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Hey Guys,

I am looking at one of these neat little switchers, in the UP scheme.  It was made in 2009, and has dual motors.   But, I have a few questions:

1.   What does it mean by K-Line "by Lionel" ??

2.   Does anybody have any hands-one experience with one of these?  In particular, does this diesel have the dreaded "derailment" issues that some of the earlier K-Line switchers demonstrated?  (I have previously researched on this board a line of K-Line switcher made in the 1990s, which had chronic derailment issues of the front truck when going over regular Lionel 022 switches?)

3.  Does this model have the fixed couplers that cause derailments of the rolling stock?

I never use my engines to "push" cars around, only pull them.     

Thanks for any info.


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Manny, the "K-Line by Lionel" was a branding of the products after the lawsuit between K-Line and Lionel, and K-Line's subsequent bankruptcy that left Sanda Kan almost $4 million dollars in the hole. The Sanda Kan factory facility continued to manufacture the rebranded K-Line products to be marketed and distributed by Lionel, so they are pretty much the same products as made and sold by K-Line.

The only real difference between the K-Line and later "K-Line by Lionel" S-2 switchers, was the addition of an electronic horn.

Now to address your other concerns. Most of the weights in the S-2 are over the rear truck. There is a smaller weight over the front truck underneath the circuit board. The first thing you want to check is if the wires running to the front truck through a hole in the sheet metal frame are pulled too tight... this will cause a derailment on curves of the front truck. As manufactured, the wires inside the loco are bundled together, so it might be necessary to loose these wires so that front truck swings left to right freely.

I spoke to engineering at K-Line about this front truck derailment issue and was told it was because you are running train that are too long, thus too heavy and this is causing the front truck derailment. This indeed might be true, but most folks buying a dual motored engine want to run longer trains.

My fix outside of loosening the wires, is to insert a small spring (I obtained a whole bunch from a old discarded computer keyboard that actually had springs beneath the key buttons) over the silver guide pin that comes up from the motor truck into a curved slit in the sheet metal frame. The spring goes between the top of the truck and the bottom of the sheet metal frame. Derailments ended.

K-Line never used fixed or dummy couplers on the S-2: They were all operating couplers on this model. Alco FA2's sold as double units had a fixed dummy coupler on the rear of the engine. Fixed couplers are not the source of derailments. It's is ability of the coupler to swing left to right enough to not bind and cause a derailment. When RMT reissued their revamped S-2, known as an S-4 "Bang" they made quite a few improvements, which I've written on previously. But one major drawback as the new diecast coupler used by RMT had a very stiff spring in it. If you were running a lighter weight car immediately behind the loco, it would inevitably derail. But there are some fixes for that too.

Still concerning derailments, it is also the shape of the coupler itself, and the open space within the closed knuckle coupler. On plastic trucks, it could also potentially be plastic flashing on the knuckle from the injection molding process. Sometimes you have to do a little filing to remove flashing and/or to open the space within the closed coupler just a little bit.

All the trucks and coupler assemblies made by the various companies are basically the same, yet they are all subtly different. Parts from one company, while appearing similar, may not work in another brand of trains without some tinkering.

Hope this all helps. Manny, you seem to have a lot of troubles with your trains that for the most part, I don't have. But I've also accepted since I'm buying lower cost trains, that I might have to make some alterations to run them the way I wish to. I've also always had small layouts with track configurations that are basically no-no's, like "S" curves, turnouts on curves, turnouts placed directly after a curve. So I make some alterations. But the pleasure is I haven't had a derailment in many years, outside of my own error, like forgetting to throw a turnout. Running trains for me is fun, not frustration.

But yes, I also did have problems with my RMT "Beep" that were very frustrating, since at that time I'd seen a video (now gone) on YouTube of a RMT Beep running flawlessly in and out of Lionel 027 turnouts. I messed around with that engine, trying all kinds of experiments and could never get it to run even remotely well through 027 turnouts. I ended up kitbashing a Lionel Industrial Switcher frame for it, and making alterations to the RMT Beep shell, BUT now it runs just great!

brianel027 - As always thank you for your detailed, well researched, founded in reality, and completely thorough explanations. It is a shame that some people here can't seem to take the time to do their own information gathering by using the search function on this site or Google as a search engine. Instead they seem to constantly like it handed to them by good people like yourself.

@modeltrainsparts, thanks for the compliment. Though probably if you did a search for the K-Line S-2, you'd find things I've posted in the past. These locos have their liabilities for certain, but aren't nearly as bad as they are sometimes made out to be. For smaller 027 types of layouts with 027 or traditional rolling stock, these K-Line engines look right at home size-wise.

