New Product Spotlight – LEGACY USRA Heavy Mikado

30 06 2014

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.

Prototype Background


6-81182 Louisville and Nashville

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.

3D Mikado

This 3D printed boiler provides a first look at the new locomotive. The finished models will have a die-cast boiler.

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:

  • CNJ

    6-81185 Central of New Jersey

    Central RR of New Jersey

  • Chicago Burlington and Quincy
  • Chicago Milwaukee, St Paul and Pacific
  • Chicago, St Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha
  • Erie
  • Fort Worth and Denver (CB&Q)
  • Great Northern
  • Louisville and Nashville
  • Pittsburgh and Lake Erie (NYC)
  • Frisco

    6-81186 Frisco

    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.

Lionel’s Model


6-81192 Great Northern

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
  • NYC

    6-81188 New York Central

    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
  • C&IM

    6-81187 Chicago and Illinois Midland

    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

6-81184 Pittsburgh and West Virginia

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.

New Product Spotlight – Great Northern PS Freight Set

13 05 2013

The aptly named Great Northern was the northern-most of America’s transcontinental rail lines. Its route across the Rocky Mountains was as challenging as it is beautiful. Built completely from private funds, the Great Northern was unique among the trancontinentals (and most other railroads) in not using any public land grants or funds for its construction.


6-29309 Great Northern Pullman Standard Freight Set

The route has proven to be a critical part of our national infrastructure as a pipeline for commerce to and from ports in the Pacific Northwest. Even today, the line is a key part of the massive BNSF network.

Then and now, moving the freight requires powerful locomotives and lots of freight cars. Lionel’s new Great Northern Pullman Standard Freight Set offers both! Our LEGACY equipped GP35 is powerful yet small enough to handle the curves of most layouts. Each of the three freight cars replicates a standard design by the Pullman Standard Company, one of the country’s largest freight car manufacturers.

The GP35 is decorated in the Great Northern’s attractive green and orange scheme. An additional LEGACY and non-powered unit are also available for individual sale. The locomotive features:

  • LEGACY Control – also capable of running on TMCC or Conventional
  • 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
  • Metal frame
  • Die-cast metal trucks, fuel tank and pilots
  • O-31 minimum curve

Trailing behind are three of Pullman Standard’s most prolific products. The 40′ PS-1 boxcar was found on railroads all across North America and you’d be hard pressed to find a mixed freight without at least one in the consist. The boxcar in this set is decorated for the Western Pacific and includes sliding doors.

A 34′ PS-2 covered hopper for the Union Pacific is next. These ubiquitous small cars carry cement and other bulk and heavy dry products. The model features opening roof hatches and a metal frame and ends.

A PS-4 flatcar comes loaded with a pair of Great Northern piggyback trailers. It’s a fitting addition for this train. Today this route is a key intermodal corridor. The flatcar features a real wood deck and the body is die-cast, along with the two trailers.

And of course, bringing up the rear we have a classic wide-vision caboose in the Great Northern’s Big Sky Blue. The lighted caboose also features a lighted and painted interior with figures, rotating roller bearing caps on the axles, and a smoke unit with on/off switch.

All of the cars feature operating couplers with hidden uncoupling tabs and all but the caboose have sprung metal trucks. The entire train will also operate on O-31 curves.

This great train retails for $829.99 and should be shipping later this month.

New Product Spotlight – BNSF Heritage Units

17 09 2012

Norfolk Southern’s Heritage Unit have certainly captured the spotlight this year! And our forthcoming models are no exception. And all of this buzz has prompted many to ask, “Will CSX and BNSF follow?” Well we don’t know either, but we sure can dream. Now you can share that vision with our renditions of what a BNSF Heritage fleet might look like on the SD70ACe.

Burlington Northern

6-38741 Burlington Northern

The six locomotives pay fitting tribute to some of the most famous of BNSF’s predecessors. Of course you have the Burlington Northern and the Santa Fe. We’ve also included the classic fallen flags of the Burlington, Frisco, Great Northern and Northern Pacific. All of the locomotives feature colors and styling that captures the classic look of the original lines with a splash of modern style to fit the angles of the SD70ACe. These will look good alongside your other BNSF equipment, or pooled with the many other Heritage units we’ve produced.


6-38750 EMD Demonstrator

Looking for color without the heritage? We’ve also got the SD70ACe Demonstrator included in this run. The new locomotive was EMD’s ambassador and sales representative to railroads all across the continent, now you can bring it to yours. Note that we are only offering the one road number in a powered model for the demonstrator.

