Landsteiner posted:

"I currently have over $12k worth of 2RO on order."

Just out of curiosity,  did you mean O gauge?  I found nothing offensive about your post.  I'm about 25 years older and have modeled or owned Z, N, HO, O gauge three rail and G gauge trains.  Never S, although I have very fond memories of looking at the American Flyer catalogs as a boy.  I see the appeal of S in many ways, but clearly O gauge, particularly 3 rail, is a much larger market today than S.  That was true in 1955 too.  The same is also true but an order of magnitude larger market for HO.  I'm more of a toy guy, so while I understand your passion for scale, it's not one I share.  I think HO folks are indeed more scale oriented than S or O gauge hobbyists. 

I think Lionel is not thinking 20 years in the future, when essentially all who were alive when AC Gilbert was in business will be gone from the scene.  They are thinking the next few years, and apparently, American Flyer type S sells substantially larger volumes than true to scale S, or so they say.  Why would they lie to us?  So one needs to either live with those limitations or find another scale to work in if prototypic fidelity is the highest priority.  You've made that conclusion it seems.  

Personally, it's clear to me HO would be that scale for anyone in their teens, 20s or 30s, hands down.  It was for me until age about 40 for cost considerations.  But there is no denying the heft and visual appeal of S, O and G.  The reason I don't include 40s and 50s in that group is the inevitable deterioration of vision that occurs during the 5th through 9th decades of life. I've only recently required reading glasses, but they compromise the pleasure of doing manual tasks for me, including reading.  So you may want to reconsider HO for the long haul if you have a similar experience down the road, or even today.  For me, HO just not visually and touch-wise sufficiently large.  Ironically, I still buy some N scale, and even occasional Z scale,  because it takes up so little space and is "cute." 

Good luck whatever you decide.  But you may change your mind a few times over the next 20-30 years.

Parenthetically, I'm guessing American Flyer fans will still be around 20-30 years from now, even when those who now know much about the Gilbert company are long gone. 

Many of the three rail hobbyists these days who are doing the most buying from Lionel were born long after JL Cowen died.  If you attend York, there are lots of folks in their 30s, 40s and 50s who came of age long after Lionel's heydays.  People can be nostalgic for things they never experienced first hand.  Look at all the Civil War buffs and people who collect old cars, medieval armor etc.

Good and fair points sir. Yes, that pre-order amount is what I currently have with Sunset/3rd Rail for 2 Rail O scale models. 

On paper, HO offers a lot but I have never liked it's size. Ironically, like you I still purchase a bit of N because it's "cute". I prefer the larger scale for the ease of seeing details (I've recently had my sight start its decline too) and the big sound and smoke. So I will not likely go to HO, but back to 2 Rail O even though it is not far behind S on the slippery slope towards irrelevancy.



"So I will not likely go to HO, but back to 2 Rail O even though it is not far behind S on the slippery slope towards irrelevancy."

If it's any consolation, I think O gauge 2 rail prototypic equipment will continue to be a viable niche market for many decades to come.  With the advent of improved, cost-effective model building techniques, short runs of custom built models may become more common than at present.  Much of this industry has relied upon the passion of hobbyist/manufacturers and they will continue to be a small,  but I think effective resource for those with your tastes and priorities.  I think that's particularly likely for O gauge 2 rail, which has survived predictions of its death for most of my adult life (e.g., half a century).   Even G gauge has survived the near demise of its primary vendor, LGB.  I suspect 2 rail O gauge will survive as a cottage industry even if both Lionel and MTH disappear from the scene, which isn't likely in the near term.  Godspeed.

Well, what you say about 2 rail 0 (in terms of short-run production possibilities) is also true about S (which is also 2 rail! ).  On another thread someone posted that this list has lots of people who think they could run Lionel better Well, yes, at least when it comes to S there are many of us who would not make the mistakes that L has made (what mistakes you ask?-- couplers that don't open fully to uncouple/couple, metal coupler bodies that create short circuits when the paint wears off (NP passenger set), Keeping the added molded on step on the PA bodies and then adding the earlier metal ladders back on so they are low enough to strike the action rails, the too high hoppers, and the current somewhat ugly oversized freight car trucks. . . .I could go on. . ) Some of these mistakes are being corrected--finally. Another example was their "toe in the water" experiment with the K-Line BigBoy in S that sold so well they did a better version with the Challenger and the Y-2--but never designed either to share tooling with any future product! Each items seems to be made as a one-off only.  The Polar Express and the docksider sets are the only items the seem to be kept going long term. (Once again, if they'd dust off the PRR 0-6-0 slope back tender engine, it would be more popular than the docksider!).  I don't need to do a survey to know this, nor do many other S folks. And the scale folks would also like the PRR engine too!

Another area where I think they are really missing the boat is not doing a Daylight 4-8-4. With 3-D printing, it wouldn't take much to put a short-run production together--even if it was on the existing 4-8-4 chassis--yes, the scale guys would not like it, but I think it would still sell. AND YES, it would be fantastic to have one done "properly" but I'm not holding my breath.

OH, BTW, I AM available. . . . .


David "two rails" Dewey

I find myself in agreement with the concerns expressed about Lionel's lack of scale compatible product. In their defense, when it comes to engines it may be more complex than wheel profiles and couplers. Since the best detailed engines are Legacy I wonder if S scale operators will pay the added cost of Legacy even if it is fully DC and DCC compatible. I can run anything scale on my layout except for a few large rigid frame steam engines. The catch is they have to be Legacy compatible or easy to modify to be Legacy compatible. I have a few scale wheeled AM engines and they are fun to use because w/o traction tires they need to be double or triple headed just like the real thing.

When it comes to purchasing new products I have never found myself in the position of skipping a purchase because I exceeded my budget. Not because the budget is large but because the amount of new S gauge Lionel products is small. All of my train spending is for new product, I quit buying Gilbert items 10 years ago because I have all the Gilbert items I want.

I tried HO for about 5 years but it is not for me, too small. My layouts will never have 3 rails so I stayed with my original trains, American Flyer and S. What is nice about the Lionel S gauge line is that all the power and control they make focused on O gauge is fully compatible with S. We need to keep encouraging Lionel to make more S gauge and to think about how to better accommodate those who want scale products.


I have some good news. 

I have been emailing back and forth with Ryan Kunkle about the presidential observation car Ferdinand Magellan.  I was wondering how much work went in to this unique railroad can.  He said it will not be a perfect match to the real car, but it will be close using existing tooling. 

I was surprised how much he has researched the car.  He even sent me photos from his file on it.  This comes from his earlier job with Lionel.  Ryan was in charge of researching locomotives and rolling stock for Lionel so that they could determine what would be the best to produce and bring to market.

With all the criticism we throw at Lionel it is enlightening to know they do this work before cataloging future product. 

Have a preorder in for the Legacy RF&P Berkshire(thanks to the forum member who pointed out that the road name I chose is very close to the NKP prototype). Also preordered the NH EP-5 which I have wanted since it appeared on the back cover of the 1956 catalogue.

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