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After hemming and hawing over my Lionel catalog for the past six months, I finally broke down and bought the one Lionchief Plus 2.0 locomotive that I wanted the most-- the Rock Island "Rocket" GP7.

First of all, unpacking the locomotive. Lionchief locomotives are very economically packaged with plastic blow-molded trays. I was a bit disconcerted by how much the loco rattled from inside of the box, but the locomotive seemed quite alright when I pulled it out.

Plastic Packaging

After lubricating all of the gears (very important since these engines are shipped "dry"), I set the locomotive on the track.

LC2+ RI GP7 Front end

The "Rocket" paint scheme is very attractive, although besides the paint the model's detailing is very basic. Some of the parts have a rather plasticky finish-- you can see how the flash on my camera lights them up. The wheelsets in the trucks have a lot of lateral play to them, but this didn't seem to impact operation.

LC2+ RI GP7 Rear end

After a bit of fiddling to get it set into TMCC mode-- I had to pull a bunch of illuminated passenger cars off my layout to get the locomotive to program-- I was finally ready for the inaugural run!

The ten-minute break-in run went well. At first I was getting a little bit of gear noise from the locomotive, but I mostly resolved this by re-lubricating the gears on the side of the trucks (making sure to hit all three of them as well as the geared wheels). The LC+2.0 sounds are quite nice, if a bit more simple than Legacy. You don't get a proper quilling horn, and in TMCC you only get the one horn sound (although I believe there is a way to alter the sounds using the Bluetooth App). I suppose I am spoiled with having a Legacy engine to compare it with.

Ready for the Layout

After the basic shakedown, the next performance test was low-speed operation. I was pleasantly surprised by just how nicely this locomotive runs at low speed in TMCC mode. Most MTH Railking locomotives don't run smoothly below 5 or 10 SMPH, but this Lionchief+ can crawl at even 1 TMCC tick (which I guess is around 3 SMPH). The speed control is very well done on these engines!

The final test was the most demanding-- the drawbar pull. I coupled up all four of my super-heavy, diecast-bodied, K-Line coal hoppers and ran the locomotive up and down the rolling hills on my layout. I did hear a little bit of gear noise while pushing the cars in reverse, but the GP7 didn't stall or spin out. I wasn't sure that it would pull well since it's not a super heavy locomotive, but with dual can motors and traction tires, it does just fine.

I would say that this is an excellent running locomotive for O gauge operations. Although the finish and sound system are pretty typical for modern engines, the track performance is on par with significantly more expensive locomotives. It pulls well, tracks well, and is well put together. The trio of command options (TMCC/Legacy, Lionchief and Bluetooth) should allow anyone to access its features.

Thanks for reading! I still have to set up the Lionchief app and try out the Bluetooth controls, I will post my observations on that when I get to it. In the meantime, here's one more video for you to enjoy.

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Images (4)
  • Plastic Packaging
  • LC2+ RI GP7 Front end
  • LC2+ RI GP7 Rear end
  • Ready for the Layout
Original Post

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@mowingman posted:

Thanks for the nice review. I have never run anything except old postwar conventional. I am thinking of trying a Lionchief+2 engine in the near future. Where did you purchase yours from? Are they one of the OGR advertisers? Thanks again, looks and runs very nicely.

Jeff

Any Lionel dealer (and OGR sponsor) will have them. The LC app is pretty easy to use. I still prefer a physical remote over a phone/ tablet but it's where the world is going.

Bob

We're not talking about base Lionchief here. We're talking about Lionchief  Plus  2.0.

When you look at the attached chart and compare the two types of engines, you'll see that there is very little difference in features between Lionchief Plus 2.0 and Legacy. And my belief is many hobbyists will neither miss nor possibly even use the few additional Legacy features.

Obviously, there is a difference in build quality between the two but, again, many enthusiasts are not very concerned about that kind of difference and, when you then look at and compare the price point differential, I think Lionchief Plus 2.0 represents the "best bang for the buck" in the industry right now. 

Just my $ 0.02

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@RSJB18 posted:

Any Lionel dealer (and OGR sponsor) will have them. The LC app is pretty easy to use. I still prefer a physical remote over a phone/ tablet but it's where the world is going.

The LC+ 2.0 and the CAB1L is a perfect match, and it'll still be around for use with the BASE3.  I invested in three of the CAB1L remotes, they work great with my Legacy system as well.

@Richie C. posted:
Obviously, there is a difference in build quality between the two but, again, many enthusiasts are not very concerned about that kind of difference and, when you then look at and compare the price point differential, I think Lionchief Plus 2.0 represents the "best bang for the buck" in the industry right now.

Well, the Legacy does have some nice features that does separate it from the LC+ 2.0.  That doesn't detract from the fact that the LC+ 2.0 is a great product, it has a lot of nice features.

The RS3 I mentioned previously appears to have close to Legacy sounds, it even has the creaking and grinding background that is a Legacy sound hallmark.  It's also a scale sized engine, something that many Lionchief products lack.  Of course, stuff like whistle steam, etc. are only available with Legacy as well.

