New Product Spotlight – LEGACY SD70MAC

18 08 2014

As AC traction motor technology improved in the 1990s, the SD70MAC emerged as ideal power for heavy trains.

Prototype Background

6-81134 Burlington Northern

6-81134 Burlington Northern

Billed as the biggest technological development since the switch from steam to diesel, improvements in AC traction motor technology promised major changes in how railroads ran trains and assigned power.

Diesels with conventional DC traction motors can develop a lot of power at low speed, but only for a short period of time before the motors will overheat. AC traction motors on the other hand can run at full power without overheating for a long time. This gives AC motored locomotives an advantage in hauling heavy drag freights like coal trains. After testing EMD’s SD60MAC prototypes, Burlington Northern determined they could replace five aging SD40-2 and C30-7 locomotives with just three new SD70MACs on their Powder River Basin coal trains. Burlington Northern’s initial order for 350 SD70MACs brought AC traction to the spotlight in a big way.

6-81138 BNSF

6-81138 BNSF

Along with the AC motors, the SD70MAC featured improved anti-slip control which greatly improved the locomotives’ adhesion. In other words, the SD70MAC didn’t pull more because it was more powerful, it pulled more because it made better use of the power it produced. The SD70MACs could dig in and pull when conventional locomotives just spun their wheels. It wasn’t long before other railroads were trying out AC as well.

6-81141 Conrail

6-81141 Conrail

While Burlington Northern and most of the other railroads which purchased the SD70MAC did so for coal and other heavy drag freight trains, the locomotives often wander into other service corridors as well. Unit grain trains and general merchandise are common assignments. Perhaps most unusual are those on the Alaska Railroad which sometimes find themselves pulling passengers.

Lionel’s Model

Our latest release brings the model up to date with today’s LEGACY control and other great features, including:

  • LEGACY Control System – able to run on LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional control layouts
  • Odyssey II Speed Control with On / Off switch
  • LEGACYRailSounds including
    • CrewTalk andTowerCom dialog

      6-81153 CSX

      6-81153 CSX

    • 6 Official railroad speeds
    • 8 Diesel RPM levels
    • Quilling Horn
    • Bell (single hit and continuous)
    • Sequence Control
    • Current speed and fuel dialog
    • Refueling sounds
  • Dual maintenance-free motors
  • Traction Tires
  • Refined Conventional Control mode with lower starting speeds
  • Front and Rear ElectroCouplers
  • Fan-driven smoke with adjustable output
  • ARR

    6-81153 Alaska

    IR Transmitter (works with the new SensorTrack)

  • Directional lighting
  • Marker Lights
  • Lighted cab interior with crew
  • Many separately applied metal detail parts
  • Metal frame, pilots, trucks and fuel tank
  • Minimum Curve – O31

Another notable improvement over previous SD70MAC runs, we’ve lowered the fuel tank to a more realistic appearance.

The SD70MAC is being built to order. They were presented in two road numbers for Alaska, Burlington Northern, BNSF, CSX, and Kansas City Southern (one in the gray and one in the Southern Belle scheme). A Conrail SD70MAC is available as part of the Big Blue Auto Parts Boxcar Set and as a single number for separate sale. Look to see them later this year at your local Lionel dealer with a suggested retail price of $549.99.

New Product Spotlight – American Flyer ES44AC

7 04 2014

6-42581 BNSF 6423 (#6438 also available)

We introduced the new American Flyer ES44AC last year as part of the Norfolk Southern Heritage Series. This year we’re bringing more paint schemes from many of this modern standard’s other operators.

Since its introduction in 2003, General Electric’s ES44AC has become a common sight on railroads all across North America. While AC traction motor-equipped locomotives are generally preferred for slower, heavy freights like coal trains, you will see these locomotives on almost any type of train. And with railroads frequently interchanging the locomotives along with the rest of the train today, it is not at all uncommon to find “foreign power” on your local line.


6-42582 Canadian Pacific 8744 (#8730 also available)

This year’s lineup of American Flyer ES44ACs will include some great names from coast to coast: BNSF, Canadian Pacific, CSX, Kansas City Southern, and Union Pacific. Powered locomotives for each roadname will be offered with two different numbers. For the KCS locomotives, one number will wear the Southern Belle scheme, the other a “what if” version of their gray paint scheme.

The American Flyer ES44AC is packed with features.


6-42584 CSX 924 (#937 also available)

  • LEGACY Control System – able to run on LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional power. The models are also DCC enabled.
  • AF Speed Control with on/off switch for maintaining an even speed through curves and grades
  • LEGACYRailSounds featuring
    • CrewTalk and TowerCom announcements with varying scenarios based on the train’s motion
    • Eight diesel RPM levels
    • LEGACY Quilling Horn
    • Single hit or continuous mechanical bell
    • Independent volume control
  • Two maintenance-free motors
  • Front and RearElectroCouplers


    6-42586 KCS 4692 (#4696 also available in gray paint)

  • Mounting holes and support plate for scale couplers (sold separately)
  • Pivoting Pilot allows for operation on tight curves with better appearance
  • Operating headlight, ditch lights, illuminated number boards and detailed cab interior
  • Traction Tires
  • Metal Frame
  • Fan-driven smoke unit
  • Die-cast metal trucks, pilots and fuel tank
  • Separately applied metal details
  • Cab window glass
  • Engineer and conductor figures

6-42589 Union Pacific 7494 (#7523 also available)

All locomotives will negotiate S-36 curves. All come with American Flyer wheels but can be switched to scale wheels which will be available separately through Lionel Customer Service.

