New Product Spotlight – LEGACY Berkshires

14 04 2014

The Berkshire is one of the most popular locomotives we’ve ever produced, and our 2014 scale Berkshire release will be the best yet. Returning in popular roadnames and with great new features, these locomotives are sure to continue that tradition.

NKP 765

This release of Nickel Plate #765 will include two smokebox front options and a signed certificate by her operating crew.

The 2-8-4 design originated on the Boston and Albany in 1925. With an enlarged boiler and firebox, the locomotives could easily outperform Mikados of comparable length. Much as the Hudson had done for the New York Central’s passenger traffic, the Berkshire would be the “Super Power” answer for freight service.

As the design progressed, the locomotives became even more efficient – and elegant. The best known Berks were built for the family of railroads owned by the Van Sweringen brothers. These included the Erie, Chesapeake and Ohio, Pere Marquette, and the New York Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate.) Pooling engineering resources, the combined staffs of these lines formed the “Mechanical Advisory Committee” which developed locomotive designs which could be shared among the routes.

The origins of this modern Berkshire family began on the Erie.

The origins of this modern Berkshire family began on the Erie.

The first Advisory Committee Berks went to the Erie. With 70″ drivers the locomotives were perfect for fast freight service. This design led to the T-1 2-10-4 for the C&O. Lessons learned here were in turn applied to subsequent orders for Berkshires on the Nickel Plate, Pere Marquette and lastly the C&O. Similar locomotives were also built for the Wheeling and Lake Erie and Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac.

PM

Pere Marquette is represented by two locomotives in this run, #1225 and #1227.

The locomotives performed remarkably well through the end of steam on each road. Primarily a fast freight engine, the postcard image of these Berks usually has them on the point of a long train of reefers or priority merchandise cars. Many of the younger engines had less than 20 years in before diesels forced their early retirement. Nineteen Berks survive today (12 from the C&O), two in operating condition (Nickel Plate 765 and Pere Marquette 1225.)

The Berkshire has been a staple of the Lionel line as well for more than half a century. Our upcoming release will capture the size, details and drama of these legends in scale form. We’ve included a few special extras on some of these special locomotives as well.

The locomotive will be available in the following road names and numbers:

  • 6-11452  C&O #2687
  • 6-11453  Erie #3401
  • 6-11454  Nickel Plate #765
  • 6-11455  Pere Marquette #1225
  • 6-11456  Pere Marquette #1227
  • 6-11461  Pilot Model (unpainted)

All of the new Berkshires include the following features:

    • LEGACY Control System equipped – able to run in LEGACY Control mode, in TrainMaster Command Control mode, or in Conventional mode with a standard transformer
    • Odyssey II Speed Control with On/Off switch
    • LEGACY RailSounds system featuring: – CrewTalk dialog and TowerCom announcements, each with different scenarios depending on whether the locomotive is in motion or stopped – Six official railroad speeds with Crewtalk dialog – DynaChuff synchronized with 32 levels of intensity as the locomotive gains speed – LEGACY “Real-Time Quilling Whistle” control with instant response for realistic signature ‘quilling’ and correctly timed warning signals – Single hit or continuous mechanical bell sounds – Sequence Control plays the sound effects of an entire trip, including warning sounds and announcements, based on the movement and speed of the locomotive – Current speed and fuel dialog, refueling sound effects
  • Whistle Steam effect
  • Powerful maintenance-free motor with momentum flywheel
  • Wireless Tether connection between locomotive and tender
  • ElectroCoupler on rear of tender
  • Directional lighting including operating headlight and back-up light on rear of tender
  • Illuminated classification lights on the front of locomotive
  • Traction tires
  • Fan-driven smoke unit
  • Adjustable smoke output
  • Interior illumination in cab
  • Die-cast metal locomotive body, pilot, and frame
  • Die-cast metal tender body and trucks
  • High level of separately applied metal details
  • Separately applied builder’s plates
  • Authentically detailed cab interior
  • Glowing ashpan and firebox in cab
  • Cab glass windows
  • Engineer and fireman figures
  • O-54 Minimum curve

For Nickel Plate 765′s re-release, we’ve added two nice touches to celebrate her long career in excursion service. The Nickel Plate locomotives were equipped with Mars lights during part of their service career, and 765 has carried this on excursions in the past. So you can have it both ways, we’re including an extra smokebox front with a Mars light detail. This can be substituted for the single headlight smokebox front installed. The working Mars Light is in the boiler. Also included with the 765, a certificate signed by the steam crew at the Ft Wayne Historical Society.

