New Product Spotlight – American Flyer Norfolk Southern Heritage ES44ACs

7 10 2013

We introduced our American Flyer replicas of Norfolk Southern’s now famous Heritage Series of locomotives in 2012. This year we are completing the run with the remainder of the twenty locomotive fleet including a new-to-S Gauge ES44AC!


6-42531 – Reading SD70ACE

Shortly after their introduction, these locomotives were turned loose on Norfolk Southern to perform daily chores just like the rest of the roster. They can show up almost anywhere at any time on any train. Several have even made it well off of Norfolk Southern’s rails, being seen as far away as Washington and California. Despite their “regular roles” the locomotives are still required to be washed monthly and crews will often take the extra time to make sure they are in the lead on a consist whenever possible.


6-42542 Central of Georgia ES44AC

Whether you are a fan of modern era railroading or just like seeing a favorite fallen flag back again, these locomotives have something for everybody. And our American Flyer models are designed to please as well.

Both the SD70ACE and ES44AC models have similar features. Powered and non-powered models of each scheme are available with unique numbers. Powered locomotives include:


6-42552 Norfolk and Western ES44AC

  • LEGACY Control System – able to run on LEGACY, TMCC or Conventional power. The models are also DCC enabled.
  • AF Speed Control with on/off switch for maintaining an even speed through curves and grades
  • LEGACY RailSounds featuring
    • CrewTalk and TowerCom announcements with varying scenarios based on the train’s motion


      6-42546 Interstate ES44AC

    • Eight diesel RPM levels
    • LEGACY Quilling Horn
    • Single hit or continuous mechanical bell
    • Independent volume control
  • Two maintenance-free motors
  • Front and Rear ElectroCouplers
  • Mounting holes and support plate for scale couplers (sold separately)
  • Pivoting Pilot allows for operation on tight curves with better appearance
  • Operating headlight, ditch lights, illuminated number boards and detailed cab interior

    6-42544 Conrail ES44AC

    6-42544 Conrail ES44AC

  • Traction Tires
  • Metal Frame
  • Fan-driven smoke unit
  • Die-cast metal trucks, pilots and fuel tank
  • Separately applied metal details
  • Cab window glass
  • Engineer and conductor figures

Non powered locomotives feature:


6-42548 Lehigh Valley ES44AC

  • Metal Frame
  • Die-cast metal trucks, pilots, fuel tank
  • Front and Rear operating couplers
  • Separately applied metal details

6-42550 Nickel Plate ES44AC

All locomotives will negotiate S-36 curves. All come with American Flyer wheels but can be switched to scale wheels which will be available separately through Lionel Customer Service. ES44AC locomotives retail for $529.99 (powered) and $269.99 (non-powered.) SD70ACEs retail for $479.99 and $239.99.


6-42535 Virginian SD70ACE

In addition to the locomotives, separate sale cylindrical covered hoppers are also available decorated in complementary schemes for each road name. Twenty of these would certainly create a colorful consist! Cars retail for $79.99 each.


6-42558 Norfolk Southern ES44AC

If you are looking for colorful modern power for your American Flyer layout, it doesn’t get any better than this. Keep your eyes open for these Heritage Units coming to the rails and hobby shops near you!


6-42556 Southern ES44AC


6-42537 Wabash SD70ACE


6-42554 Pennsylvania ES44AC


6-42533 Savannah & Atlanta SD70ACE

6-42560 Monongahela ES44AC

6-42560 Monongahela ES44AC

New Product Spotlight – Command Control Speeders

5 11 2012

“Speeders,” self-propelled cars used by track gangs, have come in many shapes and sizes. Today, they are as popular to preserve full-scale as they are in models.


6-37066 Maintenance of Way

The speeder, or track car, replaced the hand-powered pumpcars and velocipedes, beginning in the 1920s. The first cars were not much more than a small engine, four wheels and a bench. Often they were home-built in railroad shops. Crude as they may have seemed, compared to pumping your way several miles just to get to the work site, these were a welcome relief to those who used them.

6-37064 CSX

Over time, the speeders evolved into larger and more elaborate vehicles. Roofs, windshields, and eventually side walls enclosed the passenger compartments. Larger cars could carry six or more men. Some speeders had top speeds of more than 40 mph and were often powerful enough to tow an extra cart or two with tools, spikes, etc.

6-37065 BNSF

Starting in the 1950s, the traditional rail-only speeder began to be replaced by larger and more-versatile hi-rail vehicles which could run on both rails and roads. By the mid 1980s, most had been replaced on the larger lines. Today, hundreds of the little speeders have been preserved in museums and tourist lines and by private owners who often gather for excursions.

They are one of the most affordable ways to get into 1:1 scale railroading as a hobby. And while some have carefully restored their cars to the original appearance, others have applied unique paint schemes based on favorite prototypes or complete fancy.

6-37067 New York Central

There are lots of uses for these little cars on your layout. Whether you want to have one for your section gangs to inspect your railroad, or gather a fleet and model a modern excursion, the new Lionel command control speeders will add a fun element to any model railroad. They’ll even look great sitting beside the tracks on a set-out when not in use.

For small cars, these critters are packed with features:

  • 6-37063 Pennsylvania

    Run with Command Control or Conventional

  • Forward and Reverse operation
  • Directional headlights
  • Blinking strobe light
  • Interior light
  • Die-cast metal frame
  • Maintenance-free motor
  • Traction tire
  • Detailed Interior
  • Driver figure

The speeders will negotiate an O-27 curve and come decorated for seven popular railroads past and present and a generic Maintenance of Way scheme.

