New Product Spotlight – LEGACY Berkshires

14 04 2014

The Berkshire is one of the most popular locomotives we’ve ever produced, and our 2014 scale Berkshire release will be the best yet. Returning in popular roadnames and with great new features, these locomotives are sure to continue that tradition.

NKP 765

This release of Nickel Plate #765 will include two smokebox front options and a signed certificate by her operating crew.

The 2-8-4 design originated on the Boston and Albany in 1925. With an enlarged boiler and firebox, the locomotives could easily outperform Mikados of comparable length. Much as the Hudson had done for the New York Central’s passenger traffic, the Berkshire would be the “Super Power” answer for freight service.

As the design progressed, the locomotives became even more efficient – and elegant. The best known Berks were built for the family of railroads owned by the Van Sweringen brothers. These included the Erie, Chesapeake and Ohio, Pere Marquette, and the New York Chicago & St. Louis (Nickel Plate.) Pooling engineering resources, the combined staffs of these lines formed the “Mechanical Advisory Committee” which developed locomotive designs which could be shared among the routes.

The origins of this modern Berkshire family began on the Erie.

The origins of this modern Berkshire family began on the Erie.

The first Advisory Committee Berks went to the Erie. With 70″ drivers the locomotives were perfect for fast freight service. This design led to the T-1 2-10-4 for the C&O. Lessons learned here were in turn applied to subsequent orders for Berkshires on the Nickel Plate, Pere Marquette and lastly the C&O. Similar locomotives were also built for the Wheeling and Lake Erie and Richmond Fredericksburg and Potomac.

PM

Pere Marquette is represented by two locomotives in this run, #1225 and #1227.

The locomotives performed remarkably well through the end of steam on each road. Primarily a fast freight engine, the postcard image of these Berks usually has them on the point of a long train of reefers or priority merchandise cars. Many of the younger engines had less than 20 years in before diesels forced their early retirement. Nineteen Berks survive today (12 from the C&O), two in operating condition (Nickel Plate 765 and Pere Marquette 1225.)

The Berkshire has been a staple of the Lionel line as well for more than half a century. Our upcoming release will capture the size, details and drama of these legends in scale form. We’ve included a few special extras on some of these special locomotives as well.

The locomotive will be available in the following road names and numbers:

  • 6-11452  C&O #2687
  • 6-11453  Erie #3401
  • 6-11454  Nickel Plate #765
  • 6-11455  Pere Marquette #1225
  • 6-11456  Pere Marquette #1227
  • 6-11461  Pilot Model (unpainted)

All of the new Berkshires include the following 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 – 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
  • 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
  • Glowing ashpan and firebox in cab
  • Cab glass windows
  • Engineer and fireman figures
  • O-54 Minimum curve

For Nickel Plate 765’s re-release, we’ve added two nice touches to celebrate her long career in excursion service. The Nickel Plate locomotives were equipped with Mars lights during part of their service career, and 765 has carried this on excursions in the past. So you can have it both ways, we’re including an extra smokebox front with a Mars light detail. This can be substituted for the single headlight smokebox front installed. The working Mars Light is in the boiler. Also included with the 765, a certificate signed by the steam crew at the Ft Wayne Historical Society.

All of the Berkshires are being built to order quantities. MSRP for the Gold Polar Express is $1449.99. Don’t miss your chance to own this amazing locomotive! See your dealer to place an order today!





LionChief Plus Hudson

10 02 2014

Leading the charge with the new LionChief™ Plus locomotives is the Hudson. One of the most popular locomotives in Lionel history, this classic example of Super Power steam will be a perfect fit on any layout.

Prototype Background

C&O

The production sample of our new C&O Hudson performs as good as it looks!

As passenger trains grew in length and weight in the 1920s, the New York Central found itself in a motive power problem. With its Pacifics limited to 12 car trains, many of its long distance passenger trains were running in multiple sections. A more powerful passenger locomotive was needed.

While many railroads at the time were stretching the Pacific and adding additional drivers for more power, the New York Central took a different course and applied the new “Super Power” concept of the Lima Locomotive Works’ Berkshire. Adding a larger firebox, supported by a four-wheel trailing truck, the Central created the first 4-6-4. Only 5 inches longer than the road’s K-5 Pacific, the new locomotive generated more than 3,800 pounds of additional tractive effort.

