model train set on track

“Live Long and Prosper”- Lionel’s Romulans, Vulcans and Klingons (Switchers)

e*Train Issue: Dec 2015   |   Posted in: ,

By Bob Mintz
(Article updated Spring 2021)

So far, we have covered certain motorized units in past articles:



Maintenance of Way

The remainder of the motorized units to report on include the mobile launchers and the small industrial switchers. The reason that I have included the mobile launchers as part of an article on motorized units is, well, because Lionel did in their catalogs; 1959 page 42 and 1960 page 40 respectively.

According to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania :

“…Large numbers of “Switching” locomotives were built not only for large railroads; they were also found on smaller railroads as the sole motive power.

These are the locomotives that performed the vital tasks of distributing empty cars to industry and similar users, gathering up local cars and moving them to the local railroad yard where they were stored, and assembling them into trains. Switchers were found just about everywhere: large industrial sidings, on dockside tracks at seaports, quarries, mines, steel mills, lumber yards, and everywhere that required a railroad car to be moved.

They varied considerably from “Dinkys” that weighed less than 10 tons, to the large locomotives of the 0-10-2 wheel arrangement built for the Union Railroad weighing 202 tons. However, the 0-4-0 and the 0-6-0 were the most common. They could be a tank locomotive such as the 1251, or with a tender as the Pennsylvania Railroad B6s switcher found elsewhere in the Museum.

The 1251 is an example of a switcher built for special purposes. Its heavy weight, 60 tons, and short length, 28 feet, where part of the specifications needed by the Reading Railroad for a “roundhouse goat”, a switcher used to move “dead” locomotives in an enginehouse or repair area where space was limited and weight very much needed.”

The Lionel “Romulans” were a scale model of an experimental 2-4-2 industrial gas turbine switching engine built for the Army Transportation Corps by the Davenport Locomotive Works; the “Vulcans” were a model of a 30-ton industrial locomotive built by the Vulcan Iron Works and those ever lovin’ war mongering “Klingons” were the Military Mobile Launchers that are capable of firing four photon torpedoes, one at a time, by remote control, even while cloaked!

The frames of the Postwar small switchers are easily interchangeable, but I have developed a down and dirty way to spot a phony. There are many other parts that can be swapped and may or may not be original, such as the brushplate assembly; support braces; window struts; and the support holes in the drawbar of the couplers.

The small switchers with the “H” or “Horn” (The Vulcans) also have “H” or “High” end frames. The switchers with the horn include #41 Army; #42 Picatinny Arsenal; and #59 Minuteman.

The motorized units with the bell (The Romulans) and the short end frames are #51 Navy; #53 Rio Grande Snowplow (both versions); #56 Minneapolis & St. Louis; #57 AEC; and #58 Great Northern Rotary Snowplow

So far, all of the above have been reproduced as part of the Postwar Celebration Series except a backwards “A” Rio Grande snowplow. Why is anyone’s guess.


#41 Army

#42 Picatinny Arsenal

#44 U.S. Army Mobile Launcher –available separately or as part of Super “O” #2527 Missile Launcher Outfit

#45 U.S. Marines Mobile Launcher –available separately or as part of No. 1805 Land-Sea and Air Gift Pack and No. 12512 “Enforcer” Gift Pack

#59 Minuteman

#51 Navy

#56 Minneapolis & St. Louis

#57 AEC


18456 “#59” Minuteman

18462 US Army “#44” Missile Launcher –from #21788 Missile Launch Set

18474 “41” Army

18479 “45” Missile Launcher –from #31708 U.S. #1805 Land-Sea-Air Marines Missile Launch Set

18583 “57” AEC

18487 #56 Minneapolis & St. Louis Mine Transport

28405 Picatinny Arsenal

28411 U.S. Army Missile Launcher Locomotive “99”

28424 PWC #51 Navy Switcher

18428 US Army Switcher (Not Manufactured) – Author’s Interpretation

The Modern era has included other small switchers that share the same basic shell, but a few are lacking any metal frames either on the side or ends, have a cheap plastic feel, plastic bells, fixed couplers, plastic ladders, plastic e-unit switch near the cab rather a metal lever on the engine shroud, and no lights or side rods whatsoever. Some were in sets only, not available as a separate sale item and used DC power only, but could be adapted to work with AC using a rectifier.

DC Only:

8161 Laser –from #1150 L.A.S.E.R. Train

8350 US Steel –from #1380 US Steel Industrial

8377 Commando Assault –from #1355 Commando Assault

8670 Chessie System –from #1660 Yard Boss

8769 Republic Steel –from #1760 Steel Hauler

18900 Pennsylvania “8900” — from the #11708 Midnight Shift


8368 Alaska Vulcan Switcher

18515 Lionel Steel “57” Vulcan Switcher –from 1996 SERVICE STATION SET X1142 11912

18910 CSX “8910”

18911 Union Pacific “8911”

18912 Amtrak “8912”

18924 Illinois Central “8924”

18925 Denver & Rio Grande “8925”

18926 Reading “8926”

18930 Crayola –from #11813 Crayola Activity

28432 Bethlehem Steel Switcher

58515 LCCA 2012 Convention early registration gift-Norfolk Southern Vulcan diesel locomotive

58528 LCCA Reading Coal Vulcan diesel switcher, part of the Lou Caponi Signature Edition Coal Train Set # 58532

58545 LCCA 2012 Convention Gold Banquet Car- Norfolk Southern Vulcan diesel locomotive

58527 LCCA 2013 Registration Locomotive

81677 Dinosaur Plymouth Switcher from 81031 Lionel Junction Dinosaur Diesel LionChief Set

81411 Pet Shop Vulcan Switcher Set Loco from 81288 Lionel Junction Pet Shop Diesel LionChief Set

81545 Operation Eagle Missile Launcher Car NOT MANUFACTERED

82330 U.S.A.F. Minuteman Missile Launcher Car NOT MANUFACTURED

83697 NYC LionChief Plus A5 0-4-0 Diesel #563 from 83696 Lionel Junction “NYC Pacemaker” Diesel Set

82973 PRR LionChief Plus A5 0-4-0 #9431 from 82972 Lionel Junction Pennsylvania Diesel Ready-to-Run LionChiefSet

John Trotta, custom painter of the mint car series fame, also made a switcher in the New York and Atlantic Railway scheme. The New York & Atlantic Railway began operation in May 1997 of the privatized concession to operate freight trains on the lines owned by the Long Island Rail Road.

Concept Switcher

(Author’s Note: image courtesy Robert (Bob) Osterhoff from [email protected] [RED HALL]

Per Bob: “Several years ago I obtained the archives of Lionel artwork from the estate of Hank Makowski, the Advertising Manager and later consultant to Lionel from the early 1970s until 1999. I went through a few hundred of his drawings from about 1991-1995. It should be noted that concept drawings, which this is, are in the early stages and do not have any product number. In most cases they did not have identifiable products. This drawing is then taken to the next stage at Lionel to approve or disapprove and turned into final artwork for the catalog.”