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Lionel 381E Locomotive

Note: I have upgraded this engine with the 381E that came with the North Woods set (see State sets). The loco below came from a California collection of the 1950's (yes 50's) -- long before any repro parts were available. It was all original including the headlight castings It is still all original except for the four Bild-a-Loco drive wheels -- the originals had swollen beyond use. The wheels in the pony trucks are originals.

One of the loco's original pantographs has been soldered at the base where they usually break -- the other is perfect (nice original pantographs are not often seen). Both pantographs must be down if you use a Hellgate bridge -- the first owner likely found this out the hard way. The motor runs like a top, and the original pendulum reverse unit works fine. The pony truck wheels are original, and the original diecast, sprung journal boxes still move up and down freely.

This was the largest and heaviest locomotive that Lionel ever made -- top-of-the-line.

Here are shots of the two noses. Two of the original Green, acetate flags are still on the four end flag poles (you see few  original flags) In real life, electric overhead locos ran on one pantograph -- the rear one -- so that if a mishap in the catenary wire occurred, the loco could coast through and the front pantograph would not carry away the rear one. So the two flags are on the end with the soldered pantograph. The rear pantograph is raised in the photos.

This side of the loco is Ex++ with one roof ding apparent to the close observer -- see photos below. The bright spots are flash reflections -- I am not much of a photographer.

The other side of the locomotive shows one of the few areas that got scratched -- see the right hood in the photo.

Here are various angle shots of the loco -- this is the working pantograph -- what I have designated as the rear. The trim has never been taken off of this loco and the handrail stanchions appear to be all original.

Here is the front end -- the headlight housings are original -- the pantograph is soldered down. Because of the internal "Light bar", the pantographs are very difficult to replace. The loco is fine like this since the front pantograph should always be down in any case. Note the original acetate flags.

Here is the other side of the "rear" end. This pantograph works fine -- up or latched down.

Here is the other side of the "front" end. Ignore the flash reflection -- the original paint is perfect there. See the vertical hinges on the access doors -- the only material scratches on this loco are those you see between hinges two and four. Look at that original headlight -- on repros the Red and Green rectangles on their castings are smaller in size.

Here is the top of the cab -- there is one noticeable nick and one ding. The ding is slight and still has all of its paint and could probably be removed. The rest of the "Special Green" paint is beautiful. Unfortunately, 25 years ago, the TCA book with its color paint chart perpetually screwed up pre-war color names by using collector vernacular rather than factory names. See below:
Item  Collector       Lionel     Lionel
Number  Name      Name   Meant
381E State Green Spec. Green Special Green
408E Apple Green P. Green Pea Green
9E Girard Green Apple Apple Green
215 Pea Green L. Green Light Green
216 Dark Green D. Green Dark Green



Here the sub frame is removed (two screws). You can see the auto-connect Bild-a-Loco "light bar" and the two large Black weights at either side.

Here is a shot looking left with the motor removed (just revolve the two Bild-a-Loco sliding clips and it drops out). The large Black object inside the body is a weight. The pony wheels are original. The two large nickel screws you see (top and bottom center) are how you remove the Black running gear from the "Apple Green" subframe.

Looking right, here's the other weight. This is a heavy locomotive.

Remove two screws and the running gear comes off. The Bild-a-Loco brass pickup plate is a beauty.

The motor is super clean and looks low mileage. The canvas on the side of the motor contains the "printed circuit" for the pendulum reverse unit which still works just fine.

The brass reverse unit is still bright.

Here is the running gear in action. That is original Lionel roadbed. The scratched areas are where the pilot trucks swing under the Apple Green subframe. They are not visible when the loco is assembled. 


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