New Product Spotlight – LionChief Plus Diesels

12 05 2014

Lionel’s new LionChief Plus steam locomotives have quickly earned a reputation for their power, features and easy operation. Soon diesel fans will have comparable choices for their railroads as well! The new LionChief Plus GP-7 and RS-3 will offer amazing performance and value on two of the most common early road-switcher locomotives.

Prototype History

RS-3

LionChief Plus RS-3 pre-production sample.

In the 1940s, a new type of diesel locomotive was coming to the rails. Alco was the first to introduce the “road switcher” with its RS-1 model in 1941. The locomotive was essentially a stretched switcher with a small hood added to the back of the cab and larger trucks. The short hood offered room for a steam generator or dynamic brakes.

The new road switcher was a true jack-of-all-trades, capable of handling freight or passenger trains on the mainline, branch lines or in the yard. The narrow hoods offered better visibility from the cab in either direction and easier access for maintenance. Although few could have predicted it in 1941, the basic standard for the future of the diesel locomotive had been born.

GP7

LionChief Plus GP7 pre-production sample

EMD countered the RS-1 with its “General Purpose” GP7 in 1949. The new “Geeps” were just what the railroads needed to replace their steam locomotives and orders were strong. In 1950 Alco unveiled their third version, the RS-3. EMD’s updated GP9 came in 1954. Together, the new road switchers made it possible for railroads to replace nearly all of their steam locomotives by the end of the decade. While EMD greatly outsold the competition, both models have maintained a good reputation and many examples of each can still be found at work today.

NYC RS-3

6-38779 New York Central RS-3

LionChief Plus Locomotives

Like the prototypes, the new LionChief Plus diesels should be the perfect fit on many railroads – though thankfully in our world there is no need to retire your steam!

With its LionChief™ Remote they can run on layouts powered by the LionChief™ wall pack, a conventional transformer (set to 18V) or a Command Control system. Flip a switch on the locomotive and you can run it conventionally with a transformer as well. (For more information on the LionChief™ Plus control system and how it relates to others, see this earlier blog.)

CBQ GP7

6-38827 Burlington GP7

It’s not just the control system that sets the new LionChief™ Plus locomotives apart. Like the LionChief Plus steam locomotives, these new diesels are excellent pullers. Our test samples had no trouble taking 35 scale freight cars on our layout, including up a FasTrack grade.

These new diesels are packed with features including:

  • User selected operation – Conventional AC transformer control or LionChief™ Wireless Remote (included)

    DRGW RS-3

    6-38819 Rio Grande RS-3

  • RailSounds RC™ with diesel revving and background sounds, horn, bell and user activated announcements
  • Fan-driven smoke operates low at idle and increases when the locomotive is in motion
  • Speed Control maintains a constant speed on curves and grades automatically
  • ElectroCouplers on each end controlled by the remote
  • Operating headlights

    UP GP7

    6-38825 Union Pacific GP7

  • Maintenance-free motors
  • Die-cast pilots and trucks
  • Stamped metal frame
  • Lighted cab interior
  • Engineer and fireman figures
  • Traction Tires

The LionChief™ Plus RS-3 will be available in Chicago and Northwestern, Denver and Rio Grande, New York Central and Pennsylvania.

NP GP7

6-38824 Northern Pacific GP7

The GP7 will come decorated for the Burlington, Northern Pacific, Santa Fe and Union Pacific. The LionChief remote is preprogrammed specifically for each locomotive. You can have one of each on your layout – or any number of the other LionChief™ or LionChief™ Plus locomotives – without a signal conflict.

The new locomotives will retail for $329.99. See your local Lionel dealer to place your order today. The diesels should be available by mid Summer.

 





LionChief Plus Hudson

10 02 2014

Leading the charge with the new LionChief™ Plus locomotives is the Hudson. One of the most popular locomotives in Lionel history, this classic example of Super Power steam will be a perfect fit on any layout.

Prototype Background

C&O

The production sample of our new C&O Hudson performs as good as it looks!

As passenger trains grew in length and weight in the 1920s, the New York Central found itself in a motive power problem. With its Pacifics limited to 12 car trains, many of its long distance passenger trains were running in multiple sections. A more powerful passenger locomotive was needed.

