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100% agree, Pat. I bought a ton of Lionel scale rolling stock when I converted my layout to scale - over 150 cars since 2012. I quit buying them when they went to the thumbtacks (after getting stuck with 8-10 preorders that I should’ve refused). I bought the Friendship cars after they announced the thumbtacks were gone. The “newer new” trucks on them are both cheap and non-functional. Even if I were willing to grind down a brand new car (I’m not), they still won’t track when coupled to one another without derailing. I’m done buying “again” until I physically see whatever the next iteration is.

This all seems so self-inflicted given the quality of the original design. I never believed for a minute this was about Kadee conversion. It was a cost saving move gone bad.

Last edited by Rider Sandman

Lionel could certainly win some customers back (at least get us buying again) if they established an even exchange program.   I think most of us would have no issue swapping out trucks even those with pickup rollers.  

This would be a hit on the balance sheet and a loss to the company on the bottom line in the short term.   However the long-term customer base recovery would more than recover than in 2-3 years.  

So Lionel, are you ready to swallow your pride, admit to the mistakes, and then make them right?

@Steims posted:

Lionel could certainly win some customers back (at least get us buying again) if they established an even exchange program.   I think most of us would have no issue swapping out trucks even those with pickup rollers.  

This would be a hit on the balance sheet and a loss to the company on the bottom line in the short term.   However the long-term customer base recovery would more than recover than in 2-3 years.  

So Lionel, are you ready to swallow your pride, admit to the mistakes, and then make them right?

Good luck with that. Lionel couldn't come up with alternative J3a boiler fronts for the limited number of folks that bought and paid for them from Pats trains.

The best/easiest solution for the customer, is to not buy any Lionel rolling stock produced after 2016.

@BobbyD posted:


Did the Chinese tooling actually head to Europe? Or was that brand new tooling in Europe because as they say "you can't take it with you?" If it is the old Chinese tooling being used for production now, then why not use it to make those great trucks again?

I wonder the same thing! All the talk about tooling not leaving China, and yet, rolling stock previously made in China is now being made in Vietnam. I don't believe Lionel is making all new tooling for PS-1 box cars, 50' & 60' box cars, and others so they can produce the stuff in another country. That doesn't make sense. As far as the trucks are concerned, they are not cutting costs as much as raising profits. Lets face it, we get a cheapened truck and a price increase at the same time! The bean counters are saying more, more, more $$$$$!

How many of you believe that key personnel at Lionel are reading these threads? Or care about what we think?

RAY

I'm not sure if you consider them 'key personnel". We know that Dave reads them, and possibly Ryan on occassion.  Dave has popped in a few times. I haven't checked their profiles to see when they last visited.

Previous Lionel CS managers and Engineers were fairly active on here.

Having said that, who working at Lionel would want to? Constant issues only means constant complaints, returns and warranty repairs. However, I think those are "curbed" by a severly understaffed phone and email services.

Here's how Lionel explained the original changes to the truck design in 2016. Make of it what you will.

"Gentlemen,

Please let me take a moment and explain the change on these couplers, so everyone has the correct information from the "horse's mouth" as it were.

We have engineered a new scale truck which will be integrated on all Lionel scale cars moving forward.

This whole project of reengineering the trucks started with the acquisition of the Weaver tooling. Not being satisfied with the performance of the older Weaver die-cast trucks we needed a truck that would accommodate the new Lionscale cars as well as all existing Lionel scale cars. If you took the time to notice the thumbtack couplers in the images I certainly hope you took the time to notice the 2-rail conversion kits in the back of the catalog. These conversion kits are only applicable to the new scale trucks (the ones with the thumbtack in the images).

This truck uses an ABS bolster and 1 piece cast side frames (with separately applied springs). The level of detail is as good if not better than the existing truck side frames. The reason for the bolster being ABS is two fold;

1.) to prevent to need for a collector insulator when using a sprung collector on freight trucks (similar to the type we currently use on locomotives, to ensure a positive 100% of the time contact with the center rail)

2.) to allow for easy conversion to using scale couplers on 3-rail equipment and for converting to 2-rail. Yes, you read that correctly, 2-rail. (Lionel has never before offered a 2-rail conversion kit, so this is somewhat notable in the big scheme of things!)

The new scale truck design has 5 different length die-cast coupler armatures (same as our previous scale trucks had) which slide over a shoulder on the center of the bolster and also have a screw to firmly mount the coupler armature to the bolster. This design makes it very easy to remove the 3-rail coupler from the truck to mount a scale coupler to the car body, for those customers who wish to take that route.

The bolster also accommodates all the various accessories we have used on trucks over the last 20 years; hall effect sensors, axle straps, collectors, LED PCB's (for hot box accessory cars). The coupler armartures accommodate mechanical couplers as well as coil couplers.  