All of the Berkshires are being built to order quantities. MSRP for the Gold Polar Express is $1449.99. Don’t miss your chance to own this amazing locomotive! See your dealer to place an order today!





Freight Car Friday – Pressurized Covered Hoppers

11 04 2014

Covered hoppers can be used for a great variety of loads. Some of these loads can be a little stubborn when it’s time to be unloaded. Pressure differential, or more commonly referred to as simply “pressurized” covered hoppers are one of the more common modifications to facilitate unloading these commodities.

PD 3000

BCAX 10241, a NACC PD-3000 model, is on the smaller scale for pressurized covered hoppers. These can be found hauling cement, lime, talk, caustic soda and similar materials.

Pressurized covered hoppers come in all shapes and sizes. Like other conventional cars, their size and capacity is tailored to the density of the load. This maximizes payload while staying within the weight limits of the trucks. The size and number of roof hatches, angle of the slope sheets and sides of the car and size of the discharge outlets can also vary according to the specific needs of the shipper. And of course there are the different looks offered by competing car builders as well.

The one easy spotting feature for a pressurized covered hopper is the extra piping around the hopper bays used to pressurize the car and remove the contents.

DMIX 5100

DMIX 5100 is a larger, 5100 cu ft. capacity car. These commonly haul everything from flour to fly ash.

These cars are not pressurized for the entire trip. At the receiver’s siding, the cars are attached to a stationary air supply. Air flows into the car, often through outlets beneath the load, pressurizing to about 15 psi.

As the air passes through the lading, it loosens and dries the load, like the Airslide cars discussed in an earlier blog. The added pressure inside the carbody then helps push the contents out through the discharge pipes at the bottom of the hoppers and into storage silos or even waiting trucks.

Pressuraide

The ACF Pressuraide car was the pressurized version of their popular Centerflow design. Most of the company’s leased cars could be easily identified by the blue “wings.” This car is leased to Interstate Brands.

Because the load can be pumped out through outlets on the sides of the hopper bays, no pit or conveyer system is needed. Unloading facilities can be minimal. Even an empty siding or team track can be used if the load is transferred into a truck for delivery to an offline customer. (These are easy “industries” to add to your model railroad when you’re short on space.)

Besides these offline customers, pressurized covered hoppers can be seen serving a lot of industries. Smaller cars (around 3000 cu ft. capacity) are most commonly associated with cement but there are other similar mineral loads as well. Mid range cars (4600-5100 cu ft.) haul flour, corn starch, kaolin and fly ash. The largest pressurized cars are around 5600 cu ft capacity and typically haul certain types of plastics – most commonly PVC and polystyrene – as well as cars lined for food-grade service or unlined for mineral service.





New Product Spotlight – American Flyer ES44AC

7 04 2014
BNSF

6-42581 BNSF 6423 (#6438 also available)

We introduced the new American Flyer ES44AC last year as part of the Norfolk Southern Heritage Series. This year we’re bringing more paint schemes from many of this modern standard’s other operators.

Since its introduction in 2003, General Electric’s ES44AC has become a common sight on railroads all across North America. While AC traction motor-equipped locomotives are generally preferred for slower, heavy freights like coal trains, you will see these locomotives on almost any type of train. And with railroads frequently interchanging the locomotives along with the rest of the train today, it is not at all uncommon to find “foreign power” on your local line.

CP

6-42582 Canadian Pacific 8744 (#8730 also available)

This year’s lineup of American Flyer ES44ACs will include some great names from coast to coast: BNSF, Canadian Pacific, CSX, Kansas City Southern, and Union Pacific. Powered locomotives for each roadname will be offered with two different numbers. For the KCS locomotives, one number will wear the Southern Belle scheme, the other a “what if” version of their gray paint scheme.

