New Product Spotlight – H24-66 Train Masters

21 04 2014

When Fairbanks Morse debuted the Train Master in 1953, its massive size, weight and power were unlike anything else the railroads had ever seen – at least in a diesel. As rare as they were immense, the Train Master left a big impression wherever it was seen.

Prototype Background


6-81207 Canadian Pacific 8900 (8903 also available)

Locomotive builders’ order books were filled in the early 1950s. Alco set the new standard at the end of the last decade with their RS series and EMD couldn’t seem to build GP7s and GP9s fast enough. The typical diesel of the day was a four-axle road switcher, weighing in at about 120 tons and producing around 1500 horsepower. By themselves or in multiple unit consists, they could handle any freight or passenger job the railroads had.


6-81209 New Jersey Central 2401 (2406 also available)

FM’s Train Master dwarfed its competition. The 66 foot, six axle, 194 ton monster produced 2400 horsepower and a continuous tractive effort of 82,500 pounds. Like its smaller competitors however, the locomotive was capable of handling a multitude of tasks. A pair of Train Masters could do the work of three GP9s on a heavy coal drag in the eastern mountains. Yet the locomotive still had acceleration rapid enough to suit them well in commuter service on the Southern Pacific.


6-81217 Norfolk & Western 157 (#164 also available)

A locomotive with these capabilities should have been an overwhelming sales success. Only 127 were made in the four year production, with 20 locomotives on the Canadian Pacific being the biggest roster of any road.

Several reasons have been given for the model’s failure to catch on. The unique FM opposed-piston diesel engine is an easy scapegoat. Although the engines had a proven track record in the marine industry, and while some railroads got long and productive careers out of their own, the engine was a maintenance headache. Its design made it more challenging to access and repair in the smaller locomotive shops and unlike an EMD GP9 that shared many parts with earlier models, the FMs needed their own inventory.


6-81211 Reading 801 (#804 also available)

The locomotives were too big for many lines and were harder on the track than lighter diesels. In many ways, the Train Master was simply a locomotive ahead of its time. Within another decade, the idea of higher horsepower, six axle locomotives would catch on with railroads everywhere.

While most Train Masters were retired in the 1960s, Southern Pacific maintained their fleet for commuter service out of Los Angeles into the 1970s. Today only one survives – Canadian Pacific #8905 at the Canadian Railway Museum in St. Constant. This locomotive was built by FM’s Canadian division, the Canadian Locomotive Works.

Lionel’s Model

The Train Master has enjoyed a much longer history in Lionel’s sales books. Our latest release brings the model up to date with today’s LEGACY control and other great features, including:


6-81215 Southern 6300 (#6303 also available)

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

6-81213 Southern Pacific 4803 (#4809 also available)

  • Refined Conventional Control mode with lower starting speeds
  • Front and Rear ElectroCouplers
  • Fan-driven smoke with adjustable output
  • IR Transmitter
  • Directional lighting
  • Marker Lights
  • Lighted cab interior with crew
  • Many separately applied metal detail parts including positionable drop steps on the pilots.
  • Metal frame, pilots, trucks and fuel tank
  • Minimum Curve – O31

The Train Master will be available in two road numbers for Canadian Pacific, Central of New Jersey, Norfolk and Western, Reading, Southern (TNO&P) and Southern Pacific. Suggested retail price for the locomotives is $549.99. See your dealer to place your order today!



New Product Spotlight – LEGACY AC-12 Cab Forward

24 03 2014

Faced with rough mountain grades covered by tunnels and snow sheds, the Southern Pacific’s unique “Cab Forwards” were a breath of fresh air to the engineer and fireman. The ultimate development of the design, the AC-12 4-8-8-2, battled the Sierra’s from 1943 until 1958.


No. 4294 is the last survivor of the Cab Forwards – a fitting ambassador to the power of steam and innovation of the Southern Pacific.

