Lionel Texas Special in 2019 Catalog

Lionel is offering a FT Texas Special (1934120).  Is that pure fantasy?  I've been reading on the web about the real Texas Special train in the postwar era.  Every reference or picture I see is either a EMD E series engine or an Alco PA.  Is that the extent of the engine list in real life?  I know both Lionel and MTH have done F3 Texas Specials.  It looks like that isn't prototypical either.  Can someone confirm that?  Thanks for your help.

MikeH (formerly "beachhead2")

Original Post

The Texas Special used E-7s. Later, two ALco PAs were added due to the popularity of the train. Not sure how long those lasted. No F units of any kind were used on the real train. During their existence, Lionel (and other manufacturers as well) have frequently used non-prototypical engines as "stand-ins," for various reasons. Some have tipped more in the "fantasy" direction than others. Welcome to the world of O gauge! In the Post War era, they didn't make any E unit diesels; in fact, none were manufactured until fairly recently. Lionel did do a scale Texas Special with E-7s and 21 in. cars several years ago. However, scale E units with scale length cars make for an enormous train, useable only by those with very large layouts. 

The Lionel Post War Celebration series Texas Special used F-3s, the same as the Post War version it was replicating, and 15" aluminum passenger cars. The Neil Young Texas Special set of just a few years ago did as well. These sets are very nice - really like my NY set. They're great for persons who don't have huge layouts, which is most of us. The shorter F-3 engines still make nice replicas of the originals. Some imagination may be necessary, but very little, for those who are short of it. (Of course, other than trainheads, 99% of people observing the sets aren't going to have a clue about the difference between F-3s and E-7s, let alone what line used what engine for what.) The NY set with the F-3s and 15" cars are not only very nice replicas of the original, but more useful on a far larger number of layouts. I think the FT LC+ set will be a great set for a lot of users as well.

TexasSP posted:

I saw that lionel E7 set at a train show at it's a beautiful set all they way around.  I am torn between whether I prefer the PA or E unit version of the Texas Special, they both look so fantastic.

I agree on both counts.  I'd buy either.  As Breezinup referred to, I'd have to mothball the 21" cars though and go with some 18's.

MikeH (formerly "beachhead2")

Here's a little comparison.

The original EMD E7's lettered and delivered for the Texas Special :

Texas Special 101-A

Alco PA...note nose placard:


The Texas Special was pulled by a variety of diesel engines after the E7's wore out and were relegated to other service. The Katy also owned E8's and other Alco PA's that pulled the Texas Special but the limiting factor as to modeling is whether the original engines were lettered for "The Texas Special" 

The Katy was a frugal railroad to say the least and the harsh Texas sun was merciless on red paint quickly dimming it to a "pinkish" shade in some cases. When the original lettering became faded and worn the Katy  elected to not replace it on subsequent units.

Some lettering appeared on other Katy engines such as the FA1's but not the "Texas Special" script:

MKT FA-1 326-C

FP7 and E8...


For my money if you want to model the Texas Special Passenger train I'd go with the Lionel E7's. The original Lionel set was the 6-31755 set. They still come up on auction sites. The cars are 21" long. I can't use 21" cars on my layout so I chose the Lionel E7's paired with the K-Line 18" aluminum cars. K4640-A and K4640-B. Good luck finding them.





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