There are a total of 4 bolsters to be used with these side frames

Lionel 3-rail cars
Lionel 2-rail conversion (comes with the 2-rail conversin kit)
Lionscale 3-rail cars
Lionscale 2-rail conversion (comes with the 2-rail conversion kit)

Why so many bolsters? Because on Lionel scale cars the bolster is very close to the floor on the cars. On the Lionscale cars the bolster is a good distance away from the floor, so a one size fits all approach would simply not work. Then add in the 2-rail conversion and the ride height of the car needed to be lower than the ride height of 3-rail cars, hence we designed 4 different bolsters. Each of the 2-rail conversion kits; 50T and 70T will include 2 Lionel and 2 Lionscale 2-rail bolsters, so 1 kit will work with either product. Each 2-rail conversion kit includes 4 NMRA compliant 2-rail wheel and axle sets, the bolsters mentioned above, 4 axle straps (with 8 screws, as they are small and you will likely lose some installing the straps). There are 2 different kits as one has tapered axles for 50T journal box style side frames and the other has blunt end axles for 70T rotating bearing cap side frames (to keep the rotating bearing cap feature) (the 70T kit also includes some extra bearing caps in black). The end result is an NMRA compliant 2-rail truck that offers electrical pickup from all 8 wheels!

The design has been in the works for over 8 months and has been thoroughly tested on just about every 3-rail track system known to man as well as the 2-rail trucks (with electrical pickups). The design is solid and allows us to finally have a truly "standardized" scale truck system that uses interchangeable parts from a standard set of tools.

Now, cars that have a large distance between the bolster and the end of the car will continue to use our kinematic coupler system, which has always had the thumbtack hanging down from just below the coupler head!

I hope this helps clear the air on the truth about what we're doing and why you are seeing changes from what has been done in the past.

Thank you,
Mike
P.S. I will try to post some pics later today so you can "see" the improvements and changes that have been made to these new trucks.

Thank you,
Mike Reagan"

@Keith L posted:

Here's how Lionel explained the original changes to the truck design in 2016. Make of it what you will.

"Gentlemen,

Please let me take a moment and explain the change on these couplers, so everyone has the correct information from the "horse's mouth" as it were.

We have engineered a new scale truck which will be integrated on all Lionel scale cars moving forward......

I hope this helps clear the air on the truth about what we're doing and why you are seeing changes from what has been done in the past.

Thank you,
Mike
P.S. I will try to post some pics later today so you can "see" the improvements and changes that have been made to these new trucks.

Thank you,
Mike Reagan"

Keep in mind, though. These "newer trucks" didn't start derailing and having coupling issues until recently.

The only original complaint when these first started appearing in 2017-18 was they were "cheaper" due to the part plastic construction, thumbtacks, and non functioning springs in the suspension. All true, but at least the trucks worked.

Ironically, Mike "got outta Dodge", and joined Trainworx in Febuary 2017. Lionel has never been the same since.

@Keith L posted:

Here's how Lionel explained the original changes to the truck design in 2016. Make of it what you will.

"Gentlemen,

Please let me take a moment and explain the change on these couplers, so everyone has the correct information from the "horse's mouth" as it were.

We have engineered a new scale truck which will be integrated on all Lionel scale cars moving forward.

This whole project of reengineering the trucks started with the acquisition of the Weaver tooling. Not being satisfied with the performance of the older Weaver die-cast trucks we needed a truck that would accommodate the new Lionscale cars as well as all existing Lionel scale cars. If you took the time to notice the thumbtack couplers in the images I certainly hope you took the time to notice the 2-rail conversion kits in the back of the catalog. These conversion kits are only applicable to the new scale trucks (the ones with the thumbtack in the images).

This truck uses an ABS bolster and 1 piece cast side frames (with separately applied springs). The level of detail is as good if not better than the existing truck side frames. The reason for the bolster being ABS is two fold;

1.) to prevent to need for a collector insulator when using a sprung collector on freight trucks (similar to the type we currently use on locomotives, to ensure a positive 100% of the time contact with the center rail)

2.) to allow for easy conversion to using scale couplers on 3-rail equipment and for converting to 2-rail. Yes, you read that correctly, 2-rail. (Lionel has never before offered a 2-rail conversion kit, so this is somewhat notable in the big scheme of things!)

The new scale truck design has 5 different length die-cast coupler armatures (same as our previous scale trucks had) which slide over a shoulder on the center of the bolster and also have a screw to firmly mount the coupler armature to the bolster. This design makes it very easy to remove the 3-rail coupler from the truck to mount a scale coupler to the car body, for those customers who wish to take that route.

The bolster also accommodates all the various accessories we have used on trucks over the last 20 years; hall effect sensors, axle straps, collectors, LED PCB's (for hot box accessory cars). The coupler armartures accommodate mechanical couplers as well as coil couplers.  

