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Woody,

As a new member of the O Gauge realm, and an old school guy, I have focused on buying the all metal, heavy, Lionel cars from the 50s and 60s.  Why?  Because they stay on the tracks, sound like real rail cars when going over track joints, and give me no problems whatsoever.  The big lobster claw mounts work, and are easy to deal with.

Here is the problem with the new Lionel cars:  The smaller square-interior couplers they are using will not hook up with the older reliable lobster claws.  The interior of the couplers are too small to lock onto the larger knuckle of the older cars, and often they are a tad lower than the older couplers, and if by some miracle you can get them to lock together, then because there is zero "play" on the inside of the joined couplers, the newer cars derail when the train passes through tight turns at medium high speeds or through crossings and switches.

So, in short, Lionel is now making cars with  cheap couplers,  that will not couple with the superior classic cars of the past, and they seem to want us to ignore that little problem and pay big money for the new cars.   

Sorry, not me.   Gunrunner raised a valid point when he said, If you don't buy from Lionel, who are you going to buy from?

Answer:   People like me will do the same thing that tens of thousands of people did when Remington cheapened up their products to the point of no return:   Buy the older used products from 30 years ago, for bargain prices, and fix them up.  (Because the older products were built to be fixable, they can be easily repaired.)

I have been a loyal Lionel fan since I got my first train set in 1964.  My  transformer, tracks, switches, and every railcar except one, are all Lionel.   But, I cannot buy new products with problems.  Life is too short.

I hope Lionel will fix this issue, and I would gladly pay $5.00 or so extra per car, to get one that works.

Mannyrock

My issues with these trucks include the weak couplers, they pop open all the time, I will have to try the fix I saw above to stretch the spring slightly. I also have an issue with the thumbtacks, I have found the coupler arms will droop because the screw loosened up or was loose when assembled and the thumbtack then ride really close to the center rail and in few cases rest on it. I had a **** of a time tracking down a short that I finally tracked back to the thumbtack on one car. Now that I know what to look for I can keep an eye on them.

Does anyone know when the coupling compatibility problems with older versions started to surface? Obviously the milk cars were just retooled, so now for them.

I know some have reported the issues with the latest steel sided reefers from 2020 so hopefully not before then, but they have had the thumbtack trucks from 2017 onward. What about the hoppers? It looks like they were changed to the previous thumbtack design at the same time in 2017. The earlier thumbtack versions of these trucks hopefully at least couple okay with older products. The artwork stills shows the thumbtacks on the 2020 2 bay hoppers but I assume they will be produced without the thumbtack trucks. I'm just trying to get a feel for how widespread it is.

I posted this in Gary’s milk car review thread, but it may have been a better fit in this one. Against my better judgement, I bought all six of the Friendship PS-1 boxcars thinking I could live with the new trucks since the thumbtacks were gone. (These cars have the new trucks similar the milk cars.)

I put all six of them as a group and ran them through an O72 loop. One or two of them routinely derail in a manner similar to as in Gary’s review. The lead car pulls the trailing car’s trucks off the track and derails it.

I’m guessing blending in some cars with articulating couplers would fix it, but the point of the Friendship Train is to run them as a group.  

Not good.

Maybe folks should start returning these instead of fixing them or "dealing with it".

There are hundreds of well made Lionel cars  offered prior to 2016 with accurate non flaking paint and quality trucks and couplers on the secondary market for a 3rd of the cost of these new ones.

I own a couple dozen of them , and they are fantastic.

Meanwhile ,you can download the new Lionchief 27.5 app er whatever

Last edited by RickO

RickO,

You have given the best advice of all.   If Lionel received a couple hundred railcars from angry owners, with demands for refunds, they may think about fixing the issue going forward.

About 15 years ago, I bought a new GE Microwave.  It was terrible.  It lasted about 3 months, and then just quit.

The so-called warranty only promised repair or replacement.  I wasn't interested in either.

