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I'm surprised nobody has posted photos of these new passenger cars yet, so I'll post some quick iPhone pics I captured tonight after unpacking the 4-pack and 2-pack that arrived this afternoon from Charlie Ro.  The StationSounds diner is due to arrive in train stores around early June 2016.  So on to a "first look" at the cars that are shipping as we speak...

First, note that the label of the 4-pack's shipping carton indicates a December 1st, 2015 factory manufacturing date, and today is Feb 23rd.  So we're looking at roughly 3 months from DOM to "in the hands of the consumer".  Not too bad.  Plus it gives us a general perspective that when an importer says something is due in early June 2016 (like the StationSounds diners), then the importer should have them in production by early March -- otherwise it's highly unlikely they're gonna be here in June.    Just sayin....

TxSp1

 

Second, a word about packaging.  These cars come as a 4-pack, 2-pack, and single StationSounds diner.  The 4-pack no longer ships as an outer product carton with individual inner product cartons for each car.  Instead, the 4-pack product carton has cellophane window cut-outs on BOTH sides of the product carton to illustrate the 4 cars inside.  Each individual car sits in its own white plastic liner with a clear plastic cover piece protecting it.

4-pack product box Side A:

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4-pack product box Side B:

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4-pack description:

TxSp22

 

Individual car (vista dome) in its white plastic liner -- not foam, and there is no individual product box for each car.

TxSp20

 

The 2-pack is packaged similarly in terms of cellophane window cut-outs and no individual product box for each car.

TxSp19

 

Visible even in its cellophane/plastic packaging, the dome car arrived with an annoying gap where one end of the dome meets the main body of the passenger car:

TxSp17

Fortunately, applying some gentle but firm pressure to the offending end fixed what first appeared to be disappointing and shabby workmanship.

TxSp16

Here's the vista dome car on a display shelf.  Overall, I am VERY pleased with the finish and detail level with these cars.  Much better than I had expected.  The silver has enough of a sheen for my taste, and the Texas Special red has a pleasant satin appearance to it.  The fluted/ribbed sides and roof add TREMENDOUSLY to the overall appearance of these ABS cars.  I have always preferred ribbed-sided cars to smooth-sided cars -- even when aluminum was the production norm.

TxSp15

The other nice feature of the Texas Special cars is the INTERIOR paint finish:  it's RED -- not that unfinished vanilla color that Lionel used in the NYC Empire State Express set delivered around Christmas.  I was really concerned that the vanilla interior (with no passengers) would be too harsh inside the "red train".  So I'm glad Lionel wisely chose to give this train a red interior.  At a minimum, it helps give the interior a much more finished appearance -- even without any passengers inside.

I was also very pleased with the reasonably close spacing between the full-width diaphragms.  Lionel indicates these cars need a minimum curve spec of O-54.  But realistically, that's gotta look absurd.  I have a loop with O-113 curves on my newly designed layout that should handle these 21" cars nicely.  I still prefer 18" passenger cars.  But when I designed my new layout, I wanted to have at least one loop where cars like these wouldn't overwhelm the layout.

TxSp13

 

Now let's go back to that vista dome for a minute... For comparison's sake, here's the Atlas-O dome from one of their Amtrak Zephyr (CZ) cars.  Note the much higher level of rivet detail.  Lionel's is nice, but Atlas-O's is SUPERB!!!

TxSp11

 

Now let's take a closer look downstairs on these cars -- at least from what's visible trackside.  Very respectable level of detail on the trucks:

TxSp14

And here's how things look on the Atlas-O passenger cars.  Similar truck details, but there's more underbody details VISIBLE from track-side with the Atlas-O cars.

TxSp10

 

Also note the difference in skirting styles between Lionel's cars vs. Atlas-O's cars using the observation as an example:

TxSp7

TxSp8

 

Here's a wider view of Lionel's Texas Special observation car, as viewed from the tail end.  Nice Texas Special logo on the rear door, along with red marker lights, and a trailing scale coupler:

TxSp12

 

Now as far as motive power goes, I opted to go with Lionel's SD70ACe's in Texas Special livery that were produced almost FIVE years ago!!! 

TxSp2

These gems have been waiting that  long to be put into revenue service.    SKU's for the motive power are 6-34623 and 6-34624, and they're getting difficult to find nowadays.  These cars weigh in at just under 4 pounds each -- not a bad weight at all for the new ABS material (as compared to aluminum).  So I wanted two powered locomotives to haul this beautiful 7-car set (i.e., when the StationSounds diner arrives later this year) without breaking a sweat.   Lionel's recent E8's in MKT livery only have one powered A-unit.  So they didn't make the cut.

