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We pretty much purchased every MTH Electric Trains model we could get our hands on, so we have most of the newly 2024 released models available and in stock.  (Sorry, the PT tender models are sold out).  Check out the photographs below comparing the recently released MTH and Lionel models with the Lionel Smithsonian and the Williams Crown Edition.  Links to our web site to order the MTH Dreyfuss locomotives is in our other thread here.



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Left to right:  MTH, Williams and Lionel Smithsonian




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William Crown Edition and Lionel Smithsonian



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Left to right:  MTH, Williams and Lionel Smithsonian




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Left to right:  MTH, Williams and Lionel Smithsonian




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MTH, (foreground) Williams (middle) and Lionel Smithsonian (far)




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Left to right:  MTH, Williams and Lionel Smithsonian




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(Front to back):  MTH, Williams, Lionel Smithsonian, Lionel Legacy




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Left to right:  Williams, Lionel Smithsonian, Lionel Legacy




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Left to right: MTH, Williams, Lionel Smithsonian, Lionel Legacy




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Left to right:  Lionel Legacy, Lionel Smithsonian and Williams




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Front to back:  Lionel Legacy, Lionel Smithsonian, Williams, MTH.



We believe the photographs speak for themselves.  Sorry, we didn't have access to a Third Rail or Golden Gate Depot example for this comparison.  We are told the new release passenger cars colors by GGD will closely match the Lionel Smithsonian models.  We very much hope so!

The clear winner?  The Lionel Smithsonian model with all the amazing detail it has.  Not necessarily an operators model, you cannot beat the overall appearance, especially when paired up with the original offered passenger car set.  This locomotive has clearly set the "standard" for all other models to be compared against.  The authenticity of the colors, stripes etc. really makes the Lionel Smithsonian set the essential cornerstone to any New York Central model collection.

A close second is the Williams Crown Edition, however it is not a good operators runner in a 3-rail modern environment.  The detail is nearly as excellent as the Lionel Smithsonian but amongst other minor differences, there are no opening hatches in streamline shrouding.  The shade of gray on the Williams is just a tiny hair lighter than the Lionel Smithsonian.  So slight is the difference in gray, it was almost missed by our eyes.  Overall, the Williams is the most affordable on the secondary market.  This particular model was purchased at a train show for less-than $400.00 and will eventually be retrofitted with modern control and motor components.

For 3-rail high rail operation The MTH Electric Trains (2024 release) models are very authentically painted and decorated and the addition of the operating whistle steam is a fun and realistic upgrade to MTH's previously released models.  Soon-to-be-released matching passenger car sets by Atlas O/MTH will make for a good-looking train set that will operate on O54" curves.  The primary difference in the gray on the locomotive is ONLY in the sheen of the model.  MTH decided to model the locomotive early in it's career with a semi-glossy appearance.  It really looks good in our opinion.

The Lionel Legacy model, while obviously painted incorrectly is the most fun to operate of all the models with Lionel's Legacy control and sound system.  The smoking whistle and opening hatches for access to programing switches is a nice touch.  Pair this locomotive with the matching Lionel 21" passenger cars we have available in stock and you will have a fun operators train set.  (We have complete sets on sale for $2,700).  These come with a full factory warranty.

Thank you to our resident New York Central experts for loaning us their prized models for comparison in our store.  We are super pleased with the results of our research and studies.

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Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

@BenLMaggi posted:

Which shade of gray is correct for "as built/new" appearance?

I’d have to argue the latest MTH release would be the absolute closest to “as delivered” ……When new, the Dreyfuss was painted with a lacquer. I doubt it was buffed to a ruby mirror finish, but it surely had some gloss to it. Getting a level of gloss to scale is very hard to do. Most locomotives were painted in some level of gloss when new. It’s just the accepted norm for dull, flat or satin finishes we accept in the model railroad world as correct.

Pat

@Lou N posted:

Interesting topic.  I remember controversy in the 90's about the Lionel Smithsonian and the Williams being built by the same contract manufacturer.

Lou N

Indeed they were!….Lionel opted for a better gear box and a Pittman, and Williams cheapened out with a Mabuchi motor, a crappy gear box, and few modest less details. Otherwise, they’re sisters. The Williams Masterpiece is the poor man’s Smithsonian

Pat

@c.sam posted:

Pat, there was a Williams at our Asheville regional show back in March with no box (I think) and they wanted $700.  I think they took it home. It was pretty nice overall however.

They don’t pop up as often as they used too, but IIRC, 400-500 was the norm,……of course with the flood of command equipped Dreyfuss engines on the market, a conventional engine takes a back seat …..

Pat

How difficult is it to upgrade the Smithsonian model to command control, either with TMCC using ERR or with DCS using Proto 3?

No harder than any other brass engine. DCS would be easier as there is no antenna issue. TMCC could be done too. Usual solution is to isolate the tender shell from frame  though you might get away with just a wire under the coal load. Small coal load though.

Pete

@harmonyards posted:

Indeed they were!….Lionel opted for a better gear box and a Pittman, and Williams cheapened out with a Mabuchi motor, a crappy gear box, and few modest less details. Otherwise, they’re sisters. The Williams Masterpiece is the poor man’s Smithsonian

Pat

Pat,

Who was the CM?  I know it wasn't Ajin because I was on my way to Korea to see them and the passenger in the seat next to my was Kohs.

