New Product Spotlight – American Flyer Baldwin Switchers

4 08 2014

The popular American Flyer Baldwin Switcher is back in three new paint schemes for 2014. Simple, reliable power for any S Gauge railroad, these switchers capture a common prototype.

Prototype Background

6-42597

6-42597 Canadian Pacific

The American Flyer switcher most closely represents the Baldwin DS4-4-660. Built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, the DS4-4-660 worked for railroads large and small and was also a popular choice for industrial railroads. Baldwin built 139 of the 660 horsepower locomotives between 1946 and 1949. Baldwin offered several other switcher models in similar carbodies which found work on other roads as well.

The Pennsylvania Railroad had the largest roster of these locomotives. Its 99 units represented over 70% of the total production. That roster is perhaps even more impressive when considering the next largest owners were the New Orleans Public Belt Ry. with a total of just six and the Erie with five. The rest of the production was spread over a variety of railroads and industrial lines one to three at a time. While these numbers apply to the DS4-4-660 specifically, the trends were similar for Baldwin’s other diesel switchers.

6-42598

6-42598 Union Pacific

Unfortunately for Baldwin, its diesels never produced sales like its steam locomotives. Its switchers were however their most successful designs and many outlived their original owners. Today the distinctive “burble” sound of a Baldwin diesel can still be heard on a few active on shortlines and preserved at museums.

American Flyer Models

These locomotives include the familiar and time-proven features and performance of traditional American Flyer models. Each is equipped with:

6-42599

6-42599 Youngstown Steel

  • Transformer-controlled forward / neutral / reverse operation
  • Powerful maintenance-free motor with flywheel
  • Directional lighting including headlight and back up light
  • Die-cast metal trucks
  • Metal frame
  • Operating couplers
  • Traction Tires
  • S-36 Minimum operating curve.

Three new paint schemes join the roster this year including Canadian Pacific (6-42597), Union Pacific (6-42598) and a colorful Youngstown Steel Bicentennial unit (6-42599). Also still available is the previously cataloged M&StL locomotive (6-48165). Each retails for $289.99. See your favorite American Flyer dealer to order yours today.





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 – American Flyer ES44AC

7 04 2014
BNSF

6-42581 BNSF 6423 (#6438 also available)

We introduced the new American Flyer ES44AC last year as part of the Norfolk Southern Heritage Series. This year we’re bringing more paint schemes from many of this modern standard’s other operators.

Since its introduction in 2003, General Electric’s ES44AC has become a common sight on railroads all across North America. While AC traction motor-equipped locomotives are generally preferred for slower, heavy freights like coal trains, you will see these locomotives on almost any type of train. And with railroads frequently interchanging the locomotives along with the rest of the train today, it is not at all uncommon to find “foreign power” on your local line.

CP

6-42582 Canadian Pacific 8744 (#8730 also available)

This year’s lineup of American Flyer ES44ACs will include some great names from coast to coast: BNSF, Canadian Pacific, CSX, Kansas City Southern, and Union Pacific. Powered locomotives for each roadname will be offered with two different numbers. For the KCS locomotives, one number will wear the Southern Belle scheme, the other a “what if” version of their gray paint scheme.

The American Flyer ES44AC is packed with features.

CSX

6-42584 CSX 924 (#937 also available)

  • 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
  • LEGACYRailSounds featuring
    • CrewTalk and TowerCom announcements with varying scenarios based on the train’s motion
    • Eight diesel RPM levels
    • LEGACY Quilling Horn
    • Single hit or continuous mechanical bell
    • Independent volume control
  • Two maintenance-free motors
  • Front and RearElectroCouplers

    KCS

    6-42586 KCS 4692 (#4696 also available in gray paint)

  • 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
  • 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
UP

6-42589 Union Pacific 7494 (#7523 also available)

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. If you are looking for colorful modern power for your American Flyer layout, it doesn’t get any better than this.





New Product Spotlight – Vision Line Big Boy

10 03 2014

People have been talking about Lionel’s upcoming Vision Line Big Boy since we first previewed it in York last October. The model is filled with exciting features and is sure to be the star attraction of any collection.

In 1941, the Union Pacific went to the American Locomotive Company with a request for a single locomotive capable of pulling 3,600 ton trains between Ogden and Wasatch.  This meant it had to be powerful enough to drag the train up the 1.14% grades without helpers and fast enough to maintain schedules on the rest of the section. These would be the largest such locomotives ever built. Alco delivered 20 Big Boys in 1942 and 5 more in 1944.

Big Boy

The new Vision Big Boy will be a model as awe-inspiring as the prototype.

The Big Boys spent their entire careers in this role and on this specific line – if for no other reason than no turntable or roundhouse track existed anywhere else on the system that could accommodate their 132’ 9 ¼” length! While their territory was limited, their fame was not. Railroad engineers and of course fans traveled to the hills of Wyoming from around the world to see these engineering marvels.

