New Product Spotlight – New York Central Mohawk

7 01 2013

While the Hudsons got all the attention racing passenger trains along the famous Water Level Route, the New York Central’s Mohawks kept the freight moving all across the system. These locomotives were not averse to passenger duties as well and many claim the later units were every bit the equal of the Hudsons in this role.


The Mohawk had a face and performance that was all business.

While most railroads called their 4-8-2s Mountains, no such nomenclature could be permitted on the Central! All of the roads major classes of steam locomotives were named for rivers in the Empire State. The NYC roster included 600 Mohawks, built between 1916 and 1943 by ALCo and Lima. Lionel’s version represents a class L-2a – the largest group of locomotives built in 1925. Limited to 60 mph, this class was normally found in freight service.

Note that we’ve corrected the road numbers on this release from what was first advertised in the 2012 Volume 2 catalog. Those 2800 series numbers were originally assigned to the class L2-c. The new number for the individual sale Mohawk is 2791 and No. 2797 will be included in the Water Level Steam Freight Set, currently scheduled to ship in April.

The locomotive is packed with great features including:

  • LEGACY Control System – able to run with LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional controls
  • Odyssey II Speed Control
  • LEGACY RailSounds including
    • DynaChuff synchronized to train speed with 32 levels of intensity
    • Quillable whistle
    • Single hit or mechanical bell
    • CrewTalk dialog and TowerCom announcements
    • Six official railroad speeds with CrewTalk dialog
    • Sequence Control
    • Current speed and fuel dialog
  • Maintenance-free motor


    The Lionel Mohawk is perfect for just about any assignment.

  • Wireless tether connection between locomotive and tender
  • ElectroCoupler on tender
  • Directional headlight and tender back-up light
  • Lighted class lights
  • Fan-driven smoke unit
  • Flickering firebox light
  • Cab light, detailed interior and crew
  • Traction tires
  • Die-cast metal body (locomotive and tender), frame, pilot and trucks
  • Many separately applied details, including builder’s plates

The individual-sale Mohawk (6-11411) retails for $1,299.99 and is scheduled to ship in January. The locomotive will negotiate an O-54 curve. Get ready to add this work horse to your stable.

New Product Spotlight – Single Centipedes

12 11 2012

The Baldwin “Centipedes” are certainly among the most distinctive if not successful locomotives in history. Lionel’s VISION Line release earlier this year provided the most faithful and dynamic models of these monsters to date. You can read more about that release, and the prototype, in our previous New Product Spotlight.

N de M

The N de M locomotives feature an attractive color scheme for our fans of railroading south of the border.

At nearly four feet in length, the VISION Centipedes were more than many model railroads could handle. Although the prototypes were designed to be run in pairs, there is no reason you couldn’t split them! So we’ve added a new run of the locomotives, in three prototypical paint schemes.

The single Centipedes feature the same rugged construction and innovative features of the previous release:

  • LEGACY Control – run in LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional
  • Odyssey II Speed Control – with an On/Off switch
  • LEGACY Railsounds including
    • CrewTalk and TowerCom
    • Six Official Railroad speeds
    • Eight Diesel RPM levels
    • Quilling Horn
    • Single hit or continuous bell
    • Sequence Control
    • Current speed and fuel dialog
  • Dual speakers


    Take your Centipedes south to citrus country with the Seaboard!

  • Dual motors
  • ElectroCouplers front and rear
  • Traction tires
  • Twin smoke units with adjustable output
  • Directional lighting
  • Working marker lights
  • Lighted number boards
  • Die-cast metal body, frame, trucks, pilot and fuel tank
  • Engineer and Conductor figures
  • Many separately applied details

The most famous and popular face of the Centipedes is back with another number for Pennsy fans.

The locomotives are not listed as VISION Line locomotives because although the speakers are balanced within the unit, unlike the paired Centipedes, they are not balanced across the other pair. Otherwise, these locomotives have the same features and quality of the first run.

