I am planning on setting up a Christmas tree layout for the first time this year (first Christmas for my little guy, it’s not Christmas without a train under the tree). I have been using this great forum for research, and have learned a lot about control systems and options.  

However, the more modern non-conventional systems worry me from a durability standpoint. For example, it doesn’t sound like MTHs PS1 locos are recommended due to reliability problems. I’m looking for a train that I can use for years like my grandpa did with his postwar Lionel set.  

I’m currently looking at the LC+/Railking Steam price range. I’m also flexible on control systems, although I’d like to stay simple if possible. What do you all recommend for steam power?

Original Post

If you can’t afford some postwar or don’t feel like spending time fixing ones in less than good condition, I always shoot for some later MPC and LTI era steam locomotives from the late 80’s to mid 90’s. Most of the scale, top of the line steamers from that era like the T-1’s and the Mohawk’s can be found at bargain prices nowadays and are basically bulletproof inside and out.

Thomas

Somerset County 4-H Trainmasters

TCA Member11-66911

LCCA 30247

ERR Upgrades and Custom Artwork

Appreciate the suggestions.  To help you help me- maybe some more detail on what I’d ideally like: between the ears era steam power, small(er) traditional sized that won’t look ridiculous on O31 curves, good slow speed performance, bell/whistle/chuffing, don’t care for crew talk.  

I’ve looked at the Williams, the ten wheeler is OK, but I’d prefer more detail in the valve and drivetrain. The Pacific looks nice. Not many engine/road name options overall. 

I haven’t looked too much at used. I’m mechanically inclined, but electronics aren’t my strong suit. I have been hesitant to buy something that is used or needs work. Also, concerned the costs of repairs could quickly surpass the cost of new. 

I‘m getting the feeling no one can really recommend the new steam offerings from Lionel or MTH from a longevity standpoint?

Firstly, welcome to the forum and congratulations on your new addition!

Getting a train under the tree was the tip of the iceberg for me a few years ago.  Bought a nice little 20 year old conventional NYC freight set from the 90s for my son. 

1 NYC

Before I knew it, I was hunting deals on eBay and the forum's buy/sell threads for more and more...let's get some accessories, more freight cars, what about passenger cars - we gotta have passenger cars, we need more power, more switches, more engines, how about a trolley, more, more, more!!  LOL 

Having a few little ones at home, I know of a few things that are a given: The kids will reach, grab, swat, pull, push, tug and have fun with the trains.    There will also be derailments.  Those trains are just as irresistible to them as they are to us grown men, but the kids like to handle them.  Teaching proper respect and careful handling are part of the learning experience, but in the beginning, especially when they are under 6/7 years old, the excitement is too much.

So where am I going with this?  I'd buy two (since I'm spending your money anyway   Buy a rugged engine such as the NYC/PRR flyer sets, or a rugged postwar engine, such as the 2035 (my personal favorite) or a 2037, or 244 scout and let them really play with the darn thing without much worry of breaking it.  A good source for researching postwar Lionel is: http://www.tandem-associates.c...onel/lionelident.htm

2035b_ident2037_ident244b_ident

Then I would also buy a LC+ Berkshire.  It has been highly reviewed by most people that have purchased it, and if you decide to expand to a full control system (Legacy, TMCC, DCS) you can still operate the LC+ berk in the command environment, albeit with the LC+ controller.  It fits your other requirements laid out in your original post.  I am just a little hesitant putting a $300-500 engine in front of my kids (all under 10) to play with or observe. 

1 LC+ Berk

It would be great to show it off to them in a "look but don't touch" situation, but I don't believe you foster the lasting love/interest with out them feeling like it is actually theirs.  Eventually, they will be able to handle those nicer engines as well, but in the mean time, during their imaginative years, give them another option to really play with.

 

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POTRZBE posted:

Buy a Lionel post-war set. Problem solved.

Most PW can't match the appearance of modern mid- (as in good RK) to high-level equipment, not does it run as well (this is, honestly, not an absolute). But, do you want to make your own memories or borrow someone else's? It's not 1955 (got mine in '55).

PS1 is actually quite rugged; many/most PS1 problems were from "user error" (just don't try to run one with a dead battery; the dead battery is not an issue - trying to use it before the battery has a basic charge is). 

