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@Dave Olson

A few years back Lionel had decided to redesign the trucks for freight and passenger cars.  The new trucks were met with disdain as the trucks lost many features of the previous design.  Gone were the swiveling coupler, actual working springs, hidden uncoupler tab, all metal design, smooth functioning coupler.  The new design had a bolster made of plastic, the side frames were diecast but the springs were now decoration and no longer functioned.  The coupler was fixed to the truck.  The hidden tab to operate the coupler was replaced with the ugly thumb tack.  The only good feature of the new trucks was the ability to completely disassemble the truck and remove the coupler if the user wanted to use kadee couplers.  The previous (and most think superior) design required the user to cut the coupler off.  This was a permanent modification.  Us buyers responded to the new design with our wallets and refused to buy the new trucks.  Lionel saw the buyers response and informed us that they would return to the hidden uncoupler tab as the thumb tack was the worst feature on a scale equipment.

Fast forward to today and Lionel is still using the new truck design, which is poor at best.  What Lionel has done in response to our pleas is to retrofit their new truck design with a new coupler shank which has the hidden uncoupler tab.  The current freight cars still have the plastic bolster, non functioning springs, and non swiveling coupler.  The new hidden tab uncoupler shank is of of poor design to match these inferior trucks.  It does not mate well with the existing trucks (of the superior design).  The uncoupler tab is a sloppy mechanism.  Its mounting causes it to droop and not properly align with other cars which have the previous style.

I had purchased from Lionel, these new trucks with hidden uncoupler tabs for my camera caboose which came with thumb tack couplers.  I assumed it would be the previous design which was stamped metal, diecast sides, etc... What I saw matches, what buyers are now seeing on the new run of milk cars.  These trucks are still the poor design we complained about the past few years.

I do not under stand why Lionel continues to push this new design which clearly does not work well.

Last edited by Joe Fermani
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I can handle prices continuing to go up because that's just the way it is, but I can't handle the quality going down on many fronts at the same time. I have been looking at my collection lately to see how many pieces of rolling stock I have that has been produced since 2016 or so. I have stopped buying new stuff completely here recently and now I'm looking at the cost of changing out the trucks on the stuff in that range that I really like. I have also been researching previous rolling stock from before this started to occur to see if I missed anything I would like to have instead of looking over the new releases.

Also, when was some of the production moved to Vietnam?

I'm not in full disagreement, but allow me to play the devil's advocate for a minute:

- I'm sure the old truck molds were well worn out after tens of thousands of uses over the years, so no surprise that Lionel opted for a retooling at least.  The new trucks are much crisper in their side frame details, and include the nice molded in lettering.  They visually look more like Atlas trucks now, which is not a bad thing at all.

- As an engineer I can say, if a new design is simpler, cheaper, and can accomplish the same goals, there is no reason not to go with it.  The old design was reliable, but rather complex for what it was.

- There are no small number of individuals who model two-rail or even three-rail and prefer scale couplers.  I can't for a minute criticize Lionel for catering to this segment especially with the scale offerings.

- Considering the history of zinc pest amongst various die-cast parts, especially trucks, I would never have a problem with using plastic components, as long as they are robust.  Most modelers in HO and N use simple plastic designs for their truck frames.  Plastic can also decrease noise slightly, by transmitting fewer vibrations into the body of the car.

That said, I do prefer the hinged coupler design for tight corners, and the functioning springs.  Although, the weight of these cars mean even the "functional" springs don't actually function much unless you're pressing down on the car by hand.  I also find the new design frustratingly harder to open the knuckle (some very light weight oil helps), although on the flip side I'm finding they randomly pop open much less often compared to some I have of the old design.

The thumb tack is, however, unacceptable in my book on a scale model and I am pleased that they are rectifying that with the tab design, though it's not the most robust.

So would I personally have preferred that they stick with the old design?  Perhaps, but I don't find the new design the end of the world as long as the thumb tacks are gone.

@BillYo414 posted:

What are the numbers for the new crappy trucks? I just bought two 2-packs of Lionel trucks for a special project. Hope I got the good ones.

From what I have seen, the separate sale trucks that come in the box are still the quality stamped steel, diecast models that we really like.  Its the trucks that are on rolling stock is the issue.

Last edited by Joe Fermani
@PRR Mark posted:

Are these trucks being placed on the made in USA boxcars too ?