Santa Fe

6-38735 Santa Fe

Each of the schemes is presented in three road numbers – two LEGACY-equipped powered units and one non-powered. You can build your fantasy consist as large as you’d like to power any train – whether it’s crossing the Montana Rockies or the Arizona deserts. Each of the powered locomotives features:

  • LEGACY Control System – able to run on LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional control layouts
  • Odyssey II Speed Control with On / Off switch
  • Great Northern

    9-38744 Great Northern

    LEGACY RailSounds including

    • CrewTalk and TowerCom dialog
    • 6 Official railroad speeds
    • 8 Diesel RPM levels
    • Quilling Horn
    • Bell (single hit and continuous)
    • Sequence Control
    • Current speed and fuel dialog
    • Refueling sounds
  • Northern Pacifc

    6-38747 Northern Pacific

    Dual maintenance-free motors

  • Traction Control
  • Refined Conventional Control mode with lower starting speeds
  • Front and Rear ElectroCouplers
  • Fan-driven smoke with adjustable output
  • Directional lighting
  • Marker Lights
  • Illuminated Number Boards


    6-38738 Frisco

  • Oscillating Ditch Lights
  • Working Ground Lights
  • Lighted cab interior with crew
  • Metal frame, pilots, trucks and fuel tank
  • MSRP: $529.99

Non-powered models feature:


6-38732 Burlington

  • Metal frame, trucks, pilot and couplers
  • Front and rear magnetic couplers
  • Select separately applied details
  • MSRP: $259.99

All of the locomotives will negotiate an O-31 curve and will be pulling into your dealers very soon. Who knows – maybe the prototype will follow suit soon too?

New Product Spotlight – LEGACY GP-9s

25 06 2012

Through the history of railroading, there are few locomotives that can stand up with the GP-9 for its longevity, versatility and impact on the industry. Perfect in their simplicity, these locomotives could be found just about everywhere.

Santa Fe

6-38579 Santa Fe

The GP-9, and its immediate predecessor the GP-7, were not the first of the “road-switcher” design locomotives, they didn’t introduce a new diesel engine or other ground-breaking technology, and their styling was such that even EMD didn’t expect these utilitarian locomotives to sell. In fact, the simple no-frills locomotive was exactly what the railroads were looking for.

While the move to replace steam began well before the “Geep” was designed, it was these locomotives more than any other that drove the final nail. The GP was everything a steam locomotive was not. It was a versatile locomotive, capable of handling just about any assignment given. Unlike steam locomotives that were specifically tailored to a specific operation or even a specific operating territory, the GPs performed equally well as freight, passenger and switch engines in mountains, across the plains or shuttling around urban yards.

Great Northern

6-34664 Great Northern

The new locomotives were also efficient. The simple design made maintenance much easier on a locomotive that was already miles ahead of its steam counterparts. Multiple units could be coupled together and operated as one, increasing both the versatility and efficiency. Operating cost fell quickly as railroads replaced remaining steam locomotives with new Geeps.


6-34666 Louisville and Nashville

Although style was not a prime consideration in its design, by their numbers and longevity, the GP-9 has become one of the most recognizable faces in railroading. And while to those who watched these ubiquitous diesels replace beloved steam, they “all looked the same,” there was a surprising amount of variety in the basic Geep. EMD and GMD built 4,095 GP-9s and many enjoyed exceptionally long careers, being rebuilt numerous times. You can still find these landmark locomotives in service today on shortlines, regional railroads and industrial sites.


Rock Island

6-34662 Rock Island

In our latest release of this popular model, we’ve tried to capture some of the many variations in details on these locomotives, and some paint schemes that haven’t been offered in the past. Details like exhaust stacks, bells, horns, dynamic brakes and winterization covers are all customized per road. Two powered and one non-powered models are available for each scheme. In addition to the roads shown here, Canadian National is also being offered, with one of the powered units as part of the Piggyback Set (6-11181).

LEGACY Powered GP-9s include:


6-34681 Union Pacific

  • LEGACY control – capable of running on TMCC and conventional as well
  • Odyssey II Speed Control for 2 Maintenance free motors with momentum flywheels
  • LEGACY Railsounds including
    • Crewtalk and TowerCom communications
    • Six official railroad speeds
    • Eight diesel RPM levels
    • Quilling Horn along with appropriate warning sounds
    • Bell with single hit or continuous sounds
    • Sequence Control to narrate an entire trip
    • Fuel and speed announcements and refueling sounds


    6-34670 Chesapeake and Ohio

  • Fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output
  • Lighting Effects including
    • Directional LED headlight and back-up light
    • Marker lights front and rear
    • Number boards
    • Cab interior
  • Traction tires
  • Die cast metal pilot, trucks and fuel tank
  • Detailed cab interior with window glass and engineer and fireman figures
  • Loads of separately applied details
  • ElectroCouplers on front and rear
  • MSRP: $479.99

Non-Powered Locomotives Feature


6-34737 Northern Pacific

  • Die cast metal pilot, trucks and fuel tank
  • Select separately applied details
  • Magnetic couplers on front and rear
  • MSRP: $239.99

Available roadnames include: Rock Island, Louisville and Nashville, Great Northern, Chesapeake and Ohio, Northern Pacific, Union Pacific and Santa Fe. All locomotives will negotiate an O-31 curve. The GP-9s are at your dealers now! See more on our Customer Service Product Video.