It sounds like your son is less than a year old, if, as you say, it's his first Christmas. Obviously he will have no idea about trains or be able to operate them for quite a while. So you're buying the train for yourself, basically, at least for a number of years. Who knows what your mindset will be, or what will be available, by the time your son is old enough operate electric trains on his own?

As many folks have suggested in the past to people like you, a set like something from the LC+ offerings would be a fine choice. The usefulness (and it's fun to  use) of the cruise control function can't be overstated, and it's particularly appropriate for Christmas tree layouts, in that you can operate the trains slowly (meaning quietly in the background), and you don't have to tend to them constantly. They will run at the same speed for extended periods of time, and track condition is not as much of a factor for smooth operation as it is with conventional engines. Of  course, LC+ engines alson can be operated manually with their controller, if you wish.

They're very easy to hook up, and have virtually all the features you're going to want, and have rugged construction - very few parts that little hands can easily break off.  As far as durability, I've been running mine for a number of years now, without a single issue. Your experience will probably be the same.

Thank you all again for the help. Many of you have ID’ed another issue, the tension between a realistic model and it being too fragile for a kid. I grew up around HO trains and feel that one draw of steam engines is the moving running gear  I also know how fragile they can be. 

I’m leaning toward the LC+ B&O Mike. Sounds like they are reliable engines that can be expected to operate when I pull it out each year. My only real concern was the remote - I don’t know what happens if it dies after 10 years. But it does seem like a great set it and forget it engine so I can hold my kid and keep him from going King Kong and ripping it off the rails. 

CentralOhioRR posted:

Thank you all again for the help. Many of you have ID’ed another issue, the tension between a realistic model and it being too fragile for a kid. I grew up around HO trains and feel that one draw of steam engines is the moving running gear  I also know how fragile they can be. 

I’m leaning toward the LC+ B&O Mike. Sounds like they are reliable engines that can be expected to operate when I pull it out each year. My only real concern was the remote - I don’t know what happens if it dies after 10 years. But it does seem like a great set it and forget it engine so I can hold my kid and keep him from going King Kong and ripping it off the rails. 

For the kind of things you want, the sound and closer to realistic looks, LC+ is likely the way to go. The old conventional engines were wonderful engines, easy to fix, rugged, but realistic they aren't. PS1 was a sound only system, it didn't have command control.  LC+ to me is what you are looking for, it isn't as expensive as legacy is, and legacy and MTH PS2 require buying an expensive control system, LC+ comes with a remote (and some of them now support bluetooth integration with an app, which has as an advantage no controller to break).  Lionel seems to have committed to LC+ and if the controller breaks, you can get the lc+ universal controller (well, at least 3 engines worth) if need be, or if the engine supports blue tooth you can use the app to control it. 

 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

Your LC+ controller is pretty durable.  But in the event it goes south, There is a universal remote available.  In addition, the LC+ engine is bluetooth equipped.  Lionel has an app to download to your smartphone or iPad and run the engine on that.  So in effect you don’t need the remote with the phone app.  Here’s a screen shot from the app store.

F69FE3D0-76D2-4E27-A52B-3D226BB58F3A

 

 

 Ted

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I’d love to think that the LC+ will be supported when I hand this down to my kid(s) in 30-40 years, but that’s probably too much to expect from any consumer electronic product these days. Thanks so much for the great advice. 

Now if only Lionel made more Pensy options in LC+, preferably an E6 4-4-2. They had a huge presence here in Columbus. Can’t have it all I guess. 

CentralOhioRR posted:

Thank you all again for the help. Many of you have ID’ed another issue, the tension between a realistic model and it being too fragile for a kid. I grew up around HO trains and feel that one draw of steam engines is the moving running gear  I also know how fragile they can be. 

I’m leaning toward the LC+ B&O Mike. Sounds like they are reliable engines that can be expected to operate when I pull it out each year. My only real concern was the remote - I don’t know what happens if it dies after 10 years. But it does seem like a great set it and forget it engine so I can hold my kid and keep him from going King Kong and ripping it off the rails. 

I currently have 2 LC+ engines - a 4-6-2 Pacific and a 2-8-2 Mikado.  A few e-tailers have been offering these at such really good prices, it's a no-brainer if you're looking for a fun loco.