NYC

The LionChief Plus Hudson is the latest in a long line of Lionel replicas of this NYC icon.

The first 4-6-4 was completed by ALCo in 1927 and NYC President Pat Crowley had the honor of naming her. “Hudson” was chosen after the Hudson River. As if building the first locomotive and naming it weren’t enough, the NYC had by far the largest roster of Hudsons – 195 in total – forever linking this locomotive with the New York Central in the hearts and minds of most railfans.

Twenty other railroads (including NYC-controlled Michigan Central and Boston and Albany) owned at least one Hudson. Primarily a passenger locomotive, they were sometimes seen in fast freight and mail train service as well. The Hudsons served well until the end of steam. Twenty-one survive in museums – unfortunately none of those are from the New York Central.

LionChief™ Plus Hudson

UP

The proportions of these LionChief Plus Hudsons work well with traditional and scale freight cars. Production Union Pacific sample shown.

Your LionChief™ Plus Hudson is ready to go to work on any railroad. With its LionChief™ Remote it 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 last week’s blog.)

It’s not just the control system that sets the new LionChief™ Plus locomotives apart. This new Hudson is packed with features normally reserved for our more expensive models. The locomotives include:

  • User selected operation – Conventional AC transformer control or LionChief™ Wireless Remote (included)
  • RailSounds RC™ with steam chuffing and background sounds, whistle, bell and user activated announcements
  • Fan-driven smoke
  • Speed Control maintains a constant speed on curves and grades automatically
  • ElectroCoupler on tender controlled by the remote

    CN

    Canadian National had 5 Hudsons, all built in Canada.

  • Operating headlight
  • Maintenance-free motor
  • Die-cast locomotive body, frame and trucks
  • Metal tender frame
  • Lighted cab interior
  • Flickering Firebox
  • Engineer and fireman figures
  • Traction Tires
cab

The Hudsons’ cabs feature detailed backheads, crew figures and a flickering firebox. The drawbar connection to the tender automatically connects the wiring.

The LionChief™ Plus Hudson will be available in Canadian National, Chesapeake and Ohio, New York Central 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 $429.99. See your local Lionel dealer to place your order today. The Hudsons should be available by early Summer.





New Product Spotlight – C&O H-7 2-8-8-2

15 07 2013

The Chesapeake and Ohio always prided itself on its pursuit of the most modern steam power for all services. In 1924 that search led them to the 2-8-8-2, class H-7. Unlike previous locomotives of this size, the H-7 was a “simple” articulated.

On a simple articulated, steam is fed directly into both sets of pistons on the articulated frame. Earlier Mallet, or compound locomotives fed steam from the boiler to one set of pistons only. The exhausted steam from that pair was fed into the other. Because the expansive properties of steam, the secondary pistons needed to be larger than the first to generate the same power.

C&O

The H-7 shared the C&O’s distinctive style with air compressors and feed water heater on the crowded smokebox front.

Nicknamed “Simple Simons” on the C&O, there was really nothing simple about these massive locomotives. After receiving 25 from Alco in 1924, the C&O went to Baldwin for 20 more in 1926. The two classes of locomotives were visually identical but the Baldwins were credited as being slightly heavier. All of the locomotives generated an impressive 4,092 horsepower at the pistons.

UP

Union Pacific made some cosmetic refinements to their H-7s, though the overall hefty look remained.

Although the locomotives were powerful, they were just one step in the evolution towards better power as the C&O pushed ahead and embraced “Super Power” locomotives. 2-10-4s replaced the slower Simons in flatter terrain and the massive “Allegheny” 2-6-6-6s took over their roles in the mountains. C&O sold 30 to the Union Pacific in 1945. The UP too retired the locomotives as soon as new power could be ordered. The remaining H-7s on the C&O finished their days in hump yards.

Whether you want to drag black diamonds out of the Appalachians, haul freight up Sherman Hill, or just switching cars in the yard, the H-7 will be a good fit on your layout. The Lionel model features all of the great sounds and control you’ve come to expect with specific details appropriate for the C&O and Union Pacific. The locomotives include:

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

The locomotives retail for $1349.99 each and have already shipped. See your dealers to add one of these powerful and pivotal locomotives to your roster today!





Freight Car Friday – Railroads of Milwaukee

2 11 2012

We’re off to Trainfest in Milwaukee this week, so what better time to look at some of the classic fallen flags that have called this city home?