The American Flyer ES44AC is packed with features.

CSX

6-42584 CSX 924 (#937 also available)

  • LEGACY Control System – able to run on LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional power. The models are also DCC enabled.
  • AF Speed Control with on/off switch for maintaining an even speed through curves and grades
  • LEGACYRailSounds featuring
    • CrewTalk and TowerCom announcements with varying scenarios based on the train’s motion
    • Eight diesel RPM levels
    • LEGACY Quilling Horn
    • Single hit or continuous mechanical bell
    • Independent volume control
  • Two maintenance-free motors
  • Front and RearElectroCouplers

    KCS

    6-42586 KCS 4692 (#4696 also available in gray paint)

  • Mounting holes and support plate for scale couplers (sold separately)
  • Pivoting Pilot allows for operation on tight curves with better appearance
  • Operating headlight, ditch lights, illuminated number boards and detailed cab interior
  • Traction Tires
  • Metal Frame
  • Fan-driven smoke unit
  • Die-cast metal trucks, pilots and fuel tank
  • Separately applied metal details
  • Cab window glass
  • Engineer and conductor figures
UP

6-42589 Union Pacific 7494 (#7523 also available)

All locomotives will negotiate S-36 curves. All come with American Flyer wheels but can be switched to scale wheels which will be available separately through Lionel Customer Service.

ES44AC locomotives retail for $529.99. If you are looking for colorful modern power for your American Flyer layout, it doesn’t get any better than this.





Freight Car Friday – Spine Cars

4 04 2014

Articulated “spine cars” are a common sight on North American mainlines today as they carry trailers and containers in priority intermodal trains. While their use has exploded in recent decades, the history of this “bare bones” car goes back much further.

skeleton car

The skeleton log car was more efficient in mountain operations.

The earliest spine cars weren’t used to haul trailers or containers. In fact, they were about as far from the high-speed freight intermodal market as you could get! Used by logging companies as early as the late Nineteenth Century, the basic spine car offered a vehicle with a minimum light weight and easy unloading of large logs.

Simple to build, these cars were not much more than trucks and a center frame or “spine.” Cross beams over the truck helped support the log loads. Stacked and chained down at the logging camp, once the logs arrived at the mill unloading was a simple matter of unbuckling the chains and tipping or pushing the logs off and into the mill pond.

front runner

The Front Runner took minimal design to the limits – or maybe just a bit too far beyond them. One example was literally plucked from the scrap line for preservation at the Museum of Transportation in St Louis.

Eliminating the cost, weight and maintenance of a flatcar deck made sense in this service. It would be many decades however before the idea found a practical use in common carrier rail lines.

The first uses of spine cars in intermodal service began in the late 1960s with projects like the Clejan car on the New Haven and Southern Pacific and the better-known Flexi-Van cars on the New York Central and several other railroads. Like the logging spine cars, the basic premise behind these designs was to reduce the weight and cost, and inefficiencies of the flatcars currently used in Trailer on Flatcar service.

5-pack

A 5-unit spine car loaded with 53′ domestic containers is a contemporary staple. This car can also carry trailers.

These pioneering spine cars were similar in length to the longer flatcars then in service for hauling trailers, 75 feet. Of course you couldn’t load these cars the same way you’d load a conventional flatcar, and therein lay the real drawback to the designs. The FlexiVan car used a turntable on the spine to pivot the container load so that no special cranes were needed. But this had its own set of problems from extra maintenance and complexity on the cars to a need for empty chassis at each terminal. For the efficiencies of the cars to be realized, railroads would also have to redesign the terminals and purchase new equipment to load and unload the spines.

As intermodal trains continued to evolve into longer-haul services from fewer dedicated hubs in the 1970s, the climate improved for alternatives to the flatcar and conventional “circus style” loading. In the 1980s, the first new spine car to have a major impact was the “Front Runner” – a single unit car whose construction took minimization to the extreme. The central spine had two platforms attached at one end to support the trailer’s wheels. It rode on two axles with only 28″ wheels to lower the total height. The cars were light – too light – and were prone to derailments, especially when running empty and mixed in with heavier, traditional equipment.

trash spine

Although normally thought of for traditional intermodal containers and trailers, specialized spine cars can be found in waste container service as well.