6-37061 Union Pacific

  • Union Pacific (6-37061)
  • Norfolk Southern (6–37062)
  • Pennsylvania (6-37063)
  • CSX (6-37064)
  • BNSF (6-37065)
  • Maint. of Way (6-37066)
  • New York Central (6-37067)
  • Canadian National (6-37068)

The speeders retail for $149.99 and should ship next month. Pick one up and tour your layout in style!

6-37062 Norfolk Southern

6-37068 Canadian National

New Product Spotlight – Heritage Hoppers

23 01 2012

Two new hoppers are hitting dealer shelves – part of our Norfolk Southern Heritage Series. While not based on a prototype, if there were going to be hoppers to honor historic railroads it would be hard to argue against the N&W and Pennsylvania.

PRR hopper

6-27448 Pennsylvania / Norfolk Southen

The Norfolk and Western and Pennsylvania both relied heavily on coal and invested significantly in the design and construction of cars to carry it. Although the two railroads operated independently, the N&W was financially controlled by the Pennsy for much of its existence and designs flowed freely between the two. When it came to hopper designs, the engineers in Roanoke were at the top of the field. Designs made by and for the N&W often spread to other lines. Nowhere was that more true than with the 100 ton cars of the 1960s.

NW hopper

6-27450 Norfolk and Western / Norfolk Southern

The prototype for Lionel’s car is based upon a design orignated on the N&W as their H11A. This car was adopted by the PRR as their class H43 in 1963 and the plans turned over to Bethlehem Steel who produced cars for the PRR and then tens of thousands more for railroads and utilities all across the country. The new cars arrived just in time for the new Unit Train concept which revolutionized the way railroads and utilities moved and billed for coal shipments by the trainload.

These well-designed cars served their owners well for over thirty years before most were rebuilt by successors Norfolk Southern and Conrail into gondolas. Many of their brethren on other lines could be be found  in service even longer, including some of the original clones built for Pennsylvania Power and Light which continue to roll today. Whether your interest lies in the history of these two railroad companies, freight cars, or just railroading in general, a heritage hopper makes perfect sense.

NW hoppers

The Heritage cars are based on these popular 100 ton cars designed by the N&W.

The Lionel models feature imaginative paint schemes that honor both the historic companies and Norfolk Southern’s current image. The cars have die-cast metal frames and carbodies, metal trucks with rotating bearing caps and working couplers, operating hopper doors and a removable coal load. They’ll operate on O-31 curves. These cars would look great as part of the complete Norfolk Southern Heritage train, or mixed in with a longer consist of conventional hoppers. These historic cars are pulling into dealers now!

New Product Spotlight – Scale Round-Roof Boxcars

3 10 2011

Railroad engineers must walk a tight rope between capacity and clearances when designing any new piece of railroad equipment. Since larger cars are inherently more efficient, the desire to build ever-bigger rolling stock is obvious. Unfortunately, it is a lot easier to build a bigger boxcar than it is to upgrade every piece of rail, bridge and tunnel of the routes on which it will run.

X31A Circle Keystone

6-17733: The Pennsy "Circle Keystone" scheme is the original appearance for the car.

In order to allow for an easy interchange, or exchange, of cars between lines, railroads have adopted standards for clearances, axle loading, couplers, air brakes and more. When one road wants to change its cars, it can have a ripple effect across the entire industry. Such was the case in 1931 when the Pennsylvania Railroad released its new X31 boxcar.

Through the 1920s and 1930s, autoparts and finished automobiles were an increasing source of traffic for railroads, especially in the Northeast. Many parts and finished vehicles are large, but not heavy for their size. This meant that railroads would fill the cubic capacity of their boxcars much faster than they would reach their weight loading limits. Bigger cars were an option, but not on all lines due to clearances. The worst clearance restrictions were generally found in the east – on the very railroads that were handling the rising auto traffic.

Prototype end view

This end view of Pennsy 497310 shows the inset round roof design. This car is currently being restored by Pennsy Railcar Restorations. Click on the photo to see their site. Photo by Pennsy Railcar Restorations LLC.


The Pennsylvania began pushing for lesser restrictions but faced resistance from smaller partners. Ultimately, a compromise design was found that made the best of the available clearance “box.” By bending the roof sheets to meet the sides vertically, the interior height of the car was raised to ten feet. The first cars entered service in 1933. In 1935, the design was modified slightly with a flush meeting between the roof and sides and an interior height of ten feet five inches in the center, ten feet at the sides.  By 1936, the X31A had replaced the X29 as a general service car. In 1937, the design was adopted as a standard by the ARA. What seems like a small change had a huge impact on freight car design and helped open the doors for even bigger cars to follow.

Shadow Keystone

6-17734: The "Shadow Keystone" scheme was introduced in 1954 and remained common into the 1960s.

Our model features the distinct design of the early cars, with an inset roof seem where it meets the sides. Initially offered in the single door arrangement, future plans will include the double-door cars as well. These were especially useful in finished auto service. Built as early as 1933, the cars remained in service into the 1960s. So these boxcars will look equally at home behind an M1 or an SD45.

Seaboard X31

6-17730: Railroads beyond the Pennsy quickly adopted the new design.

Like many Pennsy designs, these cars were sold to more than just the “Standard Railroad of the World.” Seaboard and Norfolk and Western both had large fleets of single and double door cars. Similar cars were operated by many other roads as well.

The new 1:48 scale Lionel models will feature many fine details: a heavy die-cast frame for good tracking, separate metal underframe details, sprung metal trucks and couplers with recessed uncoupling tabs, and of course operating doors so you can park some vintage autos inside for delivery. The X31 will operate on O-31 curves. The X31A is scheduled for 2012 delivery and retails for $69.99. See your dealer and get your orders in now!