christmas and my locos were two 253s, later Santa left an 820 Floodlight car. Still my motive power were the 253s. In 1936 I got a 238E with 600-series passenger cars. The best thing was the whistle. Later years added a 3859, with associated 97 Elevator, and a 3814 with no additional motive power. None of the additional cars were ever packaged with the 253s or 238 but I had no problems running them.

Let's remember that they sold as TOYS and remain toys.

Ron M

Ron M,  Of course it can run with any low coupler loco...the only reason I didn't list them all is time!  It would take hours for me to type out the list.... actually  I accidentally omitted "catalogued" ...I intended to say "As you can see  the 3651 was never catalogued with 249E or 259E."  

And yes they are toys, but I feel like its a bit irresponsible to give out incomplete or erroneous information to folks asking questions.  They can certainly do what they want with it.

Prewar Tin...Any maker, any gauge, anytime!

 Ron M,

   I do not know who taught you about Tin Plate Trains, I do know however who taught me, he owned the Iron Horse Hobby Shop here outside of Pittsburgh, Pa and his name was Frank Hare.  When talking about Lionel Tin Plate Trains he taught us to talk in Train sizes & series with different type couplers, in this manner you could pick what ever rolling stock you wanted when purchasing, because the rollings stock would then always match your train size correctly.    The train stores here sold lots of different rollings stock that was not even in the Lionel Catalogues,  and we were able to pick the rolling stock we most wanted when we put together a Train set.  You could if you wanted to, purchase a catalogue set also, most of the Iron Horse Train Club members did not want the Catalogue sets.  Granted only the bigger stores like Bill & Walts and the Iron Horse were able to sell Lionel trains in this manner, they had the inventory & influence with Lionel to make it happen.  Further the 655 Box car in the 2600 series was the add on Car to what ever set you purchased, and is just exactly as I described.  So you see I am not giving out any incomplete or irresponsible erroneous information,  when you get to heaven you can argue with Frank Hare, I acquired my Tin Plate knowledge directly from him.

PCRR/Dave

Never worry about what other people think, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

Pine Creek Railroad posted:

 Ron M,

   I do not know who taught you about Tin Plate Trains, I do know however who taught me, he owned the Iron Horse Hobby Shop here outside of Pittsburgh, Pa and his name was Frank Hare.  When talking about Lionel Tin Plate Trains he taught us to talk in Train sizes & series with different type couplers, in this manner you could pick what ever rolling stock you wanted when purchasing, because the rollings stock would then always match your train size correctly.    The train stores here sold lots of different rollings stock that was not even in the Lionel Catalogues,  and we were able to pick the rolling stock we most wanted when we put together a Train set.  You could if you wanted to, purchase a catalogue set also, most of the Iron Horse Train Club members did not want the Catalogue sets.  Granted only the bigger stores like Bill & Walts and the Iron Horse were able to sell Lionel trains in this manner, they had the inventory & influence with Lionel to make it happen.  Further the 655 Box car in the 2600 series was the add on Car to what ever set you purchased, and is just exactly as I described.  So you see I am not giving out any incomplete or irresponsible erroneous information,  when you get to heaven you can argue with Frank Hare, I acquired my Tin Plate knowledge directly from him.

PCRR/Dave

PCRR/Dave,

Let's say I grew up in the '30s and looked forward to Christmas and going thru Marshall Fields, Mandel Bros., Carson, Pires, Scott, Wiebolt's, Goldberg Bros., plus a few others, toy departments in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That was my learning of tinplate trains. Got my first train, Lionel Outfit 295, in 1929. Purchased my 1929 Lionel catalog in 1939 for $1 via mail from Ben Smith. Got back into toy trains in 1965. Joined the TCA in 1970. Knew Frank Hare quite well. Been very active in TCA's National Toy Library since 1984. Need any more background info?

Ron M

 

Ron, he apparently shifted his attention to you... PCRR/Dave, you lash out at the wrong guy... Ron M is a knowledgeable member of the Tinplate forum.

Stores could most certainly change things, even the department stores mixed and matched  stuff in the prewar days, i have had evidence of this for years in the form of original hand written sales slips.

In case you were wondering, I was using the perspective of Lionel production methodology and with an understanding of how that works you might understand what I said. Hi volume production does not lend itself to that sort of thing.  But if they did indeed produce it at the factory, there would be documentation.  That is how Lionel did it.... Also, they NEVER sullied the numbering system (without a change in markings) PERIOD.  They never put 655 plates on a 2655.  It defeats the point of differentiation.  There might have been a 2655x for example, but it doesn't make a lot of sense timing wise due to the direction Lionel was going with scale like freight cars..... I back-checked my catalogues and there is no mention in ANY prewar catalogues of transition cars.

Rather, I suspect that it was done at the retail level. This was fairly common, and shop owners wanted happy, repeat customers.  Or, possible later in the postwar years some body modified some cars.... I ran this scenario by some of the most knowledgable collectors ( more that 500 years experience) and they agreed unanimously that what was described was never produced at the factory level.

Prewar Tin...Any maker, any gauge, anytime!

Rob English posted:

There is a bit of wrong info here... lets clarify (just hope I don't make it more confusing).

There are basically 2 heights to O gauge Lionel prewar couplers....low, and high.  The difference is due to wheel tread diameter and truck design.

Generally speaking 600, 1600, 1700, 2600, 2700, 2900, and 3600 cars are Low couplers.

Generally speaking 800, 2800, and 3800 cars are high couplers.

Locomotives sometime came with low or high couplers... 225E has a 2235W  for low coupling, or 2245W for High coupling. The 226 has a 2226W for high coupling and a 2226WX tender for low coupling. other were designed for one height of coupler.... the switchers had individual numbers....227, 230, 232 for low, and 228, 231, 233 for high...   Now, there are generally big locos for premium big cars, and smaller, less expensive locos for small, low coupler cars...there are exceptions...like 2900 semi scale care...premium big but low coupler cars.

There are high and Low couplers in both Latch and Box Couplers  the numbers work this way....800 have manual couplers (box OR Latch),  the (2)800 are electric box and the (3)800 are operating cars

 

 

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