So far the new milk cars and the camera caboose have the new truck design.  I do not know of any other roller stock yet.  The camera cabooses have been in production for a few years.  They started with the thumbtack new trucks.  Later versions got the hidden tab BUT still on the same plastic truck.  I would be interested to know if other current production rolling stock has these trucks or not.  If Lionel is just trying to use up inventory of the bad design I could understand that but I would love to hear from them what the future is with the trucks on rolling stock.

Last edited by Joe Fermani

I'm not seeing what the big fuss is about.  FWIW, the new UP "flat wheel" sound boxcar I just picked up has diecast trucks, hidden uncouplers that are removable, and the Kadee mounting blocks.  The couplers seem to work well, they couple very easily, and don't come open, at least in a 20 minute test run with a pair of track cleaning cars behind them to provide a drawbar load.  At least this truck design, to my way of thinking, isn't really all that bad.

I think the buzz about spring loading of the trucks on rolling stock is a lot of ado about nothing.  The springs don't do a think unless you put about three pounds of lead in the cars, they're just cosmetic.  As far as the fixed coupler, that hasn't been an issue with the vast majority of rolling stock I own that has fixed couplers, exactly what is the big deal with those?

Lionel 2026190 UP 'flat spot' PS-1 Boxcar First Look N4

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  • Lionel 2026190 UP 'flat spot' PS-1 Boxcar First Look N4

I bought over 150 pieces of Lionel scale rolling stock between 2012 and 2016. I’ve been vocally critical of the move to the new design. I’ve concluded:

  • The original design was industry-leading and highly desirable
  • The new design is vastly inferior
  • I believe the design was changed first and foremost for cost savings (that weren’t passed along)
  • The thumbtacks were awful
  • The revised new design (without the thumbtacks) is better than the original new design, but still significantly inferior to the original design
  • There is likely no going back to the original design irrespective of how much we howl
  • At this point, the new design is here to stay in Lionel scale rolling stock and we either buy it or we don’t, but it isn’t changing.

Just my take, and I might be wrong....

I'm not seeing what the big fuss is about.  FWIW, the new UP "flat wheel" sound boxcar I just picked up has diecast trucks, hidden uncouplers that are removable, and the Kadee mounting blocks.  The couplers seem to work well, they couple very easily, and don't come open, at least in a 20 minute test run with a pair of track cleaning cars behind them to provide a drawbar load.  At least this truck design, to my way of thinking, isn't really all that bad.

Lionel 2026190 UP 'flat spot' PS-1 Boxcar First Look N4

John watch my review of the Milk trucks.  Those couplers a JUNK.  I'm not so much concern with the trucks themselves but those **** lobster claws.  And as for easy conversion to Kadee.  Yes easy until you notice the spacers don't bring the kadee to the correct height, at least for my two bay hoppers.

The new couplers do not mate well with the older design.  As shown in the milk car review and I have confirmed with my own rolling stock.  Trying to mate old and new couplers, one coupler never closes.  The new couplers tend to droop more and hang a bit lower than the older design.  The hidden tab has a lot of slop.  It can move up and down quite a bit as well as back and forth to operate the coupler. The sprung trucks really do not do anything so I understand Lionel switching to design where its ornamental.  The lost of the swivel i think is important because it helps with curves.  Yes - many Lionel trucks had fixed couplers but when Lionel came out with the swivel design it clearly was a winning feature.  I do like the ability to take the truck completely apart.  That is a nice feature.  Overall I still think the older design was functionally better.

I agree the swivel is nice, but I haven't had a big issue with the fixed couplers, so while I would rather have the feature, it's not a deal killer.  As far as mating up with the existing couplers, this one sample I have mates up perfectly with all the things I've tried it with.  The couplers activate very easily and don't separate until I want them to.

I suspect much of the complaints may stem from poor quality control as from design.

I just got the legacy bnsf oilcan set and two ps1 sound cars. all the cars have the new design couplers with the thumb tacks. they work very well and I have had no issues with any of them working together and coupling to all my other cars. either lionel of all truck designs or any mth cars and there various designs.

The only issue with the cars in my oilcan set was the couplers on some cars kept popping open. the fix was easy and fast. a week spring so I just removed the screw above the spring and stretch the spring slightly and remount the spring and screw. problem solved and no more unwanted uncoupling.

