Re-attaching prewar Lionel trucks

Last Updated on September 1, 2017 by Dave Farquhar

This past weekend I scored a poorly repainted Lionel #602 baggage car (made from 1915-1923) and an Ives #71 passenger car (made 1923-25) at an estate sale. The Ives was in good shape and original, but one of the Lionel’s trucks was detached and one of the hook couplers was broken. Fortunately I was able to find the loose truck, and the repair was as simple as you can get.

I don’t know if the trucks were originally attached with screws or eyelets. Eyelets are less labor intensive but require costlier machinery, and given the quantities Lionel was building these cars in, it may have been more cost effective to use screws in the early 1920s. The other truck was attached with a slotted machine screw, and from the obvious age of the screw, clearly had been there a very long time. So I attached the loose truck with a short 6-32 machine screw, which threaded into the truck perfectly.

The proper coupler for these cars, if you need one, is the Lionel 719-t. That, too, is a simple repair. Bend the shank of the replacement coupler upward 90 degrees with a pair of lineman’s pliers, slip it into place, then twist the tab just enough that the coupler won’t fall out when you turn it.

Regarding estate sales, finding trains in those venues is getting easier, if anything. A decade ago, any sale with “train” in the description had five people lined up hours before it opened. Prices were at or above retail, and if you weren’t willing to pay the price, someone else probably would be. Today, the prices are lower and you’re competing with a lot more bargain hunters than with dealers and diehard hobbyists. And a decade ago, most of what I was seeing was stuff that had been in the family a long time. I still see that stuff, but I’m seeing more collections now. That will increase as time goes on, as the people who were buying this stuff from estates liquidate their own estates.

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