The 45 Gateman, Re-examining the Most Popular Accessory
by Bradley Kaplan
From 1935 onward Lionel has been cataloging the 45 Gateman. Variation collectors can go crazy collecting the different versions. The earliest version had a lattices sign post derived from Lionel’s early telephone poles. Articles have been and will continue to be written about the variations to this piece.
Lionel has even made Loony Tune versions of the gateman in recent years. No matter if the gatemen was made before WWII or today they all function the same way. The train runs over a special track section and a solenoid launches the man out of the gatehouse. It is a very simple accessory and very popular. There is the famous “Boris The Gateman,” the Russian copy of this accessory.
The gateman himself is massive in size. He is too big for O-gauge layouts and even too big for standard gauge yet this out of proportion accessory should be on every Lionel layout. This is the accessory that says “Lionel.” When people reminisce about childhood layouts, they always seem to to mention their gateman.
Maintenance wise it is a very simple accessory. Nothing can really go wrong. The accessory is very cheap.
Often you see destroy versions of this accessory sitting in junk piles for $5-$10. It would be a fun project to restore the piece, but after you add up the amount of money in parts need to make it work it seems like a better idea to buy a working model and tackling a different project.
The piece in the photograph, a pre-war version from approximately 1937, (pre-war sheet metal versions have a chimney while their post war versions do not) was picked up for $35. Like New versions with the box go for around $125.
Want to see the gateman in action. Enjoy this video clip!