Built By Lionel
By Mike Stella
Almost 50 years ago the wise men at Lionel continued their quest to find less expensive ways to build their trains and the consumer was soon treated to the “cheapened” versions of the 0-27 Alcos and the NW-2 Switchers. The very first switcher produced with the new sheet metal frame, lacking the individual wire handrails, and powered by a laminated motor was the Red #600 MKT. Offered for about $13.95 or in a set for around $19.95 you can certainly agree that Lionel achieved the objective of a less expensive beginning diesel locomotive.
Most collectors are aware that early versions, possibly the very first run, were mounted on a gray frame with yellow painted handrails. It is often concluded that these were shipped mostly to the West as shipping took longer and the East had to wait for second runs. More knowledgeable collectors are also aware that the yellow handrails disappeared before the gray frames creating a third variation to locate. Few collectors are aware that the very first #600’s were produced with the molded builder’s plate painted silver.
So few of these were made that many collectors have never seen or even heard of this variation and to date it has failed to be listed in any collector’s guide? This particular locomotive showed up a few years ago in the train department of a friends hobby shop carried in a box with the three set freight cars, about 12 pieces of track, and a small transformer. While not as glamorous as many Lionel collectibles it is far rarer then most of them.
This rare #600 MKT will be available for YOU TO VIEW at the upcoming 2003 National TCA Convention in Ontario (California). It may be your only chance.