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I got these off eBay recently and I was wondering if someone could help me identify what year these locos are from and if the tenders I got with them actually came with them.

I had been looking on eBay for a little while for a whistle tender 1689w but could not find one that said it worked and a lot of them were going for a pretty good price. So when I saw this auction and it had the 1689e that I was really wanting and it also had a 259e and each had a whistle tender so I snatched it up.

I’ll post some pictures of them so they could be checked for what year. I believe that the seller listed them as 1938 but not sure if that was for one or both...

I did notice that the couplers look different than the other one I have. Has a black plastic over it.. is that older or newer than ones without the plastic...
 

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The 1689E was first produced in 1936 and again in 1937. There is a difference between them which is identifiable. The 1936 issue does not have red marker lights, nor the holes to mount them. The 1937 issue did have the red marker lights, with the holes in the body to attach them. It is such a subtle change of No markers, or with markers, that it easily gets missed. I have both versions in my collection. The tenders are a later issue, 1938 or later, because of the Box Couplers. The earlier couplers were Latch couplers. Hope this answers your question.
 

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Very nice find / acquisition!

The box-style couplers (with black plastic) post-date the all-metal latch couplers.

That said, I suspect your tenders are not original to each of the locos. The smooth-top tender is a 1689W, or perhaps a 2689W (if it has an electric coupler). The pattern-top tender is a 265W (or its 2225W counterpart, which had an electric coupler). The 265W and 2225W tender was paired with locos such as the 238 and the 265.

The 1689E loco was offered in 1936 and 1937 with 1689T and 1689W tenders (latch-style couplers, I believe).

The 259E was offered in gunmetal (as you have) from 1936 to 1938. It was paired with 1689T tenders or with 2689T tenders (which had electric couplers). I don't know if the gunmetal 259E ever came with a whistle tender.

Teledoc will likely chime in. He's the Guru here of all things prewar / historic i.d.'s.

Hope this helps a bit.

TJ
 

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The 1689E was first produced in 1936 and again in 1937. There is a difference between them which is identifiable. The 1936 issue does not have red marker lights, nor the holes to mount them. The 1937 issue did have the red marker lights, with the holes in the body to attach them. It is such a subtle change of No markers, or with markers, that it easily gets missed.
You are the Guru, 'Doc ... great info. I didn't know that about the 1689E!

That's interesting, though, because the renderings in the 1936 Lionel catalog DO show marker lights on the 1689E loco. Are you saying that they were never actually made that way in 1936?

Fun stuff.

TJ
 

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TJ, I never realized the difference until I put my two 1689E’s side by side, and soon found the first one (1936), didn’t have the inserts for the marker lights, but the other one did. Both of them are the Black 1689E’s, not the Gunmetal. It is easily looked over. Thanks for the additional Tender info. A lot of the Prewar locos look the same, at first glance, until you can compare them side by side, and see the subtle differences throughout their years of production. My “Torpedo” thread bears witness to all The variations that were made.
 

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'Doc, do you think that your no-hole / no-marker 1689E might be a factory error ... or perhaps a very early production run before they were set up to punch and add the markers? Now you have me wondering. I'm going to keep an eye out on eBay and the like to see how common the no-marker version might be.

Very interesting!

TJ
 

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TJ, I’ll give you a little more info to mull over. It takes a little keen observation to note the differences. The first (1936) issues are strictly that year WITHOUT marker lights. Reasoning is the motors are tagged Lionel Jr., and not 027. The later (1937) issue had the Lionel 027 tagged motors, an all had marker lights installed. I have both versions in Black, but they also came in Gunmetal. Now a slight twist is another casting difference if you look under a bare shell. The 1689E shared the same body with a 289E, but the 289E did not have a slot for the E unit. The 289 had an 0 gauge motor crammed into what in essence was an 027 body. The E unit of the 289 had its lever bent back at 90 degrees, and accessed through the cab. I have noted on various 1689E bodies, that have a raised stamping marked 289-1 toward the rear of the loco, close to the cab. Without having to pull my two 1689’s apart, I can’t say 100%, which casting had the number inside the body, (with markers or without). The one thing of note is the Black versions are the only ones that come with & without the marker light.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Awesome information guys! Thanks for enlightening me. You guys are the best.

So they only made the 1689e for 2 years, and I have the later 1937 version.

