Lionel Ambassador Program

Another Great NJ Hi-Railers Show was held on 12/1/19!

posted Dec 1, 2019, 3:48 PM by Chris Lord

December 1, 2019

Today we had a great train show!! Tons of folks came to see the country’s largest model railroad. We had kids playing with the Sopranos layout using club engines and cars that we got from Lionel. These LionChief engines are truly tough engines as kids put them through their paces.

We now use three LionChief engines on the layout, one at the refinery and two at the coal tipple. At the coal tipple our guest can unload Lionel, Atlas and MTH coal hoppers. Total blast to watch the children operate the accessories from MTH, Menards, Lionel and our custom hand-built items.

Today’s raffle was / is a Lionel LionChief Ready to Run End of the Line Set. In addition, we gave a way a Lionel Pennsylvania coach car, item 6-35274 to a lucky guest.

The Sopranos layout was super busy due to the fact last weekend we took that layout to SopranosCon and 10,000 people had the opportunity to see the actual Bobby B. Garage layout.

 The scavenger hunt was a big hit and one young lady found over 70% of the items. So, she got some free food from Chef Vincent.

Here are some pictures of the day.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas.

Special thanks to Lionel


NJ Hi-Railers Review the Lionel Vision Line UP Challenger

posted Oct 25, 2019, 3:06 PM by Chris Lord

NJ Hi-Railers Kevin & Jeff review Lionel's new Vision Line Challenger, the 3985. The Challengers were - are one of the most acclaimed locomotives to roam the rails in passenger and freight service. Many railroads including the Union Pacific, The Clinchfield and the D&RGW were just a few.
The "What If " version is really a nice piece as well as the LCCA version, the 1948 Single Stack experiment.

Enjoy the video.

NJ Hi-Railers Have Been Named a 2018 Lionel Ambassador Club Of the Year

posted Jan 18, 2019, 10:39 AM by Chris Lord

The NJ Hi-Railers are pleased to announce that we have been named a 2018 Ambassador Club of the Year.      Take a look out our Lionel video reviews on our YouTube Channel.   NJHiRailers - Lionel Ambassador Program Videos

Lionel Brass Hybrid Mikado Video Review

posted Feb 17, 2018, 7:30 AM by Chris Lord   [ updated Feb 17, 2018, 7:31 AM ]

This is a video review of the Lionel Brass Hybrid Mikado that was offered by Lionel only on the Lionel Store. There were 3 models to chose from and we were lucky to have 2 of them. These are limited editions and were close to sold out when we shot the video.

Lionel New York Central Legacy AA E8 Video Review

posted Jan 25, 2018, 8:22 AM by Chris Lord   [ updated Jan 25, 2018, 8:32 AM ]

The NJ HiRailers video review of the Lionel's 6-84088, New York Central AA E8's #4036-4037. The E8's were cataloged in the 2017 Signature Edition on page 22 & 23. Along with the NYC, Lionel offered the E8's in the Burlington Northern, Conrail, Louisville & Nashville Atlantic Coast Line, the Pennsylvania and a single A unit, the EMD 950 which is exactly what EMD offered when they introduced the engines.

The SRP is $999.99 but we were able to get it slightly cheaper as we pre-ordered to ensure we would get it. Remember, these high end units are all part of Lionel's Built to Order program which has a multiple pronged effect; reduction of inventory on hand at Lionel, protecting dealer margins, price protection and massive depreciation of the value of the units - it retains its price. We are a fan if this program though we know many people are not

Along with the standard features one now expects with any and all high-end can be found on this engine set. Their only 1 powered unit but it can easily pull 12 ~15 passenger cars. So it is powerful and can handle just about anything you couple up to them. Plus items we like, both units have fan-driven smoke units, directional LED lighting (thank you), die cast metal trucks, pilots and fuel tanks with tons of detail on the body and roof lines. The operating front marker lights were a pleasant surprise.

OK, so no more orange modules are no longer being paired with new engines. We feel and will continue to harp on this as a big mistake, they are needed, desired and make the entire set up easy. Why do we say that, well we had to figure a few things out which we mention in the video review on setting these up. They come from the factory as 2 separate engines that need to be lashed up in order to work properly. I guess I should have known that but we didn't so it took Jeff a few extra minutes and frustration to get them working. We explain this in the video.

