model train set on track

JLM Trains Reproduction of Lionel Standard Gauge #7

e*Train Issue: Jun 2002   |   Posted in:

by Bradley Kaplan

Probably the rarest Lionel production piece is the Standard Gauge Brass #7 with thin rims.  It is also one of the nicest looking pieces Lionel ever made.  If you want to find an original there are two words.  Good Luck.  Lionel Classics made a reproduction back in the late 1980s.  Their reproduction looked nice but was not authentic to the original.  The original piece was not designed for mass production.  With the Lionel Classics version Lionel replaced a lot of the solder joints of the original with folded tab construction which is easier for mass production and that is just one of the many differences.  Good luck even finding the Lionel Classics version.

The most authentic reproduction available of this engine is the Joe Mania version.  You can only purchase the piece directly from Joe.  You may wonder how authentic Joe’s reproduction is.  The engine is literally built from sheet metal.  Everything is made from scratch.  Joe makes the motor from scratch.  Hand winds the armature.  Builds his reverse units.  Builds the wheels for the tender, casts the driver wheels and the list goes on.  Joe custom built his own tools and acquired other tools from James Cohen to make the parts.  Bottom line this engine is 100% authentic to Lionel’s original.

The next question is how does it run.  The answer is it runs just like any early Lionel standard gauge piece runs.  It does not run as smooth as a Lionel 400E does or any Standard Gauge Super Motor or Build-a-motor engine.  Joe builds them just like Lionel did in the early 1900s.  Joe jokes and says he can make the engine run a lot smoother by gearing the 2nd axle, make the motor bigger or for that matter use a can motor.   Just like the original, only one axle is geared and the other axle gets power from the side rod connecting the wheels.  Joe drum winds the armatures instead of wave winding them to be authentic.  (You probably don’t know what this means.  You will have to ask Joe to explain.)  Joes uses $50 in cloth-covered wire to wrap the armature instead of $2 in enamel-covered wire just to be authentic.    The wire makes no difference in the performance of the engine.  It is just an authenticity thing.

On this piece Joe put Lionel’s second type of 10 series trucks.  It has 3 rivets on each side.  He can make the first series but the 2nd series is better looking.  The 2nd series trucks makes this piece a replica from around 1909 or 1910.  There are a couple different options you can choose to customize the engine.  Thick rim or thin rim drivers, headlight type, etc.  Joe also sells the engine as a #6 with a Russian blackened boiler.  He also offers a #5 with an optional tender.  All of these locomotives have the same construction techniques and motor.  Also Joe offers the complete line of early Standard Gauge 10 series freight cars.  In 1910 Lionel dramatically changed the 10 series cars to make them easier for mass production.  The versions before 1910, which Joe makes, are almost impossible to find. 

If you want reproductions of Lionel’s 2 7/8 inch line, you are in luck.  In the same style that Joe makes the reproduction Standard Gauge pieces he also makes the 2 7/8 inch line.  Everything is 100% authentic.

The engine is well worth the money.  You will get a 100% authentic reproduction of Lionel’s rarest locomotive for a fraction of the price.  For ordering details or more information, visit Joe’s web site at  E-mail him at [email protected] or call Joe at (732) 303-8299.