New Product Spotlight – “The Senator” Passenger Cars and E8s

5 08 2013

Freight car fans have been enjoying our regular weekly features for over two years. Now, thanks to new releases of passenger cars and E8 and E9 diesels, passenger train lovers can enjoy the spotlight too for a while! Over the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at some of the famous trains soon to be released from Lionel. No doubt you’ll want to add some of these famous streamliners to your line as well.

The Senator


A 1952 ad placed the new train amid Washington’s famous cherry blossoms and included happy travelers in the spacious interiors.

Arriving and departing Washington D.C. in the shadow of the Capitol dome itself, the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Senator and its sister train the Congressional were the fastest way to travel between the capital, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Wilmington and New York City. Through a connection with the New Haven, the Senator continued on to Boston.

The trains’ history dates back to 1885. At that time steam locomotives and wood coaches were the norm for the “Congo”. The trains’ fast schedule and limited stops made it a popular choice for lawmakers and businessmen. The Senator was added in 1929, using all heavy-weight equipment and extending service to Boston.

In the 20th Century, wood cars gave way to steel and swift Atlantics and Pacifics took over as motive power until the great electrification project of the 1920s and 1930s. The most dramatic change in equipment would come in 1952.

With most of its “Blue Ribbon Fleet” already streamlined and powered by diesels, the Pennsy upgraded these stars of the Northeast Corridor as well. For these trains, the PRR broke from the norm. With 64 new stainless steel cars coming from Budd, the railroad kept the bare stainless steel look intact. Only the letter and name boards were painted in the trademark Tuscan Red with gold lettering.


Six GG-1s were repainted in red for the Senator and Congressional trains.

This departure was continued with the locomotives. Six of the railroad’s famous GG-1 electrics traded in their dark Brunswick Green for Tuscan Red with the five gold pinstripes. The red locomotives and silver cars made quite the site as they streaked up and down the electrified raceway. In 1955 as the GG-1s traded their five stripes for one, two painted red with a single stripe and three silver with a red stripe. North of New York, New Haven power handled the train set, including the famous “Jets.”

In 1955, the Senator covered the more than 200 miles between New York and Washington in 3 hours and 45 minutes, with 5 stops en route. The New Haven clocked off the 200+ miles from Boston in 4 hours and 20 minutes with 6 stops. A connecting train from Springfield met the train in North Hartford.


A New Haven EP-5 could also be used on the point of this Pennsy train.

The trains included coaches with generous leg room, as well as parlor and a full dining car. The full diner menu was a bit of a luxury for what was really a daytime express commuter train. The observation cars included the PRR’s standard squared-end configuration with the keystone-shaped drumhead on the rear door.

The trains continued to run into the Penn Central years. In name, the Senator even survived into early Amtrak days but the service was no longer as luxurious. Many of the trains’ cars were later sold to commuter agencies or private owners and some still ride the rails today.

Lionel’s Models

The 18″ aluminum passenger cars will look great behind our new E8s, or a variety of other motive power, including of course GG-1s and even New Haven electrics. Likewise, those diesels will look right at home on a variety of other Pennsy passenger trains.

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


Our E8s feature one of the PRR’s later liveries. This simplified scheme is appropriate for many named trains in the 1960s, even an express mail or “TrucTrain” too!

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


The four car Senator consist is packed with detail inside and out and will look great behind many of your engines.

  • Die-cast sprung metal trucks with operating couplers featuring hidden uncoupling tabs
  • Extruded aluminum bodies with flush-fitting windows
  • 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. Our Senate may not be setting any speed records lately, but the Senator is sure to move quickly. See your dealers today so this one doesn’t pass you by.

New Product Spotlight – Silver Bells Express Set

29 07 2013

How about a little Christmas in July for this week’s New Product Spotlight? (Maybe thinking of December will help beat this heat…)

The new Silver Bells Express set is the perfect addition for under your tree or to your train platform. The festive train is controlled by our new LionChief Remote System for easy control on any new or existing layout (or sitting in a comfy chair by the tree!)


The Silver Bells Express will be a great addition to any Christmas tree or layout.

Decorated for the holidays, this set includes a 2-4-2 steam locomotive and tender, boxcar, gondola with two large bells and caboose. You’ll also get a 40″ x 50″ oval of FasTrack, the simple plug-in power supply and the remote control.

Thanks to the new features of our LionChief Remote, you can choose between realistic train sounds and holiday bells and announcements! The locomotive also features:

  • Die-cast Locomotive Body


    The locomotive’s LionChief Remote control system will allow you to enjoy the many features from anywhere in the room.

  • Powerful Maintenance-free Motor
  • Traction Tire
  • Working Headlight
  • Puffing Smoke Unit
  • Working Coupler on Tender
  • On / Off Switches for Sound and Smoke

The freight cars and caboose all feature operating couplers and the gondola includes two removable bells.


This set will look just as good on your tree as it does under it.

In addition to running under the tree, you can add the Silver Bells to the tree itself! This new set is featured on two of our new Christmas ornaments. The (9-21015) Collectors Series Christmas ball and the large indoor / outdoor ball (9-21033) will look great with the other decorations of classic trains from Lionel’s past.

This year you can trim your entire home in Lionel! The Silver Bells Set is a great place to start.

