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.


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!

Freight Car Friday – Erie Cars

26 10 2012

This is the time of year when all of our thoughts turn to things spooky. So for this week’s feature let’s look at some Erie freight cars – the Erie Railroad that is!


The Erie’s paint scheme was simple but classy. The railroad heavily favored Pullman Standard for its freight car orders.

The railroad was chartered in 1832 and the line reached the shores of its namesake lake at Dunkirk, NY in 1851. The decision to build the line to a very broad six-foot gauge had both good and bad consequences for the future of the railroad. In the long run, even though the railroad would eventually be narrowed to standard gauge, the extra clearances afforded by the broad construction gave the Erie and its successors the best clearances in the East.

This engineering also greatly increased construction costs however. The Erie was the first major trunk line to declare bankruptcy in 1859, and the company always seemed to be playing catch-up to its many large rivals in the region. An old Vaudeville joke even went, “I have to get to Chicago in the worst way!” “Take the Erie.”


The Erie handled coal too, but nearly on the volume of its competitors in the region.

There were of course some good years through the history of the railroad, and many of its great engineering achievements are still marvels of railroading today. The Erie officially disappeared in 1960 when it merged with neighbor and partner, Delaware Lackawanna and Western to form the Erie Lackawanna. The combined systems were a much leaner and more efficient operation that managed to hold on until Hurricane Agnes wiped out large portions of the line in 1973.

The property became part of Conrail in 1976 and significant portions of the old Erie are now owned by roads including Norfolk Southern and many regional carriers.


The railroad used its well-graded mainline and friendly western connections to expedite produce shipments to New York markets in solid trains of refrigerated cars.

With its good clearances and access to many manufacturing centers, the Erie had a wide range of rolling stock. From boxcars of all sizes, to heavy-duty flatcars for large loads, the Erie’s roster was filled with the sublime and the incredible.


The Erie had a large roster of both conventional and specialized flatcars to serve the heavy industries located along its lines.

The railroad’s specialized flatcar fleet was among the most long-lived. Many of the cars lasted well into Conrail years before retirement.

In other areas, the Erie had little money or reason to invest in modern equipment. Its hoppers were all of the smaller 55 ton variety. Its boxcar fleet was also dominated be shorter 40′ designs. Many of these cars were replaced or retired during the Erie Lackawanna years.

While the Erie railroad’s history was rocky and at times a bit scary if you were an investor, there was nothing haunting about their equipment. From its simple but classy paint scheme, to strings of produce cars rushing east behind a Mikado, to a towering transformer on a heavy-duty flatcar, Erie trains were a class act. And although often overshadowed by its larger competitors, the Erie was a proud line that deserves a little more credit than it usually receives for its role in railroading history.