1920's set worth anything?

Hey guys, Recently my grandfather found his Lionel model train stuff from back when he was a boy in the 1920's. Some of the stuff even has its
original boxes(though arent in the best of condition) but some of the actual cars and engines and such look to be in pretty decent condition. Anyone know if this stuff is worth anything? or is it something thats not really worth much and should be put with the rest of my model trains on a board? Heres a few pictures of the items(engines, cars, station, ect): http://home.comcast.net/~raventy/trains.html
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Yes, they're worth something! These are Lionel "Standard Gauge" trains from the mid to late 1920's. I have provided my opinion of some very general, rough-estimate show prices for some of the items to give you a feel for values. If you plan to sell any of the items, you should get a more thorough appraisal.
It looks like you have two sets:
The dark red (Lionel calls it maroon) No. 8 box-cab electric locomotive and the similarly colored No. 35 Pullman car and No. 36 observation (both with the late production "500 series" trucks) comprise Lionel set No. 350 offered in 1925 & 1926 with a small oval of track for the grand price of $18.00. Today, these three items would be offered at a train show for around $200 or perhaps more - you do have some condition problems with the newspaper stuck to the car roofs that would need more thorough examination.
The tan (Lionel calls it "Mojave") No. 8 box-cab electric locomotive only came in one freight set, Set No. 353 offered from 1927 to 1930. This set had the No. 8 loco, a No. 511 flat car, the No. 512 gondola you illustrate, and a No. 517 caboose. Assuming you have the other two cars, it would suggest the No. 514R refrigerator car was purchased separately to go with the rest of the set. Similarly, the No. 219 crane car only came in more elaborate sets headed by larger locos than the bottom-of-the-line No. 8, so it too may have been a separate purchase. The loco and three cars you show would be offered for more than $500 at a show.
Your real treasure is the very nice No. 124 station on a clean No. 129 terrace (cataloged together by Lionel as No. 128). The station is a common item, but should sell for around $150 or more. The terrace is much less common, highly sought after, and can get up to low 4-figure prices if it is a Lionel original in excellent condition - but be careful as reproductions have been made. The No. 45 automatic gatemen and the lamp posts are very common items.
None of the human figures, toy cars, or animal figures are Lionel, but all are also collectible and with the number you have, also represent real $$.
Take good care of these trains, and keep the all boxes regardless of their condition. Based on the condition of the trains as they appear in the photos, I would advise against restoring (repainting) any of the items. It is common for the die-cast wheels on the No. 8 locomotives to distort and start to disintegrate with age; Bowser and others make replacement wheels. With good wheels and a thorough cleaning, overhaul, and lubrication, these very durable trains should provide many additional hours of operating pleasure. Hope this helps. Gary Q
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Wow! That was an EXCELENT responce Gary!! You REALLY seem to know your stuff! Wow I never would have thought that station terrace(if lionel...ill have to check) would actualy be worth anything yet alone the best peice in the set! haha! The newspaper that you saw ontop of the cars actualy seems to be coming right off leaving the paint bellow in good condition. The Station Terrance seems to have a few of those gold/brass colored posted's snaped off the fence on it though the actual pieces might all still be in its box as I have already found a few of them in there. Do you think it would be ok to glue the snapped post's from the terrace back on or should they be left off? As you predicted, one of the wheels has started to disintegrate on one of the No. 8 engines but the other engine's wheels looks fine. Im not sure if the original transformer/ control box is still around.. though I did here my grandfather mention it. If the original transformer doesnt work, would a standard modern one work? Thanks ssooo much for your reply! It was much appriciated! -Sam
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Hi Sam, that is one beautiful set - congratulations. What you do now is up to you, but really depends on whether you want to keep and use it, or sell. If you decide to part with it, I would strongly recommend you do not attempt any repairs, or even cleaning. A serious collector would rather the items are 'as found', as restorations are a serious business.

Not a problem - reproductions are available.

Yes, undoubtedly. The controllers are the least valuable part of sets, as there are still so many around, both new and original.
--
Graeme, Scotland

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Thanks for the kind words.

That's great. Do be careful how and where you store these old trains. There is some evidence of rust on some of the pieces, especially on the couplers and trucks which never had a protective layer of paint. Make sure you keep them in a dry environment that is not too hot or cold - avoid uninsulated attics or basement rooms without air conditioning. I avoid wrapping trains in newspaper - the inks will transfer and dirty the trains. I wrap mine in tissue paper if the item is small and light weight, and unprinted newsprint like moving company packers use for larger, heavier items.

I agree with the post from Graeme in Scotland that it would be better to leave it as is if you plan to sell these items. If you plan to keep it as a family heirloom and enjoy it, then I think would could do a careful repair. Remember that lots of these trains were broken and repaired by the young owners. I suggest you visit a local hobby shop and see if they can put you in touch with a Lionel standard gauge collector in your area and seek his/her advice. Especially with the terrace, you should approach any repair like you were a museum curator conserving a relic.

the
I find most old Lionel transformers are still safely useable. Many will need the plug replaced, and the entire 120 volt cord if it is frayed or the rubber insulation has started to harden and crack. To do this, it is best to open the case, unsolder the old cord where it attaches to the transformer windings (usually the ends of the wires are soldered into two eyelets), and attach the new cord in the same manner, and with the same strain-relief knot as it passes out of the case. When you open the transformer, if you see any blackening of parts and detect any of the tell-tale smell of burnt insulation, this indicates the transformer was overheated and is no longer safely useable. If the old one is not useable, a newer one will work fine. I would not buy one of the brand new types intended for digital control, but rather would look for a simple late 1940's vintage used Lionel transformer with at least a 100 Watt rating, and a max output of at least 19 volts (and better 24 volts) like an "R". (Note that Lionel transformers with a "W" as the second letter have a built-in whistle control for later version trains than you have, so you can save money looking for the earlier, simpler type transformers.) These old standard gauge trains are heavy, and draw more current than many newer O gauge trains. If you make a standard gauge layout, you would do well to consider two transformers - one to run the train and a second smaller one for all your accessory street and station lights. Have fun!! Gary Q
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Thanks for all your replies guys! Very informative and just what I was looking for! Im still not sure what is going to happen to them yet, i'll have to talk it over with the family and see what they want to do. I personally would like to see them on a layout running again.. but we'll see! If they do end up on a layout, ill be sure to take some pics so you guys can see them in action! :) -Sam
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Raventy wrote: Recently my grandfather found his Lionel model train stuff from back when he was a boy in the 1920's. Some of the stuff even has its original boxes(though arent in the best of condition) but some of the actual cars and engines and such look to be in pretty decent condition. Anyone know if this stuff is worth anything? or is it something thats not really worth much and should be put with the rest of my model trains on a board? Heres a few pictures of the items(engines, cars, station, ect): http://home.comcast.net/~raventy/trains.html ---------------------------------------------------- Wow! If I had 'em, I'd certainly keep these treasures!
Charles Siegel has an on-line price guide:
http://www.traincity.com/shoppg.html
"Greenberg's Lionel Pocket Price Guide--2006 Edition" will be available soon:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)18967141/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/002-3916456-5101647?v=glance&s=books/billsrailroaempi/
It can be pre-ordered now and there's free shipping on orders over $25.
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad: http://www.billsrailroad.net Brief History of N Scale: http://www.billsrailroad.net/history/n-scale Model Railroad Bookstore: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Resources--Links to 1,100 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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