We know how to set it up in the 990 remote, but honestly the orange modules are a convenience that we all like. Using the fast track module to read the engine data is fine, if and only if, you have it in your layout.

The alternative is look at Alex M's video on how to add this to your layout. He is way more patient than I ever will be. The engine itself it really well done, crisp, clear paint. Great details with plenty of hand applied details. The startup sequence and the spooling up of the engines is very realistic and you can hear it in the video.

We highly recommend this beautiful AA set.

BTW, this E8 engine is a classic with many of them preserved and operating around the country. Enjoy the video.

Lionel Command Control Smoke Loader - Advanced Fluid Co. Product Review

posted Aug 6, 2016, 10:53 AM by Chris Lord   [ updated Aug 6, 2016, 11:00 AM ]

Lionel Command Control Smoke Loader - Advanced Fluid Co. Product Review 

Today, I received Lionel’s Command Control Advanced Co. Smoke loader (Item 6-37821).  Lionel has cataloged a few of these including Keystone (6-83634) and North American (6-83635), both found in the 2016 catalog and offered at an SRP of $349.99. I have seen these on line and through Lionel’s dealer base under $275.00. All operate the exact same way.

Before you rush out to purchase this accessory, please make sure you have TMCC and or Legacy systems installed on your layout because with them you will not be able to operate the unit. The functions are accessed visa the CAB-1, CAB-IL and CAB-2 handhelds.

I am not one for adding a lot of operating accessories to my layout but because of the footprint on this accessory, approximately 5 ½ inches wide by 12 ¾” and because the model simply looked good I purchased it. The feature set was a secondary consideration. For example, the pre-painted figure, building, painted valve wheels and tank are color coordinated and makes it easy to add additional detailing.

The loader comes with three items, the main building with the tank, the loader arm with the nozzle and the lighted lamp post. Assembly is very simple, plug in the light and install the loader arm. In both cases, take care when the installing the components. Assembly of the three components should take less than 5 minutes.

Whether you model steam era, diesel era or a combination of both the key to enjoying this really cool accessory is positioning it for success. You must find a location on your layout that has sufficient space for the Loader Arm and its movement.  When extended, the Loader Arm needs to be positioned directly over your locomotives stack or the caboose’s chimney.

To help assure that I could line up the Loader Arm any engine, steam or diesel, on the layout I drew a red line across the track and using a square, extend the line from the track onto the Homasote platform. Once again, to double check my work, see the pictures, I used the UP smoking caboose to ensure my “stop” point worked. My next step in the plan is then to make or buy a small sign to put a “stake” in the ground at the “stop point” to be used as the marker to help line the engine /caboose up to the loader arm should extend. Ultimately, the engine or caboose needs to be line up on a 45 degree angle. Once these steps are completed and the Smoke Fluid Loader is in position, attach it to your platform deck. The entire process took me about 30 minutes. One other item, the Smoke Loader Arm motor will move the arm up to 90 degrees but the arm has a full 360 degree motion. The arm is engineered for positioning it however you feel like it on your layout and for making adjustments as needed.

Why do I take the extra time to position the accessory? Simple, if the loader arm and the engine stack and caboose chimney don’t line up, then as you release the fluid it could miss the target ending up all over the unit on the track. I had to make a few small adjustments to align the Loader Arm and the center rail and it works perfectly

Now that the unit is set properly seated on the layout the next step it to fill the storage tank. Filling the tank is simple, just open the plug on the top of the tank by pulling straight up on the outside edges. Lionel recommends their premium smoke fluid, item 6-37842 only be used in the Command Control Smoke Loader accessory. Fill the tank, replace the cap and cleanup any spilled fluid.

The reason Lionel strongly suggests using their premium fluid is design related. Their premium fluid viscosity is designed for their products. Using other brands may impact performance and could potentially damage the internal pump and tubing.

One of the main reasons I purchased this accessory was to see how this would operate at the NJ Hi-Railers Club and at my home since both locations have the Legacy and TMCC systems. In order to use the accessory you need to program the unit for operations. On the left hand side of the unit is the Program / Run switch. Now that the accessory is properly positioned and full of fluid it’s time to test, I mean run trains and operate the smoke fluid loader.

