New Product Spotlight – American Flyer U33C

7 11 2011

Here’s an updated look at our long-awaited American Flyer U33C with LEGACY. The new models are scheduled to ship late this month!


The new American Flyer U33C captures the brawny beauty of these GE engines.

General Electric’s U33C was among its more popular sellers in the “U-boat” line. GE’s U, or Universal, Series diesels launched the company into direct competition with EMD and ALCo in the production of modern road units. Model designations started with “U” followed by an abbreviated horsepower rating and axle type. Hence the U33C was a 3,300 hp unit with 6 axles (B was used for 4-axle models).


Southern Pacific had the largest roster of U33C's by far.

GE built 375 U33Cs for 12 US railroads and companies between 1968 and 1975. Several later served other systems during the mergers of the 1960s and 1970s. With 212, Southern Pacific had the largest fleet by far.

U33C rear

The flared radiator began on the U33 and became a trademark GE spotting feature for future models.

The most notable single design feature of the U33 was the larger, flared radiator section on the rear of the unit. This has become a trademark of GE design ever since. Production of the U33C phased out with the introduction of the new and improved Dash 7 line.

The American Flyer Model

The new American Flyer models feature all new tooling and LEGACY sound. These are fine models that will look good on either traditional or scale layouts. In fact, the wheelsets are interchangeable to allow easy conversion to scale wheelsets if desired. The LEGACY controlled engines will operate on LEGACY, TMCC or conventional power. Railsounds include 8 diesel notches, crew talk, bell and quillable horn.

Conrail U33C

Conrail inherited its U33C's from Erie Lackawanna and Penn Central.

These powerful models also feature directional LED headlights, marker lights and numberboard and cab lighting. A fan-driven smoke unit will help with that realistic GE look. You’ll also get working couplers on both ends. Trucks, sideframes, frame and fuel tank are all metal. All that weight plus traction tires means these U-Boats will walk off with an impressive train.

U33C front

The American Flyer U33C is loaded with details like windshield wipers, safety chains, cab sunshades and accurate light packages.

The LEGACY U33Cs are available in Northern Pacific, Conrail, Burlington Northern, Southern Pacific, Great Northern and Erie Lackawanna. MSRP is $439.99.

We hope you will be Universally satisfied with this latest addition to the American Flyer roster!



9 responses

7 11 2011

“GE built 375 U33C’s for 12 US railroads and companies between 1968 and 1975.” The apostrophe should not be used in this sentence. Use an apostrophe with contractions or to show possession, not to make a subject plural.

8 11 2011

Thanks for the catch.

10 11 2011
Tom Hawley

What, no American Flyer Lines roadname ?

19 12 2011
Jack Bartman

This is really cool, almost makes me want to give up O scale!

30 01 2012
Terence O'Kelly

The manual for this locomotive and the Challenger state that these units will not work on DC current, only AC. That eliminates all the potential buyers who have invested in American Models and Showcase lines locomotives and use DC only. Scale wheels and couplers addresses part of the problem; but if Lionel would offer a solution such as removing some circuit boards to bypass the Legacy features and allow DC operation, that would open up a whole new market for these beautiful units. That is the only thing preventing me from investing in either locomotive, unfortunately.

31 01 2012

Thank you for the suggestion. I will pass this along to our product development team.

15 02 2012
william laffan

I have seen video of this engine operating.
The tinplate feature of the pilot and front truck swinging independently of the body of the engine is a turn-off for scalers.
A work-around would be a modification to allow scalers to lock the pilot to the body for scale operation.
Otherwise, a modification to allow DC operation would open the market for scale operation of this beautiful unit.

15 02 2012
Jack Bartman

If you are a S scaler buying this, than you already know what to do. If I were Lionel I would not waste the effort, other than making the scale wheels availible.

Lionel needs to finish its SD 40-2 project from the late 90s.Are you listening Lionel? You already have the engineering drawings someplace.

5 03 2012
Tom Potthast

This project is encouraging. However, they were not used by the roads I am primarily intered in. If it was a U30C I’d be squeezing out the money for a Mopac pair. As a scaler the wheel sets are appealing. Supplying a replaceable pilot not attached to the trucks would be the next step. A screw in coneversion that would accept a closer to scale knuckle coupler is my request. I’d bet that could expand the sales of about 15% or more. This is totally doable and would not add significantly to the cost of tooling.

Based on recent O scale cars I eagerly await the cylindrical hopper in BN and SP. If you add Frisco and MP you’d get several more sales from me. The KCS SD70 is after my era but tempting. The SD40 would get my vote if you want to add to the six axle power stable.

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