Production: 1946 - 1949
The 2020 steam engine is Lionel's representation of a turbine locomotive. The 6-8-6 wheel arrangement supported Lionel's advertising claim of 'it's an impressive 20-wheel locomotive!' The prototype was produced for and used by the Pennsylvania Railroad. Due to inefficient fuel consumption, the S-2 was a commercial failure and a second locomotive was never manufactured.
For Lionel, the success story of the turbine locomotive was different -- the turbines were a sensational marketing victory! The first turbine was introduced in 1946 and the final one rolled off the assembly line in 1955. Between those years, Lionel produced thousands of turbines. Other examples of postwar Lionel turbines include the 671, 681 and 682 -- all of which remain popular with collectors and operators. Note that a 2020 is the same as a 671 except the 2020 was sold with 027 gauge track and the 671 was sold with O gauge track.
The 2020 -- along with its O gauge cousin, the 671 -- were the first turbines introduced by Lionel. Originally introduced in 1946, they remained in the line until 1949. Although none of the 2020 turbines have Magnetraction, the sheer weight and reliability of the turbine continues to make it an excellent locomotive for pulling long freight trains.
The 2020 turbine locomotive remained in the Lionel family through four production years. However, during its run there were two different versions of that engine. The following is a summary of each:
- Smoke Bulb - This version was produced only in 1946 and uses a special light bulb to heat up the smoke pellets and to convert them to smoke. The easiest way to recognize this version is by looking into the smokestack. If you see a light bulb in the smokestack, it's the Smoke Bulb version.
- Standard features of this turbine include: three-position E-unit (without a lever protruding from the top of the shell), smoke bulb, nickel-rimmed drive wheels and a single drive rod plus a headlight. The pilot and trailing trucks were always die-cast. The tender was always a 2020W Lionel Lines whistling tender.
- Smoke Element - The 2020 with smoke element was introduced in 1947 and is the more common version. This locomotive is basically the same as the earlier version but includes the updated smoke element and E-unit control protruding through the top of the boiler.
- Standard features of this turbine include: three position E-unit, smoke element and a single drive rod plus a headlight. The pilot and trailing trucks were always die-cast. It always came with a Lionel Lines whistling tender, numbered either 2020W or 6020W.
- Drive Wheels - for each year of production, the style of drive wheels varied slightly:
- 1947 - All drive wheels had nickel-rims.
- 1948 - The first and fourth drive wheels had nickel-rims, while the inner two drive wheels were blackened.
- 1949 - All drive drive wheels were blackened.
Additional Detail, Photos & Box Information
The length of the turbine without the tender is approximately 10 3/4" long (pilot to drawbar).
Smoke Bulb - This version is hard to locate as it was produced for only a single year.
Smoke Element - The common production 2020 turbines include the smoke element.
1947 - Shown in first photo above - Has nickel rims on all drive wheels
1949 (Second photo above) - All drive wheels are blackened