American Flyer GP7 FlyerChief Info

Hi again everyone.

I've seen questions pop up now and then on the newly cataloged FlyerChief GP7 and wanted to answer what I can. I did answer questions about it at the Springfield show, but this will probably reach more people.

I worked on the redesign of this engine last year using the old GP7 as a base. The trucks were terrible. Gear city! So we decided to use the 4-wheel trucks from the Baldwin Switcher. We're making new side frames to more closely depict the Blomberg frames. It isn't a 100% scale match, but so much better than the older trucks!

The trucks are being modified to accept the electrocoupler and the pilot. Yes, the pilot is truck mounted. This was done to meet the minimum curve requirement for FlyerChief. Regardless, it is a nicely detailed pilot that improves on what the older style pilot was lacking.

A newly tooled fuel tank will house the speaker and switches for sound and remote/conventional.

Altogether, the only thing this engine shares with its predecessor is the shell and the handrails. All else is either new or from the Baldwin Switcher.

The engine is single motored. There was not enough room to fit another motor as the long hood is very narrow. But the motor does have a better designed flywheel that will greatly improve slow speed performance. The narrow hood also prevented being able to fit in a smoke unit.

In the images I've attached, you'll see that the shell is not fully detailed. This was done as a time saver as the shell is already tooled, so I didn't feel there was any reason to put in all the details. It will have LED lighting.

Finally, with the unveiling of Bluetooth, which this engine will feature, you'll be able to control this engine with the LionChief APP. Currently, the APP is released on iOS, but we are in full development mode and plan to have an Android version in the coming months. As an Android guy myself, there was no way we were going to just do Apple!

Thanks all for reading and I'll try to answer questions that arise.

AF_GP7_ClearShellAF_GP7_ISOAF_GP7_Pilot_BottomAF_GP7_Switches

Dave Olson

Engineering Manager

Lionel LLC

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Original Post

Dave

First, let me say thanks for coming on this side to share information about the product. It is really appreciated!!!

The improvements sound good over all, there will some guff about the truck mounted pilot, but I would say this is not a "scale" piece so in this case, IMO, I don't see it as an issue.  Heck, it did not stop most of us from buying the U33.  

One question, the trucks in the catalog picture look to tall, are the proportions on the truck appropriate for 1/64th?

Thanks again for playing on this side of the fence!

Ben 

NASG&CASG
NotInWI posted:

One question, the trucks in the catalog picture look to tall, are the proportions on the truck appropriate for 1/64th?

 

Here is an image from the truck CAD file, which is what the tooling is designed from, so it is accurate to what will be shipped.

AF_GP7_TruckISO

Comparing it to the catalog image, the catalog does seem to be slightly "squished" from the sides - wish I had noticed that before. But the wheel base is still shorter than a typical Blomberg because we're using the Baldwin Switcher trucks.

Thanks

Dave Olson

Engineering Manager

Lionel LLC

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Thank you for the images.  They've answered a lot of questions and speculation about the changes made to the GP7.

I was taken quite aback by the trucks in the catalog and they weren't quite my cup of tea.  I will say I'm getting used to them (like I eventually got used to the old Gilbert design...) and with the new underframe, I think overall the looks of the GP7 are improved greatly.

Now, if you could just slim down the handrails a bit..

Rusty

Well it don't get any better than this. Truth from the design source! No one can any longer say Lionel doesn't monitor these posts.

Mr. Olson, thank you so much for taking the time to present the drawings and engineering decisions. I have ordered two of these switchers and plan to put them to good use on my point-to-point switching track. The electrocouplers will get a work out as the two engines trade cars on my two switching track sidings.

Sounds like I need to get on the stick and buy a tablet to run my 4 Flyerchief engines with the LionChief APP.

Next year do some arm twisting to have these liveries made in the GP7 and I'll buy two more!

Mark

 

 

 

Hearing directly from Lionel is both refreshing and encouraging. The 2017 Lionel catalogue did not produce the excitement that products such as the U30C, Challenger, Y-3, SD70ACe, and ES44AC did when they first appeared; but reading about the updates to classic locomotives indicated that Lionel has not forgotten S scale. Maybe 2018 will be another big year for newly tooled rolling stock with scale-type detailing and options to exchange high-rail wheels and AF couplers with scale version. Thank you for the information, Dave.  It is great to know a manufacturer is listening and willing to share details. Your email was almost as rewarding as a new catalogue!

