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.