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A Collector's Personalized Look at the Lionel ALCO 1500hp
F Series…with a special Thank You to eBay!
By Mike Stella
A number of years ago I made the decision to "complete" my
Lionel postwar collection. At that time I attended up to six
local train meets per month searching for a wide variety of
items to "fill the holes." I added GG1's, GP's, accessories,
rolling stock, and whatever I was "missing" in my
effort to reach my goal.
I like to compare my collecting philosophy to that of a favorite
uncle of mine that collects stamps. He shares his knowledge
and collection while flipping the pages of many albums that
not only display the stamps he has but also shows pictures
of those yet to be found. The stamp album is not complete until
every page is completely filled. Likewise, my collection will
not be complete until I have acquired every number, every major
variation, and every piece that Lionel ever made.
I may never reach my goal but I will get very very close.
Quite an accomplishment for any collector, especially one that
has NEVER ATTENDED YORK, nor has any immediate plans to do
While major Lionel pieces like F3s, GGIs, and 6464s seem to
be readily available, it is the smaller, often less attractive,
bottom of the ladder (end of the train?) pieces like the Alcos
that become the most difficult units to locate. Enter eBay!
I believe that today any newcomer to Lionel collecting can
(with a huge wallet and unlimited funds) amass a "complete" collection
of Lionel within a year or less simply by using eBay! I was
introduced to eBay about five years ago and in that time have
sold two large collections for friends while adding numerous "hole
filling" pieces to my own collection. My very first eBay
purchase was an Alco. My most recent purchase five years later
was also an Alco.
As I share my "complete" collection of Lionel Alco
FAs (and FBs!), I will point out those which were added thanks
to some last minute bidding on eBay. Some GREAT buys!!
A lineup of five different sets of Anniversary Alcos.
My first Lionel Alcos, the Silver/Gray 2023s.
The 2033s pull their matching train.
Early Alcos 2032/2032/2033/2031.
A "Born Again" Lionel collector since 1969, I've
always had a soft spot for Lionel FAs. The first diesels I
acquired were a silver and gray set of 2023s just like I remember
were under our Christmas tree in 1951! I quickly added the
2032s; 2031s; and a yellow pair of 2023s that came with the
matching yellow passenger cars. These first Alcos made by Lionel
are engineering marvels and possibly the finest single motored
locomotives ever manufactured.
The first few pictures I took for this article show some of
the early Alcos I have in my collection. The 1950 yellow 2023,
universally known as “The Anniversary Set”, came
at least five different ways, probably more! My first set that
came with the cars had the more common "yellow nose" on
black shell and black trucks. Also quite common and easy to
acquire are the "yellow nose" on yellow shell with
black trucks. I was sorting through a large collection I had
purchased with a friend to resell and make the “Big Bucks” when
I spotted the "yellow nose" on GRAY trucks. This
is a variation that came about as Lionel was using up the early
frames and trucks with the later "yellow nose" shells.
Hard to find, I decided to keep these for myself! It took many
years for me to locate and purchase the much sought after "Gray
Nose/Gray Trucks" variation at an affordable price. I
was "lucky" about 15 years ago.
Finally, (with much appreciation to eBay) I recently was very
surprised to win a "Split Pair" of yellow 2023s,
one Gray nose, one yellow nose, which is also a legitimate
variation for these Alcos. My winning bid turned out to be
less then 1/3 of what I was prepared to pay. Thank all of you
for this terrific buy. It was after this surprise that I decided
to write this article and share My Alcos with all of you.
Over the years as the collection kept growing, attention
was paid to specific areas like accessories, and most efforts
were concentrated on completing whatever area was then in
focus. I turned down great buys on diesels if I was looking
for steam locomotives. Reflecting back, one tends to kick
oneself in the rear quite a few times.
I never appreciated the Lionel 200 series Alcos starting in
1957 because they weren't as good as the earlier models. I
couldn't begin to tell you which numbers I first decided to
keep. I think it might have been the #210 and #211 Texas Specials.
Being a sailor stationed on a Destroyer, I did latch onto
a #224 complete Navy set very early on. Nothing really caught
my eye except the #204 Santa Fe AAs, mainly because of the
great looking and correct color scheme.
In my first 20 years of collecting Lionel, I might have accumulated
10 or so sets of these cheaper Alcos. I did manage, however,
to acquire about 250 steam locomotives!
Numbers 209 and 208 came from eBay.
The 205, 202, and 204 were all early additions to my
Lineup of 213,211,212,210,and 212.
The 212T is one of a few RARE pieces in the entire Alco
Here are the 218, 217, 215, 216,
and a different 216? Does anyone know WHY Lionel reused
numbers on Alco units?
And the numbers continue
with 221 SF, 221 D&RGW, 221 USMC, 220, and 219.
Again, Lionel used the 221 number on three different
As the years flew by, I knew it was time to pay more attention
to items I needed to "fill the holes" rather then
more Berkshires, Hudsons, and Turbines. I started to hunt for
the Alcos I was missing and most of them turned up. Of course
eBay came through a few more times. The #226 AB and #2024 AA
are two that were purchased over the net along with variations
of the #2041. It can be frustrating at times trying to buy
a pair of units on eBay when the seller has split them up selling
one unit at a time. But then again, that is how I was able
to upgrade a few pieces when only one half a pair was needed.
I took fourteen pictures of my Alcos to share with you. Towards
the end is a picture of a pair of new KMT units in the MKT
paint scheme. These were obtained many years ago for a whopping
$15 with boxes. I keep them to compare how close they look
to those produced by Lionel. I don't recall ever hearing about
any lawsuits filed by Lionel over these copies. How times have
changed. I now consider my Alco collection complete. A few
HTF variations are still out there and you never know. I'll
keep watching eBay.
Lineup of 226, 225, 224, 222, and
Another group shows up. The 231,
230, 229, 228, and 227.
Lionel jumped to four digits with
the 2024, 1066, 1065, 1055, also the 232 shown.
First MPC Alco #8020 along
units”, “Red Stripe Only” units, and
The MKT by KTM. A tongue twister?
A custom painted set of early Alcos
for my Circus Train.