The advantages of this reduced design were apparent however and railroads, car builders and Trailer Train all partnered to bring new designs to the rails. By the end of the 1980s, the five-unit articulated spine car emerged as the new standard. Articulation allowed use of conventional trucks while further reducing weight and coupler slack in a train. While some early spine cars were trailer only or container only, dual-capacity cars soon emerged for greater flexibility and fleet utilization.

Since then, the overall form of these cars has changed little. The most consistent change was an ever-increasing length of the individual cars to accommodate longer trailers. Today both three and five-unit cars are common. Together with the double-stack container well cars, these platforms form the “backbone” of the North American intermodal fleet.





New Product Spotlight – Lionel Junction Starter Sets

31 03 2014

Looking for an affordable way to get a child started with electric trains? Look no further than Lionel’s four new Lionel Junction starter sets! Featuring the LionChief Remote control and sounds, we’ve designed these fun sets to stir the imagination and invite interactive play.

Little Steam

6-81286 Lionel Junction “Little Steam” Set

From dinosaur adventures to pet rescues, kids will love developing their own worlds and stories around these trains. These sets are designed for easy assembly and operation so your young engineers can get right to the fun. And while you get everything you need to get started, these sets are designed to grow as your children look for new adventures.

LionChief Remote

remote

The LionChief Remote is easy to use and filled with fun features.

All four of these sets feature the LionChief Remote control system. There is no complicated wiring – just plug the wall pack into the track and your home outlet. The hand-held remote control includes speed and direction in one knob with three buttons for the whistle, bell and fun sounds customized to each train.

Each set, like all of our other LionChief Remote sets, has its own radio frequency. This means you can run multiple trains on the same track without any extra wiring! You can also run your set engines on other layouts that use conventional or command control – making these the perfect starter set for families with existing layouts as well. All these engines need is 18 volts of AC or DC power and their remote control.

Easy Assembly

dinosaurs

6-81031 Lionel Junction Dinosaur Diesel Set

A circle of FasTrack is provided to get you started. This track snaps together quickly and easily and will stay locked together. Safe for operation on a platform or on the floor – even carpet – you don’t need a large dedicated space for the train. When you’re finished, simply pull the sections apart until next time. FasTrack can be put together and taken apart hundreds of times without failure.

Additional straights, curves, switches, crossings and accessory tracks are all available separately to expand your set.

With the track together, just plug in the power supply and you’re ready to go! The cars of these sets are equipped with two-wheel trucks and fixed couplers so they’ll be easy for small hands to put on the rails and couple yet sturdy enough for trouble-free play.

Designed to Grow

tank car

An add-on tank car is available for each set.

Sets can be combined with each other and with add-on track sections to create larger and more elaborate track plans.

You can also expand the trains with additional cars. An add-on tank car is available to match each of these sets. These will work with all other O Gauge trains as well.

Diesel Sets

Our two diesel-powered sets, 6-81031 Dinosaur Diesel and 6-81288 Pet Shop Express, include all of the following:

pet shop

6-81288 Pet Shop Express

  • Vulcan diesel switcher with
    • LionChief Remote control
    • Powerful maintenance-free motor
    • Diesel engine sounds and user-activated horn, bell and special dinosaur / animal sounds
    • Separately applied bell and ladder details
    • Working headlight
    • Fixed couplers
    • Traction tire
    • Sturdy plastic construction
  • Boxcar
  • Gondola with removable loads (dinosaur eggs and figures / animal figures)
  • Bobber Caboose
    • All cars feature metal wheels and fixed couplers
  • Circle (approx. 40″ outside diameter) of FasTrack
  • Wall Pack plug-in power supply
  • Remote Control (requires three AAA batteries – not included)

Steam Sets

Our two steam-powered sets, 6-81286 Lionel Junction and 6-81287 Union Pacific, include all of the following:

