Edward Mazur RM #3123
We are frequently asked what the difference is between the #96 and the #97 coal elevators. The single most important difference is the fact that the #96 is manually operated and was produced between 1938-1940. The #97 coal elevator is motorized and was produced between 1939-1942, 1946-50 and reissued in 1999 as #97-32921.
Thus, the #96 is Lionel pre-World War II while the #97 was produced during the first year of World War II and then in the post-war years. The mostrecent version can be operated by TMCC remote control.
The #96 has a hand crank that protrudes out of the side of the bakelite base. If you have a coal loader that does not have this hand crank then you have a #97. The most difficult of the #97s to find is the 1942 version where gray paint was substituted for the aluminum silver because of Lionel's inabiliity to obtain aluminum/silver paint because of wartime restrictions.
The #96 is valued at $250-300 in like new condition. The #97 postwar is valued at $175-200 in like new condition.The most recent version can be found for $135-175 in like new condition.