My Pacific has slightly simpler valve gear than my Mikado, which may help it be more durable in the long run.  The 4-6-4 Hudsons and the 2-8-4 Berkshires also LOOK like they have slightly simpler valve gear than the Mikados, but I don't have either one of these engines and can't say for sure.  One thing nobody has mentioned yet, these engines run just fine on conventional A.C. transformer control.  About the only things you lose with conventional control is the remote-controlled uncoupling feature on the back of the tender, and the volume control.  Otherwise, everything else works just fine.

If you only use the set once a year, and resort to conventional transformer control most of the time, I don't see where you would have a remote problem 10 years down the road.  Just remember to take the batteries out of the remote if it's going to be packed away for extended periods.  I think right now these LC+ engines are a great bang for the buck! 

Paul  

Ship Rock Island ROCKET FREIGHT

 

2 Rails?  3 Rails?  Doesn't matter, I can't count that high anyway.

I love the smell of fresh-brewed creosote first thing in the morning.

CentralOhioRR posted:

I’d love to think that the LC+ will be supported when I hand this down to my kid(s) in 30-40 years, but that’s probably too much to expect from any consumer electronic product these days.

That probably shouldn't be much of your focus at this point. It's not nearly the most important thing.

It's a different world, and who knows what anyone will want, or what trains or anything else will be like, 40 years from now. 

(Other than no matter where you are, it won't take you as long to get to the ocean). 

 Bypassing can motor control boards for use without the system if it fails is very possible; One direction=$5-ish, 4 wires. Other can motor systems could likely be swapped in too.

  So normal operation would cost a bit more, but usually a board swap , maybe new mounting is all it takes.  That should be within your abilities with little if any help.  Most adaptions/repair diffiçulty is based on what the user expects out of it in features.  The simpler ones are just that; simple.  Once the track ac gets made into dc it's like a battery op. toy  with boards gone; +/- power wires and a motor. 

Most MTH has less of a chance at electronics surviving a child imo. Early boards fry really easy, later is better and you'll have to mind the transformer used. Good stuff, I just don't see MTH as kids stuff.

   The old open frame motor has a unique feel at the throttle, a hum of power, the click of the e-unit, the smell of ozone...heaven ....The new stuff is a little quieter and smoother starting, runs slow better usually (Williams are still kinda fast)... know your style preference, including looping vs operations & reversing often.  I eventually narrowed my fav. down to looping quietly at night with passenger cars; my indoor campfire. It started holiday evenings long long ago and trumped operations in long run. (best op. acc. gadget for kids is magnetic crane imo )

 Fastrack has a different tone than old tube track. I find it louder, with a higher pitch... I.e. like "white noise”/static. I hate the sound, dont like the contacts, dont like the plasticy look.  It does assemble ok, doesn't mark up wood/tile floors, and has lower chance of carpet fiber issues, lower chance of staining carpet with dirty grease/ oil if you don't maintain things religiously and immaculately. (Menards tube track... check it out for a bang for the buck, Lionel switches, and or go straight to GarGraves or Ross for wood ties, etc. (yep, even for a Christmas layout)

  Your bell and chuff mean modern boards, but maybe not a can motor. Crew talk may not be avoidable; it's either present or not. Air whistle(no bell) vs speaker whistle w/bell, but both may have a board if newer. 

  PW bells are only in small steam switchers. New or old are great! Old can be pricey. The switchers were one of the earliest cast trains and scale too.  Robust, detailed, but I'd claim that one and use it as a lure into kiddo learning responsibility. (Running better trains were a reward for adult-like behavior here...hundreds of them )

You can more or less lump any non-can motor onto my Post War suggestions. Whistle/Smoke? Some do, some don't. Pellet types can use liquid, don't run liquid ones dry.  Post war pellet type smoke will more likely survive kiddo forgetting to fill. They can run dry for years/decades.

