Production: 1950 - 1968
The Berkshire -- modeled after a real-life Boston & Albany locomotive -- was a premium locomotive in the Lionel family. Introduced in 1950, this Berkshire remained in their product line for 18 years. Along with the legendary 773 Hudson and the colorful 746 Norfolk & Western J, many consider the 736 Berkshire among the nicest steam locomotives offered in the postwar era.
For 1950, Lionel upgraded all of its premier locomotives to include Magnetraction. The 736 is largely an upgraded version of the 726 with the addition of Magnetraction. As Lionel's top-of-the-line steam locomotive, the 736 frequently appeared as the lead locomotive in many sets. During its production, the 736 was available in almost 20 different catalogued sets. To this day, a complete and boxed 736 set is considered a prized possession!
The 736 Berkshire has the following standard features: black painted die-cast shell with silver numbers, full complement of driving hardware, spoked drivers, three- position E-unit, Magnetraction, hinged boiler front, plus a headlight, smoke, an ornamental bell and a decorative whistle.
The 736 underwent several changes during its lengthy production run. The following summarizes the more notable changes with the estimated year of change:
- Cab Window - available with either a three- or four-window cab. The three-window cab (with two smaller windows and a larger rear window) was made in each postwar year of production. The four-window cab (having four small equally-sized windows) was made in each postwar production year except for 1953 and 1954 when only the three-window cab was manufactured.
- Cab Number - for 1950 and 1951, the 736 number was stamped in silver with large numbers. Beginning in 1953, the cab number was stamped in white with slightly smaller numbers.
- Headlight - beginning in 1953, two small support wedges were added below the headlight. That change provided additional strength to the headlight which reduced the possibility of breakage.
- Trailing Truck - from 1950 until 1954, the trailing truck was all die-cast metal. Beginning in 1955, the trailing truck was re-manufactured resulting in a cheaper sheet-metal design with plastic sides.
- Flagstaffs - the decorative posts on early production had a hexagon base. Sometime during the mid-1950s, the flagstaffs were changed to a round base. Researchers have not determined the exact year of change.
The 736 Berkshire was produced with three different tenders:
- 1950: the premium 12-wheel 2671WX Lionel Lines whistling tender.
- 1951 & 1953-60: the 2046W Lionel Lines whistling tender.
- 1960-68: the 736W Pennsylvania whistling tender.
Additional Detail, Photos & Box Information
Due to material shortages in 1952 from the Korean War, the 736 was not manufactured for that single year.
Numerous Variations - Shown in the photo above. - The Berkshire in the photo above has the premium 12-wheel tender which was only produced in 1950.
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