Trainguy Ken:

Your review of the Lionel GP7 was a memory-jogger for me.  During my active years as a RI collector/operator, I owned the conventional mode version of the Lionel GP7 with this paint scheme. Then as now, the loco bore the flashy décor of "a mighty fine line."

After two medical incidents (a TIA and a cardiac episode), I decided to sell my collection of RI trains by many manufacturers,  plus control gear, action accessories, and related items via Stout Auctions. I intended to spare my "likely widow" the agony of disposing of all that stuff. Eight pages of inventory were sold in a weekend.

Soon after, I recovered with no deficits. With 20/20 hindsight, my SELL decision was premature. I added-back some of the RI items and purchased a few "gotta have" RI trains now on my home layout or resting on display shelves.

Thanks for the memories ...

Mike Mottler    LCCA 12394

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  • MHM with Trains 1
  • E-W Platform
  • N-S Platform

@RSJB18 & @gunrunnerjohn : Thanks for suggesting this. For some reason I didn't think that the AUX1+Horn feature worked for Lionchief+2.0, but now that I'm trying it, there's clearly quite a few horn sounds to choose from. I made a recording for everyone to check out.



Sounds good Ken.

LC+2.0 is a home run for Lionel. I hope they keep the new products rolling out.

Calling Trainworld in the morning to order a PRR Doodlebug....👍👍

Last edited by RSJB18

@RSJB18 & @gunrunnerjohn : Thanks for suggesting this. For some reason I didn't think that the AUX1+Horn feature worked for Lionchief+2.0, but now that I'm trying it, there's clearly quite a few horn sounds to choose from. I made a recording for everyone to check out.

Well, it’s nice that you can change the tone of the single blat horn on the LC +2.0 Rock Island GP7, I guess, for whatever reason one would want to.

But, did the Rock’s GP7s use the single-tone horns? Or did they use the multi-chime 3 horns like Union Pacific did on its GP7s and 9s?  I guess it really doesn’t matter. I was just curious.

Last edited by Yellowstone Special

Nice review, photos, and video. But, Lionchief is Lionchief and Legacy is Legacy.

Quality is subjective, but parts is parts.  The price difference between Legacy and LC+ isn't that much anymore, either!  A few years ago Lionel started using the Legacy optical sensor system in LionChief Plus locos.  Then LC+ 2.0 steam locos received an idler gearbox with back-drivable gears that (for better or worse) had previously been found in Legacy models.  I'm a big fan of LC+ steam.

What I would really like to know, is whether this GP7 (and other LC+ four-axle diesels) have the Legacy-type "LionDrive" motors with a universal coupling and back-drivable gears.  That would certainly account for the smooth performance below 5 scale mph noted by Ken in his first post.  It's also a good design feature because if a motor fails, it'll be easy to replace without having to find one with a matching worm.

I used to recommend Legacy diesels over LC/LC+ because of LionDrive.  But if LC+ has inherited those features it becomes an attractive value proposition.

@Ted S posted:

What I would really like to know, is whether this GP7 (and other LC+ four-axle diesels) have the Legacy-type "LionDrive" motors with a universal coupling and back-drivable gears.

Unfortunately Ted, I'm pretty sure that the LC+2.0 GP7 has a conventional setup with worm driven can motors, it's just geared a bit lower than the cheaper Lionchief engines in my collection. I think that my Legacy SW8 has that LionDrive in it though. It's the smoothest running, slowest crawling locomotive in my collection. I did a whole writeup on that locomotive two years ago.

Unfortunately Ted, I'm pretty sure that the LC+2.0 GP7 has a conventional setup with worm driven can motors, it's just geared a bit lower than the cheaper Lionchief engines in my collection. I think that my Legacy SW8 has that LionDrive in it though. It's the smoothest running, slowest crawling locomotive in my collection. I did a whole writeup on that locomotive two years ago.

Ken + @Ted S

I have a SW-1200 with the LionDrive system. I agree that is does creep along. I had to take mine apart and do a full service of both trucks and add grease. I bought mine from a Forum member. He only had it for a couple years.
It was shutting down with the blinking cab light warning for over-current draw. Dropping the trucks wasn't difficult but lining up the universal's and putting them back together was an adventure. I should open it up and check the grease again.
I do find that these drives are noisier than vertical can motor engines.

2023-09-20 20.58.46

Bob

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  • 2023-09-20 20.58.46
@Richie C. posted:


Obviously, there is a difference in build quality between the two but, again, many enthusiasts are not very concerned about that kind of difference.....

Not sure what is meant by "difference in build quality." If by "build quality" you mean the LionChief engine has fewer detail parts than a Legacy version, then yes, but that's not "build quality." As far as build quality, in my opinion LionChief engines have just as good a build quality (i.e., are built just as well) as Legacy engines.

Last edited by breezinup
Soon after, I recovered with no deficits. With 20/20 hindsight, my SELL decision was premature. I added-back some of the RI items and purchased a few "gotta have" RI trains now on my home layout or resting on display shelves.

I can help you build up your RI roster.   I actually have an A-B-A all upgraded to Legacy, and seven passenger cars.  It's an impressive train with sound and smoke in all the engines and both A-Units powered.  The rest of the cars and the B-Unit didn't fit on the siding.

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  • mceclip0

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