TxSp3

 

Fortunately, the paint matches PERFECTLY between the locomotives and the passenger cars:

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Overall, I'm extremely pleased with Lionel's Texas Special passenger cars.  They'll be keepers -- especially since I've waiting SO long to assemble this train.  As I mentioned already in other threads, I was really hoping for 18" aluminum.  But after numerous delays and Lionel's final cancellation of their aluminum passenger car production, there's very little to be disappointed about with these 21" ABS cars.  Yes... I would have preferred them to be equipped with passengers.  And I would have preferred the dome to have some "subtle" lighting for night-time running.  Those two drawbacks may just need to be handled as future projects down the road when passengers arrive for the first real revenue run!

 

David

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Last edited by Rocky Mountaineer
Original Post
Sunrise Special posted:

David,

Nice!!! Thanks for taking the time to do the write up and photos. This obviously takes a lot of time and effort!! One question for you...are you still doing SG tinplate or have you decided to go back to O gauge?

Thanks again,

Sunrise

Sunrise, thanks for the kind words.

I had originally planned a layout that would combine Standard Gauge and O-Gauge.  But the more I thought about it, I wasn't convinced that would do justice for either gauge.  So I opted to go with a high-rail O-Gauge layout (roughly 12' x 32') in our current basement.  And one day in the future, the Standard Gauge layout will reside in the lower level of my photography studio.

David

David, great job with the photos and descriptions of the six cars.

Pity LIONEL continues to include dome cars when the prototype never had them--there were other prototype TS cars LIONEL could have used:  http://www.katyrailroad.org/images/texspec.gif

I'm most curious to read opinions comparing the TS fluted "stainless steel" finish to that used on the ESE 21" cars.

Last edited by Pingman

David,

Thanks for this thread. The cars look very nice.  I have the ESE and although some dealers touted that these cars would be super detailed, they were a let down for me for the reasons you stated - a lower overall level of detail - same interior at best, no passengers.   Not complaining, though, as I really like the more accurate size and close coupling.   

I think it's great that you did a comparison too between the Lionel and Atlas cars, as it really shows the difference in quality of detail.  Just from the observation car you can see all the extras on the Atlas car, including higher level of exterior detail, curtains, more accurate Windows, etc.  Curious if they have a similar price point per car?  

Peter

PJB posted:
...  Curious if they have a similar price point per car?    ...

 

Peter,

Street price for the new Lionel ABS 21" passenger cars is roughly $860 for all 7 cars.  So we're looking at just under $125 per car.  (See my PostScript comment below.)

Street prices for Atlas-O's Zephyr cars started a shade under that price-point, but that was also 5+ years ago.    Today, pre-order prices for the remaining Atlas-O CZ cars have inched up toward the $140 mark.  So yes, Atlas-O is a bit more expensive per car.  But for the small difference -- (i.e., $15/car in a seven-car set is roughly $100) -- we're getting a "noticeable" degree of detail above Lionel's offering.  Significant may be pushing it -- and it's strictly a personal thing for each of us. 

Overall, I'm very happy with Lionel's Texas Special offering.  But if Atlas-O had produced their Zephyr cars in Texas Special livery before Lionel came out with their version, I'd have jumped on the Atlas-O cars in a heartbeat.  Not even a moment's hesitation.    The problem with Atlas-O's approach is that it's taken them 7+ years to complete an entire passenger train.    Now that the tooling is pretty much complete though, I sure hope they'd deliver complete passenger sets if they decide to offer different liveries.  To Lionel's credit, this Texas Special may have been delayed ad nauseum getting caught up in their phasing out of aluminum passenger car production, but at least they delivered a complete train -- or will have when the StationSounds diners are delivered -- within a few months time vs. Atlas-O's multi-year roll-out.

David

P.S.  Peter, I answered your question pretty early this morning , and re-thought things a bit.  The $125/car price is skewed by Lionel's price of the StationSounds diner.  If we look at the 6-car set w/o the diner, the cost per car drops to under $110/car.  I don't recall ever seeing Atlas-O prices that low for their CZ cars.  So that might be a more accurate comparison.   Hope that helps put things into perspective.

