Have you ever wondered where some of the accessories in early Lionel Catalogues came from? Back in the early days (pre 1918) toy train production concentrated on locomotives, rolling stock, track, transformers and a few necessary accessories such as bumpers, crossings, tunnels and stations. Lionel also catalogued small electric motors through 1920 including the Peerless Battery Motors from 1915 to 1920, the New Departure Motors from 1905 to 1914, and the Type A and K Mineature Motors listed in the 1904 through 1907 Catalogues. Countershafting was also offered to allow the mounting of the motor to a base with overhead pulleys which would then be used to run an accessory. To quote the 1905 Lionel Catalogue "any moving toy may be attached to it." The catalogue presented an illustration of a covered toy workshop powered by countershafting and a New Departure Motor, but did not offer the workshop for sale.(see illustration below)
If you follow pre World War I Lionel Catalogues you are probably familiar with the next illustration of the boy playing with his standard gauge layout while his sister watches. This illustration was contained in the 1913 and 1914 catalogues (and is reproduced on the rear inside cover of Lionel Trains, Standard of the World, 1900-1943, Second Edition, published by the Train Collectors Association). Well if you look carefully you will see a New Departure motor running a countershaft , which then operates several accessories including a covered piece on the opposite end. The only items listed for sale in either catalogue are New Departure Battery Motors. So you might ask, who made and sold these moving toys?
Fortunately, some time ago I was on eBay and saw an item for sale that looked a lot like the covered workshop illustrated in the 1913 - 1914 catalogues. It is a model of a mineature workshop made by Weeden Manufacturing Company. Weeden Manufacturing Company made a variety of working toys and steam engines, powered by alcohol in the early years of the 20th Century. Lionel simply opened up a new market for Weeden (electric power), while promoting the sale of its own electric motors. You will frequently find the Weeden steam engines on eBay, and less frequently the accessories. Mystery solved! It is a discovery such as this that makes this hobby so interesting.