Dave, thanks for posting the GP 7 information here on the forum. I have a UP GP 7 on order. 

Mark, I find the iPad too large and awkward for the LionChief BT app. I have it on an old iPhone 6 I was not using. Perfect form factor. The app is really simple. 

Tom

AmFlyer posted:

Dave, thanks for posting the GP 7 information here on the forum. I have a UP GP 7 on order. 

Mark, I find the iPad too large and awkward for the LionChief BT app. I have it on an old iPhone 6 I was not using. Perfect form factor. The app is really simple. 

Hi Tom, I tried the APP on my son's iPhone and ran my Frisco Northern. It was fun and easy.

I'd like to try it on a small tablet and see if I'm more comfortable with a larger screen. I'm so tech-challenged that I still buy flip phones on Ebay!

Mark

 

 

 

Dave,

I join the other fellows here thanking you for the update on the GP7. I have been a TMCC/Legacy fan since the operating systems came out in AF. The idea of being able to run and watch your trains run from any location in the layout room put new life in the hobby for myself and others. The FlyerChief was frosting on the cake and now with Bluetooth capability, WOW, it doesn't get much better than this. The complaint I heard with LionChief/FlyerChief was needing separate controllers for each engine but the Bluetooth puts much of that to rest. I hope to see the Milw. RD also done with the FlyerChief, maybe SOO and CNW also. I thought I was done buying locomotives but you have relit my boiler. I have two FlyerChief locomotives now, wish they had Bluetooth capability, but there are more in my future.

I agree, you will probably hear some guff on what ever you do but the majority of us in S are high rail/toy train, and we are the silent majority. I for one appreciate all that you folks do for S gauge.

Mark, had to pitch some local roads here.

Ray

Would it have been so difficult to go a little farther and put actual scale details like handrails grabs, pilots etc... on this model? I can't imagine anyone on the scale side of S is lining up to buy this engine. Not sure I understand the logic of offering a product that only appeals to a portion of a niche scale.

S-Helper Service proved that customers from scale, hi-rail, and Flyer would buy well built scale models IF they could run with different wheels and couplers. If Lionel is going to redo the GP7 why not go all the way?

I don't know about anyone else, but I'd rather have something like this any day of the week:

ATHG62771

-Jonathan

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Frankly, once the AM GP9/18 came out, I don't think any Scaler's bothered with the Flyer GP7 since.  Even the original body alone required a LOT of work to make it pass muster in scale.  I remember seeing a Gilbert GP7 with Nimco scale wheels and Kadee's at an estate sale, it didn't really make the locomotive any more "scale" other than in operation.  A Gilbert PA body with an Omnicon scale conversion drive (Yeah, I got one of those hiding in the rafters...) isn't any more scale unless extensively reworked, particularly along the roofline.

If Lionel were to make an S scale GP7/9, they'd be better off starting from scratch rather than reworking the Gilbert design. 

rAM T&P 122814 019rscAM T&P 121814 006

Plus, the Scale side isn't the target for a FlyerChief locomotive anyway.  Scaler's didn't buy the Berkshires to convert to scale and they're not buying the Northern's to convert either.

Heck, it was hard enough to convince some of the Scalers about the merits of the U33C's, SD70's and ES44's...

Currently, the winds at Lionel are not blowing in the S Scaler's direction anyway.  I'm not particularly happy about that either, but it is what it is. 

I suspect the reworked FlyerChief GP7 will find it's place within the 85% of the market with no trouble, which is what Lionel's after.

Rusty

 

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LittleTommy posted:

Those ERIE colors look really sharp!  I wish ANYONE would do ANYTHING (PA, FA, GP9, F3, F9) in S in Erie Paint, and (agreeing with JonnySpeed again) I would be over the moon if the engine had scale details.

LittleTommy

I've been collecting Erie decals lately. I may have something to show you in the near future ;-)

My problem is that even the AM GP7, while better, is a long ways off from being good enough for me. I would need to graft on all kinds of brass aftermarket parts to get it as good as what the Athearn model above comes straight out of the box. I don't want to have to do that for every single model I purchase.