Last edited by Rocky Mountaineer
Rocky Mountaineer posted:

Now let's go back to that vista dome for a minute... For comparison's sake, here's the Atlas-O dome from one of their Amtrak Zephyr (CZ) cars.  Note the much higher level of rivet detail.  Lionel's is nice, but Atlas-O's is SUPERB!!!

Not everyone had a bunch of rivets around the windows of a Vista Dome car. 

vista dome

Lionel's rendition seems to be appropriate. 

Or are you complaining about Lionel's choice of prototype?

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WBC posted:

...

Or are you complaining about Lionel's choice of prototype?

To be honest, I wasn't complaining about anything.    I was making an observation that Atlas-O's cars had more detail.  That's all.

And speaking of prototypes, I guess there shouldn't be ANY vista dome in this set at all... since the real Texas Special never had them. 

David

Last edited by Rocky Mountaineer

David,

Great review of this set, very objective and superbly photographed. I'm glad you're not sending it back!

One question; it looks like the car interiors or at least the seats in them are colored red to match the exterior finish - is that right? And can you tell if apart from that the interiors are otherwise the same as the ESE set? For example, Alex M's thread on detailing his ESE interiors shows this as the observation car interior assembly and I assume the same is in the TX Special set only painted/moulded in red:

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Rocky Mountaineer posted:

Visible even in its cellophane/plastic packaging, the dome car arrived with an annoying gap where one end of the dome meets the main body of the passenger car:

TxSp17

Fortunately, applying some gentle but firm pressure to the offending end fixed what first appeared to be disappointing and shabby workmanship.

TxSp16

Lionel has stated that the new 21" cars were engineered to make it easy to add passengers.  I was just wondering if the dome is supposed to pop out in order to be able to add passengers?  If so, I can understand how it may have come loose on its long voyage from the factory.  Did the sets come with instructions for adding figures (just curious on this)?

They are beautiful, and now I'm almost anxious for the PRR cars I'm ordering from the new catalog!

Andy

WBC posted:
Rocky Mountaineer posted:

Now let's go back to that vista dome for a minute... For comparison's sake, here's the Atlas-O dome from one of their Amtrak Zephyr (CZ) cars.  Note the much higher level of rivet detail.  Lionel's is nice, but Atlas-O's is SUPERB!!!

Not everyone had a bunch of rivets around the windows of a Vista Dome car. 

vista dome

 

True enough...

CP1902Dome

Rusty

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They look nice.  Lionel has come a long way toward making scale models.  Truck side frames are slowly becoming scale renderings, but I question the height of the pedestal openings.  It will not be long before you guys will become dissatisfied with scale models on tinplate track - some of these 3-rail models beg for scale wheels, couplers, and track.

Opinion.

bob2 posted:

... It will not be long before you guys will become dissatisfied with scale models on tinplate track - some of these 3-rail models beg for scale wheels, couplers, and track.

...

FYI... I didn't mention this in my "first look", but these cars do ship with scale couplers in a small bag taped to the plastic liner.  If installed, Lionel recommends O-72 or greater curves.

David

Andy Hummell posted:

Lionel has stated that the new 21" cars were engineered to make it easy to add passengers.  I was just wondering if the dome is supposed to pop out in order to be able to add passengers?  If so, I can understand how it may have come loose on its long voyage from the factory.  Did the sets come with instructions for adding figures (just curious on this)?

...

Andy, that's quite possible.  I noticed the Wabash BlueBird thread also had similar pics with dome somewhat ajar from the main body.  The instruction pamphlet mentions the ease in which passengers can be installed by simply removing 3 or 4 screws underneath the cars.  But no mention about accessing the dome interior.

David

Rocky Mountaineer posted:
rboatertoo posted:

... Love the looks of the Canadian, did anyone make one?

 

I'm fairly certain that Sunset/GGD produced a version of The Canadian  as a 12-car set (8 cars in the basic set plus two add-on 2-packs).  Not sure of production dates though or how readily available the cars are on the secondary market.

David

These are some of the cars David mentions. If the OP was asking about the "heavyweight twin vista dome" wooden prototype, I have no idea. "Not likely" would be my guess. Canadian

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These are beautiful passenger cars.  Enjoy them Dave!  I ordered the UP set from the latest catalog and I'm looking forward to how they turn out.

But I need to ask, generally…. and I mean no harm or sarcasm with my question…., I'm wondering if any of the other Lionel 21" sets have dome cars included in the set where the railroad never had them?  If so, are they all being made generic with just different paint schemes?  Sort of like MTH 18" passenger cars stretched out to 21"?  

