The 45 Gateman, Re-examining the Most Popular
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
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.