Freight Car Friday – Freight Cars of Indianapolis

18 07 2014

This week Lionel and the LCCA are racing to Indianapolis for the LCCA’s 2014 Convention. While this city is best known for a different sort of “track” there is plenty of railroad history and contemporary action to entertain any rail fan.

Indianapolis Union Railway

X31 boxcar

Indianapolis was an important stop of the Pennsy’s route from Pittsburgh to St. Louis.

To get a good picture of the total Indianapolis railroad scene you just have to start with one company, the Indianapolis Union Railway. Indianapolis was the first city in the world to host a “Union Station” – that is a station which served more than one company equally. When opened in 1853, the new station offered the citizens of Indianapolis a single, central station from which they could catch a train on a number of different railroads which radiated out of town like the spokes of a wheel. For travelers making connections in Indianapolis, the unified facility meant catching another train was never much more difficult than walking to a different platform instead of arranging transportation across town to another rail head.

Monon

The Monon was among the smallest of roads to enter Indianapolis, but it wore its Hoosier State pride proudly.

The IU was organized in 1850 as the Union Track Railway Company with a total of about 3 miles of track built or ceded by three railroads. The name changed to Indianapolis Union in 1853. Over the coming years, more railroads would be added as the efficiency of Union Station spurred commerce in and around the city. By the early 2oth Century, the list of owners included the Pennsylvania, New York Central, Baltimore and Ohio, Nickel Plate, Illinois Central and the Monon.

Conrail PS-2

In 1976, Conrail took over most of the remaining rails in and around the city.

In the 1930s, ownership of the IU was consolidated down to just the Pennsylvania and New York Central, with the other companies paying rent and continuing to run into the station. In 1968 the IU became a wholly owned subsidiary of Penn Central then passed to Conrail and finally to CSX.  The passenger trains of course ran under only the Amtrak banner after 1971.

Today’s Operations

Norfolk Southern

Despite the perceptions of endless farm fields, southern Indiana and Illinois topography offers hills, grades and coal. Between mines and utilities, coal trains remain a common sight in the region.

Today’s freight operations include Norfolk Southern and CSX as well as the regional Indiana Railroad and shortlines Indiana Southern and Louisville and Indiana. The latter three roads all began as Conrail shed duplicate main and branchlines around the city in the 1980s and 1990s. CSX inherited most of the remaining Conrail property in the city in 1999, with Norfolk Southern operating on trackage rights.

CSX

CSX is the major player in town today. Covered hoppers are in constant supply, bound for numerous grain elevators in the region.

Avon Yard, on the west side of the city near the airport, serves as the major classification point for traffic heading east-west as well as connections north-south. While much of the traffic still passes right through the heart of the city thanks to the elevated right-of-way built for the station more than a century ago, connecting lines and branches can provide a different look in any direction as you travel around the area. Whether you’re after heavy action on a Class 1 railroad with an urban backdrop or a local freight on bucolic rural branch line, all can be had within a short drive and from safe, public vantage points.





New Product Spotlight – LEGACY USRA Heavy Mikado

30 06 2014

When the United States Railroad Administration released their standard steam locomotive designs, many of the road engines came in both a “light” and “heavy” version to meet the demands of the different roads they would serve. The light Mikado is one of the best known and most-modeled of the USRA designs. Lionel is happy to finally bring its larger cousin to the O Gauge world.

Prototype Background

L&N

6-81182 Louisville and Nashville

By the time the USRA was formed, the Mikado had already emerged as the new common design for freight steam. Across the United States, railroads were buying and building 2-8-2s as they moved on from the Consolidations which had been the go-to freight engine for the previous two decades. Consequently, the 2-8-2s were among the first of the USRA’s standard designs to be completed and released.

The USRA offered two standard Mikados. The “light” version weighed in at 290,800 lbs. and produced 54,724 lbs. of tractive effort. The “heavy” locomotive was the same in most major dimensions except those of the boiler and firebox. It tipped the scales at 325,000 lbs. and produced 59,801 lbs. of tractive effort.

3D Mikado

This 3D printed boiler provides a first look at the new locomotive. The finished models will have a die-cast boiler.

With 233 built under USRA auspices, the Heavy Mikado was the third most popular of its designs behind the 0-6-0 and the Light Mikado. Thirty came from Baldwin, the rest from Alco with orders filled at both Brooks and Schenectady. The first arrived in 1918. Baldwin built a pair for Atlanta and West Point which were modern locomotives of USRA Heavy Mikado dimensions in 1944.

Original allocations are sketchy based on the refusal of locomotives by some roads, transfers, eventual copies and of course the clouds which come from the passage of time. For example, the Frisco’s locomotives were originally refused by the PRR, then the IHB and even the SLSF itself before they were finally accepted. Multiple sources confirm the USRA Heavy Mikado was originally delivered to these railroads:

  • CNJ

    6-81185 Central of New Jersey

    Central RR of New Jersey

  • Chicago Burlington and Quincy
  • Chicago Milwaukee, St Paul and Pacific
  • Chicago, St Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha
  • Erie
  • Fort Worth and Denver (CB&Q)
  • Great Northern
  • Louisville and Nashville
  • Pittsburgh and Lake Erie (NYC)
  • Frisco

    6-81186 Frisco

    Pittsburgh, McKeesport and Youghiogheny (NYC)

  • St Louis – San Francisco
  • Wheeling and Lake Erie

Additionally, following the end of the USRA, many railroads ordered copies of this design, or locomotives based largely around its dimensions. All together, nearly 1,000 locomotives were built to this design. The USRA Mikados and their kin are the closest thing the United States ever had to a nationwide “standard” freight steam locomotive.

Lionel’s Model

GN

6-81192 Great Northern

Like the prototype, our new Heavy Mikado shares many of the same components as our previous releases of the Light Mikado. The locomotive shares the same frame, wheels and running gear as well as the same tender. The boiler and all of its attached parts are completely new tooling however. The larger boiler made it even easier to include a feature that is a favorite of many – whistle steam!

The Lionel model will have all of these great 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
  • LEGACYRailSounds 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” control with instant response for realistic signature ‘quilling’ and correctly timed warning signals
    • 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
  • NYC

    6-81188 New York Central

    Whistle Steam effect

  • 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 and tender
  • C&IM

    6-81187 Chicago and Illinois Midland

    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 and firebox in cab
  • Cab glass windows
  • Engineer and fireman figures
  • O-54 Minimum curve
P&WV

6-81184 Pittsburgh and West Virginia

The USRA Heavy Mikados are being built to order. They were presented in C&IM, CNJ, Great Northern, L&N, NYC, P&WV, Frisco and as an undecorated Pilot model. Look to see them at your dealer later this year with a suggested retail of $1299.99.





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.