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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys,

A few of you on the forum have enjoyed the old streamliner Lionel locos. I have a nice 1668E (a 2-6-2 config), and have been peeking on ebay at the somewhat similar 1688's and 1688E's (both simpler 2-4-2 configs with simpler drive rods).

The 1688E has a conventional reversing e-unit.

I'm not sure if the 1688 (rather than the 1688E) has an e-unit or not. It does have a toggle on the top of the loco, but is this simply a switch to manually change direction???

I've been confused that some 1688's appear to have black plastic engines, and others have traditional engines with "conventional" electrical pickups. I wondered why, and assumed (naively) that the ones with the plastic were simply engines that were replaced by an owner somewhere along the line.

However ...

I've just noticed that the 1688's with plastic engines have the slot for the reverse switch (or e-unit?) well aft on the shell, and the 1688's with the traditional engines have the slot for the switch about mid-length on the shell. I.e., they do NOT share the same exact shell casting. Accordingly, they must have been made each differently, each with their own type of engine.

I'm raising this point here for a couple of reasons ...

1. To give a heads-up for anyone looking for parts to repair / service a 1688 down the road ... there are "two types" of 1688's, as far as I can see.

2. To ask any/all of you if you can elaborate on this and/or clarify my findings.

3. Can anyone tell me which of the "two types" of 1688's came first? Why did Lionel change how they were made?

The pics below show the two types of 1688's.

Also, as far as I can see, ALL of the 1688E's (the one that came with e-units for sure) have the slot mid-length on the shell, and all have conventional (non-plastic) motors.

Note, importantly, that the 1668E (which looks very similar to the 1688 family at first glance) is a 2-6-2 config, has more elagant drive rods and valve rods, and has its e-unit slot well forward on the shell.

I'd welcome any clarifying thoughts.

TJ

1688 TYPE #1 -- SWITCH SLOT MID-LENGTH
NOTE CONVENTIONAL MOTOR (though the contact shoes are missing on this one)



1688 TYPE #2 -- SWITCH SLOT WELL AFT
NOTE PLASTIC MOTOR
(THE REAR TRUCK IS MISSING FROM THIS LOCO ... IT SHOULD BE A 2-4-2 CONFIG.)




FOR COMPARISON, HERE'S THE 1688E
WITH E-UNIT, SLOT MID-LENGTH, CONVENTIONAL MOTOR



FOR COMPARISON, ONLY, HERE'S THE 2-6-2 1668E
NOTE E-UNIT WELL FORWARD ON SHELL.

 

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Discussion Starter #3
Big Ed,

Thanks for the above LINK reference. I should have included that here. I did want to start a new thread, however, because there was some loco # misidentification going on in that older thread (1689 vs. 1688, etc.). With all of these similar numbers (1668, 1688), I wanted to start here fresh and clean ... mostly for my own understanding and (hopefully!) avoiding confusion. :confused:

That said, I had completely forgotten that you yourself have several of these "Loewy" type locos and shells. (I had remembered T-Man's chainsawed monster, and his new one.)

With your locos and knowledge in hand, can you elaborate on any details / questions above???

Is that a Lionel loco on the left in your photo??? I don't recognize it from that angle. It's not a Hiawatha, is it? Any side-view pics? I think you're intentionally trying to stump me with a "pop quiz" !!! :rolleyes:

Thanks!!!

TJ
 

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The left I believe is the 1689e a copy of the commodore vanderbilt. Most of the shells came in black or gunmetal. If the shell is postwar it is a 221. Hard to tell from the angle. The cat has nothing on motors. Part of my problem was to id a shell with no motor or side plates. Ebay could of mislabeled an engine too. So join the club!
 

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Railroad Tycoon
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It's the 289e.
A side picture of it is in my albums under O gauge Junk.
I like the 289e cab style with the steps in the front. "thumbsup"

I can't do much on this computer. I can't see my pictures even. No edit button,no smiles faces, no report for spam button, no reply button, plus more! All I can do is the quick reply!?


On the other computer everything works fine.

I did complete scans and scanned for spy ware got nothing.


It all started when I took the pictures out of my niece as I didn't want them floating around on the internet.

It's like the site limited my activity on this computer?

B&M??? ANY THOUGHTS?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Big Ed,

289E ... ohhh ... I've never seen one before ... quite nice looking ... that's a "Commodore Vanderbilt" style, right? My Lionel catalog book (Doyle) has descriptions of the 289, but had no photographs. I just did a quick 'net pic search, and it similar to the 1689. Very nice.

Re: your computer ... Have you tried "Delete Browsing History" (clearing cookies, etc.) on your computer? In desparation, I've used the Windows "Restore" option with some success to get back to pre-disaster status.

