The Lionel Southern F-3 No. 2356 holds the distinction of being the first of these issues that Lionel would release an A and B unit in the same year: 1954. During this year, Lionel would replace the screen vents on the roof with louvered openings. Gone also, are the front grab rails. This diesel, along with the unpowered A (No. 2356T) and B (No. 2356C) units, would be available for two more years. The lettering was rubber-stamped on these diesels, unlike the reproduction shells that have been silk screened.
These engines have portholes with snap-in lenses, side ladders, electronic couplers on the front ends of the A units, and solid rear couplers. The powered unit was equipped with Magnetraction, a horn that was operated by a D Cell battery, and a three position directional unit whose control lever was adjustable from underneath the chassis. Dual horizontal worm drive motors powered each axle...and they make a neat "growling" sound when operating! There are two variations:
Variation A: Lionel would use up old stock on these early production units that do not have a dimple behind the roof vents.
Variation B: More common than Variation A, this variation shows the typical body that would have a dimple behind the roof vents that is found on all later F-3’s.
All of the Lionel F-3’s are designed to work on the larger radius of O Gauge track. When used with O27 Gauge track this diesel will scrape the switch machine housing on the early version of the No. 1122 O27 Switches when passing through the curved turnout. Evidence of scrapes on the fuel tank of these diesels is a sure indication of operation on O27 track.