So, I wen online, and found the name and address of the CEO of GE.   I packed up the microwave in its original box, and shipped it straight to his personal office in NY.     I enclosed a note, saying that since I paid for this piece of junk made by GE, he could at least take the time to haul it to the junkyard.

I never heard back, of course, but I smile just thinking about that big box sitting on his desk when he came into work one morning, and the laughter and gossip that would be spread by his secretary throughout the building at lunchtime.

Mannyrock

Ray,

You posted this: "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."

Today I picked up a set of newly released NYO&W hoppers only to discover they came with these trucks. I will put them on the track and test them with my other NYO&W rolling stock. Due to the unfortunately excellent possibility that I'm going to run into the same trouble almost everyone else has, please post some pictures/video of what and where you files these trucks to make them work. I know this is not the ideal way to do it, but I have serious doubts Lionel is going to do anything at all about the problem.

Chris

LVHR

People on this thread are right to call attention to this defective design.

I first encountered major problems with this design with my CSX 66’ mill gondolas (first run). My biggest issue both cars would derail constantly on curves due to the lack of swing in the coupler. They would no even run on O72. The truck design is unusable, I needed to waste money on on already expensive car and install trucks from the older design.

I have not purchased any Lionel freight using this design in the last 5 years, and until they scrap this faulty design, I will be sticking to Atlas and what’s left of MTH

@Cogen1981 posted:

People on this thread are right to call attention to this defective design.

I first encountered major problems with this design with my CSX 66’ mill gondolas (first run). My biggest issue both cars would derail constantly on curves due to the lack of swing in the coupler. They would no even run on O72. The truck design is unusable, I needed to waste money on on already expensive car and install trucks from the older design.

I have not purchased any Lionel freight using this design in the last 5 years, and until they scrap this faulty design, I will be sticking to Atlas and what’s left of MTH

Are you talking about gons like these?

http://www.nicholassmithtrains...-GRAFFITI/LIO684831/

I was looking at picking some up but if they can't even handle O72 then I am not interested.

Are you talking about gons like these?

http://www.nicholassmithtrains...-GRAFFITI/LIO684831/

I was looking at picking some up but if they can't even handle O72 then I am not interested.

Hi Doug,

That one in the picture is from a later run of the mill gondolas I own. If they are using the same truck and coupler design as the first run, there is a high probability of derailment on turns.

@Cogen1981 posted:

Hi Doug,

That one in the picture is from a later run of the mill gondolas I own. If they are using the same truck and coupler design as the first run, there is a high probability of derailment on turns.

OK, thanks. It has to be the same trucks. I searched and it seems like people on here allude to the 2017 gondola trucks being a step backward but they don't come right out and say anything about running issues/derailments. I ordered two milk cars with the infamous trucks and one is fine going through O36 with cars on either side. However, the adjoining cars have articulating couplers and seem to compensate for the lack-of with the milk car. I wonder if the same would apply to the gondola since I would only be running one gon in the train?

@Mannyrock posted:

Woody,

As a new member of the O Gauge realm, and an old school guy, I have focused on buying the all metal, heavy, Lionel cars from the 50s and 60s.  Why?  Because they stay on the tracks, sound like real rail cars when going over track joints, and give me no problems whatsoever.  The big lobster claw mounts work, and are easy to deal with.

Here is the problem with the new Lionel cars:  The smaller square-interior couplers they are using will not hook up with the older reliable lobster claws.  The interior of the couplers are too small to lock onto the larger knuckle of the older cars, and often they are a tad lower than the older couplers, and if by some miracle you can get them to lock together, then because there is zero "play" on the inside of the joined couplers, the newer cars derail when the train passes through tight turns at medium high speeds or through crossings and switches.

So, in short, Lionel is now making cars with  cheap couplers,  that will not couple with the superior classic cars of the past, and they seem to want us to ignore that little problem and pay big money for the new cars.   

Sorry, not me.   Gunrunner raised a valid point when he said, If you don't buy from Lionel, who are you going to buy from?

Answer:   People like me will do the same thing that tens of thousands of people did when Remington cheapened up their products to the point of no return:   Buy the older used products from 30 years ago, for bargain prices, and fix them up.  (Because the older products were built to be fixable, they can be easily repaired.)

