New Product Spotlight – Pennsylvania GLa Hoppers

28 07 2014

The Pennsylvania Railroad owned an impressive roster of more than 30,000 GLa class hoppers which served from the 1900s into the Penn Central years. As if the PRR’s own roster wasn’t impressive enough, the car was copied directly by several other companies and became the inspiration for several other popular hopper designs which blanketed the United States in the first half of the 20th Century. We’ll cover the interesting prototype history of these cars later this week and in subsequent Freight Car Friday posts. Today, let’s look at Lionel’s upcoming model of this car – one we think will be as popular as its prototype!

Capturing the Variety

GLa drawing

A 3-D drawing of the GLa version shows the many details these cars will feature.

These new hoppers will be the most detailed Lionel has ever produced. Starting with all new tooling, we’ve planned ahead so that we can not only capture the PRR’s GLa accurately, but also capture the key detail changes found in many of the cars which built off of this design.

Lionel’s design team worked from Pennsylvania Railroad drawings to create an accurate GLa. From the overall dimensions, to the distinctive boxy end sills, to proper 2D-F8 truck sideframes, this car will be PRR through and through.

1905 drawing

In 1905, builders began producing cars of similar design for other companies. Compare this plan with the GLa to see the detail differences. This view also shows how the cars will look if you install scale couplers.

When several car builders began building near-duplicates of the GLa in 1905, a car which has subsequently been dubbed the “1905 Common Design” by historians, the overall dimensions remained very close to the GLa, but there were several structural differences to be found – especially on the ends of the cars. By the time these designs had evolved into the USRA’s standard two-bay hopper in 1918, again dimensions were within a few inches of the GLa with more minor detail changes around the ends and hoppers.

Lionel is tooling these models so that the later car designs, using the GLa body, can have other details which more closely capture the look of the cars on these other roads. This will include the end sills, end posts, hand brake and grab iron arrangements and hopper door mechanisms.

Scale Improvements


The underframes have been designed for easy application of a standard scale coupler box.

In addition to the overall high level of detail on these cars, which will even include cross braces and rivet details on the interior of the car, Lionel is adding some new design features to these cars which will make them much friendlier to the 2-rail and 3-rail scale crowd.

Although the cars will come equipped with our standard operating couplers, mounting pads will be provided on the metal underframe of the car so that scale couplers can be easily added by the modeler if desired. No extensive body modification or even drilling new holes required!

We’ve also addressed another little detail that is sure to please many of the prototype-focused modelers; the “Built by Lionel” date stencil has been moved to the underside of the car. It’s still there for the collectors, but won’t detract from the rest of the graphics which have all been carefully researched from prototype photos.

We’re quite proud of these new cars, and think you’ll agree they are some of the finest scale models we’ve produced. Other features include:


PRR and other GLa version cars will feature correct PRR 2D-F8 truck sideframes.

  • Die-cast metal sprung trucks and operating couplers with hidden uncoupling tabs. PRR GLa cars will have appropriate PRR truck sideframes.
  • Plastic carbody and die-cast metal underframe
  • High level of separately applied detail parts including many road-name specific variations
  • Opening hopper doors
  • Removable plastic coal load insert
  • Molded pads for easy conversion to scale couplers
  • Individual road numbers on each car in multi-car packs
  • O31 Minimum curve

The new GLa hoppers will be available as part of the Pennsy M1a Coal Hauler set (three PRR and one Berwind White Coal) as well as for separate sale in the following road names and quantities:


A third version of this car will be detailed to match USRA era details.

  • 6-81686 PRR (circle keystone scheme) 3-Pack GLa version
  • 6-81858 PRR (shadow keystone scheme) 3-Pack GLa version
  • 6-81793 Berwind White 3-Pack GLa version
  • 6-81687 Lehigh Valley 2-Pack USRA version
  • 6-81688 CB&Q 2-Pack USRA version
  • 6-81689 C&O 3-Pack USRA version
  • 6-81789 New Haven 2-Pack GLa version
  • 6-81824 P&WV 2-Pack 1905 Common Design version

Suggested retail price on the 2-Pack cars is $145.99. 3-Packs retail for $219.99. See your local Lionel dealer to place your order now, and look for some more background on these interesting cars starting this Friday on the blog!


