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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

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.

Dave,

I have yet to see or hear of any comments from Lionel - very disappointing to say the least!  As for fixes:

1: Return the cars to Lionel

2: Purchase new trucks at a cost of upwards of $30!

3. Take a file or Dremel tool and modify the coupler so that it works with existing Lionel cars, however that does not fix the truck issue.

Good Luck

Dave,

I have yet to see or hear of any comments from Lionel - very disappointing to say the least!  As for fixes:

1: Return the cars to Lionel

2: Purchase new trucks at a cost of upwards of $30!

3. Take a file or Dremel tool and modify the coupler so that it works with existing Lionel cars, however that does not fix the truck issue.

Good Luck

You can install Kadee which I did but doesn't address the trucks which I'll leave as is.  No more cars until this is addressed.

This morning, on another forum, someone reported receiving an email from METCA in which, besides dealing mainly with deco errors on the METCA custom milk cars that necessitates them being re-run (the factory failed to incorporate corrections made to samples), it was stated that Lionel will be offering an improved coupler to purchasers of Lionel’s new milk cars. No details provided.

I saw a youtube video were the poster said harry henning had talked to ryan and dave about the mike car coupler issue. dave was looking into this and going to find a fix. so was harry when he got his new milk cars. maybe they are working on a fix.

I happen to like the new trucks with the thumtack coupler as stated befor. I have some on my new ps1 sounds cars. I ordered some of the new trucks minus the center roller to put on some of my older ps1 cars witch have truck issues.

I figured if the new ps1 cars have these new trucks they should fit and work on my old ps1 cars. I found some on the parts websight that I thought were a match with no center rollers as stated above.

when I recived them they are a different model. they have a different bolster in the middle of the truck and these appear to be for the weaver/ lionscale car bodies. so I am now not sure what trucks to buy. I do not mind the old style with swiveling knuckles, but on lionels website it says they are out of stock and discontinued.

now I am puzzled as to what to do. why does lionel seems to make this so hard to find replacement trucks for these cars.

@Keith L posted:

This morning, on another forum, someone reported receiving an email from METCA in which, besides dealing mainly with deco errors on the METCA custom milk cars that necessitates them being re-run (the factory failed to incorporate corrections made to samples), it was stated that Lionel will be offering an improved coupler to purchasers of Lionel’s new milk cars. No details provided.

I would be interested in more information about this. I received my PRR milk car from them yesterday and was curious about some of the details not matching the artwork or samples. I knew from seeing images of the cars that the frame was not painted black and just thought it was changed before production but the sample shows it black as well. I guess that is what the message above is referring to but I would also be interested in the improved coupler although I will likely swap on the previous trucks.

@Keith L posted:

This morning, on another forum, someone reported receiving an email from METCA in which, besides dealing mainly with deco errors on the METCA custom milk cars that necessitates them being re-run (the factory failed to incorporate corrections made to samples), it was stated that Lionel will be offering an improved coupler to purchasers of Lionel’s new milk cars. No details provided.

Good news if it comes to be. I hope it isn’t limited to the milk cars.

Guys,

Being new to this O gauge world, I am very very surprised at the apparent reluctance of folks to send cars with defective couplers directly back to Lionel, demanding repair, replacement or refund.  You paid alot of money for these cars and they should work right out of the box.

In my prior hobby of 50 years (firearms), if anybody buys any type of new firearm that does not work due to a manufacturing or design defect, they have no hesitation in boxing it up and sending it straight back to the manufacturer for repair, replacement or refund.  They don't stand around discussing it.  In most of the cases, the manufacturer promptly takes care of the problem and sends it back.

Why the reluctance to send these back?  If Lionel comes up with replacement trucks or couplers, why should YOU have to replace and install them.  Make Lionel do it.

Mannyrock

You have arrived just in time to participate in a great test. How much will a group of loyal people take before they stop purchasing. If you have ever cooked crabs and slowly boiled the water, you found that they took a great deal before they tried to abandon ship.


When they finally did, they were so far underwater that they couldn’t get out.

Same thing here. People, me included,  have slowly been subjected to an experiment that appears to be studying actions based on a gradual loss of competence... like milk cars that took four years to get made and, wonder of wonders, when they finally came in looking great, the couplers had been redesigned after years of perfection into something that is an absolute joke.

Now the test appears to be measuring how far those same purchasers, loyal customers, etc, are willing to go in accepting an obviously failed product. Some university must be monitoring this and maybe it will result in a Nobel prize.

Note how the manufacturer remains silent, usually for a long time. It is a really remarkable marketing strategy that is being tested here. These items cost about $100 each. Sometimes they cost $1,500 or more. I wonder how the cost affects behavior.

Other similar tests are ongoing or have been concluded. This has been an amazing process to watch. I have friends who are participating, some of whom are on their third or fourth course. Imagine how they are being studied. There are basically similar choices as you follow the process. One thing stands out, seldom do we  stop buying.

Sometimes things are finally repaired or replaced but that can take years.

Not sure how many, but a significant number of Lionel items are never removed from the package, and kept as "collectibles", and those buyers will never care if they couple or not.  If I was the big L- I might just react to people's complaints rather than having to fix 100% of the cars.  I am guessing that (unlike in the case of an engine) the cost of a return and retrofit exceeds to new cost of the car.

Mike Wyatt:

    Good point. But how many people will want buy ANY Lionel freight cars in the future for fear that they may have these faulty trucks and couplers?

    It remains to be seen exactly how much that fear will affect this recently released catalog. Who would want take a chance paying $75- $80 on a freight car only to find that in order to include it on a train, the buyer must spend another $30- $35 for a decent pair of trucks/couplers?

    The ball is now in Lionel's court as to how to rectify this situation.

   1) What will Lionel do for people who bought the milk cars and who are stuck with a lemon.

   2) Lionel must remove the reluctance any potential buyer may have by explaining that the faulty coupler was used on only the milk car series and not any other Lionel freight cars (if that is true). Otherwise I can see people avoiding any and all recently made Lionel freight cars.

      John

@Randy_B posted:

We basically need to go back to 2016 and stop this from happening. The departure from that truck and coupler design is where they went wrong. At least the early stuff AD 'after departure' (2017-2018) worked.

Bingo. Lionel should never have changed the design of the trucks and couplers that they had used for many, many years for their scale line. Lionel unilaterally made the change without conducting any market research with its dealers or customers. I know that as a fact. Marketing lesson 101. The reasons provided at the time for the change, while well intended, were nonetheless very weak. Things have never been the same thereafter. That's when I stopped buying Lionel's scale freight cars and instead commenced to load up on old new stock. Hopefully, Lionel will figure this out and finally get it right.

Pat

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