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Do you have one?

If so, which one(s) do you have, and what do you think of it(them)?

If not, do you want one, and if so, why?

Do you even know that there is such a thing as a Lionel Tugboat?

I will give my input regarding all of the above after some of you folks chime in, but I will start us off by saying I did not know there was such a thing as a Lionel Tugboat until I visited a LHS in December 2021. I will tell the whole amusing story about that later on.

Arnold

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Really admired this since first announced...

sf tug

Eighteen years ago saw a 'Sale!' ad by an eastern shop in one of the mags.  Price?  Said: "Call".

I did.  $79.00.

Bam!

Now....if I could just figure out how to work it into the layout!

Just too cool to part with.

KD

(One of the very best and truly happy surprises in the accessories category from Lionel in the past 25 years....IMHO, of course!)

Encore!  Encore!

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I needed a tugboat for my harbor scene and considered the Lionel units, but they seemed too large for my limited space.  I purchased a kit and constructed a tug with assistance of my grandkids (did some painting and named it with 3 different names! You can see 2 of them in the photos). I'm up in Canada for the summer and away from details, but I'm fairly sure this is from Sylvan Scale Models (actually here in Canada).  I do not have access to their website to confirm.  BTW, I love the tug!

Michael

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Like dkdkrd, I liked the tug when I first saw it.  While at a show I saw one for less than I had seen anywhere else, so I grabbed it. It is pretty big but I fit it in anyway.  During a rebuild, I removed it and it spent a number of years in it’s box.  I decided to add a small harbor to my new layout and set it up.  I like it.  As built it has no volume control so I added one, those seagulls really get on your nerves after a while.

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I made sure to get the PRR version as soon as it came out.  Have plans to place alongside some barges (which I think I have to scratch build) is two waterfront scenes on my future basement layout.  One barge setup will be open top for cargo (coal, scrap) next to the TMCC Gantry crane.  The other will be alongside a carfloat scene (another scratch built progect I'll get to someday).  I'm thinking the carfloat/tug combo will actually be top of a roll away section, with car storage shelves below, a sorta of poor man's yard storage.

I picked up the B &O tugboat when a local hobby shop when out of business and incorporated it into a river scene with the Lionel lift bridge and bascule bridge in the background.  Even though the boat's sounds are anemic, and the smoke output is wispy, I still like it. I had considered (very briefly) repainting it into Milwaukee Road colors, but that was a ... um ... bridge too far.

Jim

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51EF4F66-AB3C-4203-9FFD-C0F9F832E26AAB063246-BCDF-4F86-B9AE-0DAE54C8459BC660D065-4E27-4449-8A8C-BD5EA6BC3E7E95B011DC-03DA-4469-B602-9EEA69A692AC7A7838EA-6D07-4050-9F14-3EF458680D1DHaving been in the Merchant Marines for 50 plus years as a licensed Master & 1st. Class Pilot certainly had to have one of Lionel’s Tugs. It is too large for my layout but is on display on a train shelf next to it.

Excellent graphics by Lionel with appropriate lighting and markings. 😊😊

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Last edited by Captain John

I needed a tugboat for my harbor scene and considered the Lionel units, but they seemed too large for my limited space.  I purchased a kit and constructed a tug with assistance of my grandkids (did some painting and named it with 3 different names! You can see 2 of them in the photos). I'm up in Canada for the summer and away from details, but I'm fairly sure this is from Sylvan Scale Models (actually here in Canada).  I do not have access to their website to confirm.  BTW, I love the tug!

Michael

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Michael!...

Yes, that's Sylvan's tug.  I built the same model...



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Also had George at ITT Products put together a custom sound chip for their module that has appropriate sounds...sloshing water, chugging engine, seagulls (ubiquitous!), that nautical single chime tooter, et al.  Lots of gung-ho at the time.  Now a shelf queen.  Same problem as with the MUCH larger ATSF tug...where to moor on the layout?  Named for one of my favorite Golden Books of yore.  (In which Scuffy was made quite aware of his smaller size by the larger tugs in the harbor!)

BTW...That guy standing at the bow of your tug with his back to us?...He's not doing what I think he's doing...is he??...  The water looks polluted quite enough!

I'm getting re-inspired!  Gotta get those tuggers on the layout! 

Thanks, Michael!

KD

Paying further homage to "Scuffy's" story, I thought someday when they're on the layout () to add some printed eyeball inserts in the front two windows of the tugs. .When the 'kids'...big and small...come over!

scuffyboat

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@Danr posted:

Like dkdkrd, I liked the tug when I first saw it.  While at a show I saw one for less than I had seen anywhere else, so I grabbed it. It is pretty big but I fit it in anyway.  During a rebuild, I removed it and it spent a number of years in it’s box.  I decided to add a small harbor to my new layout and set it up.  I like it.  As built it has no volume control so I added one, those seagulls really get on your nerves after a while.

