How many of you, like myself, have been stung by Lionel producing RTR set add-ons without the simple courtesy of informing us that the engines which came with those original sets were incapable of pulling those new add-on cars?

 

Case in point was the popularity of Lionel's Polar Express set which led them to developing and flooding the market each year with additional add-on cars knowing fully well that the first PE locomotives couldn't handle pulling those add-ons without doing irreparable damage to those original PE set locomotives.

 

So what did Lionel do to remedy that situation - they redesigned the PE locomotive to handle the load of all those add-ons they'd produced without informing either the original set owners or future PE set buyers that the locomotive motor, transmission and even chasis was revamped. They did not even make the redesign so that a new motor could be retrofitted to the original PE chasis since they'd redone the frame too.

 

And what was Lionel's response when I contacted them concerning buying a new frame and motor assembly, "We only sell the motor, not the frame - BUY A NEW PE LOCOMOTIVE." Talk about a company driving a wedge between themself and customer loyalty.

 

Is it too much to expect Lionel to state in their catalogue that additional add-on cars can not be used with original PE sets?

ogaugeguy

LCCA


 




Original Post

In all fairness, LIONEL had no idea that PE would be the hit it is and could not see the future (i.e. make a mega loco to pull the umpty ump add on cars that are an ongoing 8 years down the road).  Too, the could have stated somewhere early on that all the add ons could not be pulled by the original PE.  I have one of the very first sets and I have 2 add on cars in addition to the original 3.  How many cars can I add before I have a problem?  I think there are  2 or 3 I don't have, not counting scale items and the "Polar RR" stuff.

Originally Posted by POTRZBE:

In all fairness, LIONEL had no idea that PE would be the hit it is and could not see the future (i.e. make a mega loco to pull the umpty ump add on cars that are an ongoing 8 years down the road).  Too, the could have stated somewhere early on that all the add ons could not be pulled by the original PE.  I have one of the very first sets and I have 2 add on cars in addition to the original 3.  How many cars can I add before I have a problem?  I think there are  2 or 3 I don't have, not counting scale items and the "Polar RR" stuff.

I wasn't questioning that Lionel should have been able to predict the success of their PE set but rather that to this time they still have yet to print in their catalogs alongside those pictured add-ons, a warning that early PE loco's are capable of only pulling a certain number of PE add-on cars before damage to the engine will occur.

(Incidently, I'm only talking about PE add-on cars and not Polar Railroad cars.)

 

Also, since the PE loco shell is identical in all respects (including size) for both versions of the engine, it would have been thoughtful if Lionel had modified and kept the original PE frame so that a swap out of the original motor for the new, more powerful and improved motor could be done via a retrofit kit which Lionel could have made available to owners of their original rtr PE sets. 

 

Incidently, I'd collected all the PE add-ons the first time they became available just in case Lionel ever decided to discontinue any of them, I'd still have a complete set. I only discovered the underpowering dilema when I tried running the set for my nephew the first time this past Christmas.

ogaugeguy

LCCA


 




I believe POTRZBE makes a very good point. When the set was announced in connection with the release of the movie in 2004, Lionel greatly underestimated the demand for this STARTER SET. Consider the price point and we usually get what we what we pay for. I believe the add-ons were a direct response to market demands for more cars. I purchased the set when it came out and bought all of the additional cars. I am not bitter in the least about the original engine and it's limited abilities. If it were me, I would look for a new or used Berk at a good price and have it re-lettered for the PE and retire the original PE engine as a shelf queen.

Have you, Passenger Train Collector, purchased a replacement Berk yourself or are you using your original PE set and all the add-on cars only for display rather than running them?
 
I mean no offense to you or any other collector or hobbyist on this forum, but recalling Lionel's original PE ad campaign and related selling of the PE in department and toy stores, I assume Lionel's marketing strategy for the PE set wasn't to target model railroad hobbyists or the serious collectors of this board but rather to have families purchase the PE as one of their child's Christmas presents.
 
Considering the price point of the set for a multi-child family to put out for just one of their children's presents, I'd say many families wouldn't agree that it's an inexpensive purchase. Lets us not forget, the PE set and all it's ensuing add-ons is afterall a toy train marketed by Lionel for Children to receive as one of their Christmas presents
 
Futhermore, how could a scenario from Lionel such as I mentioned in my original post do much to encourage youngsters or their families to become further involved in this hobby? 
 
