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.

New Product Spotlight – News From York

21 10 2013

This past week marked the 44th annual fall gathering for the TCA Eastern Division’s “York Meet.” Twice a year we and other manufacturers debut some of our new products at these events and this fall Lionel had several big announcements to make. So if you didn’t make it to York, or if you just didn’t get enough of the new stuff, here are our highlights:

Vision Big Boy

Big Boy

The VISION Big Boy will be packed with new features. Look for more details on this exciting piece in 2014.

For those who have been waiting and wondering if there would be any more ground-breaking Vision Line products, as you can see we’ve been working on something BIG! Our new Vision Line Big Boy will be featured in the 2014 Signature Catalog but you can get a sneak peek right now. Like other Vision Line engines, this model brings never-before-seen features to the market.

For the Big Boy this includes a special dual-smoke stack which will mimic the dual chuffs from the Big Boy’s paired driver sets. In addition to the twin smoke units for the stack, the Big Boy also features whistle steam and a blowdown effect. That’s four smoke units in one boiler!

Also new on the Big Boy, an amazing depleting coal load effect. As the engine runs, the coal load slowly drops into the center of the tender just like the prototype. Even better, this effect is controlled through the LEGACY system and the speed of the coal depletion is based on how hard the engine is working. It may take 15 minutes – it may take 45 – it all depends on how hard you run your engine. You can keep tabs on the coal and water with the new sensor tracks as well. When the coal gets low, simply refill it. You’ll hear the sound of coal dropping into the tender as the load slowly piles back up.

Speaking of sounds, the Big Boy will have three speakers; two in the tender and one in the boiler. This will provide the most realistic sound quality and placement possible on the locomotive.

There will be many more features on these engines of course. Look for more details in the 2014 Signature Catalog and future updates here on our blog!

LionChief Plus Locomotives

LCP Mikado

The new LionChief Plus locomotives will combine the best of our remote and conventional engines. This is a prototype for the semi-scale Mikado.

While we know you all love to see how we’ll push the envelope with our new VISION features, we also recognize that the cost of this technology is more than many can spend to enjoy this hobby. Our new LionChief Plus locomotives offer exciting new technology at a much lower price point.

As the name implies, these locomotives use the LionChief Remote control system you’ve seen on our new Ready-to-Run sets, but with additional features. Just like the remote sets, these locomotives can be operated using the included remote control on any layout, whether it is powered by a wall-pack, conventional transformer, TMCC or LEGACY. Now with the flip of a switch, you can control the engine with your conventional transformer like any other conventional engine as well.


The LionChief Plus system will be available on 5 different types of locomotives in 20 total roadnames in 2014.

In addition to the conventional control option, these locomotives feature fan-driven smoke, amazing sound and a working electro-coupler! (The electro-coupler feature is only available when using the LionChief Remote control at this time.) We introduced five new models at York with prototypes on hand. These include the semi-scale Mikado, Hudson and Pacific and an RS-3 and GP-7. Each locomotive will be available in several roadnames and like the sets, each engine will have its own radio frequency so you can run multiple locomotives on the same track without interference.

Look for more information on this exciting new product as we get closer to release in 2014.

LCS Sensor Track and LCS Control System

sensor track

The new Sensor Track opens many doors and connects quickly to your layout and LEGACY system.

With our display layout now updated with the new sensor tracks and the new LCS control modules, we also demonstrated the exciting possibilities soon to be available with both of these new technologies.

The Sensor Track will work with your LEGACY locomotives to activate a wide variety of features on the engine or on the layout. You can use the sensor track to report back fuel levels on the locomotive, automatically blow the whistle or horn, stop the train and many many more functions. There are 8 pre-programmed actions and you can even create your own for a virtually unlimited variety.


LCS can put control of your entire layout at your fingertips – in your cab or other wireless devices.

The Sensor Track is just one part of the inclusive Layout Control System that you can use to put all of the features of the layout at your fingertips. LCS is completely customisable to your needs. There are modules to control switches, accessories and power blocks. These modules will allow you to control your entire layout from not only your LEGACY cab but also up to 15 wireless devices with the addition of the optional Wi-Fi module.