What operating system, browser, etc. are you using?

Good call about your niece's photos ... she's cute, but I'd be cautious about posting pictures of my kids out there in "internet land" ... you never know what dark forces are lurking.

TJ
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Guys,

Re: old prewar motors and locos ...

Do the non-E named locos (like a 1688 vs. a 1688E) always have an e-unit if there's a toggle poking through the top of the shell, or in some cases is this simply just a manual fwd/reverse switch that someone would have to change position themselves?

Just curous,

TJ
 

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TJ,

I know nothing about the topic---that doesn't faze me from offering opinions though, right? *LOL* That acknowledged, I recently read some discussion on an S scale site where the people are primarily collectors. Great excitement: one of them had a number something engine with a plastic tender. The point was, that model was never made with a plastic tender....supposedly. One guy who knew a bit more came on and said that, when the factory was retooling to change a model or replace worn dies, they often would experiment with several variations in short runs to see what materials worked best, minor design changes, and so on. They'd finally settle on the best one and start the production run. Since they had to run enough of the experimental models to get good data, they had a bunch of them and would put them out on the market instead of throwing them away. Presumably, they went as promotional items and giveaways instead of straight stock. So if you have variations, that may be another reason.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Have you seen a torp design with a manual?
No, I (naively) haven't. I haven't done the touchy/feely things on that many old locos at all. Most of what I'm trying to learn is via reading, only ... and in that, many of the catalog books are rather vague in their descriptions in this regard. The "with E" or "without E" designation is quite confusing. In the catalogs, the authors make a point of saying that some locos came with "3 position e-units" and the like, but omit any reference to that effect for other locos. And so, I was wondering -- just that, wondering -- if any of these old locos had a manual toggle on the top of the shell.

Doyle confirms your comment ... 1688E was 1936-38. 1688 was 1938-40. So the E came first, as you say. Interesting. I guess the non-E's all have e-units, and maybe (???) the plastic motor 1688 was 1940, as an early lead-in to the post-war Scout motors???

I wonder if Lionel's technicians way back in 1940 would have guessed that we'd be so meticulously questioning what they did and why they did it 70 years into the future?!?

Thanks!

TJ
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Reck,

Interesting observation. I'll echo my comments above ... do you think these tech guys would have ever guessed we'd be exploring / questioning their work 70 years down the road?!?

Can you imagine if someone will be diliginently questioning YOUR or MY work 70 years downt he road?!? I'd better get off this train forum, and back to my boat performance calcs!

TJ
 

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Keep in mind the impact of WWII in that chain of events. Let me pose an imaginary scenario: it's early 1936, and Pearl Harbor is still years off. I quote:

"Each version centered on national agencies that would control production. Early editions included four superagencies, managing war industries, selective service, public relations, and labor. By 1936, the War Industries Administration, which was understood from the start to be the largest and most important wartime agency, had been renamed the War Resources Administration. Its responsibilities were to include control of war finance, trade, labor, and price control organizations, with only the selective service and public relations still autonomous. The superagency, which would have powers beyond those of the War Industries Board also would be responsible for acquiring and controlling strategic and critical materials. The plan's greatest flaw lay in its failure to consider effective control over the allocation of basic materials, such as steel, copper, and aluminum.



In the development of these plans the Army-Navy Munitions Board showed its usefulness. With the Navy an increasingly active participant but the office of the assistant secretary of war still the driving force, the board sponsored the industrial mobilization plans of the 1930s. In so doing, it actually became a transitional agency, until the establishment of the projected civilian superagency at the outset of war. As such, the board drew up lists of critical materials, studied raw material needs, and eventually obtained modest appropriations for importing and stockpiling critical materials. The board also made industrial surveys and apportioned productive capacity of firms and industries whose products were sought by both services. By mid-1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the board's importance by placing it in the executive office of the president. Thereafter, Roosevelt had direct control of the board which in turn enjoyed unanticipated prestige and visibility.



By 1939, the industrial mobilization plans broke free of the M-day concept. That year's plan stipulated that the War Resources Administration should be established as early as practicable when an emergency was envisioned. No longer would economic mobilization for war be tied to the actual outbreak of hostilities. The policy change tacitly recognized the increasingly hostile international environment and the long lead-times necessary to produce the increasingly sophisticated tools of war."

I'm sure Lionel was hit as hard as AF by the shortage of materials, design engineers, and factories as production ramped up for WWII. For my stuff, there were effectively no design changes or improvements from about 1938 till after the war. Perhaps your hypothesis of changing from electric to manual reverse was correct, and driven by the limitations imposed by the government?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Reck,

Could be all of that. I strongly suspect the early hints of WWII impact any industrial / manufacturing oriented companies. Lionel switched fully over to war production in 1942, but perhaps they were experimenting with newer manufacturing methods in the lead in to that, i.e., more use of plastics. Maybe they hoped that they could do both for the full duration of the war: support the war effort, and produce model trains. As it was, the only trains they produced post-1942 during the war war crude cardboard/wood look-a-likes. As a side note, I saw one of those in mint, unassembled, vigin-box condition sell on ebay recently for a small fortune.