I am in the minority here, but I love these new couplers with the thumb tacks. the nuckle design seems to be better also. the inside curve of the nuckle is more U shaped than round to allow the other trucks nuckle to push the moving parts fully closed. I put some light oil on the moving nuckle parts and work it in till the moving nuckle parts move freeley and there is no catching or moving parts sticking. then I soak up any excess that works out with a qtip. this really helps overall it seems. Imo they work far better and seem to take less force to close than the older design everyone raves about.

I have not gotten any of the new cars yet with the new truck design with the hidden  uncoupling tabs. so I can not speek first hand about those, but the ones I have work great and they play very well with my homemade uncoupling tool which I like. also no issues on my uncoupling tracks either. they open every time.

I needed some replacement trucks on a few cars and so I took a new style truck off one of my new cars and low and behold it fit on the cars which need new trucks. so I ordered 3 pairs from lionel. not cheep but like I said I like the new design. simpler, less moving parts and they dont take as much force to couple together. the springs were more just for show and did little for functionality IMO. the moving sprung nuckle did provide greater movement around tighter curves,but if the spring got weak or damaged the nuckle would not come back to center properly.

Bottom line IMO less frills, easier to work on, very nice truck side detail. they take less force to couple together and they get the job done. I say coudos to dave olson for designing these.

One other thing I would add, I think part of what contributes to the feeling of "cheap" is the open space around the axles that used to be filled in with the hefty coupler mechanism and all.  But on real freight trucks there's a lot of open space, too.  These new trucks honestly remind me more of O scale versions of the trucks I used back in HO scale.

truck

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I did an earlier posting about the couplers on these new cars.

I received my CNW Friendship car, Lionel 2026742 last week. It's marked "Made in Vietnam". The paint and detail is one of the best I have seen in recent years, and one that I expected from Lionel. But the COUPLERS ARE AN ISSUE!

Next to impossible to connect to my other cars, be it Lionel, Atlas, KLine, MTH, etc. They don't connect no matter how hard to slam them together. Even if you hand connect the cars, the coupler is so tight, there is absolute no play, up and down, side to side.

This is, IMO, a defect in the design, and it needs to be addressed and corrected.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a die hard Lionel fan, with 90% of my engines being Lionel and over 50% of my freight and passenger cars by Lionel..

Attached are 3 photos that show the defect as well as a video showing an attempted to couple the new trucks to a Lionel truck from one off a scale box cars of a few years ago.

Today, I reworked the couplers by filing down the knuckle on the inside as well as by the rivet. The reworked was a successful. The coupler will now connect with older Lionel couplers and there is a slight play or gap between mating couplers.

Shouldn't have to do this. I hope Lionel will step up to the plate and correct this defect for future cars and send replacement trucks or couplers to those of us that have this issue. I would like to buy the other 5 or 6 cars in this series, but am hesitate at this point.

RAY

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Coupler issue video MVI_6723

Well John,  as a similar situation, I can only point people to Remington Arms.

I am sure that most folks are familiar with the fact that Remington Arms went bankrupt last month, and its were assets sold off to five different companies..   From 1918 up through the early 80s, they made really  good firearms, that were extremely dependable.  (There was one issue of the safety on the Rem. 700 rifles, but that could be fixed with a simple substitute.)  Remington firearms were more "Americana" than Lionel trains.

And then, in the middle 80s, little by little, they started cheapening everything, and their quality control went to zero.  They cranked out everything by CNC machinery, and slapped it together without any fitting or testing whatsever.   To save a few bucks on milled steel parts, they started skipping steps, leaving a little ridge, or a few burrs, here and there. To eliminate milled parts, they went to cheap steel stampings and even plastic parts.  To save money on stocks, then went from high grade walnut, to low grade walnut, and eventually to ugly beech or birch.

Their highly loyal customer based continued to tolerate this for a while, especially those that were purely cosmetic.  But suddenly, it wasn't just cosmetic.  It was functional, and the functions were critical.   And worse yet, the defects were not fixable.

$800 Model 7 rifles, with bores that were bored off-center.    $600 Model 700 rifles with barrels screwed into the receivers crooked.  Model 870 pump action shotguns (formerly the most reliable in the world) that would jam on every third shot.   

Eventually, their only volume customer was Walmart, who demanded lower and lower price points, so Remington cheapened them even further.  After a while, even Walmart got tired of the complaints and dealing with customers who demanded that the guns be returned to the factories.