The AC-12 saw service on a variety of trains. They were used on general freight, priority produce trains and occasionally as helpers on heavy passenger trains. Even these huge machines were often seen working in pairs or more with locomotives placed at the head end, mid train and on / or on the rear to get the heaviest trains over the mountains. Despite their success, the AC-12 would have the dubious distinction of being the last new steam locomotives purchased by the Espee.

The coming diesel locomotives were already a “cab forward” design as far as the crew was concerned. Interestingly though, the many tunnels would play a role with the development of later diesels, namely the SD40T-2 and SD45T-2 “Tunnel Motors.”

Only one Cab Forward, No. 4294, is preserved today. It is also the last new steam locomotive purchased by the Southern Pacific. It can be seen strategically placed next to the first locomotive of the Central Pacific, the C.P. Huntington, at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento.

cab forward

The Cab Forward will be available in three road numbers in traditional SP markings for those daring enough to recreate a full size train!

The Lionel AC-12

Lionel is bringing back the AC-12 in 2014 with its best features yet including LEGACY control, RailSounds and Whistle Steam!

Note that like many of the Southern Pacific’s later steam locomotives, the AC-12 was equipped with both a steam whistle and an air horn. The engineer could choose which ever he preferred, and with your LEGACY remote you can too.

The locomotive 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
    • DynaChuff synchronized with 32 levels of intensity as the locomotive gains speed
    • LEGACY “Real-Time Quilling Whistle and Horn” control – choose between the steam whistle and air horn just like the prototype
    • 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
  • Whistle Steam
  • 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


    While none were ever painted to match, the SP did use the Cab Forwards to help its Daylights and other passenger trains over the mountains. This colorful “what if” would make a great companion to your Lionel Daylight cars and GS class locomotives.

  • 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
  • Cab glass windows
  • Engineer and fireman figures
  • IR Transmitter for communication with LCS SensorTrack
  • O-72 Minimum curve

For 2014, we are offering the AC-12 in three different road numbers in the traditional Southern Pacific paint scheme. We are also offering a “What If” Daylight version for those who’d like to add some matching heavy mountain power to their Daylight passenger trains. An unpainted Pilot model is also available. Retail price is $1699.99.

Road numbers are as follows:

  • 6-11462  #4294
  • 6-11463  #4291
  • 6-11464  #4286
  • 6-11465  #4275 “Daylight”
  • 6-11469  Pilot Model (unpainted)

These locomotives will be among the first from the new catalogs produced in 2014 so don’t wait!  See your Lionel dealer and order your piece of Southern Pacific history today.

New Product Spotlight – The Sunset Limited

12 08 2013

We move from the hustle of the Northeast to the beauty of the Southwest this week with our look at another of our new streamliner sets, the Southern Pacific’s Sunset Limited. Build this train with our new E9s and our aluminum passenger cars, or mix and match with other power and cars for your own unique consists!

The Sunset Limited

The Sunset Limited traces its name and beginning all the way back to 1894 on the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio, known as the “Sunset Route.” Then named the Sunset Express, it’s continued operation by Amtrak today makes this the oldest named train operating in the United States.
Sunset Ad

Southern Pacific’s 1950 advertising featured the train behind brilliant PA’s amid Spanish Moss and cotton fields.

For most of its life, the Sunset Limited was the pride of the Southern Pacific. Running the length of the railroad from New Orleans to San Francisco, the train was for many years an all-Pullman affair. Beginning in the 1930s, the train saw the addition of coaches and periodic, then permanent (in 1942) service cut backs to Los Angeles.

The Sunset was also one of the last major passenger trains in the country to be streamlined, finally getting new cars and diesels in 1950. The stainless steel train was often led by E7s, E9s and PAs in the SP’s striking Daylight colors. Steam could also occasionally be found on the train through 1953. These locomotives included the GS class Northerns and even AC cab forwards in the mountains.
By then the consist included both coach and sleeping cars as well as dining, mail and baggage cars. A brilliant neon sign brought up the markers on the rear car. The cars were left in gleaming stainless steel with red in the letterboard above the windows and on the numberboards below. In this era, the train was still looked upon as the most comfortable way to travel the long distance across the country.