New Product Spotlight – Pilot Locomotives

6 01 2014

Lionel has put some amazing paint schemes on model trains. But until recently, only a few in the production line saw the beauty of these models before the paint was applied. Now with our Pilot models, you have the opportunity to add these unique and limited production models to your collection.



Our pilot models feature all of the details of the regular production locomotives. They also include all of the electronics and other features inside the models. You can display these on your shelf or run them on your layout. The only thing we haven’t included is the paint. Instead the models are assembled and coated with a clear finish to protect the metal parts.



The contrast between the numerous brass and die-cast parts makes for a stunning model. Often these smaller details get lost under a coat of black paint.  But here you can appreciate the true craftsmanship that goes into these fine models.



Small runs of Pilot models have been made over the past two years but never cataloged, until now! See your dealers to order from the six locomotives in the 2013 Volume 2 Catalog and look for additional Pilot models in the future.

Models available include:


J Class 4-8-4

  • 6-11341 4-14-2
  • 6-11403 USRA 2-8-8-2
  • 6-11410 Mohawk 4-8-2
  • 6-11413 J class 4-8-4
  • 6-11418 GS-6 4-8-4
  • 6-38752 Centipede AA Diesel

The LEGACY-equipped steam locomotives retail for $1299.99 each and the Vision Line Centipedes are $2199.99. See your dealers to get your piece of Lionel history today!



New Product Spotlight – Scale Christmas

9 12 2013

For our modelers who enjoy Christmas trains but also prefer scale-proportions to match the rest of their models, Lionel has several new offerings sure to brighten any layout for 2013. These models have all of the features, size and details you’ll find in our scale models decorated for their specific prototypes but with graphics that are pure Christmas fun.

Christmas Pioneer Zephyr


The Christmas Pioneer Zephyr – Santa’s Streamliner.

The Zephyr may have derived its name from the “West Wind” but this train is screaming like an arctic front down from the North Pole!

The train features all of the same great features of the Pioneer Zephyr. (You can read more about the history of the prototype and the models from this earlier blog.) This version is decorated for the North Pole Central with red and green accents added to the gleaming carbody.

The train features:

  • 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


      The “West Wind” meets the North Pole in this Christmas version of the Pioneer Zephyr.

  • Realistic Articulation between cars
  • Dual motors with flywheels
  • Refined Transformer Control with lower starting speeds
  • Traction Tires (4)
  • Fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output – smoke emits from all four stacks
  • Working headlight on locomotive and tail light on observation car
  • Working Marker Lights on locomotive and observation car
  • Lighted and detailed cab and car interiors with crew and passenger figures
  • Metal frames
  • Die-cast metal bodies, trucks and vestibules
  • O-54 minimum curve

The train retails for $1099.99 and is available at your dealers now.

North Pole Central Freight

Complement your passenger service with this great freight power and equipment for the North Pole Central!

GP35 Diesels

The reliable and venerable GP35 is just what the North Pole Central needs to ensure the timely delivery of its parcels. So you can handle any surge in holiday traffic, the GP35 is available in two powered and one non-powered road number.

The festive red, green, white and gray locomotives feature:

Powered locomotives feature:

  • LEGACY Control System – able to run on LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional control layouts
  • Odyssey II Speed Control with On / Off switch
  • LEGACY RailSounds including

    Powered GP35 comes in two road numbers; 2525 and 2512

    • CrewTalk and TowerCom dialog
    • 6 Official railroad speeds
    • 8 Diesel RPM levels
    • Quilling Horn
    • Bell (single hit and continuous)
    • Sequence Control
    • Current speed and fuel dialog
    • Refueling sounds
  • Dual maintenance-free motors
  • Traction Control
  • Refined Conventional Control mode with lower starting speeds
  • Front and Rear ElectroCouplers
  • Fan-driven smoke with adjustable output
  • Directional lighting
  • Marker Lights – front and rear
  • Lighted cab interior with crew
  • Metal frame, pilots, trucks and fuel tank
  • MSRP: $499.99

Non-Powered model features:


Nonpowered GP35 (No 2513) also available.