With all the basics out of the way it is time to use the smoke loader. Remember, to use this accessory you need to program an address into the handheld. I left the factory assigned address for simplicity but you can change that at any time by following the directions.

Now the fun begins! Using the sign or marker described in the previous paragraph as your stop point position an engine or caboose under the Loader Arm. Select the address you assigned to the Smoke Loader unit to activate it. Turn the red control knob on the handheld clockwise which will engage the Loader Arm and move it 90 degrees. To dispense smoke fluid pull down the “Boost / Brake” button. When the “Boost / Brake” button is pulled only one (1) drop of fluid is dispensed, therefore, if you want 10 drops of fluid, then you must pull the button 10 times. As a reminder, Lionel recommends twenty (20) drops of fluid for normal operation in an engine or caboose.

Major Point – Lionel DOES NOT recommend using the Smoke Fluid Loader for the initial filling of the smoke unit if your engine or rolling stock is brand new. New units need to have their smoke units filled manually with a maximum of 20 smoke fluid drops to ensure proper operation. We have all experienced the “air bubble” smoke unit blockage so this will help prevent that from happening. If an air bubble exist is the smoke stack, simply blowing down the stack should clear the problem.

One of the nicer features on the accessory is the LED lighted lamp post. The light is turned on and off by using the hand held remote. Pressing AUX 1 and 9 key turns the light on. To turn the light off press AUX and the 8 key. Lionel expects the LED light to last the life of the accessory. If for any reason the light goes out it is not user serviceable, meaning you need to contact Lionel for service. I am sure this won’t be a major problem but I plan to purchase another lamp post as a backup.

What happens if you need to empty the storage tank? Simplely position the arm so that you can place a smoke fluid bottle underneath it.  Move the Program / Run switch to “Program” and pull down the “Brake / Boost” button on the hand held remote until all the fluid has been pumped out of the tank.

 Over all Lionel has built a very nice accessory with great features and functionality. The design is elegant, pre-painted and in 30 minutes you’re operational, less if you just set it down and line up the engine and smoke loader by eye. If you want to weather it or add additional detail most of the work is already done for you.

 It would have been nice if Lionel added a small tube (like they do with the engines) of premium smoke to jump start the usage.

Overall, this is a highly recommended accessory for your home or club layout and  I plan to get one I can see our guests at the NJ Hi-Railers getting great enjoyment seeing the accessory in action at our shows.

Please check our website for an updated 2016 ~ 2017 show schedule.





Delaware Lackawanna and Western LionChief™ Plus 4-6-0 Camelback #1035 Video Review

posted Jan 10, 2016, 5:39 PM by Chris Lord

A video review of the Lionel Delaware Lackawanna and Western LionChief™ Plus 4-6-0 Camelback #1035 is now up on our Facebook site.  Take a look at Ben Fiorello and Kevin Martin as they review and demonstrate this fine little engine.

Erie Legacy Scale E-8 Diesel AA #6-81231 Review

posted Oct 21, 2015, 8:44 AM by Chris Lord

Erie Legacy Scale E-8 Diesel AA #6-81231 Review by The NJ HiRailers Train Club 

Lionel Ambassador Program 

The Lionel number 6-81231 is a beautiful version of the GM EMD E-8 diesel locomotive that was produced from 1949 through 1954. The E-8 locomotive from GM was a 2250 HP monster that was primarily used as a passenger train locomotive. After national passenger service went to Amtrak in 1970 many railroads re-geared the E units to haul freight.

This Lionel version is in the Erie Railroad livery. The Erie Railroad had a total of 14 A units that were later painted in the Erie Lackawanna scheme after the merger in 1960. They never ordered any B Units. The Lionel version is true to prototype on the numbering of the A units in this set which are 822 and 827 as the Erie units were numbered 820 – 833.

Lionel's Erie E-8 was cataloged in the 2014 Signature Edition catalog which also offer the model in the Texas Special MKT, Wabash, Seaboard, Santa Fe, Penn Central, Rock Island and C&O railroads.

The A-A units measures 36 inches long from coupler to coupler and weighs 8lbs 4oz. The minimum curve requirement is 036 which is conducive to smaller lays

The lead unit is powered with two flywheel motors and the trailing unit is non-powered. There is one motor per six wheel truck in he powered unit. Fan driven smoke units can be found in both the powered and non powered unit. The main Legacy control electronics are located in the lead unit and the trailing unit does have an address programmable and light control board.