Lou N

The only thing that is missing is the early 2000's version of the Lionel Dreyfuss 28084. I would love to know how that compares in with all of these, even though it technically the MTH version , right? Wondering moreso on the essentials like colors and striping is really what I mean.

Dave, the 28084 is the odd man out. It shares its mechanics with 28072 & the 38041. All three of those locomotives have bolt on drivers, & Pittman power. They have more in common construction wise to a 700E than a MTH engine. With that being said, the 28084’s color is danger close to the Smithsonian…..

Pat.

Recently there was another auction on a yet another Smithsonian three rail. I'm still not willing to bite on any offerings of them even if the price is low and I have the money. I would imagine it would be a little bit of an easier task to get one of the other versions and have someone modify it to whatever standards it should be.

Currently though, I have yet to pick up the two new Legacy versions I ordered, which when there is time will make the trip to The Harmon Yards Shops, but that is a while away yet.

Regardless of what version we all have, as long as the colors and stripes are right, I'd imagine we'd all be happy folks knowing that it is on(or dang near) the button.

The only thing that is missing is the early 2000's version of the Lionel Dreyfuss 28084. I would love to know how that compares in with all of these, even though it technically the MTH version , right? Wondering moreso on the essentials like colors and striping is really what I mean.

Was it part of the MTH suit?  I was 'out of trains' during that period for several years and have only read bits & pieces over time. A friend in AL has one and it's really nice but the 2 chuffs from that era bothers me now. Easy fix yes. Time to do so...

Trainz has one listed for $939 I think it is.   With prices on the new ones getting a little lower, who knows?

Last edited by c.sam

Recently there was another auction on a yet another Smithsonian three rail. I'm still not willing to bite on any offerings of them even if the price is low and I have the money. I would imagine it would be a little bit of an easier task to get one of the other versions and have someone modify it to whatever standards it should be.

Currently though, I have yet to pick up the two new Legacy versions I ordered, which when there is time will make the trip to The Harmon Yards Shops, but that is a while away yet.

Regardless of what version we all have, as long as the colors and stripes are right, I'd imagine we'd all be happy folks knowing that it is on(or dang near) the button.

IMO, the Smithsonian is a bit of a PITA to tame with cruise. It has a very unique drive train that uses a lot of inertia power to keep it rolling when the power is cut in conventional……in conventional, the Smithsonian will roll quite a distance when the power is cut completely off. So it gets a little bananas when anything back EMF is employed for cruise. Nothing horrible, but you have to learn to override the quirk. When you throttle down from say 30 mph, the inertia drive is carrying her, but the back EMF is trying to do its job too, …..some might say it’s fine, but it’s definitely a noticeable a quirk as the inertia and the back EMF are fighting to do the same job, …..it’s like one thinks it can do it better than the other,………The Williams Masterpiece doesn’t have that feature, but it’s got its own set of challenges with a crappy gear box ……😉

Pat

@c.sam posted:

Was it part of the MTH suit?  I was 'out of trains' during that period for several years and have only read bits & pieces over time. A friend in AL has one and it's really nice but the 2 chuffs from that era bothers me now. Easy fix yes. Time to do so...

Trainz has one listed for $939 I think it is.   With prices on the new ones getting a little lower, who knows?

Correct Sam, that is one of the 3(Class A and T1 Duplex being the others). I know that there was a proposed second Dreyfuss that they were going to make, but the suit squashed that quick I guess.

As for finding them, yeah, they pop up a lot. Before I got mine there was someone who had the entire collection of the Dreyfuss and the cars that ran with it. His was a shelf queen that he kept well dusted and clean, he was selling that at a very reasonable price for the whole set. I don't remember what the other two engines he had displayed with it, but he was also selling those with their perspective cars as well. I want to say that all three would definitely be sought after by many a railroad fan, but I don't remember what they were. All were passenger trains though.

As for the one I got, I got it off the TCA Buy/Sell site, and I did pay more than what most probably would have. I have no regrets on paying what I paid, nor anything else about it. I missed most of the nearly fair priced ones before and after I got mine. The prices on them range around $900-$1500 depending on where it is listed. Best price I have seen over the years was $850 a couple of years back. You could get an MTH model of any of the old runs for way less on that I'm sure, beats the nearly $1200 some may ask.

Fortunately, I'm not in the market for one now but when I am, seems I'll have a few more good choices than prior to today!  Have become disillusioned with Lionel's QC especially on steamers in recent years and will likely only buy MTH from here going forward.  Sad...

Have been watching the earlier PS2 MTH models and they seem to still be in the $600 - $700 range on the Bay

Last edited by c.sam
@c.sam posted:

Fortunately, I'm not in the market for one now but when I am, seems I'll have a few more good choices than prior to today!  Have become disillusioned with Lionel's QC especially on steamers in recent years and will likely only buy MTH from here going forward.  Sad...

Have been watching the earlier PS2 MTH models and they seem to still be in the $600 - $700 range on the Bay

Auction site prices are out of sight now Sam. Train shows are your best bet. I picked up a TMCC Dreyfuss last year for 400 bucks locally. No tax or shipping. There are no perfect engines, they all have a few negatives. Brass has the detail, most all diecast have the durability and the new ones are close in detail too.



Pete

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