  If you are mechanically inclined, with some electromechanical understanding too, the shallow end of modern electronics isn't going to be hard imo. You likely know help is right here already, and we aren't the only ones around; so fears of choosing a future un-mod-able doorstop are pretty minimal. (a can motor being discontinued might be a pain to hunt a swap for, but usually can be done. That swap would require more mechanical skill than electric)

  That said, my first train was waiting for me to be born, Great Gramps and Gramps both Lionel men.  I honestly couldn't care if had been used.  In fact, someone elses old memories to tag mine to would make it even more desirable to old me (if that is possible )

Oh the memories: I was setting up track and running trains pre-school. Everyone learns differently, but in another 2-3 years.... no telling what kiddo will be up to.  My first wasn't kept from me and there were many plastic locos later on too. The cast shell and bullet proof nature of Post War steamers are what survived me and lil' bro's abuse.   I don't think the detail of the modern ones are as robust; shells vary, gears may be even be plastic in some new ones. (fine on some, but not all)

  One thing to look at is if the loco can freewheel if pushed. You want that so kiddo doesn't strip gearing because; oh yes, there will be pushing too

  Very small locos often use less voltage. Young skins moisture will feel pin pricks across track on command votage (heck, your foream will). Safe, but scary and does hurt a little 😂 Smaller transformers and voltages might be nice if kiddo scares easy.

  Magnetraction rebuilding  bushings/gears are special and getting hard to come by for some locos (2037). Rebuiding aa2037 can be done with unmodified 2026 parts, but the magnetraction might not be savable as a feature.  Magnetraction stops rolling over in the curves more than anything really. Better traction too, but tires on new ones, just as good or better sometimes. (changing them a pain sometimes, consider how easy your choice is or isn't)

 If being prototypical, an American style Adriatic 2-6-4 was never built for regular service so pick a Prarie, Hudson, Pacific, etc.  (just maybe SF added a booster truck to a Prarie for tests)  K-4 class lights are up high and not too hard to break off with a high speed wreck (oh yes, there will be speeding and wrecks... likely on purpose 😁... but look at the physics learned first hand 🤔)   I didn't really like my larger 4 driver steam. I like the little 4 driver units though. I think it is the proportions and valve gear. The dual guide Walcheart types aren't visually appealing to me. They strike me as cheap (far from real world expectations, but true to my eye)

   If you want pulling power, I suggest a large PW type Hudson like a 2046 (vs smaller semiscale like 665... both are fine, but the big Hudsons are beasts). Four digits on PW means 0-27 is ok for sure, 3 digit is a maybe on 0-27 but 0-31+ is fine. ..Berks have more overhang at the cab than up front, & are more involved to work on. (newer versions are often a whole different animal underneath. E.g. Getting in my new age Berk jr is kinda easy , 4 screws...plop and still runs with all gear moving. Berks pull great all sizes I've ran)

  Overall, I think a 2 wheel pilot truck on 6 driver units are the way to go; easier to rail them and 4 wheel pilot trucks derail more often for me. ( except for the Hudsons. It's like magic; I can't explain why)  0-4-0, 0-4-2, better than ones with pilot wheels.  I'd avoid shoe pickups and go for rollers mostly. Shoes are ok, but have more drag and more issues on turnouts, uncouple tracks, crosses, etc.

  Weight is traction, but can also do more damage and be hard for the young to lift and handle. A cheap plastic 0-4-0 loco with can motor has some advantages for a young kid to learn with. It may not survive them, but it's cheap and learning that it sucks when toys break teaches you to care for other things better. (I had both )

  A $5 bridge rectifier on a cheapie DC only stater loco from the 70s-80s runs on ac track and flies off the track at 8-9volt, runs with as low as 3-4v , and after adding weight, pulls like a big train. Also good for guilt free modification/paint with little fear of destruction because it is "valueless" and common.

   Wikipedia: Whyte Notations, find the drawing chart; Looking at distance from the lead driver to pilot beam or cowcatcher. That will clue you to the overhang to expect up front on each loco type. The longer that is, the more overhang; simple pivot to arc geometry.

It may be easier to choose one or two styles and ask how versions may differ. 

    Below:  One direction plastic dc cheapie..now ac too, cab forward, added Corgie plow, Lego flag, fun harlequin paint/weathered, cab headlight, etc. (reverses by manual switch actually)....junker repair under $25 total cost including new motor, BR (2" square (oversized too) 4 wires, 2 ac in & 2 dc out), & goodies... very quiet, repaired in an hour or so, tops. 3 hours including a drive to a train store and back... with a good look around too     

   My favorite Christmas train is The General/American 4-4-0 though. Very antique-y and the women in the family really like that Old Timer-ish look too Not always great pullers, the version quality varies greatly too. Usually quiet though, even PW....just plain cool imo.