 
Originally Posted by Passenger Train Collector:

I believe POTRZBE makes a very good point. When the set was announced in connection with the release of the movie in 2004, Lionel greatly underestimated the demand for this STARTER SET. Consider the price point and we usually get what we what we pay for. I believe the add-ons were a direct response to market demands for more cars. I purchased the set when it came out and bought all of the additional cars. I am not bitter in the least about the original engine and it's limited abilities. If it were me, I would look for a new or used Berk at a good price and have it re-lettered for the PE and retire the original PE engine as a shelf queen.

 

ogaugeguy

LCCA


 




If a train is too heavy, add another engine. Two Berks with a super big Polar Express will be timely... not a drag...

 

 

Now, ahem... My standard for HO Scale engines was dead simple. Hook 15 cars including caboose and climb a 3% without stalling. Then stop on that same hill and RESTART the train without slipping

 

Even today I still feel the sting of a crappy 4-8-4 from B-cough.. cough.. cough.. sorry. 60 dollars in 1980 money and cannot pull even 3 cars on flat track.

 

I also recall around that time Can Motors were in fashion and the complains about buying a new engine with a Can of the same type without one. Moving into DCC etc.

 

Another idea is to sort your PE into two sections. Run the entire train with it's own engine as a separate section. Flag the first engine and the last Car on the second train to show that the entire train is complete passing by.

 

The PE movie was very well done, even if you had to uncouple from reality.

 

Best of luck to you!

A living Steam Engine hauling a train with commerce, reaching across time and space; is a wonderful journey undertaken by Man.

 

A product of our fine College System that has been made redundant by imports of Foreign Workers willing to push a Keyboard for a living.

Originally Posted by ogaugeguy:
Case in point was the popularity of Lionel's Polar Express set which led them to developing and flooding the market each year with additional add-on cars knowing fully well that the first PE locomotives couldn't handle pulling those add-ons without doing irreparable damage to those original PE set locomotives.

I have never experienced "irreparable damage" or any other damage by pulling too many cars.  My engines just slip if they are pulling too many cars.

 

Earl

Originally Posted by Jumijo:

My early PE loco pulls all the cars, including add-ons, just fine. The biggest problem is that my layout really isn't big enough for a train that long. 

 

Buy the newer version of the loco from a set breakup or the one with the whistle steam.

This is my situation exactly.  I ran out of room on my Christmas loop but never had a problem pulling all the cars that I could tell.

 

I think the suggested solution to the problem is a good one, given the constraints.  I am somewhat surprised that spare parts for the engine aren't available from Lionel.

Regards,

Eric S.

Saline, MI

Originally Posted by Gandalf97:
 
Spare motors for both the original PE loco and the larger motor for the improved PE loco ARE available. The problem is the new motor won't fit the original PE loco frame since the mount on the frame was changed and the frame assembly which takes the new PE motor isn't available from Lionel.
Originally Posted by Jumijo:

My early PE loco pulls all the cars, including add-ons, just fine. The biggest problem is that my layout really isn't big enough for a train that long. 

 

Buy the newer version of the loco from a set breakup or the one with the whistle steam.

This is my situation exactly.  I ran out of room on my Christmas loop but never had a problem pulling all the cars that I could tell.

 

I think the suggested solution to the problem is a good one, given the constraints.  I am somewhat surprised that spare parts for the engine aren't available from Lionel.

 

ogaugeguy

LCCA


 




Originally Posted by EIS:
 
The problem encountered is not that the PE Loco's wheels slip. The engine is heavy enough that slipping never occurs but even with the transformer turned all the way up, it will only pull all the add-ons at a very low speed for only a few minutes before the loco's speed begins to steadily diminish to a crawl (and then finally  stop altogether in a very short time) as it's motor overheats. According to Lionel's tech support, by repeatedlly subjecting the PE's underpowered motor to such overheating and stress, the motor will finally give out and fail.   
Originally Posted by ogaugeguy:
Case in point was the popularity of Lionel's Polar Express set which led them to developing and flooding the market each year with additional add-on cars knowing fully well that the first PE locomotives couldn't handle pulling those add-ons without doing irreparable damage to those original PE set locomotives.

I have never experienced "irreparable damage" or any other damage by pulling too many cars.  My engines just slip if they are pulling too many cars.