I have been a loyal Lionel fan since I got my first train set in 1964.  My  transformer, tracks, switches, and every railcar except one, are all Lionel.   But, I cannot buy new products with problems.  Life is too short.

I hope Lionel will fix this issue, and I would gladly pay $5.00 or so extra per car, to get one that works.

Mannyrock

There is still plenty of Lionel old new stock available. You just have to search it out.

Pat

I am confused here. my new design lionel trucks with the thumb tack hanging down work on just about every car I own. the do not bind at all. they have some play when coupled to the older style coupler. I have 036 fastrack curves and switches and the cars do not derail at all. obviously I do not have the new design trucks with the hidden uncoupling tabs yet.

so my question is. is this problem everyone is having with the derailments and too tight a fit. limited to the new trucks with the hidden uncoupling tabs or both new designs?

I am confused here. my new design lionel trucks with the thumb tack hanging down work on just about every car I own. the do not bind at all. they have some play when coupled to the older style coupler. I have 036 fastrack curves and switches and the cars do not derail at all. obviously I do not have the new design trucks with the hidden uncoupling tabs yet.

so my question is. is this problem everyone is having with the derailments and too tight a fit. limited to the new trucks with the hidden uncoupling tabs or both new designs?

Well according to @Cogen1981 above the thumbtack trucks have issues as well because that is what is fitted to the gondolas.

I bought two of the Milwaukee Road ones in the unusual pumpkin-like color that MR never had. Took the couplers into the shop and shaved down the inside of the knuckle with a cut off wheel on a Dremel. Cleaned off the mold line and made the inside of the knuckle close to a 90 degree angle instead of the way they "over-closed" before. The couplers now work fine in a train, but have to be manually closed. They will not close automatically no matter how hard the two cars are banged together. The unusual thing is that, even before modification, they worked fine (manually coupled) with Atlas or MTH couplers. The issue was with other Lionel couplers.

Last edited by RoyBoy
@romiller49 posted:

Why constantly change change things that already work. The few pennies saved in costs are certainly not the answer. Heck, we are still running trains that are 100 years old. Don’t tell me we can’t make toy trains that are affordable and still outlast most of us.

As I reported earlier, there is no continuity of design. The engineers and producers are different every time. It might even be a different factory every time.

Don't remember having problems with the mill gondolas. Went and put four of them from the first run.  Ran them together with other cars no problem no derailing, no uncoupling , ran fine. Only thing is they all have the thumbtack. Was running on 072 tubular track through lots of switch track and my track work is not the best.

Last edited by Gweedo

last week I went to lionels parts websight to find some trucks for my visionline reefers. that style came up as unavailable. so I purchased 3 sets of the new thumtack stlye. I will see if they play well with my older lionel cars and my mth cars. I may post pics if all goes well in testing or maybe if it turns out bad news. have not gotten then yet so I will see.

If I had it to do over, I would not have fooled with Lionel Fastrack, it is cheap, and the pins break off if you look at them wrong.  After looking in the last catalog, I don't know how anyone can get into this hobby.  I too will be sticking with Atlas and MTH  (as long as its out there)  I wish Lionel would come back to America with its manufacturing, If I am going to pay 100 dollars a car, I would pay that for quality vs cheap.  I am going to miss MTH dearly, as I collect all Scale products 1/48.  I may just have to live with what I have collected for the last 20 years.

With everything that has been said about these couplers, I decided to take a slightly different tack and look at how well they mate with both Lionel and other brands. I’ll designate them “2021” for now. I tested these couplers against Atlas O, MTH RailKing, MTH Premiere, K-Line, Weaver, and several different styles of Lionel. I tested the various combinations starting with both couplers open, then one closed and then the other closed.