Lionel could absolutely produce a scale, detailed GP7 with fine handrails along the lines of the SD70 and ES44. They could even take a page from SHS and make a generic electronic interface that could allow them to sell different version to different people.... AC/DC/Legacy/DCC/LionChief/Bluetooth. I guarantee Jon Z. could make that work today if they asked him to. Instead they decided this model was a better idea.

All I can say is Don Thompson of SHS was a genius and was WAY ahead of his time. The fact that the manufacturers today don't realize that and copy what he did is a crying shame IMHO.

-Jonathan

jonnyspeed posted:

 

Lionel could absolutely produce a scale, detailed GP7 with fine handrails along the lines of the SD70 and ES44. They could even take a page from SHS and make a generic electronic interface that could allow them to sell different version to different people.... AC/DC/Legacy/DCC/LionChief/Bluetooth. I guarantee Jon Z. could make that work today if they asked him to. Instead they decided this model was a better idea.

All I can say is Don Thompson of SHS was a genius and was WAY ahead of his time. The fact that the manufacturers today don't realize that and copy what he did is a crying shame IMHO.

The thing is, that would make a $250.00 locomotive a $500.00 locomotive, which is pretty obvious that is not what what Lionel is interested in selling at this time. 

The F/C GP is not intended to be a full scale model.  That is the reality.

Sure it would be nice if everyone followed Don Thompson's example, had Lionel done that the cylindrical hoppers would have sold across market lines without any issues, we'd probably have a 57' mechanical reefer to play with and be looking at other scale stuff coming down the line.

The 8/9 pin interface is a dead issue at Lionel.  We were told this outright during the DCC development.  Simply put, Lionel will not give up on their proprietary systems any more than MTH will.

We all know Lionel can do better, but this is their current business plan.  That is also the reality.   It would take a MASSIVE culture change at Lionel to become the likes of Athearn Genesis, Rapido Trains or Scale Rail.

We all have a choice whether to buy the stuff or not.  Because my interests are not always strictly on the scale side, I may or may not buy an F/C GP when they hit the streets, it all depends on how I feel at the time.

Rusty

 

Lionel brought this GP7 with FlyerChief to market at a $250 retail price. I think that is a great deal and good for S gauge, it likely appeals to 75% of the S gauge market. I ordered one just to have even though I prefer an almost scale detailed engine with Legacy. If Lionel made what I am looking for it might still fall short of the detailing true S scale operators want,  the price would be north of $700 and it likely serves no more than 50% of the S gauge market. However I would have purchased a fleet of them. I also ordered a Legacy PA set even though they are not really detailed.

Another consideration could be should Lionel produce some engines that can only operate on 27" and larger radius track now that FasTrack is widely available?

Regarding the lack of a smoke unit in the GP7. I would have preferred one be included, the price likely would have been higher. All of my Lionel made Mikado's have fan driven smoke units in place of the original Seuthe units. If they fit in the Mikado they would fit in the GP7. More likely Lionel did not have an off the shelf unit that would fit, mine are not from Lionel.

I think Lionel should be congratulated on the 2017 catalog and encouraged to keep adding more.

Tom

We have other choices. The American Models GP9 is $250 for the deluxe line, and $210 for the standard-install-the-handrails-yourself version. While I accept FlyerChief, Proprietary control systems mean little to me. 

Legacy and MTH's DCS now support DCC, That's all the control I need. 

Thanks, Dave, for the update. I've ordered a NKP version and your info is very encouraging about the final product. Because this GP is clearly intended for use on hi-rail Gilbert-like layouts with Gilbert-style rolling stock and swinging pilots are to be fitted, please modify the electrocouplers so that they open far enough to permit their use for yard operations. In their current form, L-AF electrocoupler knuckles do not open far enough to permit dependable coupling.

Thanks again.

Bob

I want legacy scale pieces too, more than what there is at this point.  But I see the roll these traditional pieces play in S, no issues with Lionel putting them out, and I love the LC app.  The price point makes this a important piece to attract people, or at a minimum, maintain involvement.  