 

Earl

 

ogaugeguy

LCCA


 




Originally Posted by Lee 145:
 
Except for their size, BOTH the original PE motor and the "newer" PE motor are can motors but the "newer" can motor is considerably larger with a different reverse /forward mechanism.

If a train is too heavy, add another engine. Two Berks with a super big Polar Express will be timely... not a drag...

 

 

Now, ahem... My standard for HO Scale engines was dead simple. Hook 15 cars including caboose and climb a 3% without stalling. Then stop on that same hill and RESTART the train without slipping

 

Even today I still feel the sting of a crappy 4-8-4 from B-cough.. cough.. cough.. sorry. 60 dollars in 1980 money and cannot pull even 3 cars on flat track.

 

I also recall around that time Can Motors were in fashion and the complains about buying a new engine with a Can of the same type without one. Moving into DCC etc.

 

Another idea is to sort your PE into two sections. Run the entire train with it's own engine as a separate section. Flag the first engine and the last Car on the second train to show that the entire train is complete passing by.

 

The PE movie was very well done, even if you had to uncouple from reality.

 

Best of luck to you!

 

ogaugeguy

LCCA


 




Originally Posted by Jumijo:
 
As to for the solution you suggest, since there's no visible identification markings to readily ascertain whether a PE loco is one of the older type or newer one, the loco's shell must be revoved so you can actually view the shape and placement of their respective motors to determine which motor a PE loco has. If a dealer unkowingly sells you sealed new "older stock" you'd still have the same loco problem and then also be stuck with an opened loco you couldn't return.
 
As for the steam whistle effect PE loco, Lionel techs have informed me it is identical to the PE loco found in "newer" sets with the only changes being the steam whistle effect mechanism added to the set loco and that it comes with the same identical PE trainsounds tender that they've been selling for a few years as an add-on upgrade to the PE set's standard tender.
 
Considering I'd already purchased a trainsounds tender years ago when it first came on the market, it seems that with the cost of a steam whistle effect loco being just slightly lower than cost for an completely new PE set would not be a smart purchase moneywise.  

My early PE loco pulls all the cars, including add-ons, just fine. The biggest problem is that my layout really isn't big enough for a train that long. 

 

Buy the newer version of the loco from a set breakup or the one with the whistle steam.

 

ogaugeguy

LCCA


 




ogaugeguy:

 

I am going to answer your question to me in a way you probably do not expect. So please do not take any offense to what I am about to say. My set sat under my benchwork unopened since 2004 until this past December when a family I know wanted a train for under their Christmas tree but simply could not afford one. It was a particularly difficult Christmas season for me and I thought that if I could bring a little joy to this family, it was just the right thing to do. This family was overjoyed when they received this gift, particularly since it was the Polar Express and how fitting it was for them to enjoy it during the past Christmas season. But in actuality, I was the real winner here as I got to play Santa Claus at a time I probably needed more of a lift than them. They don't know it yet, but this coming Christmas they will get the remaining five PE cars. I really had no idea of the pulling issues with this engine until you started this thread. My comments to you were what I would do if I were in your shoes. So I will look for a Berk to go with this set before next Christmas so they can run all of the cars. 

 

You know, I and probably all of our Forum members are blessed as we do have trains. I feel particularly blessed as I have the scale 1225 Berk with no pulling issues together with  the related scale PE passenger cars with a couple of special ones.

 

In a much larger picture, if only having a pulling issue with eight cars verses five or six, etc., and this is our biggest problem right now in life, my guess is that this is really not such a big issue after all. It is Sunday and the sabbath day for most of us so I hope it is OK to preach a little.

I take no offence whatever to what you've said, Passenger Train Collector, and applaud you for what you've done and plan on doing for that family in the future. It's certainly true that giving joy to others results in a giver receiving in return a joy that is always inmeasureably greater than the joy they gave.

 

That said, without being perceived as overreacting and blowing my original posting out of proportion, I empathasized with my nephew's disappointment at his train not running last Christmas and also empathize with other families and their children who might have had a similar "Christmas experience." While I'm able to replace the PE engine, other families in a similar situation might not be able to readily or easily do that for their child.

 

I don't want to berate the Lionel Corp. but feel that their placing on the PE add-on cars catalog pages a warning notice stating the inabilty of the original PE set locomotives to be able to pull all available add-on cars simultaneously would be a gesture of goodwill to those customers who bought the PE when it was first introduced and thereby made it the instant success that it was.

