How To Timeless Classics Locomotives We Love: Lionel No. 2065 steam engine

Locomotives We Love: Lionel No. 2065 steam engine

By | May 2, 2023

This series documents the favorites of some familiar faces in the toy train hobby

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Roger Carp is Senior Editor of Classic Toy Trains and the author of numerous books about the toy train collecting hobby.

Roger Carp
Roger Carp

What toy train locomotive means the most to you?

My favorite toy train locomotive is the Lionel No. 2065 steam engine. This small Hudson isn’t the biggest, heaviest, or most expensive, but everything desirable was on it. The engine had Magne-Traction, a smoke mechanism, an operating headlight, and a three-position reverse unit. The black-painted die-cast metal body shell boasted an ornamental bell and whistle, wire handrails, lots of driving hardware, and a trailing truck with plastic side frames.

Lionel No. 2065 steam engine
Lionel No. 2065 steam engine.

Lionel partnered the Santa Fe-inspired 2065 with a whistle tender. The No. 2046W streamlined model came first; my engine came with the No. 6026W square type. The combination measured 19½ inches long.

My big black locomotive had, as I counted them, a total of 14 wheels. The arrangement, as I would learn many years later, consisted of four small ones in front, followed by six big drivers, with another four little ones under the cab.

Learn what other Lionel engines were popular in the 1950s and beyond.

How did you acquire it?

On the evening of Chanukah in 1956, after lighting the first candle on our family menorah, I discovered a large, beautifully wrapped package. Told gently by my mother and father to open it, I quickly did so, revealing a Lionel No. 710 O-27 freight set. Leading the way was the 2065 steam engine.

What makes is special?

I chose it because it’s the first Lionel train I ever saw and had the pleasure of playing with for many great years.

As a little boy growing up in Los Angeles in the 1950s, I discovered toy electric trains by watching American Flyer sets demonstrate their prowess each weekday evening on “Cartoon Express,” a popular show for kids hosted by Engineer Bill Stulla. The S gauge trains fascinated me, but I had absolutely no idea they could be purchased by just about anybody to operate at home. In my 5-year-old mind, they were magical things, as distant from me as the beans Jack planted to grow a beanstalk reaching to the heavens above where giants roamed!

I treasured the 2065 and the 710 set. I’ve managed to save them as my favorites ever since. The locomotive wasn’t the jewel of Lionel’s roster, but it still beats all the competition for me!

Read why the No. 2065 means a lot to another hobbyist.


3 thoughts on “Locomotives We Love: Lionel No. 2065 steam engine

  1. I was another recipient of a set with the 2065 / 2046W engine and tender as the power leading a five car freight. I got the 1515WS set from the 1954 catalog for Christmas in 1955. It was set up on a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood painted green that was on top of the dining room table. Unfortunately, that was not the best location for an introduction to toy trains. Before Christmas was over the speeding engine had taken a dive off the end of the board and into the closet door. It survived, but left a gouge in that door that was there until the house was sold in 2002. I still have the set in the original boxes, but not the set box. Being my childhood train makes it one of my favorites.

  2. The really special thing that set the 2065/665 locomotive apart for me was the fact that the classification lights on the boiler front lit up!!! I don’t believe any other locomotive up to that time had that as a feature. I have the 2277WS set from 1957 and it is one of my favorites.

  3. Roger, your story was mine but one year earlier. A family friend had given me a 1953 Lionel catalog and I had asked for the O gauge 685 freight set depicted there. Our family friend had gotten a TW transformer in 1953 (new that year), so naturally I asked for that transformer, as well. I was then surprised when I opened my Lionel set on Christmas morning, 1955 to find a 665 steamer with 6026w tender, and several neat freight cars including the operating barrel unloader car, 3-dome Sunoco tank car, Bucyrus-Erie crane car, and gray Erie work caboose in the Lionel set box. It turns out that in ‘55, dealers were encouraged to make up their own sets, and it being two years since the set I had seen in the ‘53 catalog, that one was no longer available at the Cleveland dealer, Jaye and Jaye. So they substituted as best they could. And I found a new-that-year LW 125w transformer instead of the TW model, too. Plus the usual O gauge track, lock-on, etc.
    I was a bit confused at first, but very thrilled nevertheless.
    For my birthday two weeks later, I got a Lionel passenger station, too. Quite a haul, and the happy memory lingers, as does yours. It seems like yesterday, in fact!

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