When you talk about model trains one company comes to the forefront of your thoughts, Lionel. Lionel Model Trains have been setting the standard in American made model trains since the early 1900s. With over a century of pleasing children and model enthusiasts alike, Lionel still leads the pack when it comes to American railroading.
Lionel trains come in a variety of styles and designs. If you are looking for something truly unique, Lionel probably has it. You can go from the extremely realistic, like the Santa Fe collection or Pennsylvania Passenger to the more whimsical like taking the Hogwarts Express for a ride or maybe even following the Monopoly train around. You can be modern or historic with their collections as well.
All of Lionel’s engines and cars are detail oriented so you can be sure that you will get the most realistic look and feel to your train, even if your cars are a little unorthodox, say advertising for the Beatles.
The company started out selling strictly HO scale models. As time went on the O scale, which is slightly bigger, started becoming more popular. The O scale helped to get children become interested in the model railroad once again. Today they mainly sell O and the slightly different O-27 scale. The do, however, have a few models that are HO scale.
A Train For Every Skill
One of the things Lionel prides itself in is having many different designs of trains. That means they have trains for just about every level of model railroading. Their Ready-to-Run sets are designed for those who are new to the hobby. These sets come with everything you need, all you have to do is put the track in your favorite location and you are ready to go. These are also great for children who are interested in the hobby.
They also have a level that is called Shake-the-Box. This means it’s not exactly ready to run straight out of the box but it only takes a little work to set it up and get it ready to go. These are for the people who still aren’t ready to detail out everything. But it will give them the satisfaction of setting up their own set. It’s a great transition piece to learn on.
Then there is the Craftsman model. These models of trains will keep the most experienced busy for days while they detail out every little thing. These kits are only for the most advanced enthusiast and shouldn’t be purchased by someone who has little experience setting up your own railway system.
Collector’s Item For All Time
There have been many changes to the Lionel model trains over the years, including the introduction of the O-27 scale. The curves on the O-27 scale tracks are tighter than those of the regular O scale making for an overall smaller diameter track. O-27 scale trains can run on the O scale tracks okay, since they are technically still O scale but the same cannot be said for the O scale trains on the O-27 scale track. The curves are too tight for these trains and they will derail on the first turn.
The untraditional nature of the O-27 is not the only thing that has changed throughout the years, the couplings are some of the most noticeable changes. Vintage pieces, those that were made prior to World War II, will have couplings that look like hooks. Post World War II saw the couplings change to peg couplings and then to electric couplings.
If you are looking to collect some of the wonderful vintage trains you will look to spend anywhere from $100 to over $1,000 depending on the piece. All of the Lionel trains have a 4 digit code stamped on the locomotive undercarriage. If you are unsure of the authenticity of the train ask to see that code, so you know if you’re buying a genuine Lionel. The couplings will help you in determining the age of your prospective buy as well so keep your eyes out for those.