  • Metal frame, pilots, trucks and fuel tank
  • Front and rear magnetic couplers
  • Select separately applied details
  • Detailed cab interior
  • MSRP: $259.99

All of these locomotives are available now. See your dealers!

Boxcar and Caboose

Those Geeps need something to pull!  Start with the North Pole Central PS-1 boxcar. Decorated in colorful “Christmas Eve Freight Service” graphics, the car is reminiscent of the many less-than-car-load freight forwarding cars seen in the golden era of railroads.

Our boxcar features:


Carry all those Christmas gifts in style with this new boxcar.

  • Die-cast sprung trucks with operating couplers
  • Hidden uncoupling tabs
  • Opening Doors
  • Die-cast metal frame
  • Many separately applied details including metal underframe brake detail.

The boxcar retails for $69.99.

And of course, you’ll need a proper caboose to bring up the train. Our North Pole Central extended-vision caboose is the perfect end to a train of southbound packages. It features:


The extended vision caboose is the perfect way to end any Christmas train.

  • Die-cast sprung trucks with operating couplers
  • Hidden uncoupling tabs
  • Smoke unit with on/off control
  • Interior illumination
  • Painted and detailed interior including crew figure
  • Many separately applied details including metal underframe brake detail.

Retail price for the caboose is $94.99. See your dealers now for all of these Christmas items!

New Product Spotlight – Pennsylvania S-2 Turbine

3 06 2013

Beneath a steady plume of white smoke and with a giant whooooosh, the Pennsy’s S-2 was quite the sight as she rolled a heavy freight train at speed down the four-track “Broad Way.” In 1944 that sound cried out the arrival of the ultimate in steam technology – and its last gasp.

As diesel locomotives made their mark on railroading, the railroads with the greatest investment in steam made efforts to save the old technology. The Norfolk and Western, Chesapeake and Ohio and Pennsylvania all built experimental steam turbines in a great experiment to give steam a new viability.


6-11417 represents the 6200 as delivered from Baldwin in 1944.

The Pennsylvania received their new turbine from the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1944. Following standard Pennsy classification, the unique locomotive was given the S-2 designation. (The S-1 of course was the equally unique streamlined behemoth exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair.) Like its older sister, the S-2 debuted with a great deal of publicity. Unfortunately, her story also ends in quiet failure.

From the running boards up, the S-2 looked and functioned much like any other steam locomotive of the era. Instead of powering a pair of reciprocating pistons, the steam from the boiler was harnessed by a pair of steam turbines. One large turbine was used for forward movement. A smaller turbine was used for reverse moves up to 22 mph.


6-11416 includes the “elephant ears” smoke lifters alongside the smokebox.

Although overall, the project could not be deemed anything but a failure, the 6200 did have some bright spots. Once the train was up to speed, the turbine performed as well or even better than expected. The locomotive was also found to be much easier on the rails than a conventional steam locomotive. Unfortunately, at speeds below 33 mph, all of the efficiencies of the turbine were lost. The locomotive also frequently overheated and stressed the firebox and staybolts with extended slow running.

In the end, even if the S-2 were more efficient than conventional steam locomotives of the era, the real competition was the diesel. And by 1944, the railroads had seen more than enough hard evidence to support dieselization. The 6200 was quietly put out of service in 1946 and scrapped in 1953.


6-11432 The 671 pays tribute to Lionel’s first turbine models.

Despite its limited use, the S-2 was always an impressive and inspiring machine. Lionel made its first model of the locomotive in 1946. Its brawny lines, engineering interest, and no doubt the lack of any complicated valve gear to replicate, made it a natural for the Lionel line. Since then, the locomotive has been recreated in both scale and compressed versions many times over. This big brute is coming back again, now with LEGACY for the first time.

The S2 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
    – Turbine sounds 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
  • Powerful maintenance-free motor with momentum flywheel
  • Wireless Tether connection between locomotive and tender


    6-11433 The 681 was first introduced in 1950 and included Magnetraction.