10AF6709-1B35-4841-A62C-E2150A9E0212

Dan I thought your harbor was well done and was sized appropriately for the tugboat. Your water also looked very realistic. I enjoyed seeing it along with your layout during our club meeting.

I also had the Lionel tug but could never fit it in due to its size.

I found a plastic kit roughly HO size which served well on the old layout.

The uncertainty about the success of the rides goes back to my very early days in Astoria playing in the shadow of the Hellgate Bridge. I witnessed a tug lose power under the bridge during the worst tidal conditions and swirl around a bit in the infamous currents and whirlpools there.

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Jim

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KD, nice job with the Sylvan tug. No, the deck hand on the bow is not doing what you think.  Got to keep it "A" rated for the grandkids. And yes, the harbor water is deliberately murky, as typical harbor water is.  Also did that pour with my grandson. That was great learning experience.  Blew on the surface of the wet pour to get rid of the bubbles, but could get rid of all of them. Then decided we like the look - appears as natural surface bubbles after the movement of the tug. Could not have achieved that if we tried!

Michael

@leapinlarry posted:

Captain John, that’s a beautiful boat, Lionel did a great job on the series of I believe 4 different road names of these tug boats. Here’s a picture of the way Dr. Jack Fisher placed his tug boat on his layout In Nashville. Great thread Arnold. Great pictures. Happy Railroading Everyone 2CD5F728-C983-4C46-87DA-48A6B35E627D

Thanks, Larry, one of my joys in life has become to dream up new Forum topics that others find entertaining. Arnold

Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari

In December 2021 I dropped by a LHS and saw something I had to have. It was on the operating train layout at the LHS. As soon as I saw it, I told the LHS owner that I thought it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw related to the model railroad hobby, and I asked him how much he wanted for it. He said it was not for sale.

It was the Lionel NY Central Tugboat.

That is when the search for the Holy Grail began.

First, the LHS owner, who is a very nice guy and always reasonable in his prices and a pleasure to do business with, said the tugboat was not for sale because he wanted to keep it on his store layout through the Christmas holiday season. I said that's fine, and I asked him if I could approach him about it again after the holidays, and he said yes.

So I waited until mid- January and revisited the LHS again, this time with a friend, saw the tugboat on the store layout again, and asked the owner about it. This time he snapped at me, in front of my friend, shouting at me: I already told you it's not for sale!

I corrected him, reminding him that he previously gave me permission to bring up the subject of the tugboat after the holidays, and that was all I was doing. He said several other customers offered to buy the tugboat, and he didn't want to sell it because if he did, the other customers would be unhappy. My friend, who is very practical, told the LHS owner: why don't you sell it to the highest bidder.

Incidentally, over the past 20 years, I have easily spent over $15,000  on numerous train related items at that LHS. Also, whenever I buy something there, I rarely ask the owner for a price reduction because his prices are almost always reasonable and I want him to stay in business and think of me as a preferred customer. 

Regarding the tugboat, I reassured the LHS owner that I would never bring the subject of the tugboat up with him again.

But, the search for the Holy Grail continued.

In mid to late January 2022, I went with a friend to the Big E. There was a big snowstorm that weekend so we went on Sunday when the snow subsided.

I figured maybe there was a 1 in 10,000 chance that I would find the Lionel NY Central Tugboat at the Big E.

Within 10 minutes after entering the Big E, I thought I was hallucinating when I saw my coveted tugboat sitting on a table in the distance. A young 20+ year old fellow appeared to be the dealer and, of course, I asked him about the tugboat. What was his reply? It's not for sale. I asked why. He said his father just bought it from another vendor that morning for $75 and he liked it.

Somehow I kept my composure, but believe me, inside I'm going crazy. I can be this way when I'm under intense pressure in court as a lawyer, and in life and death situations like when I'm driving and believe a car accident is about to happen.

I calmly asked the young fellow would it be OK if I discussed the tugboat with his father. He said sure, and proceeded to call his father on his cell phone. The father, who was in another building at the Big E, showed up about 15 minutes later.

When we met, I simply said I'm very interested in the tugboat and willing to pay him $150 in cash for it right now if he would sell it to me. [I knew his son told me his father just bought it for $75, and I believed the fair market value of it was about $250 to $300, and was willing to go even higher to get it.]

The father hesitated, so I immediately raised my offering price to $250. He replied that he had young kids at home, could use the money, so he accepted my offer.

I got the Holy Grail and will post a photo of it on my layout in a few minutes. Arnold

@dkdkrd posted:

Great story, Arnold!

thumbs up

So, Lionel!!  Ya think maybe it's time to dust off some tooling???

I do!