And the 259e could have been from 1936-38. Is there any way to narrow that down? We’re there differences like in the castings like in the 1688/1668 locos?

And I kind of figured that the tenders didn’t originally come with these but I figured I’d see if they did. It seems that a lot engines and tenders get separated when sold via auctions or eBay. Seems to not only be for Prewar but same for Postwar too.
 

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The loco & tender combos that usually get listed on the auction sites, are thrown together to get more money, but not necessarily the correct combos. The 259E is a separate story. They are completely “Tinplate”, and not die cast, like the 289/1689 loco. I can’t say 100% for fact, if the earliest 259E would fall into the 1936 year, BUT the collector plate tags on the bottom of the early issues had an “Error”. The initial run had the word Gauge misspelled as gUage, and not gauge. There were other locos that had the same misspelling Error. I would consider that version as a 1936 issue. Other than that, they whole run was common from 1936-38.
 

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Your 259E appears to be Gunmetal Gray, which was only made in 1936. Other years came in various Black finishes from Gloos to Flat Black.
 

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TJ, I’ll give you a little more info to mull over. It takes a little keen observation to note the differences. The first (1936) issues are strictly that year WITHOUT marker lights. Reasoning is the motors are tagged Lionel Jr., and not 027. The later (1937) issue had the Lionel 027 tagged motors, an all had marker lights installed. I have both versions in Black, but they also came in Gunmetal. Now a slight twist is another casting difference if you look under a bare shell. The 1689E shared the same body with a 289E, but the 289E did not have a slot for the E unit. The 289 had an 0 gauge motor crammed into what in essence was an 027 body. The E unit of the 289 had its lever bent back at 90 degrees, and accessed through the cab. I have noted on various 1689E bodies, that have a raised stamping marked 289-1 toward the rear of the loco, close to the cab. Without having to pull my two 1689’s apart, I can’t say 100%, which casting had the number inside the body, (with markers or without). The one thing of note is the Black versions are the only ones that come with & without the marker light.
Now you have me wondering about my 1689E. It started out life gunmetal, but I repainted it red. It has marker lights, but I never thought to look for any 289-1 stamp inside the shell. Hmmm ...

Re: the 259E ...

You say gunmetal was offered ONLY in 1936. In his "Standard Catalog of Lionel Trains 1900 - 1942", David Doyle stipulates that the 259E was offered in gunmetal from 1936 thru 1938.

Not so?

Thanks!

TJ
 

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TJ, I corrected two errors in your typing where you originally typed 268-1 stamping, which is 289-1, and then the reference to Doyles listing from 1938-1938, which should be 1936-1938. I know I sent you Greenbergs Guide to Lionel Trains 1901-1942 Vol. II 0 & 00 Gauge. Both books have their own merits, but differ in content. Doyle's Catalog is primarily good for actual photos of the different Types, but the descriptions are lacking. The Greenberg book has very good descriptions, &better variations from "Known Collectors", who are referenced as coming from their collections. What Greenberg lacks, are multiple photos, to see the comparisons.

I take the info from Doyle with a grain of salt with the typed descriptions. Both Doyle's Prewar and Postwar Guides were mostly Plagarized, from the likes of Greenberg and Paul V. Ambrose. Doyle was sued in court by Paul Ambrose, and lost, where he is no longer allowed to publish newer Volumes of his original work. I use the Greenberg Guide exclusively for written information, and only check the Doyle Guide for photos.

The 259E listed in the Greenberg Guide shows the Gunmetal Gray version, only produced in 1936. The complete run was made from 1933-1940, with different color finishes. The 1933-34 issue was Gloss Black, and the 1934 version had the misspelled "Guage" on the collector plate. The 1936-38 issue were Satin Black, with the exception of Gunmetal ONLY made in 1936. The last issues were finally painted Flat Black. This is taken from the Greenberg Guide, and verified from personal collections.
 

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This is a lot of great information for me. Thanks folks. I "restored" a 259 and a 259E (Red spoke drivers) each for my daughter and son along with the 607 and 608 passenger cars, which I put lights in (the kids are in their 30's). I wanted to get a whistling tender for each of them and I was trying to figure out what would work considering the draw bar and latch couplers. This really helped. Thanks.
 

