New Product Spotlight – Vision Line Big Boy

10 03 2014

People have been talking about Lionel’s upcoming Vision Line Big Boy since we first previewed it in York last October. The model is filled with exciting features and is sure to be the star attraction of any collection.

In 1941, the Union Pacific went to the American Locomotive Company with a request for a single locomotive capable of pulling 3,600 ton trains between Ogden and Wasatch.  This meant it had to be powerful enough to drag the train up the 1.14% grades without helpers and fast enough to maintain schedules on the rest of the section. These would be the largest such locomotives ever built. Alco delivered 20 Big Boys in 1942 and 5 more in 1944.

Big Boy

The new Vision Big Boy will be a model as awe-inspiring as the prototype.

The Big Boys spent their entire careers in this role and on this specific line – if for no other reason than no turntable or roundhouse track existed anywhere else on the system that could accommodate their 132’ 9 ¼” length! While their territory was limited, their fame was not. Railroad engineers and of course fans traveled to the hills of Wyoming from around the world to see these engineering marvels.

Unfortunately for the Big Boys, the Union Pacific would ultimately find its “jack-of-all-trades” locomotive solution along with the rest of the railroads – in the diesel electric. The last revenue run of a Big Boy came in 1959. While some remained on the roster for an emergency call that never came, by 1962 all but eight had been scrapped.

Of the eight survivors, seven are from the original production run. Those seven locomotives, in their as-delivered configuration, are the prototypes for Lionel’s newest model.

  • 6-11434 #4006
  • 6-11435 #4018
  • 6-11436 #4005
  • 6-11437 #4014
  • 6-11438 #4017
  • 6-11448 #4012
  • 6-11449 #4004

Vision Line Features

Lionel’s Vision Line locomotives have each introduced at least one brand new feature to the line. In addition to the highest quality details and features you’ve come to expect, you’ll get something you’ve never seen before. The Big Boy has several of those features which will set this model apart from the rest.

Smoke Effects

dual smoke

Two stacks – two smoke units. The Vision Big Boy captures this prototype feature for the first time.

The Vision Big Boy is equipped with a pair of dual smoke units. One of these are located under the Big Boy’s paired smoke stacks. The Big Boy was a “simple articulated” locomotive. Simple articulated locomotives have two sets of powered drive wheels, each of which is fed steam directly from the boiler. The other method is a “compound” or Mallet. On these locomotives, steam from the boiler travels to one set of pistons, then exhausted to the second set before finally being exhausted through the smokebox and stack.

On simple locomotives, each pair of pistons has its own exhaust. Since the two sets of pistons are not in sync, and with different lengths of the exhaust pipes, the “chuffs” from each are also independent. This can be more clearly seen at low speeds since as the locomotive accelerates the “chuffs” become more like a continuous roar.

For the first time, Lionel has recreated this effect with a dual-smoke unit in the stack. The dual chuffs of smoke are in sync with the sounds. You’ll hear eight chuffs per wheel revolution. Just like the prototype, you’ll see the paired exhaust as the engine starts and then benefit from twice the smoke output at mainline speeds.

A second dual smoke unit provides effects for whistle steam and the blow down feature. These are independently controlled from your remote.

Depleting Coal Load

coal load

The coal load in the tender drops in step with the work of the locomotive.

For the first time, Lionel is introducing a depleting coal load which gradually lowers in tune with the labor of the locomotive. The harder you work your engine, the faster you’ll see the coal load drop in the tender. When you refill the tender, you’ll hear the sound of coal dropping into the bunker and see the realistic coal load rise back up.

You can also track your Big Boy’s coal and water consumption, along with automating many other features, with the new LCS sensor track. (See our previous blog for a complete description of this track and how it works.) To help you get started with these features, a LCS SensorTrack and power supply is included with each Vision Big Boy.

Big Boy – Big Sounds

sensor track

Automate sounds and other functions with the LCS SensorTrack included with the Vision Big Boy.

Those who have watched our product video on line for the new locomotive have already picked up on the amazing sound quality of the Vision Big Boy. The model features a pair of speakers in the tender and one in the boiler for true stereo sound.

This arrangement also enables some localized sounds to better capture the symphony of steam. When you refuel your locomotive you’ll hear the sounds of water and coal in the tender. And when you ring the bell you’ll hear it coming from the locomotive. Meanwhile the sounds of the locomotive at work will come balanced from all three speakers for the ultimate in sound quality.

Order Yours Today

Like all of our LEGACY locomotives in 2014, the Vision Big Boy is Made To Order. We will only make as many as you ask for so if you want one, please see your Lionel dealer as soon as possible. MSRP on the Vision Big Boy is $2699.99. The locomotives will be available late in 2014.



10 responses

10 03 2014

Good luck getting orders

10 03 2014
Marty Eibeck

Really looking forward to this engine!

10 03 2014
anthony palmieri

Hey Lionel,

I have a Lionel 463W set from 1945 and it runs better than your big boy that I had in 2010.

Number 4011 part # 6-11208.

Very Unreliable returned for repairs 6 times,

Finally got a refund.

Picture of my layout attached.

Your new Big Boy is too expensive and does not run on O31 tracks.

How about building a Big Boy with a polycarbonate body that runs on O-31 tracks.

You could get the weight and price down to

Where people could afford it.

Tony Palmieri

2230 Martinique lane

Oxnard California


10 03 2014

The Big Question is, will we have customized crew talk. The prototype model has very bland/boring crew talk… Will this be the 1st Vision Line Locomotive to NOT have cab# specific crew talk?????

11 03 2014

Well, they have my order. 😉 Limiting yourself to 31″ curves will also greatly limit what you can run, I got bored with that some time back.

12 03 2014
Conductor Andrew

Reblogged this on theredcaboose1.

15 03 2014
Kerry Freeman

I’m gonna LOVE—that’s L-O-V-E—this guy!!! I’m planning on getting cab #4014—the one UP is restoring to OPERATING CONDITION for excursion service—follow the process online at or ! I also recommend using the smoke fluid known as JT’s SuperSteam. If you live in or around Dallas, TX, you can get that smoke fluid at TW TrainWorx, a division of TW Design. They’ve got some WIERD scents, but also the classics of Coal (which is obviously the choice for THIS engine), Oil, Diesel (obviously for diesel motive power), and Nada (or no scent).

15 03 2014
Kerry Freeman

Correction—That’s JT’s MegaSteam, NOT SuperSteam.

11 04 2014
Tim Cover

Your Trains are Unreal with their Prices!!!!

20 07 2014
Roberto Oppedisano

it would be nice if the lionel 990 will be out in time for the vl BB if not its pretty much a really expensive conventional train

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