The worst thing about all the early low cost starter set types of K-Line locos (Alco FA2, MP-15, RDC Budd Car and the S-2) is the "jack-rabbit" starts if using a typical Lionel postwar transformer with a minimal starting voltage of 6 volts. Fine for postwar locos with open frame AC motors. The K-Line locos I mentioned run great using a Lionel multivolt transformer with the choice of a lower starting voltage, like the 1033 utilizing the B-U setting of 0-11 volts to the track. There's a couple others, though I forget which ones they are. And @Mannyrock, if you're still reading, depending on what type of transformer you're using, the other fix for these K-Line engines is to wire the motors in series. Some of the later K-Line engines came with a convenient switch underneath the frame for either parallel or series motor wiring. This feature was continued on some of the K-Line by Lionel products. Might be worth asking the seller before you buy.

The other issue now is parts. Some parts, like the coupler arms for the S-2, have long been sold out. I would guess, due to the jack-rabbit starts, some folks were smashing and breaking the couplers. Fortunately, you can cob and alter other makes of coupler arms to work in the S-2.

And for clarification, Artie's Lackawanna loco pictured above is an RMT version. Among the improvements and changes made by RMT was a different spec motor that needed more voltage to run, thus eliminating the "jack-rabbit" start ups when running with many postwar types of transformers. The RMT s-4 BANG is one of the hardest engines to find and it's been like that for a few years, so when one comes up for sale, they sell for more money than they retailed for when they were first introduced. So obviously, there are people who like the improved RMT version of the S-4 and are keeping them to run.

Last edited by brianel_k-lineguy

Thanks for the excellent info Brian.

I did search for info here in the search section, and it alerted me to certain of the problems, but it was my hope that K-Line "by Lionel" meant that Lionel had stepped in at the later stages a fixed the problems.  Guess not.   So I'll pass on this item.   Too bad, since the shell design and details of the UP shell look really great.

Brian, very interesting that you kit-bashed a Beep using a Lionel switcher frame.  I have a spare BEEP shell, and I was just getting ready to take a Lionel NW-2, single motor model, and cut the frame in half.  I think the BEEP shell will fit right down over top of the half with the motor and powered trucks.   As you probably found, I'll have to build some very narrow side panels to cover up a small gap on each side of the bottom of the shell, but that looks like something that will be simple to do.

I saw one last week, on an old Youtube, called Candy Train Beep.   

Thanks again,


Well Manny, I can't tell you what you should purchase, but you've posted before about wanting locomotives that look good with smaller sorts of rolling stock. That K-Line S-2 is a perfect candidate. I should mention the K-Line S-2 has origins with MARX, and you can still find the MARX S-2's for sale. A much simpler constructed loco, but that was one of the hallmarks of MARX products. As mentioned above there's also the improved RMT version, but you likely won't a deal on that one.

Now, as of the last year for whatever reason (probably the lack of train shows), train prices in general seem to be much higher (as you may have noticed) than a few years ago. Increased shipping charges certainly need to be factored in to any train purchase.

But years ago, I could get K-Line S-2's for $50.00 or less. I've gotten them at train shows for $35.00. So any changes or repairs I might have to make weren't so unjustified. There is a possibility that you could place the engine on your track, and you'd find it runs just fine. BUT if it didn't, correcting the derail problem is not all that hard, as I described above.

When I fix the open pilots on my S-2's, I use self adhesive weights on the underside of the frame, between the sheet metal steps to adhere my new pilot cover, so that adds a little more weight the front of the engine. (Yes this is a repaint with other alterations and details added).

New Haven 1959 K-Line S2

And by the way, your idea of using the frame and motor from a NW2 won't be an easy job. The truck from the NW2 mounts to the frame from a single mounting pin from the top of the motor truck with a "C" clip holding it to the frame. Without a second truck, one alone will not be stable. You'd probably need to make an entirely new frame that the motor truck can be securely mounted to so that there is no wobble of any kind.

Now if you're referring to an MPC or postwar version of the NW2, that might be a bit easier because the motor sticks up through the sheet metal frame. Still might be easier to make a new frame mount out of thick styrene or basswood/plywood. Personally, I'm always open to a train challenge, so good luck on your project should you attempt it.

The guy you saw the video from is an acquaintance of mine who also does quite a bit of kitbashing and repainting as I also do. He used the motor assembly from a MARX E7 for his BEEP project.


Images (1)
  • New Haven 1959 K-Line S2
Last edited by brianel_k-lineguy

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