Even after modernization, steam could still be found on the Sunset.

In 1971, the train became part of Amtrak’s operations. Since then it has had several more noteworthy moments. From 1985 to 1993 the train was extended east to Miami, making it America’s first and only true transcontinental passenger train. The eastward route was cut back to Orlando and eliminated completely after Hurricane Katrina though service may resume again.

The train was also involved in two of Amtrak’s worst derailments. The first came in 1993 in the bayous near Mobile, AL. The train derailed on a bridge which had been knocked out of alignment by a barge lost in the waterways at night. Forty-seven lost their lives. In 1995 the train was derailed in an apparent act of sabotage in Arizona. That mysterious case remains open.

Lionel’s Models

Now you can recreate the glory years of this fine train on the Southern Pacific. The 18″ aluminum passenger cars will look great behind our new E9s, or a variety of other motive power, including our F-units, Alco PA’s,  streamlined GS steam locomotives and even Cab Forwards.

The new E9s include one powered and one non-powered locomotive. Both engines feature:


In the incomparable Daylight colors, these SP E9s will look amazing on this or any train.

  • 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
  • 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:

  • Die-cast sprung metal trucks with operating couplers featuring hidden uncoupling tabs
  • Extruded aluminum bodies with flush-fitting windows

    passenger set

    The Sunset Limited’s cars offer all the features you’ll want for a trip across the country or around your platform.

  • 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. Don’t let the sun set on your opportunity to own this great train – see your dealers to order today!

New Product Spotlight – SP Black Widow Set

18 03 2013

Fans of the Southern Pacific will love this new freight set. Led by an FT diesel in the road’s “Black Widow” paint scheme, it features a consist typical of the Espee’s diverse operations.

Black Widow Set

6-30217 Black Widow Set will bring the Southern Pacific home.

The “Black Widow” paint scheme featured a black carbody with a brilliant silver and orange wing pattern on the nose. It was the standard paint scheme for locomotives in road-freight service until 1959 when the color scheme was changed to the Lark Gray and red which remained standard with a few modifications and interruptions until the railroad’s end in 1996. Of course many locomotives lasted well into the 1960s without being repainted.

Our new set is led by an FT diesel. These were Electro-Motive’s first big success and paved the way for dieselization across the country. Although the SP itself never owned an FT (their Black Widows were similar F3s and F7s), their subsidiary the Cotton Belt did own some. This powerful engine features:

  • Dual motors

    FT diesel

    The Black Widow scheme was beautiful in its simplicity.

  • Transformer controlled Forward / Neutral / Reverse
  • RailSounds RTR
  • Metal Frame
  • Die-cast metal trucks and pilot
  • Operating Couplers
  • Operating Headlight
  • Detailed cab interior with figures

Southern Pacific owned half of Pacific Fruit Express and the orange reefers were a common sight across the west and beyond.

Also included in the set, a train of freight cars perfect for any Southern Pacific freight. A Pacific Fruit Express mechanical reefer is ready to haul California’s bountiful harvests. A Southern Pacific tank car hauls oil and petroleum products from the many reserves and refineries located all across the railroad’s vast network. And a Rio Grande hopper carries loads of coal. All of these cars feature sprung metal trucks and operating couplers.


A bay-window caboose brings up the markers.

Of course no train would be complete without a caboose. This set features a bay window caboose, quite common on the Southern Pacific, with metal trucks and a lighted, detailed interior.


The Black Widow boxcar was designed to complement this set.

This set also includes a 40 x 60 inch oval of FasTrack and a CW-80 transformer – everything you need to start your railroad or expand it. This set would complement our 2012 SP Merger Set beautifully! You could also add to the consist with the new 6-25946 “Black Widow” High Cube boxcar.

See your dealers to place orders now, this set will retail for $439.99 and ship later in 2013.