New Product Spotlight – News From York

22 04 2013

This past week we unveiled some of our latest and upcoming releases at the Train Collectors Association meet in York, Pennsylvania and at the National Toy Train Museum in nearby Strasburg. Here are some of the highlights:

Defender Set

The LONG awaited American Flyer Defender Set is finally just about ready to ship (just waiting on packaging art.) For more photos of this set, see our American Flyer Facebook Page.

AF cylindricals

Several samples of American Flyer cylindrical covered hoppers were also on display with sample graphics. See more photos on American Flyer Facebook.

Cab 1L

The LEGACY Cab 1L is getting closer to production. This working sample was one of many new LEGACY products demonstrated.


A production version of the Motor City Express Set was displayed at York – and seen on the tables of several dealers. The new autoracks are impressive!


The Southern Pacific GS-2’s are stunning.

SP 284

Other SP power included the early Berkshire with the distinctive Coffin feedwater heater.


Several samples of the Norfolk Southern Heritage SD70ACE shells were displayed. For more, see our Lionel Facebook Page.


A pre-production model of the just-announced H-7 shows just some of the many additional details that will be added to these big models.


Also from the just-released catalog, pre-production samples of the Neil Young Series F-3s with LEGACY and added details.


A preproction sample of the upcoming track maintenance truck. These will be available in several roadnames with Command Control.


Speaking of vehicles, here’s a sample of the new die-cast tractor featured in the CN Piggyback set.


In addition to all the great new trains, we also showed some of our new Christmas ornaments and other Lionel-decorated items.

Freight Car Friday – Auto Parts Cars

29 03 2013

Lionel’s new scale autoracks will make it possible to model the transportation of finished automobiles like never before. But this is only one side of the story. Railroads also form an integral part of the automotive assembly process. Moving auto parts is an important business for the railroads, not only in quantity but with premium prices paid for just-in-time delivery.

Parts and Assembly

Lordstown Assembly Plant

Assembly plants, like this one in Lordstown, OH, can stretch for miles. But you don’t have to model all of this to add the auto industry to your layout.

The vast majority of vehicles assembled in North America are not built in a single integrated facility. Engines, body panels, interiors, tires, electronics – all are built in separate facilities and then brought together in large assembly plants. This is good news for railroads who are needed to bring in raw materials for components, carry the parts to the assembly plants and then take the finished vehicles to market. The automotive industry made the assembly line famous, and railroads are a critical part of that line.

For modelers, this opens lots of opportunities to model an industry that, taken as a whole, can be far more complicated and sizeable to fit on most model railroads. You can model one part of the process, or just model the transportation between hubs and run an amazing variety of equipment.


86' hi cube

The 86′ boxcars were rolling billboards for the railroads. Today, the paint schemes are more simple and many have become a canvas for grafitti.

Although many cars are used in the entire process, the one car most associated with auto parts is the boxcar. These cars come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the specific loads they carry.

The most obvious auto parts boxcars are the enormous 86 foot high cube cars which began rolling in the 1960s. These cars broke all sorts of records for boxcars when new, and they are still among the largest cars on the rails.

Conrail box

8-door cars like this were prefered by GM. This car was originally owned by the New York Central.

What is less obvious from looking at these huge vehicles is their relatively light capacity (in weight.) The load limits on these cars is not much different from a typical 50 foot boxcar. The loads they carry, usually body panels, are large and bulky but relatively light. So it takes a lot of cubic capacity before the weight limits of the trucks are reached.

There are many subtle variations in these cars’ designs, coming from different builders and changing over time. The most noticeable difference however is the number of doors. Some cars a single pair of doors per side, others two pair. Different car companies prefer one or the other. GM prefers the 8-door cars while Ford, Chrysler, Honda and others prefer only 4-doors.

60' Grand Trunk

Cars were assigned in pools by the railroads that served the plants. Railroads in the midwest and northeast had some of the larger fleets.

With the doors closed, the cars become great rolling billboards for the railroads. Many applied colorful paint schemes with bold graphics in the 1970s. Today’s paint schemes are a little more subdued, but the cars still grab your attention.

The slightly smaller cousins to these 86′ monsters are the 60′ cars. These cars carry somewhat heavier parts and subassemblies. Like the larger cars, these loads are carried in special racks. These racks provide a secure ride while making loading and unloading of the car much faster.

CN box

Canadian National inherited many cars from the DT&I and GT. 60′ cars like this were common for 40 years.

There is a lot of variety in the 60′ parts car fleet. Lionel’s model represents one of the most common, built by Pullman Standard. Cars of this design first appeared in the 1970s and were common into the early years of this century.

These cars typically operated in a dedicated pool between a specific part manufacturing and assembly plant. Often the code for the pool was printed on the side of the car. If more than one railroad was involved in the movement between those two points, each would contribute cars equally based on the amount of miles they contributed. For modelers, this means that seeing the same car in the same train and siding over and over again is quite prototypical!

storage lines

Economic downturn and age brought long lines of auto parts cars to Altoona. Many of these cars traced to the PRR and NYC – most had carried their last load.

In addition to these specialty cars, it is not uncommon to find more typical 50′ boxcars serving the manufacturing plants. Having a few of these mixed in with a cut of high-cubes would look perfectly normal. And of course prior to the arrival of the larger cars, these 50′ cars were the standard.