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Hi All,

Still loving life in s-gauge and interested in adding some passenger trains to the mix.   From an operator perspective, which would you recommend?  I realize the Gilbert Alcos have the wear issue with the chassis that eventually requires the installation of bushings, but the few operators that I have run pretty smoothly without issue. Finding good cosmetic examples is a challenge, especially chrome models without massive wear (not sure if these can be restored or not?)

I've not run a Lionel remake of these engines, so not sure what to expect?   Are the motors just as smooth?  Do they have the same axle wear issue with the chassis?   Any difference between the sets produced in the 90s, 2000s, and current? 

Would appreciate some input from folks that have run both before I commit the $$$s.



Original Post


I have a number of the Lionel remakes of the PA's as well as some of the Gilbert engines. My impression of the Lionel remakes is that they are a little more prone to have a less smooth starting speed but once rolling they run nicely. I have run the remakes quite a bit and if you keep them lubed once in a while I don't see any problems with wear, this would most likely be true even with most of the Gilbert engines but as kids we just ran them. Love them all.


It is an interesting point regarding axle wear on the early Lionel diesel chassis. They do use a bushing but it is a bit tishy and not designed for purpose.

The width of the chassis that the journal runs in is basically 4mm in width. The bushing that Lionel use are 2mm in width. It is just a push fit in and stops at the point where the chassis has not been machined through. Then there is the bizarre statement that on the end of the box it says the engine has wide axle bushings. What this means is that they they are advertising that the bushings are part worn out before you use it. The truth is that the axle journals are 4.05mm each side, but the knurled centre part where the gear fits measures out at 4.35mm. So to assemble the axle and gear with the bearings already in place the bore has to be larger than the knurled measurement. Why advertise that the chassis is already worn before you get it always puzzled me, I would have kept quite on that one.

i have had a need to rebuild a couple of these and I fit the chassis with full width bearings and take them out to 4.10mm. I then mark one bearing, tap it out and then fit the axle and gear and then slide the bush over the axle and tap it back to the same position it came out. Doubled my bearing surface and have only 0.05mm clearance. Why Lionel couldn’t have done that beats me.

Thanks for the replies and input from those that have run both.   Love the repaints Paul and that certainly inspires me to find a few neglected Flyer pieces for similar restoration.  Interesting comments on the axle issues with the early Lionel units, which I guess proves all eras can have their issues.  I think Bill's solution sums it up best -- buy what you like and enjoy them!


As others have alluded to here, the latest Legacy chassis has the new three-wheeled, gear driven trucks along with sound /smoke/and electro-couplers. When Charles Ro had a killer sale on some lagging units this summer, I opted for a set of New Haven's and stole the chassis from each to re-power my 1991 LTI MOPAC PA set. For little work they really upped the bar for this set. Another benefit is the new chassis will walk away with the complete MOPAC set, something the LTI chassis was starting to be limited by.

Last edited by D&H 65


I've had both over the years. Still think the original AF engines run better with a little TLC. Also, most of them cost a lot less than the Lionel ones. I re-painted my thebeat up AF Rockets in D&H back in 1980 and they still run like a charm.    

Depends on what you wanna do! You can buy a comet set cheaper than a Lionel remake but if you get the the nice older flyer sets like mopac, Union Pacific, northern pacific etc your paying 3-4 times more than a sealed flyer remake set. Also the old ones seem to go up in value as remakes go down. I have the original and remakes. I run the remakes to keep wear off my valuable sets. My Missouri pacific double a set in box seems to fetch about $4500 on eBay while I bought same set as a remake with extra cars and rail sounds b unit for under $400. The remakes run great I think but just for running. It’s just depends what your intentions are!! I love them all though lol

I like either the original Gilberts with low miles and the later (after 2009) Lionel-AFs with the new 6-wheel drive trucks starting with the pseudo-freight scheme AT&SF (6-48147), the D&RGW (6-48155) and the subsequent Legacy PAs. The originals in a good state of tune are smooth and, of course, have that traditional Gilbert operating sound and "feel".  The decoration of the passenger sets from the D&RGW's from 2010 forward is really sharp. The latest versions with the new drive truck are pretty smooth, too, and can manage long passenger trains well. By the way, the power truck in these can not be moved further forward because the vertical can motor would be visibly placed right behind the windshield.

I am much, much less enthusiastic about the earlier L.T.I. 'coffee grinder period' PAs.

A D&RGW PA pair .....





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Last edited by Bob Bubeck

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