UP

6-81287 Lionel Junction Union Pacific Set

  • “Kickapoo” steam locomotive with
    • LionChief Remote control
    • Powerful maintenance-free motor
    • Steam engine sounds and user-activated whistle, bell and special announcements
    • Separately applied bell and whistle details
    • Fixed couplers
    • Traction Tire
    • Stamped metal frame
    • Sturdy plastic construction
  • Boxcar
  • Gondola
  • Bobber Caboose
    • All cars feature metal wheels and fixed couplers
  • Circle (approx. 40″ outside diameter) of FasTrack
  • Wall Pack plug-in power supply
  • Remote Control (requires three AAA batteries – not included)

Each set has a retail price of $174.95. There has never been a better time to get started with Lionel Trains! See your favorite dealer to place orders today.





Freight Car Friday – Bulkhead Flatcars

28 03 2014

Flatcars are one of the most simple freight car designs, but also one of the easiest to adapt to special loads. One of the most common adaptations is the use of fixed ends, or bulkheads, to protect neighboring cars from a load that shifts during transit.

pipe load

Pipe loads clearly show the safety gained by the bulkheads on the ends of the car. Even with the straps and wood blocking, this load could shift in transit.

A large load, like a long train, has a lot of momentum. A quick start or a sudden stop caused by the slack action of the couplers at the end of a long train, an emergency brake application, or just a hard coupling in the yard may be enough to break the tie-down straps and send a flatcar’s load hurtling beyond the end of the car. This is dangerous in any circumstance, but if the flatcar and load are coupled to an occupied locomotive, caboose, or a car filled with hazardous materials the situation can become much worse.

jail cells

In most cases, the loads are limited to the height of the bulkhead, however this pre-made prison cells are an exception. – photo courtesy of Walter A.J. Kuhl.

Today, most railroads place restrictions on where a shiftable load may be placed in the train. But a bulkhead flatcar minimizes these dangers and eliminates this added operating headache.

Despite the fixed ends, the sides of these flatcars remain open to the deck and can otherwise be loaded and unloaded like any other flat. The loads must also be secured to the deck to prevent loss over the car sides. Like most flatcars, most bulkhead flats have rows of stake or tie-down pockets along the sides where these security devices can be attached.

tarped load

Covered loads are not uncommon on bulkhead flatcars. These are easy modeling projects for any layout.

Bulkhead flatcars are used to carry the same loads you would associate with other flatcars as well. Lumber, steel products of all shapes and sizes and large machinery are the most common. As long as the load fits within the length of the car and can be loaded / unloaded from the side, a bulkhead flatcar will serve well. Many loads are covered in tarps or wrapped in plastic for added protection. These “mystery loads” can be easy and enjoyable modeling projects. (See how to make your own in this previous blog.)

rebar

In addition to shorter bulkheads, this flatcar has additional fixed stakes to secure rebar loads.

The bulkheads themselves come in many shapes and sizes. The main structural part of most bulkheads is steel. The wall facing the load may be made of steel or wood. With some loads, the bulkheads not only prevent shifting, they help support the stacks themselves such as pulpwood flatcars.

Most common are cars with ends as tall as the typical boxcar. Short and mid-sized bulkheads are also used for loads like steel slabs. These heavy loads fill the car’s weight capacity in only a few feet of vertical height. Lowering the ends reduces the light weight of the car, in turn offering some increased capacity for the load without sacrificing safety.

steel load

This Southern car features a wood deck and bulkhead walls. Plate steel loads are one of the most common found on these cars.

The Erie Lackawanna likely has the record for the lowest bulkheads with fixed bulkheads only 12″ tall! Because the ends were permanently attached, the cars carried the same “FB” designation used by all bulkhead flatcars.

No matter how tall or how small, bulkhead flatcars are an important part of the railroad freight car picture. With loads as diverse as the cars themselves, you never know what you may find.

 





New Product Spotlight – LEGACY AC-12 Cab Forward

24 03 2014

Faced with rough mountain grades covered by tunnels and snow sheds, the Southern Pacific’s unique “Cab Forwards” were a breath of fresh air to the engineer and fireman. The ultimate development of the design, the AC-12 4-8-8-2, battled the Sierra’s from 1943 until 1958.

