model train set on track

Lionel Control Towers

e*Train Issue: Jan 2022   |   Posted in: , ,

By Bill Meyer, TCA #70-2993 and Bob Mintz, TCA #92-35064 Updated Winter 2022

The green superstructure was a thoroughly detailed lattice work which shared the mold of the No. 197 Rotating radar antenna and No. 175 Rocket launcher, and had a yellow tower and gray base.  Like these other two accessories, it had an insert for a whip antenna, but is not known to come that way even though the 1959 catalog copy shows it that way.

This was the only tower version to contain orange lettering, and the orange stairs and ladder were unique in that all subsequent versions were red only.  A rotating anemometer on top indicated the wind speed and although a weather vane was also included, this particular feature was not mentioned in either Postwar catalog.  The roof was usually on the rough side with a short smoke stack, and also had a directional arrow and “N” on it to direct the Lionelville Air Force back to their not so secret base.

As mentioned in the Postwar catalog, it is 10” high and the base is 4” x 3”, and this accessory originally sold for $9.95 and ran again in 1960.  The 1999 Vol. 2 catalog said that it was 11” in height and the 2003 version had posted dimensions of 5” x 5” x 11”.

The No. 192 Railroad Control Tower was “NEW” for 1959, and was advertised as a replica of those used in huge railroad yards.  Two men busily “walk” around the illuminated control room powered by the Lionel “Vibrator” mechanism

This version is very hard to find in good condition since the heat of the bulb usually warped the roof.  It is a great idea to line the roof with tin foil to help dissipate the heat generated by the bulb.  It also came with four rubber grommets to be inserted on the bottom of the base to help prevent cracking of the plastic if the unit was to be screwed down into a train board.

You could only power on this accessory with both the light on and the men rotating.

No. 2318 version by Lionel MPC (1983-4) had two variations; a red roof that was Mexican production and the other a maroon roof to indicate Mt. Clemens production.

Neither this version nor the original had a heat shield above the light bulb and this one usually suffered the same fate as its predecessor.  It had a yellow tower with black superstructure and a gray base.

The 1987 LTI version No. 12702 included a circular heat shield and had a gray superstructure and red tower and Lionel lettering.  The bottom of the charcoal base had the wording “controle” misspelled, reminiscent of the Postwar Rio Grande snowplow motorized unit.

No. 12878 LTI version, which debuted in 1995, had the word “control” on the bottom of the base spelled correctly.  It was basically a remake of its immediate precursor with the exception of a charcoal superstructure instead of gray.

Not to be outdone, Lionel LLC built a 1999 version, No. 32988 aka #192R.  This edition contained three terminal (fahnstock) clips (unlike the usual two) on the bottom of the base and three rods running up inside the tower, although the 1999 Volume 2 catalog showed only two.

This and the subsequent edition allowed you to keep the light on (or off—why you would want to do this is anyone’s guess!) and operate the men separately by some sort of switch, relay or insulated track; or you could have both the light and men operating simultaneously like the older versions.

Although the 1999 Volume 2 catalog does not show one at all, there is even a new tall smokestack on the roof and this heat shield covers the entire inside of the ceiling, versus none or a circular one in the older models.  To replace the bulb in this version you must remove the anemometer from the post on the roof of the tower.  Lionel has done their homework in this revision of an old favorite at an equally affordable price.

The Lionel catalog 2003 Volume 2 showed the No. 24153 tower also without a smokestack, although it did eventually come with one, albeit a white one versus all previous ones being gray; and again incorrectly showed two rods as compared to the actual production run of three.

Lionel re-issued 24153 in 2009.  There are a significant number of differences between this one and the one issued in 2003.

The superstructure has gone from charcoal to black.  The protective banister on the top level and roof has changed from charcoal to gray.  The lettering went from red to white.  The anemometer and weathervane have gone from white to gray.  The wire from the bulb was feed through a hole in metal arm supporting the bulb assembly in the 2003 version, but the wiring for the bulb in 2009 exits through the rear and avoids the hole in the metal bracket altogether.

The 2012 Signature Edition Vol. 1 catalogue included a classic favorite with the No. 37996.  Color-wise and structurally, it appears to be basically the same as the original issue No. 192 produced in 1959 and 1960, except that the motor housing for this edition under the tower is rectangular instead of round, the word “LIONEL” is white instead of orange, and there are three connection clips (technical name: FAHNSTOCK) instead of two.  The inside looks identical, but it appears to me that one of the men has a cell phone attached to his pant belt and the other has a IPad tucked under his arm.

Lionel Volume 2 Catalog 2014:

Plug-n-Play Accessory No. 82104. Connects easily to FasTrack with a Plug-n-Play Lock-on (sold separately).
Connects to a traditional O/ O27 track lock-on or to an accessory power supply (lock-on and power supply sold separately).

Can be upgraded to command control with the purchase of a SC-2 Switch Controller or an ASC2 (both sold separately).

Lionel Volume 1 Catalog 2020:

No. 2029200. Keep a lookout over Area 51 with our Area 51 Tower!

  • Figures move inside tower
  • Anemometer rotates on roof
  • Interior lighting
  • Powerful maintenance-free motor

Lionel Volume 1 Catalog 2020:

No. 2029210. Grow your Christmas layout with our Santa Tracker Command Tower!

  • Figures move inside tower
  • Anemometer rotates on roof
  • Interior lighting
  • Powerful maintenance-free motor

Lionel Volume 2 Catalog 2021: No. 2229040 NASA Mission Control Tower 

This mission control tower is up and running, and ready for take-off! A great compliment to our Space Exploration LionChief Set, this Mission Control Tower is the perfect addition to your layout.

  • Figures move inside tower
  • Anemometer rotates on roof
  • Interior LED lighting
  • Powerful maintenance-free motor 
  • Includes On/Off momentary switch
  • Dimensions: 5” x 5” x 11”