I'll also add that I'm using the term "plastic" somewhat generically. I know that many mfrs back then were using Bakelite (a powder that could be molded and hardened with heat), but I don't know much more about the various specific types/uses of "plastics". In part, that's why the record of a plastic motor on these pre-war 1688 locos surprised me.

TJ
 

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Interesting stuff, TJ. As to your "do you think these tech guys would have ever guessed we'd be exploring / questioning their work 70 years down the road?!?" that's a good question. On one hand, they were simply working for a toy company, making stuff for kids. Today's collectors were either in diapers or would not be born for another ten years. That would seem to suggest they'd not envision their toys being of interest in 70 years. After all, this was post depression and the "give me the newest and most modern" hunger was upon them. The catalogs seemed to suggest that, unless you had the newest version of the manufacturer of choice, your stuff was dated and unexciting, like a 5-year-old car is, today. I'm just grateful the technology of the time relied upon components that were so durable: when I work on one, it amazes me how well they still work and how little wear they show, even after 60 to 70 years. Perhaps they quietly built for posterity.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I'm just grateful the technology of the time relied upon components that were so durable: when I work on one, it amazes me how well they still work and how little wear they show, even after 60 to 70 years. Perhaps they quietly built for posterity.
Well said! As I've begun to delve into the mechanics of some old Lionel locos (or Marx or AF for those who tackle that), it's impressive how durable the "old school" components actually are ... metal castings, bronze bearings, copper windings, etc. The technology is pretty simple by today's standards (e-units vs. diodes, for examples), but it's such that tinkerers like me who "look under the hood" can understand the logic of the mechanics, and service and repair accordingly.

On the flip side, when one of my kids drops an R/C race car, and a circuit board pops loose from the case, I just stare at it with a very puzzled look on my face. :confused: "Dad, what does that little thing do?" ... Uhhh ... "Well, son ... Did I ever tell you how I used to make scooters out of wood and old roller skates?" :rolleyes:

TJ
 

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*LOL* How true! I understand that time marches forward, and new technology is supplants the old because by most standards, it's simply better. DCC can correctly handle more trains simultaneously than my brain/fingers combination can, flitting from transformer to transformer. New is good.

However, old is fun. It's wonderful to take one of these little jewels apart and be able to actually see how all of the pieces work. I realize that someone versed in electronics can do the same with a circuit board, but I can't. I can trace the old circuits, though, and fiddle with the old electro-mechanical switches and see what's going on. That's a nice feeling. I wonder how many of the top-of-the-line locomotives and accessories being sold new, today, will still be working in 60 years? I believe there's another 60 left in my stuff. It's really something to look at a toy and realize it was built so well that, with proper maintenance, you might get 100 or more years of use out of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hi guys,

Back to Lionel 1688 mysteries ...

I happened to stumble on this current ebay listing ... a gent selling a Lionel 1688 loco (and some cars) that he says he received for his 5th birthday in 1967. 1688's were prewar, as were the latch couplers that are shown on his set. So maybe his gift was a USED set? Anyway, here's what really caught my eye ...

The loco and tender are BURGUNDY in color, and appear (???) to be original paint. Also, the loco cab has "900" number tags, and something written in script below it.

Just out of curiosity, I'm wondering if this was a Lionel special-production and/or a special corporate promotional thing?

Have any of you ever seen a 1688 like this before?

Thanks,

TJ

 

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Railroad Tycoon
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Buy it quick! Theres only 10 known to have been made!


Seriously, I never saw one like that?:D

I would think that it is a prewar that someone repainted many moons ago.
Everything about it screams pre-war.

You can't believe what everyone lists.

I just won three Lionel bridges for $29.99, that were listed as Lionel post war bridges HO gauge.:D

No one bid for them!

But the seller had 2 more of the same bridge (almost the same) and they went for $38.00 bucks.:laugh: They were listed as Lionel O gauge.

Go figure why the seller listed like that?:rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Ed ... You made my heart stop there for a second. Dohh! Almost had me going ... hook, line, and SINKER! :thumbsup:

TJ
 

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Ed ... You made my heart stop there for a second. Dohh! Almost had me going ... hook, line, and SINKER! :thumbsup:

TJ

I was just going to post the first sentence and let it go at that.:laugh:

I figured that would just be too cruel!:D
 
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