The Atlas O, Weaver plastic truck, MTH RailKing, newer Lionel diecast with thumbtack, and Lionel Symington Wayne non-operating couplers all performed reliably. The MTH Premiere and K-Line couplers were in the middle, with at least one combination not functioning correctly. Other Lionel couplers were very problematic, with the Kinematic being the worst. I could bang the Kinematic car into the 2021 car as much and as hard as I wanted, and they still would not couple. If I lifted one and placed it into the other, the connection was hard and stiff. This resulted in the wheels of the 2021 car lifting off the track on an O-72 curve.

DSCN6181 [2)

Other Lionel cars tested included an ore care from 2014 with plastic trucks, a flatcar with the newer diecast thumbtack equipped truck, and a hopper car with Standard “O” trucks which have been around since the late 1970s. I did not test any other MPC truck, nor anything newer than ~2018 from Lionel. I did not test passenger cars or engines.

Since I have a 3 pack of 2021 cars, I tested all of them. Some worked better than others, which leads to the conclusion that not all the couplers are made exactly the same. This explains why some people do not experience the problem while others do.

Next, I tried Rays suggestion of filing off selected areas of the 2021 coupler. From watching the repeated coupling failures, I determined the best chances of success would be to remove material from the outside of the coupler pin area (circle), and the inside or gullet area (arrow) of the knuckle. Material needs to be removed from both the coupler arm and the knuckle, in the area of the pin. It is best working on both areas with the knuckle closed. I used a flat diamond file on the outside, and a round diamond file on the gullet.

CaptureDSCN6174

I removed material carefully and slowly, stopping often to test my work with the 2014 ore car and the Kinematic car.

This is one with enough material removed from the mentioned locations.

DSCN6175 [2)DSCN6178 [2)

The 2014 car started working first. I did not want to remove too much material, so in some cases, I was unable to get the Kinematic car to behave reliably. When I did get the Kinematic to work, it still did not mate correctly.

DSCN6187

Removing enough material to get the Kinematic to work did not affect the function of any of the other cars. They all worked reliably. I touched up the filed areas with a black sharpie.



Chris

LVHR

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Well, there you have it.  An Excellent post by Lehighline.

Anybody still think these are imaginary or occasional problems?

Quality control means physically testing and checking your products as manufactured from your own line or from third parties, and rejecting the ones that don't work, instead of just assuming they are all fine and listing them in the newest Catalogue.

@RoyBoy posted:

As I reported earlier, there is no continuity of design. The engineers and producers are different every time. It might even be a different factory every time.

Regardless of engineer/ designer. Lionel has reused tooling multitudes of times. The only things that really change are the electronics.

This truck/ coupler debacle is the result of a tooling change.

The trucks/couplers were the same design for at least a decade prior to this newer design with these issues.

No one seems to know what happened to the tooling for the "quality" sprung die-cast trucks with the hidden uncoupling tab and articulating coupler.

Maybe Lionel should try to "aquire" MTH's sprung trucks . They are a very similar design to the original ones Lionel was using.

Last edited by RickO
@RickO posted:

Regardless of engineer/ designer. Lionel has reused tooling multitudes of times. The only things that really change are the electronics.

This truck/ coupler debacle is the result of a tooling change.

The trucks/couplers were the same design for at least a decade prior to this newer design with these issues.

No one seems to know what happened to the tooling for the "quality" sprung die-cast trucks with the hidden uncoupling tab and articulating coupler.

Maybe Lionel should try to "aquire" MTH's sprung trucks . They are a very similar design to the original ones Lionel was using.

In the 2021 catalog, Lionel still shows the "quality" designed trucks as a 2-pack for purchase.  If they are still making it as an upgrade option, I really wish they would go back to using it on their rolling stock.

@Joe Fermani posted:

In the 2021 catalog, Lionel still shows the "quality" designed trucks as a 2-pack for purchase.  If they are still making it as an upgrade option, I really wish they would go back to using it on their rolling stock.

Watch people purchase those packs only to find that they suffer from the same design or the couplers don't work. I don't understand the need for them to change the entire design of the trucks and couplers. The only things that come to mind other than trying to cut corners is manufacturing shortages or new vendor. That sounds ridiculous but who the heck knows. After looking through the new catalog, I doubt I will purchase any rolling stock. My local train store has plenty of older Lionel cars as well as a very good supply of MTH & Atlas. I guess I will have to do that. I know I have bought a few cars here and there from MTH but have yet to buy some Atlas.

