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.