Unfortunately for the Big Boys, the Union Pacific would ultimately find its “jack-of-all-trades” locomotive solution along with the rest of the railroads – in the diesel electric. The last revenue run of a Big Boy came in 1959. While some remained on the roster for an emergency call that never came, by 1962 all but eight had been scrapped.

Of the eight survivors, seven are from the original production run. Those seven locomotives, in their as-delivered configuration, are the prototypes for Lionel’s newest model.

  • 6-11434 #4006
  • 6-11435 #4018
  • 6-11436 #4005
  • 6-11437 #4014
  • 6-11438 #4017
  • 6-11448 #4012
  • 6-11449 #4004

Vision Line Features

Lionel’s Vision Line locomotives have each introduced at least one brand new feature to the line. In addition to the highest quality details and features you’ve come to expect, you’ll get something you’ve never seen before. The Big Boy has several of those features which will set this model apart from the rest.

Smoke Effects

dual smoke

Two stacks – two smoke units. The Vision Big Boy captures this prototype feature for the first time.

The Vision Big Boy is equipped with a pair of dual smoke units. One of these are located under the Big Boy’s paired smoke stacks. The Big Boy was a “simple articulated” locomotive. Simple articulated locomotives have two sets of powered drive wheels, each of which is fed steam directly from the boiler. The other method is a “compound” or Mallet. On these locomotives, steam from the boiler travels to one set of pistons, then exhausted to the second set before finally being exhausted through the smokebox and stack.

On simple locomotives, each pair of pistons has its own exhaust. Since the two sets of pistons are not in sync, and with different lengths of the exhaust pipes, the “chuffs” from each are also independent. This can be more clearly seen at low speeds since as the locomotive accelerates the “chuffs” become more like a continuous roar.

For the first time, Lionel has recreated this effect with a dual-smoke unit in the stack. The dual chuffs of smoke are in sync with the sounds. You’ll hear eight chuffs per wheel revolution. Just like the prototype, you’ll see the paired exhaust as the engine starts and then benefit from twice the smoke output at mainline speeds.

A second dual smoke unit provides effects for whistle steam and the blow down feature. These are independently controlled from your remote.

Depleting Coal Load

coal load

The coal load in the tender drops in step with the work of the locomotive.

For the first time, Lionel is introducing a depleting coal load which gradually lowers in tune with the labor of the locomotive. The harder you work your engine, the faster you’ll see the coal load drop in the tender. When you refill the tender, you’ll hear the sound of coal dropping into the bunker and see the realistic coal load rise back up.

You can also track your Big Boy’s coal and water consumption, along with automating many other features, with the new LCS sensor track. (See our previous blog for a complete description of this track and how it works.) To help you get started with these features, a LCS SensorTrack and power supply is included with each Vision Big Boy.

Big Boy – Big Sounds

sensor track

Automate sounds and other functions with the LCS SensorTrack included with the Vision Big Boy.

Those who have watched our product video on line for the new locomotive have already picked up on the amazing sound quality of the Vision Big Boy. The model features a pair of speakers in the tender and one in the boiler for true stereo sound.

This arrangement also enables some localized sounds to better capture the symphony of steam. When you refuel your locomotive you’ll hear the sounds of water and coal in the tender. And when you ring the bell you’ll hear it coming from the locomotive. Meanwhile the sounds of the locomotive at work will come balanced from all three speakers for the ultimate in sound quality.

Order Yours Today

Like all of our LEGACY locomotives in 2014, the Vision Big Boy is Made To Order. We will only make as many as you ask for so if you want one, please see your Lionel dealer as soon as possible. MSRP on the Vision Big Boy is $2699.99. The locomotives will be available late in 2014.





LionChief Plus Hudson

10 02 2014

Leading the charge with the new LionChief™ Plus locomotives is the Hudson. One of the most popular locomotives in Lionel history, this classic example of Super Power steam will be a perfect fit on any layout.

Prototype Background

C&O

The production sample of our new C&O Hudson performs as good as it looks!

As passenger trains grew in length and weight in the 1920s, the New York Central found itself in a motive power problem. With its Pacifics limited to 12 car trains, many of its long distance passenger trains were running in multiple sections. A more powerful passenger locomotive was needed.

While many railroads at the time were stretching the Pacific and adding additional drivers for more power, the New York Central took a different course and applied the new “Super Power” concept of the Lima Locomotive Works’ Berkshire. Adding a larger firebox, supported by a four-wheel trailing truck, the Central created the first 4-6-4. Only 5 inches longer than the road’s K-5 Pacific, the new locomotive generated more than 3,800 pounds of additional tractive effort.

NYC

The LionChief Plus Hudson is the latest in a long line of Lionel replicas of this NYC icon.

