Encyclopedia of Toy Trains
Lionel Prewar Trains
Freight Cars

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Lionel's Classic Period Freight Cars.

800 Series Large Eight Wheel Cars
Tank and Hopper Cars

For an introduction to this series of cars follow this link. Underlined car numbers mean the photograph above links to a larger image. Underlined and different colored words are links to descriptive pages that explain the words. You can either open the links in new windows or use your back button to come back to this page. Because of the number of minor detail variations this page only shows the major color variations. In the future I will add a link to a table listing all the minor trim variations.

NOTE: cars are shown in order of manufacture. Earliest cars are one the top left and later cars are on the lower right.

The 815 and 2815 Tank Cars

815 Pea green.

815 Aluminum, Sunoco decal. Brass trim. This car comes with or without the decal.

815 Aluminum, Sunoco decal. Nickel trim. This car always comes with the decal.

2815 Orange, Shell.

The 815 tank car was introduced in 1926 and was cataloged through 1942. The first cars were pea green with maroon frames. The maroon frame car is not shown above- I have never even seen an original one. In 1927 the frame color changed to black and continued to be black for the rest of the cars run. Until 1934, the car was pea green. In 1934, the color was changed to aluminum. Cars with brass trim and latch couplers can be found with or without the Sunoco decal. Cars with box couplers, made in 1936 and after, always have decals. Warning: the aluminum paint is very thin and improper cleaning will result in paint removal. Never wash aluminum trains with soap and water. There is a page of cleaning advice here. The 815 was not made with a type 4 frame. There are reports of orange Shell cars with 815 plates but all of the ones I have examined- 2 - show evidence of being taken apart. It would be easy to create a orange Shell 815 by changing the number plates and trucks on a 2815.

The 2815 was introduced in 1938. It is the same as the 815 but has automatic couplers. The 2815 was made in Aluminum until 1939 then was changed to orange with a Shell decal. The decals were a revenue source for Lionel. The oil companies paid to have their name on the car. The Shell car was made in 1940 only. The Train Collectors Association book on Lionel lists the orange car as coming with nickel plates or decals for the number data, but I have never seen a tank car without number plates.

The 815 and 2815 tank cars were not produced after 1940. If they were made they would be gray with SUNX decals. In 1941 Lionel changed the tank car decals back to Sunoco. Sunoco stands for Sun Oil Company. No original gray 800 series tanks are known.

The pea green tank with the maroon frame is the hardest tank to find. The orange 2815 is next. The pea green with black frame and aluminum cars are common, but it is difficult to find aluminum cars in nice shape.

The 816 and 2816 Hopper Cars

816 Olive green.

Reserved for 816 red/brass.

816 Dark red. Nickel trim. Compare color with cars on either side.

2816 Red.

816 Black. Nickel plates

2816 Black. Rubber stamped lettering



The 816 hopper car was introduced in 1927.It came in Olive green until 1930, when the color changed to red. It stayed red until 1940 when the color changed to black. The black 816 with nickel plates is the easiest to find of the 1940 notch cars in rubber stamped colors with nickel plates. It is still very hard to find though. The 1941 Hopper cars were black with rubber stamped lettering. This is the hardest to find of the 816 hoppers. There are many different shades of red cars. Notice the third car on line one above is a darker red. This is almost a tomato or blood red car. These cars are believed to have come only in the 1936 freight set pulled by the 250E Hiawatha locomotive. I don't know if that's true or not but they are very hard to find. Not as hard to find as the black cars but still quite difficult to find.

The 2816 hopper is the same car as the 816, but has automatic couplers. The 2816 came in red with nickel plates and in black with rubber stamped lettering. The black car is harder to find than the red version.

The 816 with rubber stamped lettering is the hardest hopper to find. Next is the black 816 with nickel plates, then the blood red 816, then the black 2816. The other red cars are quite common. The olive car is a bit harder to find than the red cars but not by much.


 For more pages of these cars select car type below:

Crane, Gondola and Cabooses

Stock and Refrigerator cars

Box and Merchandise cars

Flat, Searchlight and Dump cars.


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ã 2000 by Terry Gibbs. All rights reserved.