When the United States Railroad Administration released their standard steam locomotive designs, many of the road engines came in both a “light” and “heavy” version to meet the demands of the different roads they would serve. The light Mikado is one of the best known and most-modeled of the USRA designs. Lionel is happy to finally bring its larger cousin to the O Gauge world.
By the time the USRA was formed, the Mikado had already emerged as the new common design for freight steam. Across the United States, railroads were buying and building 2-8-2s as they moved on from the Consolidations which had been the go-to freight engine for the previous two decades. Consequently, the 2-8-2s were among the first of the USRA’s standard designs to be completed and released.
The USRA offered two standard Mikados. The “light” version weighed in at 290,800 lbs. and produced 54,724 lbs. of tractive effort. The “heavy” locomotive was the same in most major dimensions except those of the boiler and firebox. It tipped the scales at 325,000 lbs. and produced 59,801 lbs. of tractive effort.
With 233 built under USRA auspices, the Heavy Mikado was the third most popular of its designs behind the 0-6-0 and the Light Mikado. Thirty came from Baldwin, the rest from Alco with orders filled at both Brooks and Schenectady. The first arrived in 1918. Baldwin built a pair for Atlanta and West Point which were modern locomotives of USRA Heavy Mikado dimensions in 1944.
Original allocations are sketchy based on the refusal of locomotives by some roads, transfers, eventual copies and of course the clouds which come from the passage of time. For example, the Frisco’s locomotives were originally refused by the PRR, then the IHB and even the SLSF itself before they were finally accepted. Multiple sources confirm the USRA Heavy Mikado was originally delivered to these railroads:
Central RR of New Jersey
- Chicago Burlington and Quincy
- Chicago Milwaukee, St Paul and Pacific
- Chicago, St Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha
- Fort Worth and Denver (CB&Q)
- Great Northern
- Louisville and Nashville
- Pittsburgh and Lake Erie (NYC)
Pittsburgh, McKeesport and Youghiogheny (NYC)
- St Louis – San Francisco
- Wheeling and Lake Erie
Additionally, following the end of the USRA, many railroads ordered copies of this design, or locomotives based largely around its dimensions. All together, nearly 1,000 locomotives were built to this design. The USRA Mikados and their kin are the closest thing the United States ever had to a nationwide “standard” freight steam locomotive.
Like the prototype, our new Heavy Mikado shares many of the same components as our previous releases of the Light Mikado. The locomotive shares the same frame, wheels and running gear as well as the same tender. The boiler and all of its attached parts are completely new tooling however. The larger boiler made it even easier to include a feature that is a favorite of many – whistle steam!
The Lionel model will have all of these great 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
- LEGACYRailSounds 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 and tender
- 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
The USRA Heavy Mikados are being built to order. They were presented in C&IM, CNJ, Great Northern, L&N, NYC, P&WV, Frisco and as an undecorated Pilot model. Look to see them at your dealer later this year with a suggested retail of $1299.99.