New Product Spotlight – LEGACY AC-12 Cab Forward

24 03 2014

Faced with rough mountain grades covered by tunnels and snow sheds, the Southern Pacific’s unique “Cab Forwards” were a breath of fresh air to the engineer and fireman. The ultimate development of the design, the AC-12 4-8-8-2, battled the Sierra’s from 1943 until 1958.


No. 4294 is the last survivor of the Cab Forwards – a fitting ambassador to the power of steam and innovation of the Southern Pacific.

The AC-12 saw service on a variety of trains. They were used on general freight, priority produce trains and occasionally as helpers on heavy passenger trains. Even these huge machines were often seen working in pairs or more with locomotives placed at the head end, mid train and on / or on the rear to get the heaviest trains over the mountains. Despite their success, the AC-12 would have the dubious distinction of being the last new steam locomotives purchased by the Espee.

The coming diesel locomotives were already a “cab forward” design as far as the crew was concerned. Interestingly though, the many tunnels would play a role with the development of later diesels, namely the SD40T-2 and SD45T-2 “Tunnel Motors.”

Only one Cab Forward, No. 4294, is preserved today. It is also the last new steam locomotive purchased by the Southern Pacific. It can be seen strategically placed next to the first locomotive of the Central Pacific, the C.P. Huntington, at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.

cab forward

The Cab Forward will be available in three road numbers in traditional SP markings for those daring enough to recreate a full size train!

The Lionel AC-12

Lionel is bringing back the AC-12 in 2014 with its best features yet including LEGACY control, RailSounds and Whistle Steam!

Note that like many of the Southern Pacific’s later steam locomotives, the AC-12 was equipped with both a steam whistle and an air horn. The engineer could choose which ever he preferred, and with your LEGACY remote you can too.

The locomotive 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 and Horn” control – choose between the steam whistle and air horn just like the prototype
    • 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
  • 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


    While none were ever painted to match, the SP did use the Cab Forwards to help its Daylights and other passenger trains over the mountains. This colorful “what if” would make a great companion to your Lionel Daylight cars and GS class locomotives.

  • 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
  • Cab glass windows
  • Engineer and fireman figures
  • IR Transmitter for communication with LCS SensorTrack
  • O-72 Minimum curve

For 2014, we are offering the AC-12 in three different road numbers in the traditional Southern Pacific paint scheme. We are also offering a “What If” Daylight version for those who’d like to add some matching heavy mountain power to their Daylight passenger trains. An unpainted Pilot model is also available. Retail price is $1699.99.

Road numbers are as follows:

  • 6-11462  #4294
  • 6-11463  #4291
  • 6-11464  #4286
  • 6-11465  #4275 “Daylight”
  • 6-11469  Pilot Model (unpainted)

These locomotives will be among the first from the new catalogs produced in 2014 so don’t wait!  See your Lionel dealer and order your piece of Southern Pacific history today.

New Product Spotlight – LEGACY E8 and E9

17 03 2014

We first introduced our E8 and E9 diesels here on the blog last year. Here’s an update on the project, along with photos of our production samples. These locomotives will be on your dealers’ shelves soon!

E8 noses

Lionel’s new E8 and E9 capture the look of one of the most famous faces of railroading.

One of the most famous passenger locomotives of all time, the E8 and E9 were the last in the long line of EMD’s E units. These locomotives were the face of passenger service on most of America’s railroads for nearly forty years. Towards the end, many found their way into freight service as well. For more history of the prototype locomotives and the trains they pulled, see our earlier blog.

The new E8s include one powered and one non-powered locomotive. Both engines feature:

E9 nose

The Union Pacific E9 features a single headlight above the nose door.

  • Fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output
  • Directional lighting including LED headlights and Mars Lights where appropriate
  • 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 including the Pennsy’s Trainphone antennae
  • 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
    SP nose

    Like the prototype, the Southern Pacific locomotive includes a headlight on the nose door and a Mars light above.

      • 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
  • IR Transmitter
UP details

In addition to the Mars light, locomotives feature appropriate pilots, horns and other roof-top details appropriate to each prototype.

The A-A locomotive sets will be available in Baltimore and Ohio, Burlington, Florida East Coast, Kansas City Southern, Milwaukee Road, Pennsylvania, Southern Pacific and Union Pacific. Retail price is $929.99. Matching passenger car sets will also be available.SP e8

Lionel Releases LEGACY Protocol

15 01 2014

Lionel has announced that we are releasing our LEGACY protocol to promote a more universal control standard for the O Gauge hobbyist. Here is the official press release:

Concord, NC – January 15, 2014 – Lionel LLC today announced it will make public its Legacy command protocol and open its WiFi-to-model-railroad interface in an effort to grow the hobby by allowing a single remote to control all manufacturers’ locomotives.

Industry hobbyists have long pined for a universal remote to integrate and control model railroad layouts. Lionel is taking the first step towards realizing this goal via the user’s own smart device and Lionel’s WiFi adapter. Layout Control System (LCS) WiFi creates a common access point with a royalty-free protocol designed for model railroading. Any manufacturer can use LCS WiFi to support their unique locomotive command sets. Within this framework, hobbyists will be able to control different manufacturers’ locomotives seamlessly from one app running on a smart phone or tablet.

