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 – Painted Pacifics

19 03 2012

When we think of steam locomotives, one color comes to mind – black. For years, American steam locomotives were very much like the Model T. Such was not the case in other parts of the world, where colored liveries remained the standard long after the days of woodburners ended.

In the United States too, there were exceptions to the rule. The Southern Pacific’s Daylight added a splash of color. There was the Union Pacific with their gray passenger locomotives, and of course streamlined engines nationwide. Lionel is proud to bring back three of the most popular of these historic painted Pacific-type locomotives that plied the rails.

The Southern Crescent

The Crescent

6-11334 The Southern Crescent

Inspired by a visit to England, Fairfax Harrison, the President of the Southern, returned to his home rails with an order to paint several locomotives green. Debuted in 1926, the green and gold locomotives were an instant hit across the system and across the country. Most prominent of these locomotives were the Pacifics assigned to the railroad’s premier passenger train, the Crescent. The Crescent connected New York with New Orleans (via a connection with the Pennsylvania at Washington D.C.)

The green paint and high polish was introduced on the second batch of Ps-4 Pacifics built by Alco in 1926. The locomotives’ design traces its roots to the 1918 USRA light pacific – but the previous eight years had done much to improve power and efficiency. Four of the locomotives had “Crescent Limited” lettering on the tenders and a Crescent moon on the cylinder jackets. The most famous of the Ps-4 locomotives, No. 1401, survives today on permanent display in the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C.

The Alton Limited

Alton Limited

6-11338 The Alton Limited

The Chicago and Alton is a hidden gem in the history of passenger trains. Easily overshadowed by its larger neighbors, the Alton ran a highly competitive passenger service between two of the country’s greatest railroad cities. The railroad even acquired some notable passenger equipment from the B&O, including the boxcab passenger diesel and consist from the Royal Blue.

The Alton Limited was the railroad’s premier train, running between Chicago and St. Louis. Ten Pacifics were delivered by Alco in 1913 in a stunning maroon paint to match the rest of the six car consist. Modernized in 1924, the train’s observation car featured a tea room and library and was dubbed the “Handsomest train in the World.” The Alton was taken over by the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio in 1947, who replaced the steam power with diesels and dropped the Alton name, but the Limited remained in service until Amtrak arrived in 1971.

The Blue Comet

Blue Comet

6-11335 The Blue Comet

The Central Railroad of New Jersey was a major passenger carrier by any measure. But the road’s reputation was earned by the thousands of commuters it carried daily, not by luxurious long distance travel. Proving that travel didn’t have to be long to be good, the Blue Comet was as luxurious as a coach train could be.

Initiated in 1929 to compete with the Pennsylvania Railroad between Jersey City and Atlantic City, the Blue Comet was painted blue and cream with nickel trim from pilot to drumhead. With three new Pacifics capable of 100 mph running, the train initially made two daily round trips to the Jersey Shore. With assigned seating, fine dining and an observation car, the train was an affordable and attractive alternative to the PRR service. The reputation of the Blue Comet has long outlived the train itself, with service discontinued in 1941.

The Lionel Models

Lionel is very pleased to re-release models of these famous painted ladies to add some color to your passenger trains. Now LEGACY control and sound equipped, these are the best models of these popular locomotives produced yet.

Reading and Northern 425

Reading and Northern 425 keeps the pride of painted Pacifics alive today and provides a glimpse of the golden days of their service. Add the excitement of a painted steam locomotive to your roster!

The new models feature LEGACY control, the next best thing to being in the cab itself. The engines will also run on TMCC and conventional control. LEGACY sounds include 32 intensity levels of steam chuff, automatic or individual-hit bell sounds, sequence control which provides realistic sounds to accompany an entire run matched to train speeds, and current speed and fuel dialog, along with refueling sound effects. And of course, you get the best, quilling whistle in the hobby – accompanied by whistle steam.

With a metal frame and body, powerful motor and traction tires, the locomotives will have no problem pulling heavyweight consists. There are many separately applied detail parts – it’s not just the paint color that changes from model to model. Directional lighting, class lights, cab light, firebox and ashpan glow and variable puffing smoke effects complete the visual impact.

These models are ready to speed into your collection soon, so see your dealer to preorder now. All engines will negotiate an O-36 curve and retail for $1099.99.