ES44AC locomotives retail for $529.99. If you are looking for colorful modern power for your American Flyer layout, it doesn’t get any better than this.

New Product Spotlight – The Southern Belle

23 09 2013

We’ll wrap up our look at Lionel’s famous passenger trains with a true glamour girl, the Kansas City Southern’s Southern Belle.

The Southern Belle

The Southern Belle was the premier train of the Kansas City Southern between Kansas City, Missouri and New Orleans. Service began in 1940 with new cars from American Car and Foundry and some rebuilt heavyweight sleepers to match the new consist.

Southern Belle

In an era of silver-sided streamliners, the Southern Belle stood out.

New cars were bought again for the train in 1948. The consist was never a lengthy one compared to some of the super-streamliners we’ve seen. A typical consist from the 1940s through the 1950s would have included about 9 cars. For most of its years a round-ended observation brought up the markers. One of these is preserved today in Houston.

For the trivia buffs out there, there was a “southern belle” to represent the train. Chosen from contestants in cities along the line in 1940, Margaret Landry Moore was the KCS’s “Miss Southern Belle” and featured in advertising. The story of the pageant and the train’s debut are well documented on the video seen below. It is clear that in 1940 the railroad was still an important part of small town America as crowds packed station platforms along the route.

Although the train discontinued service in 1969, a few years after the loss of mail contracts, the famous color scheme would come back again. In 1995 the KCS brought back the classic livery on its “new” executive passenger cars and F units. An adaptation of the locomotives’ paint scheme has been added to some of the roads modern freight diesels in recent years as well. The “Southern Belle” remains a classy train whether it is an E9 on a lightweight streamliner or ES44AC’s on an intermodal train.

Lionel’s Models

Now you can bring this classy train to your rails. These new Lionel models are packed with the features you’ve come to expect and when decorated in this paint scheme are simply hard to beat.

The new E9s include one powered and one non-powered locomotive. Both engines feature:

  • Fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output
  • Directional lighting including LED headlights


    Kansas City Southern’s E9s maintained a classy charm and a paint scheme that looks good even on modern diesels.

  • Front ElectroCouplers
  • Working front Marker Lights
  • Illuminated number boards
  • Lighted and detailed cab interior
  • Die-cast metal trucks, fuel tank and pilots
  • High level of separately applied details
  • O-31 minimum curve

Powered locomotives also feature:

  • 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
  • Dual motors with flywheels
  • Refined Transformer Control with lower starting speeds
  • Traction Tires
  • Engineer and Fireman figures

Passenger cars feature:

  • Die-cast sprung metal trucks with operating couplers featuring hidden uncoupling tabs
  • Extruded aluminum bodies with flush-fitting windows

    passenger cars

    Whether you want to recreate the classic streamliner or a modern business train, these cars are sure to be the belle of your layout.

  • Operating end vestibules with flexible diaphragms
  • Separately applied metal roof vents and grab irons
  • Interior lighting with on/off switch
  • Detailed interiors with passenger and crew figures
  • Operating marker and end lights on observation car
  • Lighted drumhead on observation car
  • Metal frame
  • Metal underframe details
  • O-54 minimum curve

The locomotives retail for $929.99 and the passenger car 4-packs for $639.99. The Southern Belle could add a little class to your layout. Whether you want a classic streamliner or a modern business fleet this train will be a hit.

New Product Spotlight – Kansas City Southern Belle Set

14 01 2013

Compared to its competition, the Kansas City Southern is a surprisingly small railroad. But what it lacks in size, it clearly makes up for in history and style.

The railroad has a long history, dating to 1877. With the passage of NAFTA in 1994, the railroad seized on the opportunity to expand on the “Southern” in its name. Partnering with companies in Mexico, the KCS began extending its reach further and further south of the border. Today it is the smallest and second oldest “Class 1” railroad in the United States, and the only one with operations in both the US and Mexico (as well as Panama.)

KCS set

6-30186 The Kansas City Southern’s Southern Belle is one of the prettiest faces in railroading.

The Southern Belle was once the flagship train of the KCS. In 1995, celebrating its new markets and growth, the railroad purchased three EMD F units and painted them in the classic black, yellow and red colors along with their business train.

Ten years later, KCS applied a variation of the Southern Belle scheme to its new SD70ACE locomotives. These classic colors are now used on all new locomotive purchases as well as adaptations for new freight cars. And there are rumored plans to use the scheme on future locomotive repaints as well. In addition to being seen up and down their own international mainlines, KCS locomotives can often be found roaming the country on other railroads as well.

Lionel’s Kansas City Southern Ready to Run set brings this classic scheme to your home. From the GP-38 locomotive to the caboose, the set is cloaked in black, yellow and red.

The set includes a GP38 locomotive with:

  • transformer controlled forward / neutral / reverse operation
  • dual motors
  • RailSounds RTR including
    • diesel sounds
    • horn
    • bell
    • user-activated crew dialog
  • working headlight
  • metal frame
  • dual operating couplers

Trailing behind the locomotive are a high-cube boxcar with working doors, single-dome tank car, two-bay covered hopper and lighted caboose. The cars all feature die-cast metal trucks (sprung on all cars but the caboose) and operating couplers.

Also included is a 40″x60″ oval of FasTrack and a CW-80 transformer so you can start your collection or grow your empire. The set retails for $349.99 and is available at dealers now. Don’t miss your chance to invite a Southern Belle into your home!