Production: 1948 & 1949
The 1656 steam engine was classified by Lionel as a Switcher steam locomotive. It is a small steam engine and was available as a separate sale item or in work train sets. It shares its boiler casting with the 1615, 1625 and 1665 steam switchers.
The 1656 bell-ringing steam switcher was introduced in 1948 after a one-year absence of a steam switchers in the Lionel family. Both the 1665 and the 1656 locomotives are the pinnacle of postwar steam switchers. The combination of high quality, durability and a unique bell-ringing feature continues to make this a highly desirable locomotive. Since the locomotive is designed to haul only a few cars, it will look great working in any freight yard.
Because of the high center of gravity of these steam switchers, it is quite common to find a switcher with one -- or both -- front marker lights damaged or missing. Additionally, the roof of the cab is often bent or damaged from high-speed derailments near a curve track!
Interestingly, when Lionel included the 1656 in an 027 gauge set for 1948 and 1949, is was not the traditional work train set consisting of a crane car, work caboose and one other freight car. Instead, Lionel paired the 1656 with a Sunoco two dome tank car, Lehigh Valley hopper and an SP-style caboose.
The 1656 switcher has the following standard features: an 0-4-0 wheel arrangement with detailed driving wheel hardware, black die-cast boiler, three-position E-unit, headlight, wire handrailings plus a front step and an operating front coupler. Lastly, the switcher did not include a functional smoke unit.
A slope-back tender was usually the 6403B, but occasionally a 2403B tender is found with this locomotive. Standard features on either tender include metal staple-end trucks with an operating coupler and a functional bell located inside the tender shell (the steam switchers never included a functional whistle). There is an on/off switch located underneath the tender which is used to operate the bell. Also included on the tender are two wires protruding from the front. These wires have a banana plug on the end and connect to two terminals inside the switchers cab.
Additional Detail, Photos & Box Information
The length of a 1656 is approximately 9" (front to back) while the length of the 1656 and 2403B or 6403B tender is approximately 15" long (coupler to coupler).
Only Known Variation - Shown in the photo above. - All 1656s are black with a slope-back tender.