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Standard Gauge

Note: This is a hobby website, not a list of items for sale. But we certainly buy trains and pay well for nice pieces.

In 1906, Lionel introduced a system of electric toy trains that ran on three-rail track. The two outside rails were 2 1/8" apart -- the center rail was the electrically "hot" one. This was a new gauge and incompatible with the 0, 1 and 2 gauge track used by other manufacturers. Standard Gauge (SG) was adopted by the other American manufacturers, and some SG outfits and track were made by Marklin and Bing of Germany. They called it "Wide Gauge" or "2 1/4 Gauge"  as Lionel had trademarked "Standard Gauge". The extra 1/8" is measuring to the center of the rails rather than between them.

The first truly sectional toy train track was introduced by Marklin in 1894. The rails were 1 3/4" apart. When Marklin introduced a larger gauge (2 inches even), the first became known as No. 1 gauge, the second as No. 2 gauge. When they introduced a smaller size (1 1/4"), Marklin called it No. 0 (zero) gauge. This is what we know as O (Oh) Gauge today. When Marklin introduced smaller yet trains (5/8") they called it 00 gauge. This is what is known as HO today (Half O).

Notes      Click a link below
I bought a Julia Morgan house in Alameda, CA, largely for its 1,100 square foot redwood attic. See www.1901Central.com It now has a large Standard Gauge layout. Click the link to the right. Attic Layout
In 1929, Lionel introduced passenger cars that were massive and detailed. They were named California, Colorado, Illinois, and New York. So collectors call them State Sets. State Sets
Here is a very rare locomotive. State Green 408E Loco
This was the top-of-the-line Lionel locomotive in the late 1920's. It was the heaviest they ever made. 381E
Here are the top-of-the-line Lionel passenger sets for 1927-28. 408E Sets
During late 1933 and thru 1934, Lionel painted the copper-trim 400E in a Dark Gunmetal color. Copper Journals
For 15 years I was Tom Sefton's beard and toy train curator. Tommy's Trains
Vintage photos of a high-end Lionel Standard Gauge layout. Bill's Trains
Some Dark Green Trains
This was a popular color with Lionel and used on many locos, cars, and accessories throughout the classic era. Dark Green 9 Loco
Here are three large passenger cars that came with the Dark Green 9 loco. One rare diner in this color exists. 428-429-430 Cars
Collectors have a misconception about this 380E with heavy weights. It headed the Work Train, not a passenger set! Dark Green 380E Loco
To my knowledge, here is the first ever, documented Department Store Special from San Francisco. My home town. Dark Green 380 DSS
Some Nickel Trim Items
From 1935-1939, Lionel tried to make their line look new by brightening up the colors. Here are the freight cars. Nickel 200-series
In the waning days of Standard Gauge, Lionel produced some items that are scarce today. Nickel-era 120L
Contrary to Caryl Pettijohn's fine series of articles on 200-series cars, copper journals were not used until 1931. In 1930, journals were still nickel -- the simplest proof is to ask if anyone has ever seen a 390X with copper journals? The 390X tender was only sold in 1930 with a 390E work train -- the X indicates a tender with 200-series trucks and an offset drawbar to hook to the shorter 390E.
1930 work train found in an attic. All nickel journals.   358E Set
Caryl's opinion is based on the fact that 220 Floodlight cars were introduced in 1931 and they all have copper journals. My opinion: 220's were a new car likely made near the end of the 1931 production run. 
In 1973, I stumbled into something that few collectors ever experience. This page also has some comments on variations. Overview
Before introducing Standard Gauge, Lionel made primitive trains from 1900-1905 in 2 7/8" gauge. These are quite scarce today. 2 7/8" track

To see my background, click Sefton's Trains

Jerry Wagner
San Francisco
TCA 74-6574

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