“To keep up with today’s mobile-centric landscape, unified control from a smart phone or tablet is critical in growing the hobby of model railroading,” says Jon Zahornacky, Chief Technology Officer at Lionel. “Publishing our WiFi protocol gives the hobby a royalty-free path to controlling any manufacturer’s model trains from smart devices using our WiFi adapter.”

Lionel is working closely with LCS partners to develop their own apps that connect to Lionel’s WiFi interface. The first announced such product is Blue Train developed by Bob Krivacic, a long-time innovator in the model railroad industry. The BlueTrain app runs on Android devices, connects to LCS WiFi, runs Lionel locomotives and can be used simultaneously with any other LCS-compatible controller.

“By opening the Legacy protocol, Lionel is allowing other manufacturers’ products to control Lionel Trains. It’d be great to see other manufacturers follow suit and begin sharing their own proprietary protocols. Everyone involved in the model railroad world stands to benefit,” says Bob Krivacic, industry innovator and developer.

The Legacy command specification is available and can be downloaded from The WiFi specification is available through the LCS Partner program.

New Product Spotlight – LCS Sensor Track

13 01 2014

We’re always working on ways to help you get the most out of your model trains. The new LCS SensorTrack™ will open even more options for control, effects, automation, and of course, fun! The SensorTrack™ is one part of our LCS System which will help you put the control of your entire layout in the palm of your hand. As with the introduction of any new technology like LCS, we know there will be questions. Here are answers to those we’ve heard most frequently.

What is the SensorTrack?

sensor track

The new Sensor Track opens many doors and connects quickly to your layout and LEGACY LCS system.

LCS SensorTrack™ is a 5” straight FasTrack section equipped with an infra-red receiver. This receiver reads data beamed out of all Lionel LEGACY and VISION locomotives that are equipped with an infra-red transmitter. When a compatible locomotive crosses a SensorTrack™, engine details like TMCC ID, road name, number, engine type, lighting options, fuel levels and direction of travel are retrieved by the track and transmitted through your LCS installation to your Cab and/or iPad® controller.

For those who have expressed an interest in this system for other track types, we have heard your requests and we’ll be happy to post some news on those projects when we can. And for those who would like to see the app available for non-Apple products, we have heard your voices as well and will announce options when they are available.

What Does it Do?

You can use SensorTracks™ to perform a variety of functions around your layout.

  • Use them to track your trains. When your locomotive crosses the sensor, its identification will display on your iPad track diagram. This can be very helpful when running multiple trains on large layouts or coordinating train movements for prototypical operating sessions.

    Cab 2

    The LCS SensorTrack and system have been designed with easy installation in mind. Here is all you need to incorporate the track and your LEGACY Cab2 Remote.

  • Display current locomotive fuel levels on a Cab-2 Remote
  • Easily update your database with new and visiting locomotives. If you add a new locomotive to your roster, or if you’re “leasing” power from friends, just run the locomotive over the SensorTrack™ and the name and number are automatically added to your iPad and Cab-2.
  • Trigger preset functions. For example; place a sensor track ahead of a grade crossing to automatically trigger the proper whistle / horn signal.
  • Trigger custom functions. You can also record and playback your own custom functions. Make a station stop, reverse direction, even combine multiple actions.
      • These functions can be applied to all of your locomotives, or be locomotive specific. So you could for example, make your favorite passenger train stop automatically at a station while others roll by on the mainline.
      • The commands are also direction specific – you can apply a different command if the train is moving left-right or right-left across the sensor (it does not matter whether the locomotive is in Forward or Reverse – just the direction of travel across the track.)

What Do I Need?


The SensorTrack easily connects to the Base 1L as well.

Start with the 6-81499 LCS Power Supply with DB9 Cable. Only one of these is required per layout.

The preset and custom recording commands require a Base-1L or a LEGACY Base.

Viewing fuel levels of passing locomotives requires a Cab-2 and LEGACY Base.

The LCS WiFi and free LCS App are not required to use SensorTrack, but they add the ability to see your locomotives’ position on the track diagrams you create with the LCS App.


Add the LCS WiFi module for even more control options.

If you want your SensorTrack™ to trigger the operation of switches or accessories (which are not already command enabled) through LCS, you’ll need control modules for those as well. What you need depends on what you want to do. The new LCS system is flexible enough to meet your needs without requiring you to purchase options you don’t want. For a complete list of all these options and more information on how they work together, refer to the LCS page at

What Locomotives Will Work with SensorTrack?

The easiest way to determine if a locomotive is compatible with SensorTrack™ is to flip it over and look for the infrared (IR) transmitter.


Typical steam locomotive IR Transmitter

On a LEGACY or VISION steam engine, you’ll find this on the tender. Sometimes it is attached to the truck. In other cases, it may be tucked into a piece of added-on cast detail attached to the tender frame. Look for a small circuit board with a tiny white square–that’s the transmitter.

diesel IR

Typical diesel IR Transmitter location

How about a LEGACY or VISION diesel locomotive? In practically all cases, a diesel IR transmitter will be mounted in the fuel tank, near the loudspeakers as seen in the photos here.

For a complete list of models we’ve already built with this feature, see this roster.

When Does It Get Here?

This and the other exciting LCS components will arrive at your dealers later this year. So now is the time to start dreaming of how you would like to add to your operations and place your orders.