Lionel pw-726-1946 berkshire



In 1946, Lionel introduced its first model of a 2-8-4 Berkshire, the 726. With two changes in model number and various mechanical and cosmetic revisions, the Berkshire would remain part of Lionel's product line for the next 20 years. The 1946 version was highly detailed, with a die-cast body painted black, silver rubber-stamped cab number and a boiler front that could be opened on its own hinges to reveal a bulb-type smoke unit. Like the 1946 turbines, the 726 used a horozontial motor that drove the front and rear drive axles through a spur-gear drive train, which in turn drove a worm drive shaft. Perhaps most important of all was the fact that no e-unit lever protrudes through the boiler. This locomotive used a horizontial three-position E-unit, which was controlled by plug and socket arrangement in the cab, negating the need for an unsightly E-unit lever slot in the boiler. Cosmetically, the engine featured a movable ornamental bell and ornamental whistle, wire handrails retained by turned stansions, hexagonal nickel flagstaffs on the pilot (which did NOT include a simulated coupler) and nickel-rimmed Baldwin disc drivers with side, main and eccentric rods. Detailed die-cast pilot and trailing trucks graced the undercarriage. Trailing the locomotive was the equally elaborate and detailed 2426W die-cast semi-scale tender riding on two six-wheel trucks. The "Lionel Lines" lettering on the tender flanks was done variously in white and silver. In 1947, Lionel made available a 726S conversion kit to retrofit the later, heater-type smoke units into the earlier engines, thus today some 1946 locos are found with the heater-type smoke unit in lieu of the original bulb-type. The 1947 and later production locomotives differ so radically from the 1946 models they are dealt with as if they are separate models.

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