While many railroads at the time were stretching the Pacific and adding additional drivers for more power, the New York Central took a different course and applied the new “Super Power” concept of the Lima Locomotive Works’ Berkshire. Adding a larger firebox, supported by a four-wheel trailing truck, the Central created the first 4-6-4. Only 5 inches longer than the road’s K-5 Pacific, the new locomotive generated more than 3,800 pounds of additional tractive effort.

NYC

The LionChief Plus Hudson is the latest in a long line of Lionel replicas of this NYC icon.

The first 4-6-4 was completed by ALCo in 1927 and NYC President Pat Crowley had the honor of naming her. “Hudson” was chosen after the Hudson River. As if building the first locomotive and naming it weren’t enough, the NYC had by far the largest roster of Hudsons – 195 in total – forever linking this locomotive with the New York Central in the hearts and minds of most railfans.

Twenty other railroads (including NYC-controlled Michigan Central and Boston and Albany) owned at least one Hudson. Primarily a passenger locomotive, they were sometimes seen in fast freight and mail train service as well. The Hudsons served well until the end of steam. Twenty-one survive in museums – unfortunately none of those are from the New York Central.

LionChief™ Plus Hudson

UP

The proportions of these LionChief Plus Hudsons work well with traditional and scale freight cars. Production Union Pacific sample shown.

Your LionChief™ Plus Hudson is ready to go to work on any railroad. With its LionChief™ Remote it can run on layouts powered by the LionChief™ wall pack, a conventional transformer (set to 18V) or a Command Control system. Flip a switch on the locomotive and you can run it conventionally with a transformer as well. (For more information on the LionChief™ Plus control system and how it relates to others, see last week’s blog.)

It’s not just the control system that sets the new LionChief™ Plus locomotives apart. This new Hudson is packed with features normally reserved for our more expensive models. The locomotives include:

  • User selected operation – Conventional AC transformer control or LionChief™ Wireless Remote (included)
  • RailSounds RC™ with steam chuffing and background sounds, whistle, bell and user activated announcements
  • Fan-driven smoke
  • Speed Control maintains a constant speed on curves and grades automatically
  • ElectroCoupler on tender controlled by the remote

    CN

    Canadian National had 5 Hudsons, all built in Canada.

  • Operating headlight
  • Maintenance-free motor
  • Die-cast locomotive body, frame and trucks
  • Metal tender frame
  • Lighted cab interior
  • Flickering Firebox
  • Engineer and fireman figures
  • Traction Tires
cab

The Hudsons’ cabs feature detailed backheads, crew figures and a flickering firebox. The drawbar connection to the tender automatically connects the wiring.

The LionChief™ Plus Hudson will be available in Canadian National, Chesapeake and Ohio, New York Central and Union Pacific. The LionChief remote is preprogrammed specifically for each locomotive. You can have one of each on your layout – or any number of the other LionChief™ or LionChief™ Plus locomotives – without a signal conflict.

The new locomotives will retail for $429.99. See your local Lionel dealer to place your order today. The Hudsons should be available by early Summer.





New Product Spotlight – Introducing LionChief Plus

3 02 2014

Our soon-to-be-released 2014 Signature Catalog will bring the next evolution of our LionChief™ Remote Control system with five new locomotives equipped with this versatile control. What is LionChief™ Plus and how is it different from LionChief™, Conventional or Command Control? We’ve already had lots of questions on the subject so before we look at the new locomotives themselves, let’s take a few minutes to talk about the different systems and what they have to offer.

Conventional Control

CW-80

The CW-80 is the most common transformer in our Conventional starter sets today.

Conventional control is the way we’ve powered our trains since the very beginning. A transformer supplies variable AC power to the track. By adjusting the voltage using the lever on the transformer, you control the train’s speed.

Over the years we’ve added many features to our conventional locomotives including working whistles, bells and other effects. But the control of the trains remains at the transformer. And while you can wire your railroad with “blocks” to run more than one train at once, you still need one transformer per train.

