431 Hinged Roof Diner
By Bradley Kaplan
From 1923 until 1930 (when the State Set was released), the 418
series cars were the top of the line passenger cars from Lionel.
The 418 series car were cataloged until 1932.
There where 3 main cars in the 418 set: a combo car, a pullman
and an observation. The 3 cars where sold in sets powered by either
the 402, 402e, 408e or the #9. The cars came with a couple different
numbers, different truck variations and different colors. An add
on car was also sold for the set. This add on car was the diner.
The regular set was very expensive at the time it was sold so
not many people bought the add on car.
Some very expensive sets with the 418 series cars had the dining
car cataloged with them, but this was rare.
The diner cars where numbered 431. The must common version of
the 418 cars is the 418 pullman and they are plentiful as standard
gauge cars go.
The 431s are very rare and demand a decent price even in good
condition. People will find a beat up 431 and restore it to match
their 418 set. For every twenty 418 sets you see you may find
one 431 diner car.
Then there is a very rare version of the already rare 431 diner.
This rare version has a hinged roof. Normally 418 series cars
and the 431 diner come with roofs that are detached by removing
2 thumb screws from their top. Then the owner can look inside
and see chairs and inside decorations of the car.
After detaching the roof on a regular 418 series car one would
simply lay the roof next to the car. Obviously with the hinged
roof version, the roof stays attached to the car and just folds
to the side.
I just acquired a 431 diner and became very interested in the
design and why Lionel made them
really carefully along the body. You can see 4 hinges if
you looke closely
The hinged roof diner allows the roof to fold off the car like
a door on a hinge. Only a few 431 diners have been reporated with
this roof design. No other 418 series cars are known to exist
this way. The only paint scheme sceen with the hinged roof is
the Mojave body with orange window inserts.
||Here is a closeup of
one of the hinges. It looks like Lionel bought some comercial
hinges and soldered them into the car
After discussing this piece with several train collectors I got
1) Lionel was testing the roof design with hinges because the
State Set cars where going to have hinged roofs.
2) These where salesman's samples
3) These where dealer display pieces for store dealers to show
off in their window
4) Lionel just decided for some reason to put hinges on some diner
cars. One person says they saw one in a set box labeled #403 and
the box was not marked anything different. (403 was one of the
set numbers that the diner was cataloged with.
||Here is the
inside of the roof showing the hinge from the inside
Reason 1 I do not feel is correct because why would Lionel test
the hinged roofs for the State Car designs by selling the cars
to the general public. And these cars do not at all resemble the
design of the state cars.
Reason 2 is possible but there should be a carrying case for
this piece. (though I can imagine that some of them where salesman's
Reason 3 seems the most obvious choice. The dealer is advertising
the one add on car for the set. It looks much nicer in the store
windows to have the roof attached to the car rather then sitting
next to it.
Here is the inside
of the car. Notice the stove on the left. The hinge on the
right is the close up you see above
the other 3 hinges (which you can also see) have their solder
joints broken. I am not sure yet if I will leave them
the way they are or repair the solder joints.
||Notice the rubber stamp
indicating the number "431." There is no special
designating for the hinged roof.
Reason 4 seems incorrect because why would Lionel only put hinges
on the 431? And why would they go to this added expense. Though
dealers would obviously eventually sell off their dealer samples
so the fact that someone found one with a set in a box is not