IMG_20170907_155437

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





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There's a Williams (Samhongsa) brass N&W J 4-8-4 on Ebay right now for $300.  It's conventional, but it's a beautiful scale stream-lined engine that doesn't have a lot of stuff sticking out that may break off.

It can't get much simpler than this.  Engine, rolling stock, track, and a transformer is about all you'll need to put a train under the tree.

When I got mine I converted it to PS2 command control, it ran like a fine watch and sounds were great, but you would have to go up to a DCS system to have all that.

I have since converted it to battery powered, remote control.

On the down side...it's a 13lb engine/tender, don't let the little ones try to lift it.  But it sure is purty:

Williams 611

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

4+ years and STILL Having A Blast Running BPRC

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Bob Delbridge posted:

There's a Williams (Samhongsa) brass N&W J 4-8-4 on Ebay right now for $300.  It's conventional, but it's a beautiful scale stream-lined engine that doesn't have a lot of stuff sticking out that may break off.

It can't get much simpler than this.  Engine, rolling stock, track, and a transformer is about all you'll need to put a train under the tree.

When I got mine I converted it to PS2 command control, it ran like a fine watch and sounds were great, but you would have to go up to a DCS system to have all that.

I have since converted it to battery powered, remote control.

On the down side...it's a 13lb engine/tender, don't let the little ones try to lift it.  But it sure is purty:

Williams 611

That is a gorgeous engine, but I think it would look like a snake eating it’s tail under the Christmas tree after you put a few passenger cars behind it!

CentralOhioRR posted:

That is a gorgeous engine, but I think it would look like a snake eating it’s tail under the Christmas tree after you put a few passenger cars behind it!

Any train is going to look like that under a tree, unless you have a LARGE room and a large tree.  Besides, there's nothing wrong with a single engine and 1 or 2 cars, you don't need a 15 car snake.

I bought a G scale train and some track (5' and 8' diameter) a few years ago, none of my rooms are big enough to allow me to put it "under the tree" without having to take out furniture.

I'd go for gorgeous before I'd go for "make do".

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

4+ years and STILL Having A Blast Running BPRC

scale rail posted:

I would take a good hard look at some of the K-line conventional semi-scale steam engines. They have good detail and run great. Also the K-line semi-scale cars to go with it. They are also a good deal price wise. Dons-l1600

Those may work for older kids, but with that detail they have a lot of sharp edges and parts, and a lot of pieces that can break off. Probably not ideal for small children.

Perhaps the OP is getting ahead of himself too much. If he wants an electric train, that's fine. But young children will benefit a lot more from something like a Brio train. Not only running the trains (pushing them), but rearranging the layout over and over is something they love to do, and is excellent for their imaginations and other mental development. It's as much - or more - of the value of the set as running the trains. Our kids loved their Brio train when they were small.  Of course we kept it, and will be passing it down to our grandson this Christmas. Several manufacturers make similar sets, including with battery powered engines.

How about Brio type trains, especially for very young children, and economical electric trains (Postwar Lionel, KLine or LionChief/LionChief Plus) with adult supervision.

The Brio trains are great for children to play with any time, no supervision necessary. I agree that they are great for young children's imaginations, creativity, mental development, etc.

Then, the electric trains are for special times, with dad or mom. That engenders bonding, joy, learning, fires up the imagination, etc., like it did for many of us when we were little kids. Arnold

 

In my little world, I leave this troubled world behind.

Arnold D. Cribari posted:

How about Brio type trains, especially for very young children, and economical electric trains (Postwar Lionel, KLine or LionChief/LionChief Plus) with adult supervision.

The Brio trains are great for children to play with any time, no supervision necessary. I agree that they are great for young children's imaginations, creativity, mental development, etc.

Then, the electric trains are for special times, with dad or mom. That engenders bonding, joy, learning, fires up the imagination, etc., like it did for many of us when we were little kids. Arnold

 

If he’s interested, there will definitely be toy trains like Brio to play with. 

But this set is a special Christmas thing. Even at a very young age my cousins and I knew that the train under grandpa’s tree was not for playing with (it was always parked behind the tree too). 

  8months. I got a toy vacuum cleener, lit up and clicked, a plastic Fisher Price pull train, circus wagons, ferris wheel, FP colored ring tower "puzzle", assorted wood puzzles, a big set of FP wood blocks, Work bench with dowls pegs to pound with wood mallet etc. I also got two switches but didn't have a clue or interest. I just recall them sitting on wrapping paper on the  end table.