We’ve brought back the popular Pennsylvania 5-stripe scheme with a new number, 5821 (6-34676). We’ve also added two new and very attractive schemes for the other railroads which rostered the locomotives; the Seaboard (6-34677) and Nationales de Mexico (6-34680).

The locomotives are still limited to an O-72 curve. They retail for $1,099.99 and are crawling their way to your dealers now.

Freight Car Friday – Bi-level Autoracks

14 09 2012

This week we take a closer look at the prototypes for our forthcoming scale autoracks. These modern enclosed cars have been part of the railroad scene for decades and now you can add them and their operations to your layout.


The enclosed autorack has become a fixture on North American rails. This car is very close to the Lionel model.

Autoracks come in two basic configurations. Bilevel racks have a pair of decks (including the floor of the flatcar itself) and can haul two rows of taller vehicles like vans and trucks. Trilevel racks have an extra deck and can carry three rows of conventional automobiles. Up until the 1990s, trilevel cars were far more common, but with the rise in populuarity of the SUV, the number of bilevel cars has grown quickly over the past 20 years.

Early History

For many years, automobiles were carried in boxcars like other freight. The relative light weight of the cars for their size meant that these boxcars reached their volume capacity far faster than their weight limit. Loading cars through the side doors was also challenging and inefficient. End door boxcars helped with the loading, but could still only be loaded one at a time.


Notice the slots in the end doors on this car which line up with the upper loading deck.

New racks fixed on flatcars began to appear in the 1960s. These cars were longer and taller so they could carry more vehicles and make full use of the weight capacity of the cars. These cars could also be loaded “circus style” like piggyback trains. A string of autoracks was spotted on a siding with a ramp at the end. Bridge plates could be lowered to connect the cars and the entire cut loaded from that one spot.

These first cars kept the weight of the rack low by making it just a skeleton frame welded to the flatcar. Damage to finished vehicles in transit however prompted railroads to begin applying side panels and eventually roofs and end doors to the cars for protection. These not only added to the weight of the final car, but especially in the case of the roof, added to its size as well. Many routes in the country could not handle the enclosed cars due to low tunnels, bridges, etc. Still today, there are some branchlines that can not handle them.

Lionel’s Prototype

Canadian National

Canadian National owns both the rack and the flatcar on this car. The remnants of grafitti seen here are just one of the reasons for the enclosures.

There have of course been many variations in these cars’ designs over the years. Some of the details are smaller like the style of side panels, roof or doors. The racks have also been fastened to many different types of flatcars.

The vast majority of cars feature racks owned by and painted for different railroads added to flat cars leased from TTX (Trailer Train.) In some cases, the railroads own both the rack and the flat. The racks can remain attached to the flatcar for decades – often for the entire life of the car and the rack.


BNSF also owned both flatcars and racks, most inherited from the Santa Fe.

Flatcars from different builders have been used. The Lionel car is based on a prototype built by American Car and Foundry (ACF) – one of the more common prototypes. Cars used for trilevel racks often have a lower deck to accomodate the additional row of vehicles without excdeding clearance limits. Although you can’t see the deck itself from the outside, these cars usually have a lower external profile as well. Both types of cars can be seen together in trains depending on the operations.

For TTX cars, you can easily distinguish between the two types of cars by their reporting marks. Bilevel cars will have “TTGX” beside the roadnumber. Trilevels are grouped in the “ETTX” series. Racks for these cars have come from many many railroads and operate in a collective pool.


Thanks to the pooling arrangements for autoracks, these trains can be quite colorful. Railroads supply racks to the North American pool based on the number of annual carloadings they deliver in their yards. Consequently, railroads that serve large automotive markets have more cars in the pool than smaller operations.

Union Pacific

Union Pacific has the largest fleet of autoracks. The “We will deliver” slogan was added to many in 1996 and 1997.

Union Pacific currently opperates the largest pool, thanks to the quantity of transcontinental shipments. Conrail, which served more assembly plants than any other railroad, held the number two spot until its fleet was split in 1999 between Norfolk Southern and CSX. At the other end of the spectrum are the 10 cars contributed by the Providence and Worchester.