There are a total of 4 bolsters to be used with these side frames

Lionel 3-rail cars
Lionel 2-rail conversion (comes with the 2-rail conversin kit)
Lionscale 3-rail cars
Lionscale 2-rail conversion (comes with the 2-rail conversion kit)

Why so many bolsters? Because on Lionel scale cars the bolster is very close to the floor on the cars. On the Lionscale cars the bolster is a good distance away from the floor, so a one size fits all approach would simply not work. Then add in the 2-rail conversion and the ride height of the car needed to be lower than the ride height of 3-rail cars, hence we designed 4 different bolsters. Each of the 2-rail conversion kits; 50T and 70T will include 2 Lionel and 2 Lionscale 2-rail bolsters, so 1 kit will work with either product. Each 2-rail conversion kit includes 4 NMRA compliant 2-rail wheel and axle sets, the bolsters mentioned above, 4 axle straps (with 8 screws, as they are small and you will likely lose some installing the straps). There are 2 different kits as one has tapered axles for 50T journal box style side frames and the other has blunt end axles for 70T rotating bearing cap side frames (to keep the rotating bearing cap feature) (the 70T kit also includes some extra bearing caps in black). The end result is an NMRA compliant 2-rail truck that offers electrical pickup from all 8 wheels!

The design has been in the works for over 8 months and has been thoroughly tested on just about every 3-rail track system known to man as well as the 2-rail trucks (with electrical pickups). The design is solid and allows us to finally have a truly "standardized" scale truck system that uses interchangeable parts from a standard set of tools.

Now, cars that have a large distance between the bolster and the end of the car will continue to use our kinematic coupler system, which has always had the thumbtack hanging down from just below the coupler head!

I hope this helps clear the air on the truth about what we're doing and why you are seeing changes from what has been done in the past.

Thank you,
Mike
P.S. I will try to post some pics later today so you can "see" the improvements and changes that have been made to these new trucks.

Thank you,
Mike Reagan"

Keith:

Thanks for posting.

Wow. Sometimes, we try so hard to convince others of the wisdom of our decisions that we accomplish exactly the opposite result. Unfortunately, that is the case here.

This explanation was extremely weak, totally unconvincing and missed the forest for the trees. It basically repeated and repackaged several times the same two arguments around attempting to accommodate the 2-rail folks and addressing the collector insulator issue, which appears to have been a very minor one. There was also a factual error in that the Ultra Line Weaver trucks and couplers were excellent and IMO should have been used for the LionScale cars. It's also strange that Lionel bought the Weaver tooling, and then decided not to use it. But irrespective of what Lionel ultimately decided to do with its LionScale line, which BTW appears to have essentially disappeared, there was no need to change the trucks and couplers on Lionel's scale line.

Most importantly, the explanation failed to recognize, much less address, the fact that Lionel was making a decision that disenfranchised the vast majority of Lionel's customer base.

Pat 

one good thing in the mike reagan exsplanation which is key here is the interchangeable parts from the tooling sets. so this should mean this whole coupler/truck issue can be cleared up very easily IMO. Since the actual nuckle which mates to the next car is the issue with this new truck design problem not the truck itself. this can be solved very quickly you would think if ryan and dave are looking into this.

let me exsplain. the actual knuckle is held on by a small srew see photo below. so if I were engineering I would get as many different brands of trucks as I could that have been made by others and including my own truck models and go about designing a knuckle that mates with all the other brands out there. by mate I mean works and plays together. closes both couplers very easily with little force and works every time.

this is not rocket science here. just cad drawings and trial and error. altough let me throw another angle in here. since atlas is now making mth cars. it seems atlas and lionel are going to be the two main manufacturers of rolling stock in the marketplace. this could possible lead to the two companies getting together to make a coupler standard for three rail.

back in the early 90s and 2000 earas there was stiff competition and each company had very tightly keeped secrets. now with the internet and social media it seems the manufacturers are not as what I would call cut throat as back in the day. they all talk at shows get along great and joke with each other on virtual live events.

now having said that. they will not nor should they be exspected to give away trade secrets. like for example lionel is not going to help mth get there whistle steam effect down like theirs or there audio reproduction as nice or help atlas put fatboys in there new desiels. with that being said somthing that is standard and universal across the board that is key to all who enjoy and run trains and sometimes is taken for granted is the trucks and couplers. so going foward they could get together and possibly use just one diecast tooling model for the knucle itself that works and plays well with every thing out there.

my Kline coupler knucles always were a different shape than all my other brand of cars and never played well with others. so maybe if just the shape of the knucle itself was standardised across all manufacturers. this would possibly solve this issue for good maybe.

lionel could still have there kinimatic couplers and atlas could have what ever new truck design for the mth line they wish. as the knuckles would mate up fine because they are one size and shape from the standardized tooling agreed apon by all manufacturers going forward. this benefits everyone here. manufacturers and toy train buyers. just my thoughts here.

also below are some random photos of knucles from various cars from lionel mth and kline I have. the veiw is from the top to give you a picture veiw about the different shapes of knucles that have been produced over the years. this may help some in understanding my post and rational of thought here. in vewing the various photos one can quickly see the slight differences in the knucle shapes.

