model train set on track

PART 1: “NOT EXACTLY”—6464 Picture vs. Production

e*Train Issue: May 2012   |   Posted in: ,

6464-825 Alaska that most likely took an acid bath

By Bob Mintz

(Updated Spring 2012)

Like the Hertz (rental cars; not Louis) TV commercial states, “there is the item, and there is NOT EXACTLY !”

The more that I look at the Postwar Lionel catalogs, the further I find that there were times that the assembled model issued was, well, “not exactly” the same as the drawing in the catalog, and this after reviewing them for over 40 years. It is almost like the kid magazine, “Highlights for Children”, where we were given an image and asked “What’s wrong with this picture?” Close…but no cupie doll!

There seems to be an almost endless array of things that I never noticed the previous time I thumbed through the pages.

For example, the No. 3424 Wabash Operating brakeman car did have a variation; a total white; or blue and white colored figure. But to the best of my belief and knowledge, it never had an orange door, only a white one. As you can see from the image– artist’s embellishment; change of plans; or incorrect copy (sloppy copy); something caused the final product to be slightly or entirely varied than the printed page.

These differences were most apparent with regard to our favorite boxcars, the Postwar 6464 series.

Most changes were to the coloring of the boxcar itself; the font size; the number of the car; the use of dashes in the number; the use of just the 6464 number; placement or coloring of the lettering; or the background colors of the emblems or heralds.

This was fairly easier to spot in the catalogs from 1953-1962, as these were full four color offerings, while the years 1963-1965 were three color (black, white with shades of light shades of red (pink in appearance) in ’63; and black, white with a light blue background in ’64-’65). The years 1966, 1968 and 1969 were actual photographs of the item. [remember, there was no catalog issued for 1967].

The 1953 catalog even states on page 26 that the four different roads produced in that inaugural year (WP-1; M&StL-50; GN-25; RI-75—this was Lionel’s order, not mine) were 11” long, although subsequent years the acknowledged length is only 10 ½ inches and refers to these items as “Scale-Modelled Box Car” in 1953 and 1954 in the copy for the individual sets. But again in 1966 and 1968, their size grew again to 11 inches, but shrunk back down to 10 ½ inches in 1969.

The 1953 catalog does answer one question, but creates yet another. It would appear that Lionel had plans to make a series of cars using the 6464 moniker, but if you look at the heralds of other railroads and manufacturers printed and shown on this page, one may question why the original completed series of 29 (in this pre-trademark infringement days) did not ever include the Erie; Union Pacific, Delaware, Lackawanna & Western; Norfolk & Western; Chesapeake & Ohio; Lackawanna; and Lehigh Valley railroads, and neither GM or ALCO; while Timken was given a place of honor on the manufacturers side.

Baltimore & Ohio; Great Northern, Minneapolis & St. Louis; Missouri, Kansas & Texas; New Haven; New York Central, Rock Island, and Western Pacific all had multiple issues in the Postwar 6464 production series.

A second thought may be drawn as to why Lionel did not use their own No. 950 U.S. Railroad map (shown in the 1958-62 catalogs) as a guide, which had the heralds of the major railroads of that time.

As I started to write this article, I found that there were some common differences, so I have decided to display them in a matrix format, and used a spreadsheet to show them, rather than mention them individually. I scanned the catalogs into my computer at a very high resolution so I was able to uncover mistakes that could not normally be seen with the naked eye, and only upon super magnification. Some of the differences are minor, while others are totally surprising. See if you can find any others that I may have missed.

The most bizarre examples of “NOT EXACTLY” were the 6464-50 M & St L in lime green in the 1953 catalog page 15;

Rock Island 6464-75 in the 1953 page 17 catalog showing the number “53000”;

and the entire New Haven 6464-725 product line where Lionel just could not seem to get their act together with regards to this item at all, misnumbering this item continuously “6464-735” and even “6484” ,

as well as issuing it in both orange and black versions. By 1966, I think that they were so confused, that they just named it “6464”. All of the errors in the numbering and description are shown in Part 2 of this article in the second spreadsheet.

The black version was supposed to be a reissue of 6464-425, but somehow got numbered 6464-725.

The common 6464-100 comes in silver with a yellow feather, but was never shown that way in any catalog, although it is shown twice in the 1954 catalog and once in 1955 in an orange scheme with either a gray, what appears to be white and then a blue feather. The 2 nd issue (6464-250) of the Western Pacific’s roadname used the incorrect 1 st issue’s catalog image of orange with a blue feather.

Then there is the same color door girl’s set boxcars shown in the 1958 catalog. As far as I know, this was never manufactured this way, each color had the other door’s color.

I suppose that the Lionel copy people did not hold the numbers 6464 in as high regard as we collectors do, as the 1957 page 43 catalog has the NEW “644” B&O boxcar.

It must have been another late night at the office getting the 1958 catalog out, as page 29 shows the NEW “6464-425” New Haven boxcar, although the image clearly shows “6464-475”.

When researching this article, there was, however, one factoid I discovered regarding the production 6464 cars that I had never noticed before. Although the cars themselves either included the numbers “6464” or “6464XXX”, none of them were manufactured using their real corresponding catalog number, in other words, using the “dash”, except the 6464-700 Santa Fe . See, you learn something new everyday.

(Editor’s/author’s note: Sometimes the reproduced image for this article was in the middle of two pages of the Lionel catalog, i.e., some copy may be missing; there were other items covering parts of the image, and therefore, the photo may be inconclusive as to other potential differences. I have tried to piece the two together the best that I could using MintzMagic©. The original artwork must be long gone by now.)


PART 2: “Exactly”—Repro Man

There also exist prototypes, test samples, one or few of a kind production that the general collector will most likely never own, or see in person, for that matter.

Bobby Salerno, aka RGS Limited Editions, has recreated some of these 6464 boxcars as they should or would have been made, straight from these very catalogs. Other times, he reproduced a known prototype or rare or unusual variation, and better still, in a matter of sheer whimsy, created his own versions, all of which I will now share with you.

RGS Limited Editions
184 North Main Street
Old Forge , PA 18518
Voice: 570-457-6805
Fax: 570-457-6814
Cell: 570-862-2179
Email: [email protected]

(The spreadsheet contains active links from the catalog number to it’s photo. If you want to view the photo in it’s actual size, your browser has to have “Enable Auto Image Resizing ” unchecked. You find this under Tools-Internet Options-Advanced-Multimedia- Enable Auto Image Resizing.)