In Answer To The “6464 Thousand Thousand Dollar Dollar Question Question”
By Bob Mintz
(Chart updated Summer 2022)
- See the updated 6464 Boxcar Updated Chart.
Photo above is the first of a project now starting to re-photograph the images in this series. Digital processing and LED lighting, used with modern software, will produce clearer photos for train collectors to use for reference. The linked Chart provides direct access to large images of the full 6464 series.
Exactly how many 6464 Lionel boxcars are there?
This is not answered as easily as one would think. There were several versions of the 6464 series. Obviously, the most well known is the Postwar era which we will acknowledge as the period 1945-1969, a scant 25 years.
If you think about it, we seem to drool over the Postwar period, but the Modern Era is now into its’ 33rd year!
There were 29 major different numbered items to this original series and 2 major color variations for a grand total of 31, excluding any variations of year made or built dates, prototypes, factory samples, body and door types, door coloring, slight body color differences, half or full serifs, additional or deleted text, placement and color of decals and words, decal types, and original body color.
What makes this whole series so confusing, is that sometimes the Lionel catalog number is specifically shown on the boxcar such as 6464-100 (both major color versions) 6464-125; 6464-150; 6464-225; 6464-250; 6464-275; 6464-300; 6464-325; 6464-350; 6464-375; 6464-400; 6464-425; 6464-450; 6464-475; 6464-500; 6464-510; 6464-515; 6464-525; 6464-650; 6464-700; 6464-725 (both major color versions); 6464-825 & 6464-900.
The question I have is the definition of a 6464 car. Besides the Archive Series, there have been a series of 10 tri-pack remakes of the Postwar version 6464 cars. In addition to this, there were pieces “forgot about” within these 30 boxcars, #39296 representing 6464-250.
The “Archive Series” used both the well known 6464 designations if the car was a different color scheme than the original (6464-900), but other times if it was a non-issued prototype, then the designation was multiples of 4 (2 versions) or 7 (2 versions) zeros (“0000” & “0000000“) or just “6464” (2 versions). There were several “new” 6464 designations such as “6464-550“; “6464-575“; “6464-600“; “6464-625“; & “6464-775“.
The original Postwar 6464 series in the mid 1950s to 1969, obviously way before the advent of small computers for businesses, had, as was previously discussed, had 29 different model numbers. This is not to be confused with the current SKU numbers scanned by barcode readers used today. SKU stands for Stock Keeping Unit and is a number associated with a product for inventory purposes. This number is used to identify an individual product. Because of this, each product must have a SKU, and each SKU must be unique.
The eras become a little fuzzy between the 1995 Lionel Trains Inc. (LTI) and the 1996 Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), as some production pieces may have been contracted for during the Kughn reign but were actually manufactured by Wellspring Associates.
One important addition is necessary to explain in the Modern Era though.
The 1996 Lionel Railroader Club (LRRC) boxcar (#29200) was supposed to be a 6464 boxcar modeled after the 1996 Toy Fair Boxcar (#19947), but the “9700” number of this item was never changed to “6464”, as was advertised in the LRRC Spring 1996 publication “Inside Track”. When notified by disgruntled collectors galore, Lionel LLC offered to either exchange it for the correct car (#19953), or make arrangements for the additional purchase of the originally promoted version.
I have also included the LCCA self named “19-2002” on site convention car version, custom decorated by Weaver Products, because the LCCA (L=12th letter in the alphabet + C=3rd + C=3rd + A=1st for those real rivet counter types) is a major train club; according to former LCCA President Al Otten (who courteously offered to loan his to me for this article), they did not want Richard Maddox finding out about the honor that they were to be bestowing upon him by having Lionel LLC do this piece; most collectors who did not attend this convention would be totally unaware of this item; the artwork was done by our favorite resident toy train artist Angela Trotta Thomas; it will be cataloged as such in the next Tom McComas guide; and most importantly, a plug for Dennis Clad who steered me to a fellow editor, LCCA “The Lion Roars” ironman Bill Schmeelk who was gracious enough to sell this piece to me.
Just to add a wee bit more intrigue into this article, several of us who belonged to the Lionel Century Club #1 discovered, for better or worse, that the outer shipping container of both the #29204 Century Club 1 Boxcar “1900-2000” and #29248 Century Club 1 F3 NYC Boxcar “2333” mentioned “6464” in the description. For arguments sake, I have not included either of these in the chart as I do not believe that either were ever intended to be 6464 cars in the strict sense and it was the shipper’s embellishment.
Because of the sheer volume of images and how it would adversely affect loading of this web page, we have decided not to have the smaller thumbnail images on this page. Just double-click on the model/SKU number for a full size photograph of each item.
A future article on the special 1967 12th TCA National Convention 6464 “brass door” cars will be published sometime down the pike.
Click Here for the complete 6464 Boxcar Chart with links to the Boxcar Photos, updated as necessary.
A new TCA member inquired about 52221 TCA 6464 Norfolk Southern boxcar which was uncataloged and produced in 2001.
I immediately panicked and consulted eBay for images and also contacted resident TCA specialty car expert Chris Allen.
After reviewing the images, I concluded that the reason that I had not previously included this item is because other than the box, there is absolutely no mention of the numbers “6464” on the boxcar itself.
