The online magazine on the history and operation of vintage scale model trains in American OO gauge

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Lionel OO Freight Cars. Part I: Box Cars

A topic long overdue for this website is that of Lionel OO gauge freight cars and the many variations. I don’t own all of them, of course, but have access to enough to give an overview.

The original Lionel box cars were the yellow 0014 Lionel Lines cars. Manufactured in 1938 only, these cars were certainly eye catching! But not very realistic. I don’t own an example [UPDATE: I do now, more here], but I have had for a number of years this curiosity, a 0044 Pennsylvania car which clearly was made by painting over one of the left over yellow 1938 bodies.

As seen in this highlight, yellow is very visible where the paint has chipped. Clearly, model railroaders did not want fanciful yellow boxcars! As always, click on any of the photos for a better view.

Lionel freight cars were sold as being either detailed or semi-detailed. Both of these 0044 cars are detailed and are two-rail models produced from 1939-42. The one above I take to be an early example and has black ladders, and this second car does not. Otherwise, they are identical.

This final example is a 0074 model, which is the two-rail semi-detailed model sold from 1939-42. The only difference is 0074 model has no brake cylinder. The semi-detailed cars were sold with semi-detailed ("modified") sets. I don’t know the actual price break between the models (these sets also lacked a hopper car, further lowering the cost), but whatever bit of difference lack of a brake cylinder made must have been worth it to Lionel in marketing train sets in those depression years.

The final photo shows the difference between the two versions. It is also worth noting that these models are very similar in overall appearance to the early sand-cast Nason OO boxcars, which could have been an inspiration to Lionel. For even more on Lionel OO boxcars see this article in the Train99 website. Next in this brief series will be the tank cars.

Continue reading Lionel OO Freight Cars series

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