How To Timeless Classics Locomotives we love: Lionel No. 41 switcher

Locomotives we love: Lionel No. 41 switcher

By Bob Keller | June 16, 2024

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My early “trainhood” was 1955 to 1968. I had an uncle who gave me a train the year I was born, and he added to the Lionel fleet on birthdays and Christmas for many years.

All the trains were Lionel, but when I unboxed them in the early 1990s, I discovered the track, switches, and most of the accessories were Marx. But everything that rolled was Lionel.

My first layout was on a 4 x 8 fiberboard sheet. I first had a figure 8, then I changed that into a loop, with two switches going to sidings. One had a Marx barrel loader, and the other one had an old shoebox that was a “factory.”

Moving freight

scene on toy train layout with military train
The No. 41 Army switcher still delivers the goods on Bob Keller’s layout. Bob Keller photo

I had three locomotives: A 2-6-4 that was my dedicated passenger engine, a No. 6250 that was my freight hauler, and a No. 41 Army diesel that was my general-purpose switcher and my “War Wagon.”

Frankly, the No. 41 is a pretty weak puller. I had three postwar No. 2400 passenger cars and mine had a tough time with them. I tailored its duties to what it could handle, some gondolas with plastic pipe loads or my two Baby Ruth boxcars.

The War Wagon

green model train next to airplane model
The switcher once appeared as a prop in a product news photo in 2005. Bill Zuback photo

Like a lot of kids at that time, I had a ton of toy soldiers. Soldiers by Marx, Auburn, or Tim Mee only had a standard scrape in regard to their own troops. Most were probably 1:32 scale, great for garden trains but not so much for O scale.

I’d put troops that were kneeling or at least not standing upright in a gondola in front, and then put the taller guys in a Norfolk and Western No. 6446 hopper on the rear. Remember, when you are 8 or 9, reality and scale are, well, somewhat flexible.

So the freight got delivered, but my No. 41 got the credit for keeping German, Russian, Japanese troops, or for that matter invaders from Mars for severing my logistical pipeline!

model train next to orange box
The Lionel No. 41 Army switcher was sold from 1955 to 1957. Model courtesy Joe Algozzini. Bill Zuback photo

What my No. 41 might have lacked in pulling power was made up for with Fun memories. This small engine is certainly a locomotive I love.

One thought on “Locomotives we love: Lionel No. 41 switcher

  1. I liked the little engine but spent a lot of time cleaning the motor’s armature. Despite that, I still have it in my collection.

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