New Product Spotlight – Pennsylvania S-2 Turbine

3 06 2013

Beneath a steady plume of white smoke and with a giant whooooosh, the Pennsy’s S-2 was quite the sight as she rolled a heavy freight train at speed down the four-track “Broad Way.” In 1944 that sound cried out the arrival of the ultimate in steam technology – and its last gasp.

As diesel locomotives made their mark on railroading, the railroads with the greatest investment in steam made efforts to save the old technology. The Norfolk and Western, Chesapeake and Ohio and Pennsylvania all built experimental steam turbines in a great experiment to give steam a new viability.

turbine

6-11417 represents the 6200 as delivered from Baldwin in 1944.

The Pennsylvania received their new turbine from the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1944. Following standard Pennsy classification, the unique locomotive was given the S-2 designation. (The S-1 of course was the equally unique streamlined behemoth exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair.) Like its older sister, the S-2 debuted with a great deal of publicity. Unfortunately, her story also ends in quiet failure.

From the running boards up, the S-2 looked and functioned much like any other steam locomotive of the era. Instead of powering a pair of reciprocating pistons, the steam from the boiler was harnessed by a pair of steam turbines. One large turbine was used for forward movement. A smaller turbine was used for reverse moves up to 22 mph.

turbine

6-11416 includes the “elephant ears” smoke lifters alongside the smokebox.

Although overall, the project could not be deemed anything but a failure, the 6200 did have some bright spots. Once the train was up to speed, the turbine performed as well or even better than expected. The locomotive was also found to be much easier on the rails than a conventional steam locomotive. Unfortunately, at speeds below 33 mph, all of the efficiencies of the turbine were lost. The locomotive also frequently overheated and stressed the firebox and staybolts with extended slow running.

In the end, even if the S-2 were more efficient than conventional steam locomotives of the era, the real competition was the diesel. And by 1944, the railroads had seen more than enough hard evidence to support dieselization. The 6200 was quietly put out of service in 1946 and scrapped in 1953.

671

6-11432 The 671 pays tribute to Lionel’s first turbine models.

Despite its limited use, the S-2 was always an impressive and inspiring machine. Lionel made its first model of the locomotive in 1946. Its brawny lines, engineering interest, and no doubt the lack of any complicated valve gear to replicate, made it a natural for the Lionel line. Since then, the locomotive has been recreated in both scale and compressed versions many times over. This big brute is coming back again, now with LEGACY for the first time.

The S2 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
    – Turbine sounds 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
  • Powerful maintenance-free motor with momentum flywheel
  • Wireless Tether connection between locomotive and tender

    681

    6-11433 The 681 was first introduced in 1950 and included Magnetraction.

  • 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
  • Flickering firebox in cab
  • Cab glass windows
  • Engineer and fireman figures
  • O-72 Minimum curve

The locomotive is available in two prototypical paint schemes for the Pennsy. We’re also paying tribute to some of our own historic turbines with special Lionel Lines 671 and 681 numbers. See your dealers today, we expect the locomotives to ship soon. MSRP is $1299.99.

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3 responses

3 06 2013
Christopher Burger

ok, 1299.00 MSRP! WOW that is ridiculous for the average guy who plays with trains. Had a hard enough time buying the American Flyer Texas Special for 650.00. But at least it was the whole set. Now I have to pay 350 for a controller to run it. Come on people. Think about the regular people who make 14 bucks and hour.

3 06 2013
Stephen

I know you at Lionel are always going to the newer stuff. I have to value what I purchase. This is not a value, it’s an extravagance.

20 06 2013
Claire Sweeney

The Pennsylvania Railroad ‘s class S2 was a steam turbine locomotive . One was built, #6200, delivered in 1944. The S2 was the sole example of the 6-8-6 wheel arrangement in the Whyte notation , with a six-wheel leading truck , eight driving wheels , and a six-wheel trailing truck . The S2 used a direct-drive steam turbine ; the turbine was geared to the center pair of axles with the outer two axles connected by side rods . The disadvantage was that the turbine could not operate at optimal speeds over the locomotive’s entire speed range. The S2 was the largest direct-drive turbine locomotive design ever built.

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