Milwaukee Road

Milwaukee Road

Despite multiple mergers, the bold graphics of later Milwaukee Road cars remain highly visible today.

When you think Milwaukee, Hiawatha’s and rib-sided boxcars probably come to mind right after that other bubbly industry that made the city famous. The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific, better known simply as the Milwaukee Road, had one of the most unique freight car fleets in the midwest.

Perhaps the most distinctive were its home-built cars which included the unique boxcars and cabooses with horizontal stiffening “ribs” on the exterior. These cars traveled the country from the 1940s to the 1980s.

The Milwaukee’s distinctive look began to fade in 1986 when it was merged into the Soo Line, which today is part of CP Rail. Still, decades after the merger you can still find billboard-lettered covered hoppers and even the occasional boxcar roaming the rails in regular service.

Chicago and North Western

The Milwaukee Road’s biggest competitor in its hometown was the Chicago and Northwestern. The C&NW operated both freight and passenger service into and out of the city.

ore

The C&NW offered a rich mix of priority freight, passenger and heavy mineral trains through the region.

Like other roads of the region, the CNW served the agricultural industries heavily. From seasonal grain traffic to refrigerated trains serving the brewers, meat packers and markets, the railroad whisked priority freight trains across the upper midwest. Contrasting this traffic was the heavy flow of iron ore, taconite and coal from the region down to the mills on the south shore of Lake Michigan.

The North Western and the Milwaukee Road actually considered a merger in 1970, but the plans never came to be. After divesting many of its western and smaller lines, the remaining property became part of Union Pacific in 1995. The green and yellow freight cars of the railroad can still be found today all over the massive UP system and beyond. A few locomotives even remain in their original paint.

Soo Line

Soo

Like its competitors, the Soo’s freight operations around Milwaukee featured plenty of covered hoppers and bold graphics through the 1970s and 1980s.

The Soo Line had long been a player in the Milwaukee market, but it also found itself entwined in the history of some of its other carriers. The Soo’s presence in Milwaukee obviously grew greatly in 1985 with its acquisition of the Milwaukee Road. In 1987, it then had a hand in the creation of the “new” Wisconsin Central when it sold off its trackage acquired from the original carrier of the same name in 1960.

Today the Soo is an operating subsidiary of Canadian Pacific, existing on paper only as all operations have been fully integrated into the larger system. Those two roads had a long relationship going back to the Nineteenth Century. Although CP had divested itself of most of its ownership in the Soo following the Milwaukee takeover, it would come back to pick up the line entirely in .

Wisconsin Central

The Wisconsin Central is a classic shortline success story. The railroad began like many, acquiring branchlines spun off by larger carriers in the 1980s, starting with the routes of the original Wisconsin Central from Soo Line in 1987. By the 1990s, the Wisconsin Central was a major regional and international player. The WC acquired the Algoma Central, Fox River Valley and Green Bay and Western routes in its home territory in the United States and Canada.

WC

The Wisconsin Central was an enterprising road that never left an opportunity pass it by. While logging may not be the most thought of industry for Milwaukee, the nearby upper peninsula of Michigan provided a steady flow of lumber products through the region.

Management then followed a unique course of actions, acquiring rail lines in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.  The plucky little shortline now had operations on three continents! It eventually grew so successful it was acquired by Canadian National in 2001. Like the Soo Line, it exists in paper form only, with all of the operations absorbed into the parent company.

The railroad became a fan-favorite for its fleet of SD45 and F45 locomotives, some of which are preserved today. But also like the Soo, Milwaukee, and C&NW, you’ll still find plenty of maroon Wisconsin Central boxcars roaming the rails. And they’ll probably be a common sight for several more years to come.

Chesapeake and Ohio

C&O

You wouldn’t expect to find the Chessie in Wisconsin, but the railroad saw fit to maintain an interchange point here for generations.

Perhaps the most unexpected player in the Milwaukee scene was the Chesapeake and Ohio. While the railroad’s footprint in the city was small, the C&O did maintain a carfloat operation across Lake Michigan and had a small yard in town where it interchanged with the other lines. A C&O, and later Chessie, switcher could usually be found around the Jones Island yard to handle the work.

Little outlying pockets like this can be exciting finds on railroads and a great way to model your favorite line in a different way. No need for Alleghenies or stainless-steel streamliners here, but it’s still the C&O through and through!