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'Doc,

Many thanks ... for correcting my bonehead typos, and for putting the emphasis on Greenberg for accuracy of content over Doyle. I most emphatically agree with you on this count ... despite the "pretty to look at" photos in Doyle.

cheers,

TJ
 

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SoShoresGuy, just a little info about couplers on the Prewar. 1915-1927 used Hook Couplers, (had 90 degree bend they fit into slot); the Latch Coupler first appeared circa 1925-27, with improvements made with springs, to keep latch closed, etc.; then the Box couplers arrived in 1936-1941. This can help you date different rolling stock, by the Coupler type.
 

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I had never noticed that some 1689Es were made without marker lights before. I just looked at every photo I could find of 1689Es and every one on in recent eBay sold listings, and I found 4 that didn't have the markers or slots for them. However, that's out of dozens total. Nothing conclusive, but based on seeing way more with marker lights than without, plus the fact that some 1936 catalogs do show the marker lights, and considering the 1689E was only made for two years through 1937, I'd have to guess that the marker lights were added more like half way into 1936 rather than half way through total production at the 1936-1937 line. I feel like if the 1689Es made for the Christmas 1936 season didn't have marker lights, we'd see a lot more of them and closer to a 50/50 split.
 

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Gerard, As you know, I have done a lot of research in the 1930-40 Prewar era, and only from observing actual items, along with photos, can I conclude certain details. The 1689E shared the same body mold, with the 289E (0 gauge motored) loco. All the reference books show production in 1936 & 1937. All 1936 issues were BLACK only. 1937 offered both Black & Gunmetal Gray. If you can find complete photos of the “non marker light” locos, all the locos have the Lionel Jr. motors, 8 spoke drivers. The 1937 issues differed from the earlier version with the two known features. The marker light holes were now present, and the motor showed Lionel 027 collector tags, with 12 spoke drivers. As mentioned in an earlier post, I have found the body mold number 289-1, but NOT on every body.

***An added note regarding the 289-1 number, it is located between the rear sand dome, and the 3 safety valves, close to the cab. I pulled out the two 1689E locos I own, one 1936 BLACK without marker lights, and a 1937 Gunmetal with marker lights, and the number was found on both versions. Additionally, the Gunmetal loco has the Lionel Jr./8 spoke motor, which was original to this loco. There were many Jr. motors produced, and used in other locos, which would indicate that Lionel was just using up existing stock, to deplete them. It is common knowledge that Lionel reverted to changing the number plates to read Lionel 027, beginning in 1937 and thereafter.***

As your reference to Catalog photos, the actual finished products have often differed greatly, with the Catalog. There are color changes, different loco & tender combinations, different or missing brass number plates, etc. I own Ives Catalogs for 1931-1933, Lionel Catalogs 1932-1937, the HSL CD for Ives, plus all the major Guides covering Prewar. (Greenberg, McEntarfer, Doyle, TCA Standard Guide, and a few more. None of them are 100% correct, with errors found in all of them, or omissions of info from one Guide to another.
 

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Well I think it's a given that the no-marker-lights 1689Es were early issue and would all have Jr. Motors with 8 spoke drivers.

Looking at some eBay listings I did find a couple examples that have marker lights and also have Jr. motors with 8 spoke drivers, which is more along the lines of what I was thinking, that the marker lights were added earlier than the other 1937 changes like the O27 motor and 12 spoke wheels. But it's always possible that shells and motors have been swapped so it's not conclusive. The first one does look very untouched with original gunmetal paint.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Prewar-Lionel-Lines-No-1689E-Locomotive-and-No-1689-Whistle-Tender-Tested-/163458098289?&nordt=true&rt=nc&orig_cvip=true

https://www.ebay.com/itm/O-O-27-Lionel-Prewar-1689e-engine-for-parts-or-repair-/352551478789?&nordt=true&rt=nc&orig_cvip=true
 

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Gerard, It is easy to see both years having a Lionel Jr. motor, as they were very plentiful from 1934-1937. The supply of Jr. motors were probably surplus, and could be found in ‘37 issues. Your one example (Gunmetal), although showing the Jr. motor, is Strictly 1937 issue. There were NO Gunmetal locos made in 1936.
 

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I have two 259E,s and both are original and gun metal grey.

I also have two tenders one whistle and one not.
I can check for identification tomorrow.

John
 
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