  • 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
  • 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
  • Flickering firebox in cab
  • Cab glass windows
  • Engineer and fireman figures
  • O-72 Minimum curve

The locomotive is available in two prototypical paint schemes for the Pennsy. We’re also paying tribute to some of our own historic turbines with special Lionel Lines 671 and 681 numbers. See your dealers today, we expect the locomotives to ship soon. MSRP is $1299.99.

New Product Spotlight – Command Control 1955 Trucks

6 05 2013

Maintenance-of-Way is hard work, but these new trucks will be all play on your layout. Made from all new tooling, decorated for thirteen popular railroads, and operable on Command Control, these new trucks may be small models, but they’re big on fun.

SP Truck

Southern Pacific is just one of 13 roads offered on this new truck.

Railroads have used trucks for decades to assist in inspecting and repairing tracks, signals, structures and other elements of the right-of-way. They could be found just about anywhere on the system. Some were equipped with special wheels that would let them travel on the rails as well as beside them.


A pre-production sample of the upcoming track maintenance truck – the model is seen without tires.

These all new models feature command control so they can be operated on a LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional transformer controlled layout. The trucks also feature working headlights and a flashing strobe light on the roof. All of these electronics and the motor are carefully housed in the body of the truck and beneath its tarp-covered bed to allow a clear interior in this 1:48 scale model.

drivers side

The model features many small add-on details inside and out.

The models will be available for Canadian Pacific, Great Northern, Missouri Kansas and Texas, New York Central, Nickel Plate, Northern Pacific, Pennsylvania, Rio Grande, Santa Fe, Southern, Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Weyerhauser. They will be a great complement to the Command Control Inspection Cars as well as our other vehicles, work trains and accessories.


The front of the truck is also well detailed.

The trucks retail for $179.99. They will operate on O-27 curves – perfect to bring command control to any layout. The trucks are expected to ship in May and should be ready to go to work on your railroads just in time for the busy summer work season.

Scale Speed

17 04 2013

How fast should you run your trains? It’s one of those questions of personal opinion that can erupt into heated debate in some modeling circles. We’ll leave your idea of appropriate speeds up to you. There are certainly no posted speed limits on our model trains, but for those who are interested in reproducing a more accurate scale speed, this post should help.


Like the extended exposure on this photo, a model trains scale, our proximity to it, and other factors can create different impressions of speed.

Before you can determine what the appropriate speed is for model trains to be realistic, you need to think about what speeds are realistic for the prototype. And the truth is, that number can be anywhere from 1 to 150 miles per hour.

When switching for example, when switching cars in a yard, anything up to 4 mph is a coupling, 5+ mph is a collision. Geared locomotives like Shays and Heislers had a top speed of around 15 mph. Even a heavy mainline train on a steep grade might struggle to keep its speed above 20. Yet that same train could be rolling at nearly 70 on the level.


For a train like the Acela, full-throttle may not even be fast enough!

For passenger trains, speeds might be as slow as 30 or less on branch lines. Meanwhile, the Limited’s and streamliners might cruise at better than 100 down the mainline.

What’s “right” really depends on what you’re trying to model.

6-11368 Western Maryland

The Shay had a very modest top speed of about 15 mph. But with those three pistons and low gearing, they sounded like they were doing about 90 at that speed.

That being said, we can determine how fast our trains are really going. The numbers on the dial of your transformer or cab can give you some indication, but these rarely equate to the actual scale speed.

Instead, we can figure out our train’s speed in much the same way train crews once did: by timing the run between a fixed set of points. Train crews once used mile posts, or even telegraph poles, to help determine their speed. We’ll apply the same principle.


When 7002’s crew determined they set a record speed on 127.1 mph, they did so by timing the passing mile posts with their watches.

You can use almost anything to mark your speed zone on your railroad: telephone poles, sign posts, even just a dab of paint on a tie. All that matters is that the distance is correct and you and your other operators know where they are.

Next, simply time the train as it passes between the two points. You don’t need to be as accurate as a radar gun – these are just model trains after all – but even a general frame of reference can be helpful.

Now to make it really easy for you! Just use the tables below to determine your trains’ speed. We’ve figured this out for both O and S Scale by reducing miles / kilometers per hour into feet/meters per second. Just set your posts 3 feet or 1 meter apart. The times listed in this table are in seconds.