Cars of all of these railroads travel freely between lines. There is no need to route cars back to a “home” terminal for loading or unloading.

Shipments may be as small as a single autorack. More commonly, blocks of cars are gathered and moved between hubs as solid trains or as dedicated blocks in other trains. Railroads try to keep these cars out of hump yards where general freight is sorted. These gravity-fed switching operations can damage the cars if couplings are made too hard. Consequently, you’ll often see autoracks traveling on expedited schedules with intermodal trains or in solid trains of their own.

Santa Fe

Some railroads opted for logos on the ends rather than panels of the car, like this Santa Fe rack. Even among cars of the same line, you’ll often find lots of variations on logo placement.

Modeling an unloading terminal can be an interesting operation. Since it was much easier to drive the vehicles onto and off of the racks going forward, the train was turned on a wye before being delivered. Wyes were often located near auto terminals for just such a purpose.

The facilities themselves are often rather simple and include a large parking area, ramps to unload the cars, a small office, and ample room for the trucks to load. For security, fencing, gates and ample lighting are a must. We’ve already covered paving roads over railroad tracks and will soon cover making your own fences in our current modeling blog project. A small regional delivery area would be a much easier project than a sprawling assembly plant or port.

Whether your delivering cars for the local dealers or just watching these big colorful beasts roll by on the mainline, the new scale autoracks are sure to be a hit on your railroad.

New in Norfolk

26 07 2012

For those of you who couldn’t attend the LCCA convention in Norfolk, Virginia this week, here’s a look at some of the new things we’ve brought along for display.

LCCA Modules


Our new module designs include both corners and straight sections.

We’re excited about this new project. Working in conjunction with the LCCA, we’ve put together a set of modular standards for use with our FasTrack. Anybody who builds their module to this design will be able to bring it to future conventions to be part of large layouts as have been done in other scales.

To make things even easier, we’ve gone ahead and done a lot of the hard work for you! Kits are available containing everything you need for the module benchwork itself, including high-quality pre-cut lumber, hardware and wiring connections. What you put on top – well that’s all up to you! (Though as you’ll see we have some ideas to get you started there too!)


This jig will gaurantee your module is in line.

For those who don’t mind cutting their own wood, we’ve made a template that will help you ensure everything is in perfect alignment so there will be no surprises when you show up at the show!

We’ll cover these modules in more detail in their own blog post here very soon. These items will be available for purchase through our website at

Accessory Packs

yard module

Our yard pack includes two animated accessories, lights, figures and more!

Our layouts tell stories. Think of these accessory packs as pre-written chapters for those books! We’ve grouped some of our most popular accessories into collections to help get you started on your scenes. Perfect for the new modules, these will also be right at home on your regular layouts. And of course you can mix and match the packs and other accessories and scenery products to make whatever you can imagine.


Or maybe Main Street is what you want…

Our first four packs include a “Tis the Season” winter package, a residential neighborhood, city street, and rail yard. These include buildings, lights, signs, figures, and action accessories to get you started.

Like the modules, we’ll cover the details of each of these in more detail in an upcoming blog. And the accessory theme packs will be available online at

New Trains

The highlight of any convention is always the new trains on display. Here is a look at the projects that will be coming to your dealers’ shelves soon:

A5 Switcher: A preproduction unpainted model of the Pennsy A5s.


SD80MAC: One of the new Norfolk Southern SD80MACs is pounding the iron of the new modular layout.

New York Central GP35

In the traditional line – a pair of Rock Island FAs.

CNW PS-1 Boxcar


Boy Scouts “Prepared. For Life.” Boxcar


M&StL Boxcar


Prototypes for the X31 Boxcar have arrived. Here’s the double door version.

X31 end

Check out the end detail!


And the single door car.

UP Hopper

Union Pacific “Flag” hopper in American Flyer.

AF Christmas boxcar

American Flyer Angela Trotta Thomas “Circus Comes to Town” Boxcar

Merchandise Car

Merchandise Car – Pre-production Sample

Peanuts Train

Peanuts Christmas Set – Pre-production Sample