Author Options:

Lionel Trains. How to tell what year they were made? Answered

I inherited a Lionel Train set but can't determine when it was made. The Locomotive has 027 on a Metal plate on the bottom and 2026 on the side. I'm trying to determine what they might be worth. Has several cars and a tender for the Locomotive. One car is a Baby Ruth Box Car. Has Tracks but no Transformer to test it out. Any Lionel Train buffs out there that can help?


The 2026 was classified by Lionel as a Prairie-type steam engine. It's a mid-size steam engine and was sold as an 027 gauge item. The early 2026 is a fancier locomotive compared to the later version. In addition, the 2026 shares its boiler casting with other Lionel locomotives such as the 637, 2016, 2018, 2029 and 2037 steamers: however the internal workings are different.

The 2026 steam locomotive had two independent production runs. The first was in 1948 and 1949 while the second was from 1951 to 1953. Although Lionel used the same catalogue number (2026), in most cases parts are not interchangable between the early and late version.

The first version consisted of a 2-6-2 wheel arrangement with detailed driving wheel hardware, three-position E-unit, smoke, Baldwin disk drive wheels, die-cast trailing truck, sliding shoe contacts plus an ornamental bell and whistle and illuminated headlight. The whistling tender was numbered 6466WX.

Externally, the later model looks very similar to the earlier model. Internally, there are numerous differences. The later model has a 2-6-4 wheel arrangement with scaled-down driving wheel hardware, three-position E-unit, smoke, relatively plain spoked drive wheels, sheet metal trailing truck plus ornamental bell and illuminated headlight. The number of the tender was either 6466W, 6466T or 6066T. The 6466W tender included a whistle while the other tenders did not include a whistle.

Phil B

9 years ago

There are web pages and books on Lionel trains. Some of them give serial number sequences that allow you to date a train within a year or two.

I've done searches. There is too much info to sort through as they been around since the early 1900's. I'd prefer answers from Lionel Trains hobbyist.

. Try narrowing your searches. Eg, add "+2026" (without the quotes) or +"Baby Ruth" (with the quotes) to your search string. . I'd prefer a harem full of nubiles, but I'll take what I can get. ;)