Command Control

Lionel broke new ground when we launched our first Command Control system, TMCC™, in 1995. With TMCC you could finally control multiple trains from one controller, or cab. And that cab was wireless so you could go anywhere in the room and follow your trains. Command control uses a constant AC power on the rails and sends specific coded electrical commands to the locomotives to control their movement and many other functions.

LEGACY

LEGACY offers the most complete control systems possible for your model trains.

To enable operators to control more than one train at once without the need for blocks and multiple transformers, each Command locomotive must be programmed with an address. The commands to speed up, stop, reverse, etc. are all preceded by that address so that only the locomotive you want to operate will respond.

TMCC™ evolved into LEGACY™ bringing even more extra features and finer control to the trains. For a locomotive to respond to the commands it must be equipped with a special receiver which can interpret the signals from the cab. A LEGACY™ equipped locomotive can run on conventional layouts as well, and the LEGACY™ system is designed to allow the option to control a conventional locomotive. For more on Command Control see our Wiring Your Layout pages.

LEGACY™ remains our finest control system for our premier line of products.

LionChief™

In 2013 we introduced the LionChief™ Remote Control system in new Ready-to-Run sets. LionChief™ isn’t Conventional control or Command Control – it’s radio control.

preproduction sample

Our radio control options began with our Thomas the Tank Engine set. Like LionChief, easy and reliable operation is at the heart of this design.

Like Command Control, LionChief™ uses a constant 18 Volts on the rails – only this time the wall-pack produces DC. But unlike TMCC™ or LEGACY™, the commands which tell the locomotive to go, stop, whistle, etc. don’t come through the rails; with LionChief™ they are sent via radio signals from the hand-held remote. And unlike command control, there are no locomotive addresses to program. Each locomotive has its own pre-programmed remote controller.

Because it only needs to see 18V of DC or AC power to operate, a LionChief™ locomotive can be run on any LionChief™, Conventional or Command Control powered layout. Just put 18V on the rails and use the remote control to run the train.

And you can run more than one LionChief™ train on the same track at the same time without blocks. On Command layouts, you can run multiple LionChief™ locomotives and command equipped locomotives together on the same track without any extra wiring. When running with a Conventional transformer, a conventional train won’t run with the LionChief™ locomotive(s) without wiring blocks – the same limitations you would face for controlling multiple conventional locomotives still apply. You can run more than one LionChief™ locomotive at once with a conventional power supply.

LionChief™ Plus

The new LionChief™ Plus system is designed to give you all of the control options of LionChief™ PLUS the ability to run the locomotive via your conventional transformer as well. Now you can run the locomotive on any layout (Conventional, LionChief™, TMCC™, LEGACY™ – even competitors’ control systems) with your LionChief™ Remote, or flip a switch on the locomotive and run it as a conventional model.

remote

LionChief Plus locomotives will use the LionChief remote or a conventional transformer.

Our new LionChief™ Plus locomotives have more than just this added control option however. The LionChief™ system was designed to make operating model trains as easy as possible – no wires, no programming, self-explanatory controls, lots of fun in the palm of your hand. With LionChief™ Plus we’ve added many of the features found in higher end locomotives. These are a transition between an entry-level set and a high-end LEGACY™ model.

In addition to more detail on the locomotives, you’ll see features like working electro-couplers, improved sound and smoke, and Odyssey speed control. LionChief™ Plus is designed to give you complete control, exciting operation, an introduction into the many options available in model railroading and all a price point a lot more manageable than our premier products.

We think once you see what LionChief™ Plus can do you’ll be as excited as we are about these new trains. After testing preproduction samples of the Hudson and Pacific, we shot a little video to show the sound and power of these locomotives. Our Pacific handled a train of 25 scale freight cars plus the caboose up a FasTrack grade without any hesitation. If you like smoke, you’ll love LionChief Plus! Unfortunately it doesn’t show up well against the light gray walls of our test layout room, but take our word for it, these locomotives can put out quite the cloud.

See the videos here:  LionChief Plus Sounds  LionChief Plus Power!

Next week we’ll spotlight the new Hudsons here on the blog and go into greater detail on all of their special features. Stay tuned!