4294

No. 4294 is the last survivor of the Cab Forwards – a fitting ambassador to the power of steam and innovation of the Southern Pacific.

The AC-12 saw service on a variety of trains. They were used on general freight, priority produce trains and occasionally as helpers on heavy passenger trains. Even these huge machines were often seen working in pairs or more with locomotives placed at the head end, mid train and on / or on the rear to get the heaviest trains over the mountains. Despite their success, the AC-12 would have the dubious distinction of being the last new steam locomotives purchased by the Espee.

The coming diesel locomotives were already a “cab forward” design as far as the crew was concerned. Interestingly though, the many tunnels would play a role with the development of later diesels, namely the SD40T-2 and SD45T-2 “Tunnel Motors.”

Only one Cab Forward, No. 4294, is preserved today. It is also the last new steam locomotive purchased by the Southern Pacific. It can be seen strategically placed next to the first locomotive of the Central Pacific, the C.P. Huntington, at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.

cab forward

The Cab Forward will be available in three road numbers in traditional SP markings for those daring enough to recreate a full size train!

The Lionel AC-12

Lionel is bringing back the AC-12 in 2014 with its best features yet including LEGACY control, RailSounds and Whistle Steam!

Note that like many of the Southern Pacific’s later steam locomotives, the AC-12 was equipped with both a steam whistle and an air horn. The engineer could choose which ever he preferred, and with your LEGACY remote you can too.

The locomotive features:

  • LEGACY Control System equipped – able to run in LEGACY Control mode, in TrainMaster Command Control mode, or in Conventional mode with a standard transformer
  • Odyssey II Speed Control with On/Off switch
  • LEGACY RailSounds system featuring: -
    • CrewTalk dialog and TowerCom announcements, each with different scenarios depending on whether the locomotive is in motion or stopped
    • Six official railroad speeds with Crewtalk dialog
    • DynaChuff synchronized with 32 levels of intensity as the locomotive gains speed
    • LEGACY “Real-Time Quilling Whistle and Horn” control – choose between the steam whistle and air horn just like the prototype
    • Single hit or continuous mechanical bell sounds
    • Sequence Control plays the sound effects of an entire trip, including warning sounds and announcements, based on the movement and speed of the locomotive -
    • Current speed and fuel dialog, refueling sound effects
  • Whistle Steam
  • Powerful maintenance-free motor with momentum flywheel
  • Wireless Tether connection between locomotive and tender
  • ElectroCoupler on rear of tender
  • Directional lighting including operating headlight and back-up light on rear of tender
  • Illuminated classification lights on the front of locomotive

    Daylight

    While none were ever painted to match, the SP did use the Cab Forwards to help its Daylights and other passenger trains over the mountains. This colorful “what if” would make a great companion to your Lionel Daylight cars and GS class locomotives.

  • Traction tires
  • Fan-driven smoke unit
  • Adjustable smoke output
  • Interior illumination in cab
  • Die-cast metal locomotive body, pilot, and frame
  • Die-cast metal tender body and trucks
  • High level of separately applied metal details
  • Separately applied builder’s plates
  • Authentically detailed cab interior
  • Glowing ashpan
  • Cab glass windows
  • Engineer and fireman figures
  • IR Transmitter for communication with LCS SensorTrack
  • O-72 Minimum curve

For 2014, we are offering the AC-12 in three different road numbers in the traditional Southern Pacific paint scheme. We are also offering a “What If” Daylight version for those who’d like to add some matching heavy mountain power to their Daylight passenger trains. An unpainted Pilot model is also available. Retail price is $1699.99.

Road numbers are as follows:

  • 6-11462  #4294
  • 6-11463  #4291
  • 6-11464  #4286
  • 6-11465  #4275 “Daylight”
  • 6-11469  Pilot Model (unpainted)

These locomotives will be among the first from the new catalogs produced in 2014 so don’t wait!  See your Lionel dealer and order your piece of Southern Pacific history today.








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