There are plenty of add on features on the E8. There are die cast pilots and operating protocouplers on each end. The nose of both units has brass grab irons next to the entry door. The nose number boards are illuminated. There are separately applied windshield wipers and grab irons above the windshield. The cab contains an engineer and a brakeman. The fuel tank is die cast metal. There are separately applied ladders in three positions along the carbody. The cab doors open and close and there are separately applied metal grab rails on both side of it. There is also a separately applied metal handrail next to the steps. There is a pretty nice builder’s plate below the cab.

There are four porthole windows on the sides of the unit. A nice feature Lionel added is the operational engine access door. The detail is excellent and Lionel added grab rails on each side of the door. The fuel tanks are metal.

The grills along the top of the unit side are metal and the roof of both units have separately applied lift rings. The blades in the fan units fond on the roof spin freely. The cab has interior illumination and lights in the direction of travel. The Cab light will also turn off when the unit starts to move and the headlights are directional.

The roof of each of the A units has a removable panel that gives access to the Program / Run, the Odyssey On / Off, and the smoke On / Off switches along with the volume control knob. On the non-powered unit there is also a volume control knob, a Program / Run and a Smoke On / Off switch. Both of the panels are held in place magnetically.

The E8 has an infrared sensor unit to be used with LCS sensor track. Each unit has four pickup rollers. The powered unit has four driven axels. The non-powered unit has a sensor in one of the trucks to regulate smoke output and sound to the powered units speed. The engine sound on the unit has a deep bass and sounds great. The horn doesn’t seem to match the Prototypical Erie units though. The crewtalk sounds are the standard issue Lionel sounds and are not railroad specific.

Operating the engine is easy and had the capability of a very slow start up speed when pulling 8 passenger cars. Pulling the 8 cars was not a problem for the A-A set. Speed steps can be made through the Legacy remote and adds more realism to the model.

The green color on the A-A units appeared a little darker than the passenger cars we had used during the testing but that could have been because they were from another manufacturer or simply because of weathering but none the less the entire train, the A-A units and the 8 passenger cars looked awesome on the NJ HiRailers layout.

Overall a very nice addition to anyone's collection.



Union Pacific Vision Line Legacy Scale 4-8-8-4 Big Boy Review

posted Sep 1, 2015, 8:26 PM by Chris Lord   [ updated Sep 2, 2015, 7:01 AM ]

Big Boy Product Review by Kevin Martin,

NJ Hi-Railers Model Rail Road Club

My last product review was about the Vision Scale Reefers that Lionel cataloged in the 2014 Signature Catalog. These reefers are a perfect addition to the UP Vision Line Legacy Scale Big Boy and Auxiliary Water Tenders featured in the same catalog.

A little history, the UP engines were built in Schenectady, NY and got the name when one of the builders wrote the words “Big Boy” on the side on one of the engines. That name stuck. Today, UP has decided to rebuild the 4014 and put it back in service. This is an exciting time for the rail road industry and rail fans. Progress updates are available on the UP site as well as from key industry publications like Trains Magazine.

Lionel delivered the Big Boys with seven (7) different road numbers. The engines were issued in the following road numbers, are reflective of the ones that survive today and their locations:

UP 4004 – Cheyenne, WY                           UP 4005 – Denver, CO 
UP 4006 – St. Louis, MO                             UP 4012 – Scranton, PA
UP 4014 – Pomona, CA – Cheyenne, WY 
UP 4017 – Green Bay, WI                           UP 4018 – Frisco, TX

So, let’s look at the model. I am not going to review all the features, functionality or specifications. I will touch upon the ones that our members and those that visitors to our Open Houses seem to enjoy.

If you like smoke, this engine SMOKES – it has a dual smoke stack that pours out smoke at all speeds. If you put the shroud over the smoke stacks, only one of the stacks puts out smoke. This keeps the unit from overheating. The synchronized chuffing and smoke can be changed from alternating between the stacks to both stacks puffing smoke together.

