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.

 





New Product Spotlight – Weathered Locomotives

21 01 2014

Hard work and harsh weather quickly take their tole on trains. It doesn’t take long before the gleam of fresh paint is covered in soot, dust and grime. And before you know it, the rust starts creeping in. All of this weathering alters the look of a locomotive and makes each one unique. Recreating these effects in miniature is an art.

4-12-2

Weathered for a realistic in-service appearance, the massive 4-12-2 is even more impressive!

Weathering is one of the best ways to add realism to any model. While attacking the perfect finish of a fine model can be intimidating, by selectively highlighting certain details, weathering often enhances more of a model’s original beauty rather than obscuring it. And, like the prototype, each weathered model is unique.

We’ve presented some tips on weathering here on the blog in the past. While starting with an inexpensive freight car is a great way to learn, stepping up to a LEGACY locomotive can be scary. Lionel has partnered with artist Harry Heike to bring you the look of some hard-working locomotives without any fear.

4-12-2

Subtle weathering effects call out the many small details on the 4-12-2’s massive boiler.

A life-long enthusiast and modeler, Harry has turned his love and talents into a commercial venture since 1998. He has already produced more than 75 prototypes for Lionel so there’s a good chance some of his handiwork is already on your layout! Now you can see his artistry first-hand with three new weathered locomotives.

We’re launching this weathering effort with some unique locomotives. For steam fans, there is the massive Union Pacific 9000. These 4-12-2’s earned their keep along the midwestern plains. For more history of the prototype and all of the features of these amazing models, see this earlier blog post.

PRR Sharks

Battles with the Alleghenies kept the Pennsy’s freight diesels in an almost constant coat of grime.

We’ve chosen an equally distinctive diesel prototype for weathering as well. The Baldwin RF-16 “Sharknose” A-A diesels powered freight trains over many northeastern lines. Weathered versions will be available for both the B&O and Pennsylvania. For more background and model features, see this previous post.

B&O Sharks

Weathering doesn’t have to be excessive to be impressive. Subtle effects greatly enhance the details on even the B&O’s classic paint scheme.

The locomotives are being weathered to reflect a few years of operation – hard working but well-maintained machines. Note that each model will be hand-weathered by the artist, so no two will be exactly the same.

Take your roster to the next level of realism with these new weathered locomotives. Just be forewarned – after seeing how good these look you might be tempted to try your own hand at the process.

The weathered AA (Powered and Non-powered) Sharks retail for $829.99 and the weathered 4-12-2 for $1299.99. See your dealer to order your custom masterpiece today.





Freight Car Friday – Horse Cars

6 12 2013

When Lionel fans think of horse cars, stock cars and even a flat car probably come to mind. Railroads did transport horses, but these prized animals usually received much better treatment than other livestock.

Off to the Races

horse car

The Santa Fe once had a large fleet of horse cars. This one served the MOW department before preservation in Barstow, CA.

Railroads had a long history with horse racing. Some even sponsored races. Today, CSX and Norfolk Southern both still send special trains to the Kentucky Derby each year.

In addition to attending the races, the railroads were once the primary means for getting the horses there as well. Several railroads rostered special horse cars dedicated to these speedy equines.  The largest and best known fleets belonged to the Pennsylvania and Santa Fe.

Horse Cars looked more like baggage cars than stock cars. They were designed to be handled in passenger trains for the shortest travel times possible. These were very valuable loads and were treated accordingly.

end doors

End doors were common on horse cars to accommodate large props.

Most cars featured at three sets of large side doors. End doors at one end of the car were also a common feature. These were used primarily for the stalls and in some cases props used at the events. Horses used the side doors.

The interior of the cars could be arranged in different ways depending on the number of horses being moved. Stalls were typically arranged parallel to the tracks and when possible, horses were put 3 or 4 across in the car. The narrow space reduced their chances of falling over as the train rocked from side to side.

Saratoga Springs

The Pennsylvania named their cars after racetracks. “Saratoga Springs” is preserved at Strasburg, PA.

In addition to the horses there was room for water tanks and hay and of course a traveling attendant to tend to their needs. One has to imagine that this was a much more comfortable ride than those poultry car drovers experienced!

At their peak, these cars stayed quite busy hauling race horses. Not only did the railroad serve a region with numerous tracks and stables, but owners could also charter the PRR’s cars for use anywhere in the country – even between two points the Pennsy didn’t serve.

Beginning in the 1950s, trucks and even airplanes became the preferred travel method for race horses. Most of the railroad horse cars were converted into standard head-end cars for baggage, mail storage, etc. A few wound up in company service and a handful have found a home in museums across the United States today.





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

ad

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.

GG-1

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.

EP5

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:

E8

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:

Senator

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.