I own 2 cars with the new truck design.  One is the new milk car with the hidden uncoupling tab.  The other is a camera caboose with the ugly thumb tack.  I tested both cars last night and found the caboose with the ugly thumb tack actually works to connect it to my existing fleet.  In addition, the coupler is the same height as my other couplers.  The coupler fits loosely into other trucks and will close fairly softly and with out issue when mating into other trucks. The new truck design with the hidden tab, droops badly and does not work with my existing fleet.  It will not close and I almost have to really force it to fit with my existing fleet.  So it would appear that the new truck design can work if you have the thumbtack version.  The hidden tab version of the new trucks is a bust and does not work.

@Mannyrock posted:

And there you have it.  DaveNYC is a knowledgeable, long time Lionel customer,  and he's had enough.  He is not buying any more new Lionel rolling stock.

I watched a video last night which I posted on Gary's(superwarp1) milk car post. The video went into all of which we have seen already except for derailments like Gary had shown. In that video the poster had old and new milk cars together and couldn't slide them up off the tracks from each other. The cars were tightly stuck together with hardly any give but finally came apart.

Two of the new cars the poster had put together and they had no problem coupling, which Gary had also noted. The one other thing that the poster of the video noted was that a MTH car mated up easily like the two new milk cars. What was not shown in that video was if they would derail like the new and old milk cars did.

This really begs the question of would there be any other cars from other manufacturers that would mate up like the MTH car and the new milk car? Well, I say it is still unacceptable regardless if they do. The poster of the video indicated in his video was that he had wanted to have a unit train with all his Lionel milk cars. That is impossible with the new flawed design.

I myself have some old milk cars in my small collection and would definitely have tried to make a unit train like the poster. The bigger question which is what I was saying above is what are the rest of the new catalogs trucks and couplers design? Being that the O-Gauge semiscale stuff in the back of the new catalog appears to have diecast sprung trucks than the higher end O-Scale stuff. That to me really doesn't make a lick of sense. Usually the high end stuff would have those and the lower end would have solid trucks whether diecast or plastic. That to me is baffling.

@Randy_B posted:

So far it looks like just the ones on the new milk cars are too tight. I wonder about the other new cars with the hidden tab design?

I have the six Friendship PS-1 boxcars. They have the hidden tab version of the new trucks. They will not go through an O72 S curve without derailing. I would assume this design is on all scale freight stock going forward.  Caveat emptor.

@Randy_B posted:

I believe the new stock cars still have the old ones too - buy with confidence. I wonder why they were spared?

Because the vision cars have an angle sensor. The mounting hole on one of the trucks is D shaped instead of round so that the sensor can be mounted to the top of a shaft inside the car.







Beer cars use the sheet metal sprung trucks too. I never tested the couplers because I just cut em off and put on kadees, but they didn’t look like the older couplers.  
Im sure there’s a rhyme and reason for what’s getting what, probably the factory that makes them, but going forward it sounds like if you “gotta have” a lionel car you need to factor the cost of putting Atlas trucks on it.

Last edited by Boilermaker1

Have#2026260 ANH Bush 8K tank car with the funky trucks. The car was made in Vietnam. Had to file the inside of the truck and the knuckle on the outside just to keep it from derailing on 072 curves. Not good what junk. Still hard to connect or disconnect  with other Lionel cars. So think it is looking like the cars made in Vietnam are having the truck problems. Have other new Lionel cars made in China no problems.

I ended up rolling the dice on another milk car after returning the defective one to Trainworld (they made me eat the shipping...). I got another B&M from Charles Ro and it does not derail like the defective Trainworld car did. The couplers don't work with other Lionel cars but no surprise there. Also, one of the sideframes was bent up and had to be massaged back into place. Just happy the thing tracks properly and doesn't derail over every switch.

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