We know there is a lot to take in and think about with LCS, so we’ll present more detailed features on all of the components here on the blog in the near future. For more information right now, check out our lcs site.

More News!

There is always more good news from York than will fit in one post. In addition to all of these previews, we displayed many examples of other exciting products soon-to-ship or now shipping at York. We’ll post photos of those tomorrow here on the blog.

Product Spotlight – VISION Line Centipedes

14 09 2011

You can tell if you’re talking to a railfan or not by their response to this statement, “There’s a centipede on my layout.” You’ll either get an “ewww” or “ooooh” – that’s the railfan. Although they never found great success on the real railroads, enthusiasts have loved these baby-faced monsters ever since their debut.

BLW Demonstrator

6-34686: Baldwin Demonstrators

In the 1940s as railroads looked to dieselize, a serious question remained unanswered that would greatly impact the efficiencies of the new technology. How would labor unions, and subsequently the courts, accept multiple-units controlled by a single crew? Would crews agree to run four, or even eight locomotives? As a defensive measure, many early sets of road units were numbered alike and connected by drawbars. Still the push was on to build the most powerful single-units possible.

In an effort to meet this demand, Baldwin Locomotive works produced a pair of DR-12-8-3000 locomotives that began demonstration runs on the Union Pacific in December, 1945. The pair generated orders for 42 more locomotives (also always operated in pairs) on the Pennsylvania (24), Seaboard Air Line (14) and Nationales de Mexico (14). It is foretelling that the railroad which wanted the locomotives and saw them first hand decided not to buy any.

Union Pacific

6-34673: Union Pacific - What might have been.

There is no question that these units were big and powerful. The combined pairs produced 6,000 horsepower from a total of 4 diesel engines. The 16 traction motors put out a record-setting 205,000 lbs of starting tractive effort. And the 91′ 6″ big bugs weighed in at over 593 tons. They were impressive in everything that mattered – except performance.

A calamity of errors plagued the units from the start. Built one-by-one like steam locomotives, no two were exactly the same. Oil lines were mounted high on the inside of the walls and often broke loose from vibrations. Once ruptured, the contents spilled down the sides and right into the electrical conduits. The articulated frames created their own problems on curves; the blower ducts which kept the traction motors from overheating were often too far out of alignment to provide any relief.  Oh, and some say the brakes didn’t work all that well either.

PRR Centipede

6-34672: PRR 5-Stripe (initial passenger scheme)

The Pennsylvania’s units were arguably the most photographed and most famous. Delivered in 1947, they were intended for service on the railroad’s “Blue Ribbon” passenger trains, including the Broadway Limited. First based out of Enola, the locomotives were tested in short freight runs to work out the bugs. Within a year the dozen pairs were reassigned to Columbus, OH where again a mix of passenger and freight runs was tried. By 1951, the railroad decided to purchase E-8’s to replace them in passenger service. Rebuilt in 1952-1953 in the Juniata shops, the engines were downgraded to 5,000 hp and assigned mainly to helper service. Here on the east slope the traction motor duct problem became apparent. The fleet was first placed in storage in 1957 and scrapped in April of 1962.

They may have failed miserably – but they sure must have looked awesome doing it! The sight, sound and smell of a pair of these beasts must surely have been like nothing else. Soon you can add the same excitement and drama to your layout with our VISION Line models.

PRR 1 Stripe

6-34683: PRR Single Stripe (freight service)

Like the prototype, thanks to metal frames, bodies, trucks and pilots these brutes will be heavy and should pull like crazy. And like the prototype, they’re big! Nearly 4 feet long, they’ll be restricted to O-72 curves. To match the distinctive sounds of four big prime movers chugging away at once, we’ve included two speakers in each engine. This means never-before-heard stereo sound. There is also a pair of fan-driven smoke units in each engine. Along with that, all the usual cool features you expect from our top-of-the-line models: LEGACY Control and RailSounds, Odyssey II Speed Control, working electro-couplers on the front of each engine, directional lighting, working marker lights and LOADS of detail.

Get ready to let the Centipedes crawl all over your layout! We’ll keep you posted as production progresses.