And then, it was done and over.  People just stopped buying them.   The used firearms from the earlier days were more in demand than the new ones.  After all, there were tens of thousand of those older firearms out there for sale.   

And Remington went under.

Once a company stops caring about quality, and stops listening to customers, it is always a long downward spiral to bankruptcy.     Savage Arms was probably the only company to avoid this (narrowly), and this was only because a new CEO stepped in and halted production of every crummy product they were making, and focused solely on manufacturing the few quality products that they could still make.  Eventually, that quality became widely recognized, and people who got sick of the declining quality of companies like Remington started buying from Savage.

So, I guess that this is what I am worried is happening to Lionel branded products.  I sure hope I am wrong.

What could be more simple and basic and important to a well functioning railcar than a coupler?

The problem is that our toys are made in job shops. It's batch work.

One week they make Lionel milk cars and the next week they make DVD players or cell phones. There is no continuity of engineering, no experience of what was done previously. That's the way it works if you use a different factory every time. Even if you use the same factory, it's been so long since the last batch that the production workers and manufacturing engineers are building things that are new to them, things that they have never built before.

The only way to fix that is to use the same factory, same workers and same engineers every time - and give them a much greater volume of production.

Since our trains are not built in sufficient quantities to keep one factory running, we will keep seeing problems like this time and time again.

In manufacturing terms, the factories either lost the recipe, or never had it in the first place.

I did an earlier posting about the couplers on these new cars.

I received my CNW Friendship car, Lionel 2026742 last week. It's marked "Made in Vietnam". The paint and detail is one of the best I have seen in recent years, and one that I expected from Lionel. But the COUPLERS ARE AN ISSUE!

Next to impossible to connect to my other cars, be it Lionel, Atlas, KLine, MTH, etc. They don't connect no matter how hard to slam them together. Even if you hand connect the cars, the coupler is so tight, there is absolute no play, up and down, side to side.

This is, IMO, a defect in the design, and it needs to be addressed and corrected.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a die hard Lionel fan, with 90% of my engines being Lionel and over 50% of my freight and passenger cars by Lionel..

Attached are 3 photos that show the defect as well as a video showing an attempted to couple the new trucks to a Lionel truck from one off a scale box cars of a few years ago.

Today, I reworked the couplers by filing down the knuckle on the inside as well as by the rivet. The reworked was a successful. The coupler will now connect with older Lionel couplers and there is a slight play or gap between mating couplers.

Shouldn't have to do this. I hope Lionel will step up to the plate and correct this defect for future cars and send replacement trucks or couplers to those of us that have this issue. I would like to buy the other 5 or 6 cars in this series, but am hesitate at this point.

RAY

Thank you.

FACT - As I covered this weeks ago, the new cars just out do not couple to the older and better PS design.

  Lionel was notified.

LIONEL COUPLER ISSUE 20 [4)

LIONEL COUPLER ISSUE 20 [3)

LIONEL COUPLER ISSUE 20 [2)

                        Had to pick one car up and place it in. Very tight connection.

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@Bob posted:

I would say that the new truck costs much less to manufacture than the old truck and that is the answer.  I believe that this was the reason for the change in the first place.  All of that "easy to adapt to Kadees" stuff was just a smokescreen.

That's what you call a penny wise, pound foolish approach. You save a few dollars per car on the trucks and couplers, but lose far more in lost sales. This isn't rocket science.

Pat

The difference is, not many volume O-scale model train producers left, AAMOF, just one!  So, I don't know where you're going to buy when you desert Lionel.

OTOH, lots of other gun manufacturers, so there are plenty of choices.

Might be time to get 3rd Rail back into the freight market, but in plastic in lieu of brass.

OTOH, there can only be one.  I am a diehard Walther owner in 5 calibers.

On a more serious note, I have found brass freight American Scale Models trucks in 2R on the bay at $40 a pair in many accurate styles have me replacing several trucks these days as they look so much better than anything cast.  Biggest challenge is the bolster.  I tried converting a pair of N5b trucks using the official L 2r conversion kit and the axles are too long for the frame spacing so they sit at a slight angle.

