"DUMPED" in a rainbow of colors.
By Mike Stella
My childhood Lionel trains included an operating log dump car that gave hours of pleasure. It always worked well and those logs could really be made to fly off the car.
I never had a COAL dump car and I remember how massive they appeared to me. Later I had a grade school chum that had a twin bin dump car on his layout and I marveled at how one side tilted up to unload and then the other side followed suit.
One of my earliest buys as a born-again Lionel collector in the early 1970s was a #3469 Coal dump car. It worked well and was needed to help load the #497 coaling station as well as the #97 coal elevator and especially the #397 coal loader.
I think I ended up with about six of these cars to work all the Coal loading accessories. As a quick side-note, I also had to have those two gigantic coal loaders made by American Flyer and these too utilize the Lionel dump cars for loading.
The silver #3459 was first introduced in 1946.
As I became more involved in collecting Lionel freight cars, I learned about the #3459 coal dump car which was first introduced in 1946 in bright silver. These were easy to find at meets but always seemed to carry a hefty price tag.
The green #3459 came next and I think it is better looking.
I cannot tell you when I finally purchased one but it was much later then the #3459 I found in green. For reasons unknown to me, the green dump car seems to be the easiest of all to find. I have purchased complete sets from the late 1940s over the years and many came with the green #3459. I probably still have three or four nice ones on my shelves.
A number of years ago a friend was selling a 1946 #726 freight set and it had the silver dump car as part of it, and so I ended up with a second one in almost new condition.
BEWARE of the so called silver variation missing all lettering on the tilt gate. What happens is a silver tray missing the gate is repaired by using a black tilt gate that has had the paint stripped. It looks better then a car with no gate at all but it never came that way from Lionel.
The black #3459 was harder for me the locate then the first two.
Finally, Lionel opted to drop the bright green color and produce the car in black. When I tried to add a black #3459 to my fleet of dump cars, I found it a difficult little bugger to locate. I must have seen 100 black #3469s before I was able to acquire the black #3459.
The three regular production #3459 dump cars.
What we collectors will do to fill the void! I was a happy Lionel collector for over 20 years with my #3459s in silver, green, and black and then I learned of the red version and the yellow version. To top it off the red dump car, certainly a prototype, came with hard to see black lettering that was soon discarded in favor of white Lettering.
A red #3459 with black lettering that is difficult to see.
Since I no longer attend train meets, I had a few "special eyes" on the lookout for me from a very private source. I was able to obtain the cars I needed. They look terrific alongside the more common dump cars.
The red with white lettering shows up much better.
While my collection of these early metal dump cars is complete, I am still looking to find a NEW in the OB TWIN BIN dump car for no special reason other than I want one.
I think the prettiest of all is the yellow #3459 dump car.
"Special eyes" have looked for me at that big train meet in Pennsylvania but continue to come up empty. I feel it is not an impossible item to find and it gives me something to search for on the Internet.
Here are the six #3459s in my collection.