Lionel Ambassador Program

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.

www.njhirailers.com

www.Lionel.com

#NJHirailers

#Lionel

#LionelTrains

www.Lionel.com/clubs

 






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.

‪#‎NJHiRailers

‪#‎LionelTrains

www.njhirailers.com

www.lionel.com

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 www.Lionel.com.

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 www.Ericstrains.com 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.

‪#‎LionelTrains‬

www.lionel.com

www.fortwaynerailroad.org

Lionel's Vision Line Pacific Fruit Express Scale Reefer Review

posted Sep 1, 2015, 8:19 PM by Chris Lord   [ updated Sep 2, 2015, 6:58 AM ]

ionel's Vision Line Pacific Fruit Express Scale Reefer

Review and Photos by Kevin Martin - NJ Hi-Railers

Earlier in the year, Lionel cataloged (in the 2014 Signature Catalog) and offered the 6-29989 PFE 3-pack. I had ordered one of the Big Boys I decided to purchase two sets because of the sound feature and because the Big Boys were built to order. These are perfect to start building my collection of Union Pacific Big Boy locomotives and boxcars.

When you open the master carton the first thing that stands out is the blue box with the white lettering. The Lionel logo is a light grey. The packing graphics are identical to that found on the UP Big Boy box (picture 1). They are sharp, crisp and clear.

The set comes with three new road numbers. The Union Pacific and Pacific logos pop out nicely off the car bodies and the graphics are crisp and clear.

For those of you that weather your rolling stock think twice about it before proceeding. I did a quick Internet search to see if I could pick up another set. I was successful but at a higher price. These were part of Lionel’s’ build to order program and my master carton boxes were labeled 305 and 772. This indicates that these should be a highly desirable sought after product.

Let's get to some of the features that are built into the 3 car set. To take advantage of all the TMCC and Legacy features, you will need to program the sound equipped Vision Steel-Sided Reefer car.

This is a very simple task. If you have don't remember the steps refer to the Owner's Manual, page 4, this walks you through the process. Using the Cab-2 Remote, you will have to program the Vision Reefer to be set for Freight Sounds.

Located on the undercarriage of the Reefer are the Program / Run and the Min / Max Switches. The Min / Max switch controls how loud the scraping and banging of contents found in the reefer car will be as it traverses your layout. Sliding the button to the Min position turns off the background noise and motion sounds (picture 2). A very cool and unexpected feature is the ability to add more than one sound-equipped reefer to your consist. This really makes for added realism and enhances the fun of running them.

The Vision Reefer can be added to a previously built train. Simply press the TR button, press the Info button, add the Train number, press Build, add or enter the number of the lead engine, press "add" to add a the reefer, then enter the reefer ID and press set and wait for the message. There are directions included with the 3-pack or simply refer to any CAB or TMCC controller manual
Many of the features are activated through the handheld.

The Baby Fat Boy speaker takes the sounds to a new level. I ran the unit around my test layout and was pleased with the results. You can clearly hear the brakes, the banging around of contents and the scrapping. The volume changes with the speed of the engine and where it is located in the trailing cars. Access to the sound volume can be done through the CAB remote. If you don't have TMCC or Legacy systems you can open the hatch near the brake wheel and using a flat head screw drive to increase or decrease the volume (picture 4).

I discovered when reviewing the cars was that you can open the roof hatches. The latched appear to be very fragile so I suggest you be extra careful when opening and closing the roof hatches. However, the visual when running with them up and open is very realistic.

Overall, this set is feature rich and makes operating behind any TMCC or Legacy equipped engine more fun. Lionel should consider making available a single Freight Sounds Vision Line Scale Steel-Sided Reefer PFE Boxcar as well as another 3-pack with freight sounds as it would complement this set.

If you plan to use Lionel’s site to register your product for warranty, the Vision Line serial number is located on the inside of the door of the powered car. Open the door carefully as the applied details are small. The serial number is on the door frame.

‪#‎LionelTrains‬

The New Jersey Hi-Railers Train Club's photo.
The New Jersey Hi-Railers Train Club's photo.

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