Print out a copy of this table (or make your own using only the data you need) and post it somewhere near the speed trap for reference. While the times are fairly precise, a good “guestimate” while you’re running should give you a pretty good perspective.

Give it a try – you might be surprised how fast, or how slow, you’re really running those trains.

15 6.55 8.73 15 11.52 15.36
20 4.91 6.55 20 8.64 11.52
25 3.93 5.24 25 6.91 9.21
30 3.27 4.36 30 5.76 7.68
35 2.81 3.74 35 4.94 6.58
40 2.45 3.27 40 4.32 5.76
45 2.18 2.91 45 3.84 5.12
50 1.96 2.62 50 3.46 4.61
55 1.79 2.38 55 3.14 4.19
60 1.64 2.18 60 2.88 3.84
65 1.51 2.01 65 2.66 3.54
70 1.4 1.87 70 2.47 3.29
75 1.31 1.75 75 2.3 3.07
80 1.23 1.64 80 2.16 2.88
85 1.16 1.54 85 2.03 2.71
90 1.09 1.45 90 1.92 2.56
95 1.03 1.38 95 1.82 2.42
100 0.98 1.31 100 1.73 2.3

New Product Spotlight – Norfolk Southern Heritage

11 02 2013

When Norfolk Southern announced their heritage locomotive plans last year, we knew immediately that we would make them in miniature. In fact, our first plans and announcements came even before all of the locomotives themselves had hit the rails! Now these twenty locomotives have left the publicity tours behind and are working hard every day all across the Norfolk Southern system (and occasionally onto other railroads as well!) Soon you will be able to bring the first of these locomotives home to your rails.

Central of Georgia

6-38942 Central of Georgia

We’re bringing out the first ten models this year, with more announcements coming. The initial run will include ten of the GE Evolution ES44AC locomotives painted for Central of Georgia, Conrail, Interstate, Lehigh Valley, Monongahela, Nickel Plate, Norfolk Southern, Norfolk and Western, Pennsylvania, and Southern.

Each of the locomotives features:


6-38945 Conrail

    • 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 sound system featuring:

      6-38948 Interstate

      -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
      -Eight diesel RPM levels
      -LEGACY “Real-Time Quilling Horn” 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

Lehigh Valley

6-38951 Lehigh Valley

  • Dual powerful maintenance-free motors with momentum flywheels
  • Front and rear ElectroCouplers
  • Traction tires
  • Refined Conventional Transformer Control Mode with lower starting speeds
  • Fan-driven smoke unit
  • Adjustable smoke output


    6-39598 Monongahela

  • Directional lighting including LED headlights
  • Oscillating marker lights on front and rear
  • Illuminated number boards
  • Lighted in cab interior
  • Operating ditch lights
  • Newly tooled plastic body
  • Die-cast metal trucks, pilot, and fuel tank

    Nickel Plate

    6-38954 Nickel Plate

  • Metal frame
  • High level of separately applied metal details
  • Removable cab roof
  • Engineer and conductor figures
Norfolk Southern

6-38966 Norfolk Southern



It is also worthy of note that these models will have new shell tooling reflecting prototypical changes since the introduction of the original Evolution locomotives we’ve modeled previously.

While Norfolk Southern has only painted one locomotive in each of the schemes, we’ve gone a bit further for those who like to run longer matched heritage consists. In addition to each prototypically numbered unit, we’re adding a second powered unit numbered for the railroads’ history, and a non-powered locomotive.


6-38957 Norfolk & Western

You can also expand the train with heritage hoppers sold in 2 and 3-packs and individual cabooses all in paint schemes to match the heritage locomotives themselves. Certainly three of these colorful locomotives on a 20 car heritage coal train would look spectacular on any layout!


6-38960 Pennsylvania

The powered locomotives retail for $549.99, non-powered for $279.99. All will negotiate an O-54 curve. Add on cars are $94.99 for cabooses and $239.99 for the hopper car three-packs, $159.99 for the two-pack (Monongahela and Penn Central). See your local Lionel dealer to place your orders. The Heritage fleet will begin arriving in late Spring.


6-38963 Southern