The Lionel Santa Fe NW-2 623 – Switcher Engine was available from 1952 through 1954. Used a BLACK painted NW-2 body with WHITE heat-stamped number on the sides along with a “Santa Fe” decal. The decal is found in different shades of BLUE as this color is particularly prone to fading. Equipped with a three position directional unit whose control lever was adjustable from the bottom of the die-cast chassis, ornamental horn and BLACK bell, radio antenna, marker lenses, interior lighting at both ends, and electronic couplers, this engine was an excellent runner. Magnetraction on two axles.
There are two variations:
Variation A: The handrail is attached to the body at ten points. Early production.
Variation B: The handrail is attached to the body at three points. Later production.
Lionel numbered this switcher for use on O Gauge track, but it was never issued in any O gauge sets. It will also operate on the smaller radius curves of O27 Gauge track. Similar to the No. 622 except there is not an operating bell.
A switcher or shunter (Great Britain: shunter; Australia: shunter or yard pilot; United States: switcher, switch engine, or yard goat, except Pennsylvania Railroad: shifter) is a small railroad locomotive intended not for moving trains over long distances but rather for assembling trains ready for a road locomotive to take over, disassembling a train that has been brought in, and generally moving railroad cars around – a process usually known as switching (USA) or shunting (UK). They do this in classification yards (Great Britain: marshaling yards). Switchers may also make short transfer runs and even be the only motive power on branch lines and switching and terminal railroads. The term can also be used to describe the workers operating these engines or engaged in directing shunting operations.
The typical switcher is optimized for its job, being relatively low-powered but with a high starting tractive effort for getting heavy cars rolling quickly. Switchers are geared to produce high torque but are restricted to low top speeds and have small diameter driving wheels. Switchers are rail analogs to tugboats.