Lionel’s new LionChief Plus steam locomotives have quickly earned a reputation for their power, features and easy operation. Soon diesel fans will have comparable choices for their railroads as well! The new LionChief Plus GP-7 and RS-3 will offer amazing performance and value on two of the most common early road-switcher locomotives.
In the 1940s, a new type of diesel locomotive was coming to the rails. Alco was the first to introduce the “road switcher” with its RS-1 model in 1941. The locomotive was essentially a stretched switcher with a small hood added to the back of the cab and larger trucks. The short hood offered room for a steam generator or dynamic brakes.
The new road switcher was a true jack-of-all-trades, capable of handling freight or passenger trains on the mainline, branch lines or in the yard. The narrow hoods offered better visibility from the cab in either direction and easier access for maintenance. Although few could have predicted it in 1941, the basic standard for the future of the diesel locomotive had been born.
EMD countered the RS-1 with its “General Purpose” GP7 in 1949. The new “Geeps” were just what the railroads needed to replace their steam locomotives and orders were strong. In 1950 Alco unveiled their third version, the RS-3. EMD’s updated GP9 came in 1954. Together, the new road switchers made it possible for railroads to replace nearly all of their steam locomotives by the end of the decade. While EMD greatly outsold the competition, both models have maintained a good reputation and many examples of each can still be found at work today.
LionChief Plus Locomotives
Like the prototypes, the new LionChief Plus diesels should be the perfect fit on many railroads – though thankfully in our world there is no need to retire your steam!
With its LionChief™ Remote they can run on layouts powered by the LionChief™ wall pack, a conventional transformer (set to 18V) or a Command Control system. Flip a switch on the locomotive and you can run it conventionally with a transformer as well. (For more information on the LionChief™ Plus control system and how it relates to others, see this earlier blog.)
It’s not just the control system that sets the new LionChief™ Plus locomotives apart. Like the LionChief Plus steam locomotives, these new diesels are excellent pullers. Our test samples had no trouble taking 35 scale freight cars on our layout, including up a FasTrack grade.
These new diesels are packed with features including:
- User selected operation – Conventional AC transformer control or LionChief™ Wireless Remote (included)
- RailSounds RC™ with diesel revving and background sounds, horn, bell and user activated announcements
- Fan-driven smoke operates low at idle and increases when the locomotive is in motion
- Speed Control maintains a constant speed on curves and grades automatically
- ElectroCouplers on each end controlled by the remote
- Operating headlights
- Maintenance-free motors
- Die-cast pilots and trucks
- Stamped metal frame
- Lighted cab interior
- Engineer and fireman figures
- Traction Tires
The LionChief™ Plus RS-3 will be available in Chicago and Northwestern, Denver and Rio Grande, New York Central and Pennsylvania.
The GP7 will come decorated for the Burlington, Northern Pacific, Santa Fe and Union Pacific. The LionChief remote is preprogrammed specifically for each locomotive. You can have one of each on your layout – or any number of the other LionChief™ or LionChief™ Plus locomotives – without a signal conflict.
The new locomotives will retail for $329.99. See your local Lionel dealer to place your order today. The diesels should be available by mid Summer.