  I could talk too, not sure how well though. And that  afternoon concluded with me on my belly watching MR. Magoo, and a normally skittish Chihuahua that had claimed me as hers, was sleeping on my back. It was too cool to move, I was so happy this animal thingy was freindly this time; it ran away last time. It felt nice, I had Winken Blinken and Nod thoughts, and then I was sleeping ..... 8 months old visting my Godmother 2 days before Christmas call it 1year though

   The FP train was in prime shape for years because I stopped using it and played with my Lionels alone by 3 when battery op. trucks, came around (little.brother tore it up later) ..I was already counting rivets....the FP loco didn't cut it at 3. I wasn't great at running the Scout, but could. I got cloth teaching books that year too.

So IMO why NOT be prepared for fast learning?  

  To be honest, I don't think I maxed out my potential of early learning. If coached better I could have been doing more sooner in life, no doubt.  I'm going to ramble with that point in mind.....

I really feel strongly we don't cater enough to aiding development in many kids. We underestimate and coddle from over exaggerated "danger" too much.... "kids bounce". My younger siblings weren't as lucky as I was to be raised as.much by the elders than Mom alone. She taught them to fear breaking things and performing physical actions etc. ..the worrying "helpless" woman sterotype projecting her own inabilities she chose for herself (not all her sisters were like that)    I.e. If she couldn't; we surely couldn't.   I see it more and more too; kids I feel are far behind where the kids around me were at the same age.

    A kid near me was riding little motorcycles before he was in school. His 3rd grade brother knew how to set rich/lean and idle on them...Mike Turtle 🤔. Then he fixed my Lil' Indian minibike's timing the fall before 4th grade he knew it wasn't right.(Gramps had retarded it and governed four a top end speed of 25mph, I was now at 32-38 😁). Had to love them farm kids.  

Before 3 you could still turn the trains on and I'd watch "forever"; usually playing with FP blocks and little people circus wagon and Ferris Wheel while watching. 

 Àt 2 Lincoln Logs soft plastic cars/trucks, GI Joe, then 3 was Tinker toys more soft stuff , GI-joe, some wind-up/ batt opp plastic car/truck, matchboxs, and a ton of cool sandbox/beach stuff. I got a plastic motored Scout that year and was using it. That was a travel year.

4 was cap guns, spy toys, and wind up tinplate, etc. Erector set in kindergarten, and got a huge Erector with motors and bike in 1st grade, some tools & tool belt. I could wire power to my track in first grade. Actually , before that, but I couldn't tighten the wires well. I could take direction over the phone for switches and phasing soon after. 

 Gramps bought new old stock sometime during the 50s. New grandchildren were still getting new PW sets in the early 70s , lol. In think he ran out by 72.

  Normally "train season" began a week or so before Thanksgiving lasting until late Feb some years; until June others; with a few small loops during some rainy weeks . 

   Oh, I also had an under the bed layout from kindergarten Christmas until about 4th grade when we moved out of the Cuyahoga area again. On a board with wheels that rolled when you lifted it to pull out. (hated them, I stepped on them, busted my knees, jammed fingers, etc. and totally distracted from the layout's looks. Dad took them off for me 2cnd grade) tacking carpet under the frame boards (hardwood floor)

    I learned "buyer beware" with a comic book toy soldier add that year ...they were hard breakable flat plastic soldiers. I'm still mad. "Rip off" was my favorite word for a while 😂 

...and before you know it Kiddo will have thier first disillusioned revolation beginning their adulthood too.  Those Army men for the layout were my wake up call the world wasn't always as honest as it presented itself to be, and when I feel I started a defensive side that imo really help begin adulthood.  That and rewarded responsibility... but that was learned earlier...I think running a Super Chief was my first lure into that... a topper for a Cub Scout badge in 1st grd maybe...  

Yea, never too early to dream & plan imo Dad, it's really gonna fly by for both of you, three years from now is nearly yesterday .

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





CentralOhioRR posted:

Thank you all again for the help. Many of you have ID’ed another issue, the tension between a realistic model and it being too fragile for a kid. I grew up around HO trains and feel that one draw of steam engines is the moving running gear  I also know how fragile they can be. 

