New Product Spotlight – SD40-2 Diesels

1 07 2013

The best-selling locomotive of all time. Anyone who has spent any time beside the rails from the 1970s to today would have no trouble believing the SD40-2’s rightful claim to that title.


6-38918 Chessie System

The SD40 was overshadowed in the trade press by the more powerful SD45 when EMD introduced the locomotives in 1965. But crankshaft problems and high fuel consumption in the midst of rapidly rising oil prices caused many railroads to quickly reconsider the priorities of horsepower over efficiency. Soon the “mid-size” SD40 was gaining ground and finding buyers all across North America.

When EMD introduced it’s upgraded “-2” electrical package in 1972, the SD40 became even more attractive. The 3,000 horsepower road engine was just the right size for nearly every task. Its efficient and reliable operation sealed the deal.


6-38924 B&O

In order to accommodate the new HT-C trucks without compromising the space for the fuel tank, EMD used a longer frame for the SD40-2. The result was a pair of very large “porches” that gave the SD40-2 a distinctive look. When EMD modified the radiator air intakes for the “Tunnel Motor” SD40T-2, most of the back porch was eliminated. We’ve included this variation on our Union Pacific model.


6-38936 Union Pacific (SD40T-2)

In total, EMD sold 3,982 SD40-2s between 1972 and 1989. A testament to the locomotive’s reliability,  most are still in service today. Many railroads have rebuilt their SD40-2 fleets as opposed to selling or trading them. Most of those that have been sold have gone to leasing companies which loan the locomotives back to the railroads when traffic demands are high. Other locomotives like SD45s and SD50s have been rebuilt so that, at least internally, they are identical to the SD40-2.

Found on railroads coast-to-coast (and beyond), Lionel is proud to add five new roadnames to our growing family of SD40-2s. All of the models feature:

  • LEGACY Control – also capable of running on TMCC or Conventional


    6-38933 Conrail

  • Odyssey II Speed Control
  • LEGACY RailSounds including
    • CrewTalk and TowerCom dialog
    • 6 Railroad speeds
    • 8 Diesel RPM levels
    • LEGACY Quilling horn
    • Single hit or continuous mechanical bell
    • Sequence control provides sounds and dialog for an entire trip around your layout
    • Current speed and fuel dialog and refueling sounds
  • ElectroCouplers on front and rear
  • Dual motors with flywheels
  • Refined Transformer Control with lower starting speeds
  • Traction Tires
  • Fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output
  • Directional lighting including LED headlights
  • Working Marker Lights
  • Illuminated number boards
  • Lighted and detailed cab interior with figures
  • Operating Ditch Lights
  • Metal frame
  • Die-cast metal trucks, fuel tank and pilots
  • O-31 minimum curve

Two LEGACY powered and one non-powered locomotive are available for each roadname allowing you to recreate a typical 3-unit consist. These locomotives also frequently wandered from one railroad to another, so mixing some of your favorites will look perfectly prototypical.

Non-Powered locomotives feature:


6-38939 Norfolk Southern

  • Die-cast metal trucks, pilot and fuel tank
  • Select separately applied details
  • Magnetic couplers

In addition to the five new roadnames pictured here, the SD40-2s are also available decorated for the Norfolk and Western, Missouri Kansas and Texas, Burlington Northern, Frisco, Chicago and Northwestern and CSX. See our 2013 Catalog for more images.

From sea to shining sea, the SD40-2 is the perfect power for anybody who enjoys the trains of the 1970s to today. See your local dealer to add this best-seller to your roster.

Freight Car Friday – Cars of Chessie System

15 06 2012

Today marks the 39th Anniversary of the creation of the Chessie System. Chessie was an interesting combination of three railroads – the Baltimore and Ohio, Chesapeake and Ohio and Western Maryland. The railroads adopted a common and colorful paint scheme for their equipment and generally operated as a single carrier, but the three roads remained independent on paper. One reason for this was a permanent tax exemption given to the B&O by the state of Maryland on its founding which remained in place for the life of the road.


From aging Alcos to SD50s, Chessie’s colorful diesels ran the gamut.

The B&O had actually been controlled by the C&O for several years before this reorganization. The C&O, with deep financial reserves from its reliable coal business, remained the controlling player in Chessie as well. Western Maryland’s inclusion paved the way for the abandonment of much of its mainline across Maryland and Pennsylvania, which paralleled the B&O closely. Beyond this, route consolidations were minimal.

covered hopper

Chessie rostered thousands of covered hoppers. Their enormous fleet of 2-Bay cars remain common sights today.

From the outsider’s perspective, the three roads merged into one. And that line, named for the mascot on the C&O’s passenger trains – a cat named Chessie, wore one of the most colorful images of the era. Chessie’s bright yellow, vermillion and blue paint scheme, with the large “Chess-C” logo, stood out boldly. From diesel locomotives to freight cars, even an equally colorful steam excursion, you could spot Chessie’s equipment from a mile a way.


If there was one car that typified Chessie it would have to be a coal hopper. From aging 55 ton offset side cars to new 100 tonners, hoppers made up the majority of the Chessie fleet.

The reporting marks of each company were retained and displayed on the sides of cars. This provided the added advantage of not having to renumber freight cars into a new cohesive system. New purchases were assigned to different railroads by need and revenue. Boxcars, some gondolas and hoppers were painted blue with yellow lettering and graphics. Covered hoppers were yellow with blue graphics. Most hoppers and gondolas were black with yellow lettering. Maintenance equipment was a little less standardized, but was normally painted green.


As if the bright yellow cabooses weren’t colorful enough already, Chessie painted several cars in special safety schemes. Done individually by different car shops, no two were exactly the same.

The colorful line was an instant hit with railfans and modelers and remains popular today, more than two decades after the Chessie lines became part of CSX Transportation. The logo had a unique look and a broad public appeal. How many of us named our cats Chessie?

CSX set

Lionel’s CSX merger set recreated the look of the railroad in its early years, with a patched locomotive and predecessor cars.

Although the company officially disappeared in 1987, many Chessie-painted freight cars still roam the rails. After the merger, many locomotives were simply patched and renumbered into the CSX recording system. Others were repainted into CSX livery while retaining original reporting marks. Some have survived – patched or in original paint – to this day.

Steam Special

The bright Chessie Steam Specials were about as gaudy as a steam excursion could get, but most railfans didn’t mind!

Lionel has made many Chessie cars over the years, including the recent fanciful Chessie heritage pieces. It remains one of the most colorful railroad prototypes of all time, and even little railfans love “the cat train!” Why not add a little color to your layout?