The only items in my article that did not include the “6464” moniker were specifically identified as a modern Lionel issue of previous Postwar 6464 Archive items which had variations of the number zero.
Per Chris Allen:
“I agree with Bob on this. Although the box might be marked 6464, nowhere in the advertising or ordering info that I have able to find at the TCA National Business Office indicates this was meant to be a 6464. It appears to be a Lionel factory issue rather than TCA’s. Not going too hard core on this but the rivet pattern does not appear to be of any of the four common types found on 6464’s, so the 6-52221 appears to be from a new mold and not a true 6464.
“I’ve included a few notes from the 2001 TCA advertising and none of it indicates that we (TCA) were trying to pass this off as a 6464.”
Readers may also consult the old 2001 Convention Car Order Form
which Chris also provided.
2021 Lionel O Western Pacific “As Cataloged” with black lettering and silver/gray feather
A close examination of page 34 of the 1955 Lionel catalog as seen below would show the Orange with Blue Feather 6464-100 Western Pacific Box Car:
At first glance, this appears pretty much like the factory production.
“Upon further review” and more careful examination, the catalog image on the left of the door lacks the words “NEW 3-54” and “SHOCK PROTECTED SHIPMENT” while both of these writings exist on the production version.
Further, the Western Pacific logo on the right side of the door is of an indeterminable color while in the actual model it is blue.
There are 3 words of text below that logo in rows 7-9 rather than the two words “CUSHION UNDERFRAME” that exists in the manufactured version.
There are 4 full rows of rivets to the right side of the door in the catalog versus only 3 on the factory produced adaptation.
And finally, under the word “UNDERFRAME” there appears to be one word of text (perhaps “BUILT”) and below it two words (perhaps “BY LIONEL) , while the production model says “BUILT BY” and below that the word “LIONEL”
There are some further differences such as the length of the blue feather extending over “T” in WESTERN” vs. over the “W” in the factory issue.
But let’s put this freight train in reverse one year to page 33 in 1954, the same year that both TCA and your humble author were “Organized.”
Although the catalog in both years shows an orange boxcar, this one shows a white or gray feather vs. the distinctly blue one; the lettering is black vs. the shop produced white; this also lacks the “NEW 3-54”; the emblem is black vs. blue; we can now specifically read three columns of “CUSHION UNDER FRAME” vs. CUSHION UNDERFRAME” and indecipherable text under the word “FRAME.”
We have all heard of the 6464-300 Solid Shield Rutland, the 1959 catalog Page 28 has a solid shield Eskimo with fully filled-in white highlighting rather than with a yellow outline as shown above.
The 1960 catalog Page 8 has a solid shield Eskimo with yellow highlighting instead of a factory produced yellow outline.
At the 2004 TCA convention in Pittsburgh, I even witnessed a 6464-825 with all white lettering, most likely the result of an acid bath.
Lionel always offered their Alaska Railroad items in traditional blue with yellow graphics, with one exception.
Although the 1959 catalog page 5 shows the “6162-50” Gondola in what appears to be orange with white lettering, the actual factory version was made in a striking yellow with dark blue graphics and had the number “6162-60 on the car sides.
Image courtesy of and used with permission by Dave Boehm from www.davestrains.com
The regular Postwar 6464-825 was cataloged in 1959-1960. There are a few interesting oddities about this particular item, specifically catalog versus production.
Alaska 6464-825 Yellow Roof/Ends/Doors
Lionel Made in USA Alaska 6464-825 Boxcar. This car features a unique paint scheme with traditional Blue Sides with yellow graphics, but on a yellow shell with yellow roof and ends. Note, this car has yellow doors, not blue as the METCA website shows. (above is a photo of the actual item). Exclusive item to METCA. Limited quantity already. This car (2101381) is already in stock. Features Die Cast Sprung Trucks, metal frame, and metal brake wheel.
In the Postwar era, Lionel rarely produced their 6464 boxcars with graphics that were shown in their catalogs. This resulted in a lot of neat 6464 cars that were never produced. In support of the TCA Endowment Fund, the TCA is now offering never before produced “as cataloged” versions of some of the most popular 6464 boxcars.
The 6464-325 Baltimore & Ohio car was cataloged with “Sentinel” at the top of the car and “Baltimore & Ohio” in the middle of the car, the opposite of how it was ultimately made (the cataloged blue was much darker also).
The 6464-225 Southern Pacific boxcar was cataloged with “Southern Pacific” spelled out and with solid fill graphics while the actual production piece featured “S.P.” lettering and outline only graphics.
NOW SEE THESE ITEMS WHICH ARE FOR TCA MEMBERS ONLY. MEMBERS MAY LOG IN AND ORDER IT: Ordering ends June 30, 2021.
A HERITAGE CAR FUNDS TCA’S HERITAGE
For the first time ever, the TCA is offering this catalog-inspired version exclusively to its members in support of the Endowment Fund—preserving the future of TCA. Like the postwar original, this O Gauge car will be “Made in the USA” with features as shown in the images above.
Online ordering is available now at the link above, where additional details may be viewed. All orders must be received by TCA by June 30th, 2021, with delivery anticipated by the end of 2021. Mail-in ordering instructions will be available in the May National Headquarters News.
Click Here for the complete 6464 Boxcar Chart
with links to their large photos, updated regularly.