The first 4-6-4 was completed by ALCo in 1927 and NYC President Pat Crowley had the honor of naming her. “Hudson” was chosen after the Hudson River. As if building the first locomotive and naming it weren’t enough, the NYC had by far the largest roster of Hudsons – 195 in total – forever linking this locomotive with the New York Central in the hearts and minds of most railfans.

Twenty other railroads (including NYC-controlled Michigan Central and Boston and Albany) owned at least one Hudson. Primarily a passenger locomotive, they were sometimes seen in fast freight and mail train service as well. The Hudsons served well until the end of steam. Twenty-one survive in museums – unfortunately none of those are from the New York Central.

LionChief™ Plus Hudson

UP

The proportions of these LionChief Plus Hudsons work well with traditional and scale freight cars. Production Union Pacific sample shown.

Your LionChief™ Plus Hudson is ready to go to work on any railroad. With its LionChief™ Remote it 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 last week’s blog.)

It’s not just the control system that sets the new LionChief™ Plus locomotives apart. This new Hudson is packed with features normally reserved for our more expensive models. The locomotives include:

  • User selected operation – Conventional AC transformer control or LionChief™ Wireless Remote (included)
  • RailSounds RC™ with steam chuffing and background sounds, whistle, bell and user activated announcements
  • Fan-driven smoke
  • Speed Control maintains a constant speed on curves and grades automatically
  • ElectroCoupler on tender controlled by the remote

    CN

    Canadian National had 5 Hudsons, all built in Canada.

  • Operating headlight
  • Maintenance-free motor
  • Die-cast locomotive body, frame and trucks
  • Metal tender frame
  • Lighted cab interior
  • Flickering Firebox
  • Engineer and fireman figures
  • Traction Tires
cab

The Hudsons’ cabs feature detailed backheads, crew figures and a flickering firebox. The drawbar connection to the tender automatically connects the wiring.

The LionChief™ Plus Hudson will be available in Canadian National, Chesapeake and Ohio, New York Central 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 $429.99. See your local Lionel dealer to place your order today. The Hudsons should be available by early 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.





New Product Spotlight – City of Los Angeles

30 09 2013

Let’s head west this week with the City of Los Angeles as we take a closer look at our upcoming streamliners.

The City of Los Angeles
Most passenger trains were the pride of a railroad and closely associated with its image; the New York Central’s 20th Century, the Great Northern’s Empire Builder, the Santa Fe’s Chief. But there were also a select group of trains which were shared by several roads. In the eyes of the traveling public, it didn’t matter whose name was on the letterboards as long as the service inside the car was comfortable and friendly.

AD

The UP featured EMD E units in the advertising for it’s City trains, including the City of LA.

The City of Los Angeles began as a joint service between Chicago and Los Angeles via the Chicago and Northwestern and Union Pacific in 1936. At the time, only one train consist was available, making only 5 round trips per month. It became a daily train in 1947.

In 1955, operations east of Omaha shifted from the CNW to the Milwaukee Road. It was also in this year that a new train consist was added with dome cars, including a dome lounge observation. This lounge car was used for sleeping car passengers. There was an additional dome diner and lounge car for coach passengers. At this time there were also connecting cars from New York via the Pennsylvania and New York Central (operating on alternate days and using cars lettered for the owning railroad but painted in UP’s yellow color scheme for a matched consist in the west.) Connecting cars from Minneapolis and St. Paul also arrived in Chicago via the CNW.

The dome observations only lasted about a year. In 1956 the UP modified them and placed them mid-train behind the diner. That year also saw the seasonal combination of service with the Challenger between Omaha and Los Angeles. During peak season, the City was sleeper only, with the Challenger handling coach travelers.

E9

The Milwaukee’s E9s were also frequently seen on the City of Los Angeles, especially when second sections were run.

As service slowly declined through the 1960s, the train was combined with some of the UP’s other City streamliners. First with the City of San Francisco in 1960. At Ogden, the San Francisco section was pulled out and departed via the Southern Pacific. By 1969 it had become a “City of Everywhere” (never an official name) with multiple sections being combined. Between Cheyenne and Green River, WY. the train averaged 27 cars behind an impressive A-B-B-B-B-A consist of E9s!

The domes disappeared altogether in 1970 and the train would make its last run in 1971 with the arrival of Amtrak. Some cars from the 1955 consist have survived in private hands.

Lionel’s Models

Now you can recreate the glory years of this fine train on the Union Pacific and Milwaukee Road. The 18″ aluminum passenger cars will look great behind our new E9s, or a variety of other motive power.

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

  • Fan-driven smoke unit with adjustable output
  • Directional lighting including LED headlights

    E9

    The E9 was a regular feature on the City of LA and other important trains.

  • 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

    COLA

    You could easily combine multiple sets of our City of Los Angeles cars to recreate the prototype’s often colossal consists.

  • 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. The City of Los Angeles showed the cooperation railroads could bring when the public demanded the best in service. Don’t miss this opportunity to serve the fine folks of Plasticville, Lionelville or any of the towns on your layout.