Encyclopedia of Toy Trains
Lionel Prewar Trains

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Lionel's Classic Period Locomotives.

Electric Outline Engines
251 and 253

In 1923 Lionel introduced the Classic period engines. These engines featured added brass trim, and were usually brightly colored. A striking contrast to the earlier period engines that had very little added trim or ornamentation and were usually painted dark green or other dark flat colors. The 251 was the largest four wheeled engine.

The 251

251 Gray. Brass windows.

251E Gray. Red windows.

251 Red. Cream windows.

The 251 was introduced in 1925 and cataloged through 1932. The 251E with two position reverse was introduced in 1927 and cataloged until 1932. The engine is 10 inches long- not including couplers. The gray engine comes with strap or cast headlights. The red engine is found with or without a cream stripe on the at the bottom of the cab.

Sets: These engines came with matching 605/ 606 passenger cars. The red engine also came in an uncataloged set with the larger 710/ 712 cars in red. This engine also came with the large 8 wheeled 800 series freight cars.

Rarity: Red is harder to find than gray. The red engine with a cream stripe is the hardest to find.

The 253

253 Dark Green

253 Mojave

253 Peacock

253 Peacock orange stripe

253E Stephan girard green, dark green frame.

253 Terra cotta, maroon frame

450 Red. Special for Macys's

450 Stephan girard green, dark green frame. Special for Macys's

The 253 was introduced in 1924, and cataloged through 1932. The 253E with electric reverse was introduced in 1931 and ran through 1936. The engine is 9 inches long- not including couplers. The mojave, maroon, red and dark green engines come with strap headlights. The other colors come with die cast headlights. The frame one this engine can have two hand reverse slots or one. The E locomotives can have the E engraved on the plate or rubber-stamped on the side of the engine.

Sets: The early strap headlight engines came in sets with matching early 610/ 612 passenger cars. The peacock and two tone green engines came with 607/ 608 passenger cars. The terra cotta engine came with the 613 series passenger cars in sets without baggage cars. The 253 also came with the large 8 wheel 800 series and the small 4 wheel 800 freight cars.

Rarity: The maroon, gray, pea green and red engines are very hard to find. These are not shown because I need to get pictures from other collectors, or find ones for sale I can add to my collection! The 450 engines made for Macys's are also hard to find. The peacock and two tone green engines are the easiest to find.

Because of the size of the photos, I have divided these locos into three pages.

For the 248, 250 and 252 locomotives follow this link.

For the 4, 254, and 256 engines follow this link.



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ã 2000 by Terry Gibbs. All rights reserved.