 

When a consumer purchases  in good faith accessories marketed for a certain product, shouldn't that consumer expect at the very least to be forewarned that those accessories might under certain conditions not possibly work well with a particular version of the product they were purchased for? 

 

Those are my final thoughts on this topic and I thank all forum readers who've responded with their thoughts and suggestions to this posting. Keep reading and enjoying the OGR forums and continued happy model railroading. Cheers to all of you!!!     

ogaugeguy

LCCA


 




Why do you expect the loco to pull all the add on cars at once.

 

Lionel sells lots of additional PE cars you can "add on"  to the original set, if and as you like any add on set.  As far as I know, the loco will pull any add on car set and the original set.  

 

However, where did you see them claim, and frankly why do you expect, that it will pull all of the add on sets in addition to that original set together?  I think that is a very unrealistic expectation.  Lionel offers lots of different PE add on sets to give people a diversity of different options.  They never represented that a single loco will pull them all.  Why not buy another loco, then either pull a longer train, or run two trains?

 

Here's what Lionel's online ad says (from their site):

 

For even more excitement, add a baggage car, a diner, and a hot chocolate car to complete your Polar Express train.

 

That to me says the engine SHOULD be able to pull the complete train.

 

The comments to add another engine, that's the way it's always been (tradition is not always a good thing), Lionel had no idea that...(WHAT?!?!?!) are not what someone who has a problem wants to hear.  Spending more money is also NOT what someone wants to hear.

 

Send the engine in for servicing, if it still won't pull the "complete" train, ask for (all) your money back.

 

If this was anything else than a toy train people would be up in arms about it.

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

4+ years and STILL Having A Blast Running BPRC

Although the Legends of Lionel Madison cars were never a set, if it were - it would probably be the hardest of all to pull. The way these cars are released - it is more like a series than a set. I believe it is up to 9 or 10 cars. I lost count but I do have them all. 9 Madison cars with 6 wheel trucks (the last couple don't have needle point axels) makes a very very heavy train.

NO.

 

To me, it's insane how some folks seem to need to manufacture stuff to complain about. Hard to trust the motivation.

 

Pete

 

 

 

"Once politics becomes your ethnic and moral identity it becomes impossible to compromise, because compromise becomes dishonor."

 

- David Brooks -

Yeah, it never occurred to me that someone would try to pull all of the cars of a series at once with a single engine.  Case in point: 1974 Broadway Limited set with the die-cast 4-4-2, two coaches and an Obs.  Add on the separate sale Baggage, RPO, three more coaches, Presidential Campaign Car, and the L-T-I released matching diner...

 

Not only would the wheels spin, you'd break the coupler mounting shafts off the first couple of cars too!

 

Jon

If you think the PE engine is underpowered for the train it is supposed to pull, just think about all those K-Line bank cars for the 50 states quarter series (at least 35 plus caboose) being pulled by that lone GG-1.  Now think of all of those cars stuffed with quarters...

Regards,

Eric S.

Saline, MI

Originally Posted by Gandalf97:

If you think the PE engine is underpowered for the train it is supposed to pull, just think about all those K-Line bank cars for the 50 states quarter series (at least 35 plus caboose) being pulled by that lone GG-1.  Now think of all of those cars stuffed with quarters...

That really says it all, Eric.  I believe we're done here.  Even without the quarters, that is a 50 car train and hefty.

This issue is not limited to RR sets.  The R27 subway and the Acela (with the 6 cars) are underpowered and I run the R27 with only 4 of the cars (other two in the box after it did not run smoothly with the 6 car consist) and I ran the Acela with 4 or 5 cars. With the 6 car set it did not run well.

Weird my original PE pulls all the cars too. Never had a problem. One way to know the difference when buying, is that the originals PE are boxed and the second run are not (no box). Really doesn't mean much but it is something. The new PE with steam whistle has a die cast tender the others are plastic.

I have the new whistle steam model and it is very nice. It has railsounds in a die cast tender and NOT train sounds. The whistle smoke is really cool and the whistle is metal and not plastic. I looked inside and it does have the new motor. It also has cab figures. I tihnk it is a bargain for 250 and they cam be found for less. here is a video of mine pulling 14 cars in operation It also pulls the PE cars well.

Happy Railroading! 

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