The second smoke feature is the Whistle Steam effect. Like the 765 Berkshire this is a really cool feature. By pressing the whistle button on the cab remote, steam is emitted from the whistle. 
The third smoke feature is the Blowdown Steam effect which allows the operator to clean out the boiler of materials that accumulate while the engine is in service. Lionel made sure to add to that realism by putting blow down valves on each side of the fire box. So if smoke is your thing, slide the three switches to the smoke position, add your 20 drops smoke fluid and away you go. A little hint here, using all three smoke units at one time burns quite a bit of smoke fluid so have a large bottle of smoke fluid available as you will needed it.

Turning to the sounds, there are three on board stereo speakers, two in the tender and one in the engine. Lionel used high quality speakers to produce the sounds. Our layout is 185 feet long and 35 feet wide and the whistle can be heard throughout our layout room. When all 5 of our members have their BB's on the layout, the sounds are awesome.

As you operate your engine the coal load begins to deplete much like it did when the BB's roamed the rails. The harder you work your engine the faster the coal load drops. This function is tied to the Legacy Control System which allows for realistic consumption. When the coal load runs low simply activate the "refill" feature. If you listen closely you can hear the coal and water being added to the tender.

Lionel Scale Nickel Plate Road Berkshire #6-11454 Review

posted Sep 1, 2015, 8:22 PM by Chris Lord

Lionel Scale Nickel Plate Road Berkshire #6-11454

Reviews and Photos by Kevin Martin of the NJ Hi-Railers Train Club

Lionel announced and featured in the 2014 Signature Edition catalog the Polar Express Berkshire and the Nickel Plate Road Berkshire. Lionel's marketing team did an excellent job of tying these offerings to the 10 year anniversary of the Polar Express Feature Film and the recently announced Nickel Plate 765 steam excursions scheduled for the summer and fall months.

In addition to the Nickel Plate Road 765 2-8-4 locomotive, Lionel also released very similar scale versions under the Chesapeake and Ohio, the Pere Marquette and Erie Railroad names. All of the 2-8-4 locomotives have the same feature set with details being located at

The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was how attractive the model really is. The white piping around the unit and drive wheels really stand out. Just look at the picture. The graphics are crystal clear and the engine details are impressive. The red paint on the valves located near the cab and on the body stand out contrast nicely against the black engine. Many of my club members have commented on how nice the unit looks.

Lionel built these models with an impressive array of features that are available when using TMCC or the Legacy Command System. For those of you that have not migrated to the new wireless technology (this might be the time to consider an upgrade) many of the features are available in the conventional mode.

There are a few features that I really enjoy and stand out above the rest. The most prominent is the Whistle Steam Smoke affects. The feature adds realism to the model as it allows smoke to emanate from the roof mounted steam whistle. The second stand out feature is the quality of the sounds that are played when accessed through the hand held remote. The sound is synchronized to the locomotives speed, movement and are played through the entire trip. The combination of the two makes you feel like you are going back in time.

For those of you that have the Nickel Plate 765 Lionel had Richard Melvin is the engineer's voice. Richard is the actual engineer of the 765 while on steam excursions so there is a good chance if the 765 is in your area he might be at the controls. I strongly suggest that you walk through the sound features and listen to Richard's voice change in pitch as he makes his requests to the dispatcher. That is a feature that is seldom noticed and does add realism when operating the model. Not to be outdone, the Gold Polar Express features the voice of Tom Hanks and his famous "All Aboard" call. Again, nicely done and bring you right back to the movie.

Finally, Lionel includes a MARS light with the 765 Berkshire. A MARS light is an oscillating safety light used to capture the attention of pedestrians and vehicles. You will need to be patient and follow the directions found in the addendum when performing the swap out. A word of caution, once you disassemble the unit, you need to remove the 3mm light. DO NOT PULL on the light as you might / will damage it if you are not careful.

To change out the lights you will need to first remove the white connector then unscrew the mount with the light. The next step is to install the 3mm light and housing into the MARS light. So, how do I know this? It took me a while it out plus I took to the Internet to see if anyone had posted a video. There are a few but the one posted on seems to be the most comprehensive. Note to Lionel - put the bulb at the factory!!!

I have run my 765 on our club layout with 20 boxcars without any problems. The pulling power is impressive, the engine easily travels up and down the helix and along the tracks that feature steep grades. The unit is powerful, good looking and easy to operate.


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