Great idea, Don, and Lionel should install a first rate smoke unit, first rate air horn tugboat sounds, and make it so it can float and run in real water with a motor and propellers. It would be the Visionline tugboat with all of the lights and O Scale figures including the sea captain and crew.

The exterior of the original tugboats are excellent and could be kept exactly the same.

Can you imagine how much that would cost?

Since most of us couldn't afford that, Lionel should also make a LionChief Plus 2.0 tugboat, which would be the same as the Visionline, but no floating on, and running in, water, no motor, and no propellers, and the cost would be 25% of the cost of the  Visionline.

LOL, Arnold

Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari

There was a time when I considered getting one of these. Ideally, I'd rework it into a Jersey Central model, but modeling South Amboy, I could live with a Pennsy one (ask me about the time I planned to use Lionel exploding boxcars to re-create the 1950 powder pier explosion). Then I figured out what the O scale length of one would be... No way I'm EVER going to have that kind of room. Props to those of you who do, and have.

Great picks of the tug boats! Thought these looked really cool when I first saw them a few years ago.

Yes, I'd want one, but I have no body of water on my layout big enough for it. And while I could use it as a tourist attraction or something, I'd prefer to use it as shown in the pics above.

I always thought this cancelled Lionel  was really cool and would go great with the tugboats- which I believe was the intention. Even has the tracks on it, as described in the embedded link

Arnold, great story. Looks great.  Happy ending - although, you really need a new LHS. There are way too many good folks in this business to ever put up with being yelled at - especially after years of paying full retail prices! It’s time to give one of the great forum sponsors a shot.

Good point, Rider Sandman, and I have had great experiences before and after the LHS incident, making purchases of several of my favorite modern locomotives and other things from our terrific Forum sponsors.

And, I'm now fine with the LHS owner. I have learned long ago, being a lawyer, not to hold grudges and even to love my enemies. It turned out he did me a favor because he saved me money by not selling me his tugboat. That is because I offered him $500 for it, and ended up buying it for half that price at the Big E. Arnold

I have a Lionel tug question.   I bought one about the time they were being sold by Lionel. It's a PRR tug, but it has a stern end that is squared-off, and not round, like that on prototype tugs.  I see from the photo of that NY Central tug that it has a rounded stern end. It looks like it's an added part.   Is this so?    I had planned to modify the stern end of my Lionel tug to correct the squared-off end, but if there is an applied part for that, where might I find one?  It would save a lot of fussy cutting and rebuilding of my PRR tug's stern end to correct its shape.

The Lionel tugs are arguably the best modern accessory item of this century The barge would've made an excellent accessory as well.

On my older Christmas-themed layout, and to hide the hookup and control wires, I installed a piece of pipe through my river (slightly opaque blue plastic with blue sands underneath) and riverbed (plywood) as seen just off the port beam shown in the photo, below; then I repositioned the tug to hide it. On my current layout, the river is thick rippled plexiglass with plywood underneath, and I have not yet gained the courage to drill a hole through it in fear of splitting the glass. The tugs also work with batteries (lights only) which is a nice feature as no hookup wires are needed.

PK09

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Last edited by Paul Kallus
@StevefromPA posted:

Great picks of the tug boats! Thought these looked really cool when I first saw them a few years ago.

Yes, I'd want one, but I have no body of water on my layout big enough for it. And while I could use it as a tourist attraction or something, I'd prefer to use it as shown in the pics above.

I always thought this cancelled Lionel  was really cool and would go great with the tugboats- which I believe was the intention. Even has the tracks on it, as described in the embedded link

Possibly because the car floats were ridiculously shortened (21" long) and someone realized that a car float that's 2" longer than their tug wouldn't look anything close to realistic? Of course, finding room for a scale sized car float is even more difficult than for a tug. Walther's HO scale car float (modeled after a B&O float) is 39" long. That's almost 6 feet in O scale!

@Paul Kallus posted:

The Lionel tugs are arguably the best modern accessory item of this century The barge would've made an excellent accessory as well.

On my older Christmas-themed layout, and to hide the hookup and control wires, I installed a piece of pipe through my river (slightly opaque blue plastic with blue sands underneath) and riverbed (plywood) as seen just off the port beam shown in the photo, below; then I repositioned the tug to hide it. On my current layout, the river is thick rippled plexiglass with plywood underneath, and I have not yet gained the courage to drill a hole through it in fear of splitting the glass. The tugs also work with batteries (lights only) which is a nice feature as no hookup wires are needed.

PK09

Paul, the tugboat scene in your photo is beautiful. You have a very wide waterway, and the tugboat fits nicely and does not overwhelm it.

There are excellent modelers who make beautiful barges that are offered for sale. I met one at the Big E and bought several barges from him at very reasonable prices. Arnold

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