626 Baltimore & Ohio
Lionel's 626 Baltimore & Ohio diesel switcher is a model of General Electric's Center Cab Switcher. Produced in the 1950s, GE's Center Cab Switcher was the largest locomotive requiring only a single operator. With a nickname of 44-tonner, it was one ton shy of the limit for diesels to be operated by a single operator. Although Lionel's model is significantly longer in proportion when compared to the actual locomotive, it remains a nice representation of its real-life counterpart.
Lionel introduced the center cab switcher model to its product line in 1956. During that year it appears with three different roadnames: 627 Lehigh Valley, 628 Northern Pacific and 629 Burlington. For the following year -- 1957 -- two new numbers and one new roadnames joined the roster of center cab switchers. These two new models were the 625 Lehigh Valley (with an updated paint scheme compared to the earlier 627 Lehigh Valley) and the all-new 626 Baltimore & Ohio.
Sales of Lionel's center cab switchers were poor and far less than expected. Therefore, 1957 marked the end of new roadnames appearing on these models. No new center cab diesels were introduced during the remainder of the postwar era.
It is interesting to note, of the five center cab diesels produced by Lionel all but one appear in a catalogued set. The 626 Baltimore & Ohio is the only center cab diesel not included in a set and only available as a separate sale item. This also accounts for the rarity of the diesel as few were sold.
The 626 Baltimore & Ohio diesel is almost as difficult to locate as the rare 629 Burlington. Clean examples of the 626 are very hard-to-find as the blue shell is prone to light surface scratches. Nice and clean examples will command a premium.
Standard features of the 626 Baltimore & Ohio center cab switcher include: unpainted blue shell with yellow lettering and a single yellow stripe on the base of the cab, single-axle Magnetraction, die-cast trucks, metal end-railings, three-position E-unit, dual operating couplers plus an ornamental horn and bell. The 626 does not contain a functional horn but does have an illuminated headlight at one end.
Additional Detail, Photos & Box Information
The length of the 626 is approximately 12 1/2" long (coupler to coupler).
Only Known Variation - All 626's are unpainted blue with yellow lettering and lower stripe.
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