Last edited by GG1 4877

Its funny my new couplers dont have the tightness issue with the older design like the photos shown do. The only issue is the older coupler does not close without some force when coupling to the new one. Keeping the old truck nuckle closed and the new one open the new one closes  very easy. Maybe my old trucks are from a different batch run and not molded as tight as those in the pics. I have tryed every type and brand of trucks and couplers I have. Tryed coupling to each one of them with the new truck and coupler design. They work on everyone except my kline couplers. The kline couplers I have dont like my other couplers either. Go figure. I still like the new ones though. Wish lionel would sell the buy themselves in a two pack. I would buy more for some of my older cars.

I'm in the same boat - having recently acquired a Therm-Ice Reefer, Hercules 8K tank car - I can't connect to older scale rolling stock. I have to 'hand-couple' sometimes having to jam the couplers together, lifting one up and sliding the couplers together. I have an S-curve on my layout, and with the coupler tightness, the trucks don't have the give or sway to negotiate the curve, and sometimes, the truck on the car will 'lift', leaving one set of wheels on the track. Not the best design in my opinion.

Truck issues, coupler issues.....

YOO-HOO!!!....Kadee!?!?!?  Are you listening?  There's a need for your expertise in O-ville.   Even in the 'lobster claw' realm!!  You make really fine die cast trucks for the HO crowd.  You even have  some exceptionally nice G gauge die cast trucks.

You're the industry standard for couplers...including O scale.  You could set a better example for the lobster mobsters, too!

And, as a sidebar...you make some REALLY fine freight cars....and even sell the REALLY, REALLY fine parts therein. (40' and 50' boxcar roofwalks, e.g....for which I'd grovel to see them offered by you in O scale!!!).

(sigh!)

Weaver made some fine die cast trucks/couplers.  They're gone.

MTH released a remake of the Weaver Bettendorf trucks/couplers.  They're about gone.

You've been around for about 70+ years, I believe.  Apparently you're doing things well....here in America!

Can you PLEASE help us???

.

.



Besides, you have my initials...

KD

Last edited by dkdkrd

since the new trucks fit on the lionel ps1 box cars and some weaver cars. as I said I like the new truck design. I would be willing to swap my old style with swivel knuckles and hidden uncoupling trucks that are on my ps1 cars to someone here who would like to have the old style for thier new trucks they dont like.

also if you are getting rid of or changing out these new couplers for the older stlye ones on your new cars. I will buy the new ones for a fare price. just email me. my email is in my profile.

Last edited by Lionelzwl2012

If Lionel will not fix the issue of the "defective" coupler knowing they do not mate with existing couplers, then perhaps Lionel should introduce a new selling strategy. Option 1 sell the cars with trucks and couplers and option 2 sell only the car, less trucks and couplers.

When Atlas introduced the new and beautiful California Zephyr cars, they were originally shipped with window inserts that had the venetian blinds mounted on the outside of the car window, instead of inside. They realized this error and corrected future shipments. And those that purchased the early batch of cars were GIVEN new window inserts to correct the problem at no cost to the customer. I don't know how many hundreds of these first cars were shipped, but it was a lot.

Several years ago, Athearn produced some highly details F7's (HO) and stated that the models included "correct and accurate" details for each of the road names they produced. However, the CB&Q version had nose grab irons mounted on the right side of the F7. These should have been mounted on the left side. Athearn fixed this and shipped new shells, at no cost, to those that had the incorrect version. And they did not ask for the incorrect shells back!

So if we are going to pay $70 or more for Lionel freight cars that do not mate with other rolling stock, we shouldn't be forced to spend another $20 to $30 to rework the cars with either Kadee couplers or new trucks.

As for paint flacking, well I haven't played with my Freedom car long enough if that is an issue. But what I can tell you, I will not be buying the rest of the set at this time.

RAY

What I would personally like to see would be a variation of the body mounted kinematic coupler system, that perhaps uses the kadee mounts.  So you would have the prototypical mounting and close coupling of body mount, but the coupler could expand outward and left and right to allow for tighter radii.

Just to follow up with my earlier posts where I defended the new trucks:  I agree that the couplers are an issue.  I think it more QC than the design, though the design could use some adjustments for sure.  The new trucks I'm totally fine with (provided, again, that the QC related to the paint flaking is addressed, though I haven't seen this issue myself).  The plastic crossmember between the two side frames I'm finding I actually prefer, and it does reduce the track noise slightly (just tested this, yesterday).  The plastic used is thick enough that I have doubts it will ever cause an issues, and of course there's no fear of zinc rot.

Last edited by Woody Ridenour

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