Ben

NASG&CASG

I think putting in a smoke unit would have required a rearranging inside the GP.

AF_GP7_ClearShell

As Lionel's CAD drawing shows, there's not a lot of room to work with.  The motor would need to be moved to the rear truck, and the electronics's moved forward to make room.  Given what I see here, it seems like Lionel has simply modified the existing frame casting rather that redesign and retool it, which would add to the cost.

Rusty

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Here's a picture of the guts in an O gauge LionChief+ Geep from the 2017 catalog:

It shows the smoke unit positioned to allow the smoke to exit about centered between the fans. I know there is a lot more room in the O scale shell but I'm guessing the LionChief+ and FlyerChief boards are the same size???? One board used for both scales? If so, with the S scale engine having only one motor in front there is a lot of room to the rear of the engine. If the board was turned around and moved as far back in the shell as possible perhaps a smoke unit could be centered between the fans? Who knows? The Lionel engineers probably would have put in smoke if it would fit. The price would have gone up but I would have paid it anyway. Looking forward to my new Geeps!

I will echo what Bob Bubeck said above..."please modify the electrocouplers so that they open far enough to permit their use for yard operations."

I have noticed that the electrocoupler on the Frisco Northern doesn't open all the way.

Mark

 

 

 

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Hi all. Hope everyone is having a nice weekend.

I will relay all road name suggestions to Ryan. He's the one who chooses that.

The SGSU (S-Gauge Smoke Unit) is what we put in AF engines for smoke. As previously stated, it is too wide to fit inside the narrow hood of this engine. That is why it was left out.

We are planning on having a sample for April York. The factories are working hard for us for all new samples.

This GP was redesigned with the intent to be an American Flyer product, not a highly detailed scale product. We have done some fantastic engines in the past (Challenger, SD70Ace, etc) but those always come with the price to match. FlyerChief is intended for running fun trains and getting people interested in the hobby without having to put in a large amount of money.

I was unaware of the coupler issue. This has risen up high on my priority list of things to look at. For those who commented, could you please email me more details? My email is in my profile.

Thanks again!

Dave Olson

Engineering Manager

Lionel LLC

richabr posted:

Would it be possible to make it with two motors by using say a couple of 1833 flat can motors?

That would probably necessitate a new truck design.

 

Rich

If the motor is vertical it would just be a case of how to mount it to the top of the truck like the current round motor. I wouldn't have thought it would need a complete re-design apart from possibly a new mounting plate.

If the motor is vertical it would just be a case of how to mount it to the top of the truck like the current round motor. I wouldn't have thought it would need a complete re-design apart from possibly a new mounting plate.

I believe the changeover to a vertical design for GP7's was done with the C&O bell ringer, although the truck used appeared to be similar to the new PA type truck, also vertical drive. The horizontal can motor truck was based on the original Gilbert truck design. The new sideframes require a shorter truck.

 

Rich

richabr posted:

If the motor is vertical it would just be a case of how to mount it to the top of the truck like the current round motor. I wouldn't have thought it would need a complete re-design apart from possibly a new mounting plate.

I believe the changeover to a vertical design for GP7's was done with the C&O bell ringer, although the truck used appeared to be similar to the new PA type truck, also vertical drive. The horizontal can motor truck was based on the original Gilbert truck design. The new sideframes require a shorter truck.

 

Rich

I'm not sure what you are trying to say Rich, sorry, my view on it is that Dave shows above a design drawing of the basic Baldwin truck which is going to be used in the new GP with a round can motor which is not shown. All I am trying to say is that instead of using a normal round can motor in the Baldwin truck, is that a flat can motor is subsituted which could then be used both ends. The flat can motor is sitting vertical and would have enough room in the long hood to fit easily and still have enough room to rotate on R20 curves. You would then get a locomotive with eight wheel drive, yes, it would mean some additional re-design but I wouldn't think it was insurmountable to do.

Bill, I never indicated that it should compromise the current offering, it was just a possible suggestion on how it could be done if Lionel wanted to take it to another level of production.

You seem quite content on how it is being offered which is fine, but there may be a lot of people out there that may just like to see the GP with twin motors.

Advancement is accomplished by not standing still all the time.

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