model train set on track

My Last Alco or “The Rock Island Line is a Mighty Fine Line”

e*Train Issue: Aug 2007   |   Posted in: ,

By Mike Stella

I have long ago reached the point in my collecting where variations, even the smallest of variations, are all that’s left to search out and acquire.  I added my first set of Lionel #2031 Rock Island Alcos way back in 1971 while still on active duty with the U.S. Navy.  They were mint, almost new, and I have displayed them for 35 years!

Decades of collecting have added thousands of Lionel locomotives and I recently added a few final “cheapie” Alcos thanks to eBay to “complete” my collection.  Those variations that exist are on my “nice to have” list and give me a few things to look for at train meets.

Most collectors know that Lionel changed the dies for the early Alcos sometime around 1952 or 1953.  They added a dime sized hump (or a bump) to the roof to help prevent the warping that had occurred in the 1950 models.  This change has created three variations of Alcos (#2031; #2032; & #2033) that can be hard to locate in acceptable conditions.

One more “thank you” to eBay is in order as the last remaining set I needed turned up a short while back.  Mint, almost new, I opted NOT to bid on the Master Carton, sold separately, as I display most of my postwar and all of my locomotives.

The #2031 Rock Island without the roof hump completes my collection of early Lionel Alcos.  There still may be a variation or two of the “cheapie” Alcos I am looking for and if I find one or more, I will submit another article (maybe an update only) to e*Train.

Lionel #2031 from 1953 clearly showing the dime-sized roof hump
Newest addition to my Alco collection is the #2031 from 1952 without the roof hump
A comparison of the #2031 Alco with and without the roof humps