Attachments

Images (8)
  • 16180670123081925606502: screw shown here
  • 16180702483902133774957: lionel semiscale gondola
  • 16180703750331980405074: older lionel ps1 box car
  • 1618070520504326544075: atlas hopper
  • 1618070718234262994552: new lionel rotary dump car
  • 1618070945142268366976: new lionel ps1 car
  • 16180711144471915127938: kline caboose
  • 1618071518987987104102: lionel postwar car

Lionel and all the other model train manufactures should do what the real railroads did over 100 years ago, that is standardize the knuckle couplers.

Charlie

I thought they did. The standard is: does it couple with my postwar Lionel rolling stock, like a 6464 boxcar for example. That’s what I expect and it is what I thought that manufactures like modern Lionel, K-Line and MTH adhered to.

This coupler replacement solved my Problem at least for the Friendship PS-1.  I can't seem to find anymore of the same part number, but there are others that will likely do the job.  The Lionel part number is 6-12843.  These coupler/trucks are very heavy (in a good way) and come with screws which are slightly longer than the crappy couplers due to the screw hole being much thicker die-cast.  Where the screw goes is the actual part of the truck that is "Sprung" and they are strong springs.  The PS-1 boxcar tracks very smoothly and the coupler action is perfect.

Photo #1 - unboxing the new coupler/trucks

Photo #2 - The underside of the new coupler

Photo #3 - The other side

Photo #4 - A Side shot of the springs

Video #1 - The smooth glide along the track (aided by the truck heft)

Video #2 - The all important coupler mating

Photo # 5 - Side shot of the attached new coupler on the PS-1

Attachments

Images (5)
  • IMG_0131: Unboxing
  • IMG_0132: Backside of new coupler
  • IMG_0133: Otherside
  • IMG_0134: Sprung Truck
  • IMG_0136: Side shot of coupler on Car
Videos (2)
IMG_0137
IMG_0138

Lionelzxl2012 - Did my best to show the spot where it attaches, but when you take the one off of your current PS-1, the new one goes into the exact same hole.  TO answer your 2nd question, it does indeed cause the car to sit up higher.  I put it next to an NYC PS-1 and you can see it is a few mm higher.  That is because on the new truck, the screw socket is a few mm thicker, hence the supplied longer screw.  It came with a brass sleeve, but I cannot determine the orientation, but I am sure it serves a purpose.  I tighten down the screw until the truck does not move from side to side, then I back it out about 1/4 to a /12 turn and that seems about right.  I also have Lionel part number 6-14078 coming in and I plan to try that one next.  Maybe it won't lift the car up higher.

Thanks,

Mike

Attachments

Images (3)
  • IMG_0141: 2nd hole from left
  • IMG_0142
  • IMG_0143: height

TO answer your 2nd question, it does indeed cause the car to sit up higher.  I put it next to an NYC PS-1 and you can see it is a few mm higher.  That is because on the new truck, the screw socket is a few mm thicker, hence the supplied longer screw.  

From the looks of it, I think there is plenty of material there on the top of the bolster that a Dremel tool could fix.

@irish rifle posted:

Not for 90%+ of Lionel's customer base...

Pat

My comment was about Lionel and other industry players “standardizing” on the operating knuckle coupler.  I don’t see how that’s possible until Lionel admits to messing these new ones up. Most manufacturers offer the two hole coupler mounting pads.  I think that’s their answer to standardization.

Edit: For the record I think the answer about the overall new design allowing them to do Lionel scale and LionScale (Weaver) cars and 2 or 3 rail is legit.  Why would they continue to want to have twice as many part numbers?  That said, it doesn’t excuse poor execution on the knuckle coupler. Or the lack of springiness.

Last edited by rplst8

thanks for the close up photos. thats just what I figured would be the case. they make the car set up higher. 

please dave olson just redo the knucle portion of the couper to a proper shape to work with all other cars. thats what is needed here. thats problem one. the old truucks with the coupler swinging side to side was great,but the new design can survive with out that feature.

thanks for the close up photos. thats just what I figured would be the case. they make the car set up higher.

please dave olson just redo the knucle portion of the couper to a proper shape to work with all other cars. thats what is needed here. thats problem one. the old truucks with the coupler swinging side to side was great,but the new design can survive with out that feature.

Respectfully but strongly disagree with your last point. The new design clearly cannot survive with non-articulated couplers.

Pat

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