I’m leaning toward the LC+ B&O Mike. Sounds like they are reliable engines that can be expected to operate when I pull it out each year. My only real concern was the remote - I don’t know what happens if it dies after 10 years. But it does seem like a great set it and forget it engine so I can hold my kid and keep him from going King Kong and ripping it off the rails. 

My grandson just turned 4 and is my assistant in the train room. I bought him a 2056 (4-6-4 with whistling tender) for the model railroad in the basement and an old Marx steamer for his loop of track in the family room. If you buy an old engine in good condition it will most likely out last the both of you.😜😜

I would start him out like that and get into the full featured scale stuff when he gets older.

Mike

CentralOhioRR posted:
If he’s interested, there will definitely be toy trains like Brio to play with. 

But this set is a special Christmas thing. Even at a very young age my cousins and I knew that the train under grandpa’s tree was not for playing with (it was always parked behind the tree too). 

Nothing wrong with that. That some things are "special" and not to be manhandled is a good lesson to have early in life. I think the word I heard most as a child was "gentle!", even more often than "no!"

I appreciate all the suggestions on postwar power. The problem is that buying a used set requires a lot of knowledge on the value of the different models from over the years, plus a determination of the quality of the given engine. I don’t have the knowledge to make either of these decisions. That’s why I’m looking at new. 

I don’t think everything needs to be a toy. For the first few years it will be for watching. Then using the whistle/bell button, then helping with the throttle.  In the end, if (when?) a mishap happens, then it happens. 

From what I’ve gathered, the LC+ engines have been pretty trouble-free for a lot of folks and the controller is good for kids. It helps that it doesn’t need an expensive command control system like MTH. The absence of batteries in the loco is a plus as well. 

If your child is young enough, you might also want to consider a train set that's a little more "kid-friendly" like the Mickey Mouse, Scooby-Doo and Hot Wheels LC sets with Bluetooth. They are fine entry-level type sets that have a lot of play value and the BT app is easy to set-up and is appealing to this generation of kids. Check out pages 76-114 of the current 2019 Lionel Catalogue - available on-line. 

CentralOhioRR posted:

I appreciate all the suggestions on postwar power. The problem is that buying a used set requires a lot of knowledge on the value of the different models from over the years, plus a determination of the quality of the given engine. I don’t have the knowledge to make either of these decisions. That’s why I’m looking at new. 

I don’t think everything needs to be a toy. For the first few years it will be for watching. Then using the whistle/bell button, then helping with the throttle.  In the end, if (when?) a mishap happens, then it happens. 

From what I’ve gathered, the LC+ engines have been pretty trouble-free for a lot of folks and the controller is good for kids. It helps that it doesn’t need an expensive command control system like MTH. The absence of batteries in the loco is a plus as well. 

Your enthusiasm for LC+ will greatly add to your child's love for trains, so I think you are making a very good choice. Their prototypically slow, smooth speed, sounds, smoke, and simplicity of operation are tertific. So is their relatively economical cost. A couple of tips about LC+: don't overload them with smoke fluid, good idea to use Lionel's smoke fluid, just add 3 or 4 drops before each operating session, and don't run them for too long a time. Also, my LHS owner told me it's a good idea to run them in remote mode at 17, not 18, volts.

IMO, however, LC+ is not as durable as most Postwar early 1950's era Lionel trains. I must have crashed my 2065 steamer 10,000 times. including many dives off l the plywood layout table on saw horses onto a tile floor, and  there was never any damage It runs very well after approx. 65 years! 

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I also love the LC+ locomotives I have, and so does my 7 year old grandaughter who runs them with the remote unit. They are more durable than most modern engines, but not nearly as durable as a Postwar engine like the above 2065. 

My experience is that Lionel is very good, so far, at promptly making repairs, free of charge, during the 1 year warranty period for LC+.  I have concerns, however, after that warranty period.

I have no worries regarding repairs for my Postwar trains. Plenty of parts, and many people can repair them, and are willing to do it, for a modest fee.

Arnold

In my little world, I leave this troubled world behind.

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For a toddler get a Lionel 2025 or 2018.  Durable as the marker lights and valve rods are simple and strong.  Get the engine at a train show and pick up some inexpensive cars like flat, box, tank and caboose, also a tender if the engine does not come with one.  Get a Lionel LW transformer for$50 or less and used O27 track.

Charlie.

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