That's a VERY nice looking set of cars, hope you enjoy them!   I like what Big L is doing with their passenger sets, but the 21" cars are too long for my layout, which I why I stick to the 18" cars.   The 18" cars, IMHO, are a good compromise between the stubby looking 15" versions and the full scale 21" cars.  A goodly number of us simply do not have the real estate for O72 or wider radius curves required to run the full scale cars.

Rocky Mountaineer posted:
Andy Hummell posted:

Lionel has stated that the new 21" cars were engineered to make it easy to add passengers.  I was just wondering if the dome is supposed to pop out in order to be able to add passengers?  If so, I can understand how it may have come loose on its long voyage from the factory.  Did the sets come with instructions for adding figures (just curious on this)?

...

Andy, that's quite possible.  I noticed the Wabash BlueBird thread also had similar pics with dome somewhat ajar from the main body.  The instruction pamphlet mentions the ease in which passengers can be installed by simply removing 3 or 4 screws underneath the cars.  But no mention about accessing the dome interior.

David

IMHO this is a BIG advantage and improvement over the 15" TS aluminum cars they just produced for the Neil Young line and for past K-line/Lionel cars too if you want to add passengers. Although I've become quite adept at taking off the end caps, unplugging the lights and sliding the floor out while still attached to the frame it is not an easy or quick task.

Great review David! They are beautiful cars.

Mike

Last edited by ezmike
Jim S posted:

That's a VERY nice looking set of cars, hope you enjoy them!   I like what Big L is doing with their passenger sets, but the 21" cars are too long for my layout, which I why I stick to the 18" cars.   The 18" cars, IMHO, are a good compromise between the stubby looking 15" versions and the full scale 21" cars.  A goodly number of us simply do not have the real estate for O72 or wider radius curves required to run the full scale cars.

Just think, lots of o-gauger's don't have room/diameter for 18" cars either.  It's nice that Lionel can make offerings for several of the different factions of layouts.

 

David, I'd like to see a pic or two of the underside detail of these cars, if possible.  I'd like to see how the couplers are mounted, plus maybe a photo of the included scale couplers you mentioned? 

Thx.  Martin

Considering   the UP 2 pac flag baggage and coach would also like know anybody swapped trucks for 2 rail and the hidden kadee mounts ?  

  After your pics and posts hope the dome piece is available  as a part and the different styles of domes would be cool.  All in all these are some of the best looking Lionel I have viewed.  enough too consider a purchase.

Rocky Mountaineer posted:

 

TxSp16

Here's the vista dome car on a display shelf.  Overall, I am VERY pleased with the finish and detail level with these cars.  Much better than I had expected.  The silver has enough of a sheen for my taste, and the Texas Special red has a pleasant satin appearance to it.  The fluted/ribbed sides and roof add TREMENDOUSLY to the overall appearance of these ABS cars.  I have always preferred ribbed-sided cars to smooth-sided cars -- even when aluminum was the production norm.

TxSp15

 

Now let's go back to that vista dome for a minute... For comparison's sake, here's the Atlas-O dome from one of their Amtrak Zephyr (CZ) cars.  Note the much higher level of rivet detail.  Lionel's is nice, but Atlas-O's is SUPERB!!!

TxSp11

Also note the difference in skirting styles between Lionel's cars vs. Atlas-O's cars using the observation as an example:

TxSp7

TxSp8

 Overall, I'm extremely pleased with Lionel's Texas Special passenger cars.  They'll be keepers -- especially since I've waiting SO long to assemble this train.  As I mentioned already in other threads, I was really hoping for 18" aluminum.  But after numerous delays and Lionel's final cancellation of their aluminum passenger car production, there's very little to be disappointed about with these 21" ABS cars.  Yes... I would have preferred them to be equipped with passengers.  And I would have preferred the dome to have some "subtle" lighting for night-time running.  Those two drawbacks may just need to be handled as future projects down the road when passengers arrive for the first real revenue run!

 

David

Tx Spl MKT%20Texas%20Special%20Obs

As many others have mentioned it looks like Lionel has mixed up many specific Pullman and Budd passenger car details into one car. Think these would have made a stunning 18" car set had Lionel delivered them as cataloged, the recently released SP and Pennsy 18" sets look outstanding with their gleaming finish. Not sure they live up to all the hoopla over the introduction of 21" cars. Enjoy your TS set David, as long as you are happy with them that is all that matters!

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