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Good morning all!


I wanted to share with you something that bothered me, and that's the Lionel high-water F units.  When coupled to my Atlas F2, it is readably noticeable that the F3 B unit is higher "in the saddle".




I took the B unit apart and noticed that the frame is actually mounted to the underside of a disc at which sit atop the truck kingpins.


So with that said, I tried a super easy way to do it!


Here are the steps:


  1. Remove shell
  2. With frame sitting on a flat surface, remove the two black M3 screws that sit upon the kingpin disc, and rotate it to the side.
  3. Drop a washer that's approximately the thickness that you want the shell to be lowered (I used a ~0.045" thick M3 lock washer)
  4. Rotate the disc back into place and replace the screws. (I used new, longer M3 stainless screws to be sure they seat well)
  5. Reattach shell!


Here's the steps in pictures...


Lowering Lionel TMCC F3 B-units 2


some miscellaneous photos:







Should you have any questions, please let me know!



- Mario


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Original Post

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The Tmcc F7s have to be lowered about an eighth inch to solid mount the pilot and have everything look right .My first B unit I just cut the mounting tabs of the shell which requires the doors to be modified and non working. I think I did a tutorial on it.


I've looked at modifying the truck rings and I think they will have to be cut or ground and new center section attached. Haven' gotten back to the Fs due to the Alcos and now the steamer ERR installs. Sometime soon though.



Ok, so after someone's email, I had to go and open up my NYC F3s and investigate if my aforementioned technique would work, and it did!


All I had to do is:


  1. Remove the screws from the truck retaining ring
  2. Drop the truck
  3. Remove the steps from the truck (replace the removed screws with a 3mm flat machine screw instead of the removed pan head)
  4. Re-insert the truck
  5. Slide the lock washer in under the retaining ring
  6. Re-insert the 3mm pan head screws


And voila! A lowered Lionel TMCC NYC F3, that now matches the height of Atlas F2... Here's some pics of it nose-to-nose with the Atlas, and back to back with the already lowered Lionel F3 B unit.












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Last edited by CentralFan1976

OK, so I did it your way with this F3 Dummy B unit. I used lock washers like you suggested, but double them up because I didn't have the same thickness as what you used. It dropped it a little bit more, and that's about as far as I can go with out clearance issues.


Also frame mounted the steps that were removed from the trucks. Actually it's a different step, but looks much better. The buffer plate under the diaphragm needs some modification as it won't allow the unit's to turn because those buffers are rigid. I'll either cut them back shorter, or remove them all together.





If you look at the buffer under the diaphragm, you can see how much lower it is, and the gap caused by the truck mounted step is gone as well.


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Yes I used another set of rear steps and just cut them off past the mounting hole. I had some in my parts box from an old project. Like you said, the steps that are truck mounted are too short for body mounts, but they will do in a pinch.

Havent decided what to do about the A unit front pilot. Maybe a P&D, maybe just use the factory Lionel pilot.

I would use my bench top sander to sand that pilot down. Thats how I got rid of the foot boards on my Legacy GP30's... 60 grit belt for the heavy duty work knocked that diecast right down. Leveling was done with an 100 grit belt.

By lowering the A unit bodies with washers, it dropped it right down on top of the pilot. No spacer needed between the body and the pilot. It does need a .040" spacer between the frame and pilots when it's mounted, just because the frame is recessed that much in the shell as you stated earlier. Body mounted steps, and a custom coupler mount for the rear of this thing and it will be time for paint touch ups and the rails.




This is the trailing unit, 19C, so I left the coupler stick out a little further than it should so there's more clearance when coupled to its train. The leader, 19L, will get it's coupler set back in further for better appearance.


The interior was painted tan because Lionel had it painted red from in factory. Cab lights were removed because I hate running with the lights on inside, and the smoke unit was modified and rebuilt with new batting. Still need to add all the correct length MU hoses to the rear of all the units because Lionel included the stubbies with this set. They are in the trash now.  


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Last edited by Former Member



Looks fantastic... absolutely amazing!


I finished the 2nd revision for the bracket for the P&D Hobbies passenger pilot; so we'll see how they fit tonight, once the wife and kid are asleep.






I'm printing you the rear coupler mounts and buffer assemblies tonight, show hopefully they'll be in the mail to you soon!





Wish you could fix my pilot, and I could install your coupler mounts... fair trade, I think.





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Well until you started this thread I was gonna sell my ABBA set because I didn't like the way they looked....... now they are definitely keepers. I'm actually glad to keep these because I bought them 10 years ago, and it was my 1st purchase of Lionel as an adult. This set got me back into the hobby.


Lowered with body mounted steps. 





The 3-D printed coupler conversion makes this job a snap. The buffer below the diaphragm had to be shortened so the diaphragm would compress. The stubby MU hoses were replaced with full length versions. All painted silver as Santa Fe practice.




Crew figures were removed from the rear unit and all lights unplugged as this 19C will be the trailing unit in this consist always. The silver "gasket" was removed from the windshield.




Thanks Mario, this project wasn't even on the list until you started this  


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Your units look amazing, you've done a fantastic job.

This combination, that you and I have discovered, have turned these units into a scale piece that I would put up against any Atlas or 3rd Rail unit, and totally blows MTH off the map.

The Lionel unit specific Railsounds alone are step above the others. I just hope this makes others make the jump.

In case anyone is keeping track, this same principle can be used to lower the Legacy Sharknose units, as you can see over in the 3RS forum, started by Norm.

Mine are apart as this is posted and should be good to go. You can't lower them as far as the F3s, but enough to do what LOS did and just fix the pilot without a spacer.

Keep checking back for more updates.


Lowering the frames creates a small problem for the rear motor as the roof panel tabs sit right down on top of the flywheel, preventing the rear motor from spinning at all.


Nothing the Dremel tool didn't fix real quick.




On the A units, the front motor is shorter, but the plastic bracket that sits on top of the cab interior holding the interior lights has to be removed. It won't fit under the shell now that's its so low. I took the interior lights and ran them onto the floor of the cab interior. They got a drop of glue just to hold them in place.


Also the roof fans are held in by pins, bent over inside the shell. I had to cut some of those off to get the smoke unit to sit flush against the shell roof. I thought about removing the smoke unit because of the weathering I am going to do....but I'll just turn it off I guess.


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The 3-D printed coupler mounting brackets on both ends of the B units, and the rear of the A units.


The outer screws hold the coupler to the mounting pad/spacer. The center screw goes all the way through the frame to eliminate the flex of the entire assembly. You could just run the 2 outer screws all the way through the frame and it would do the same thing. The sides of the draft gear box were also ground out to allow maximum swing for the coupler.



The buffer plate had to be cut back or sanded down to the depth of the compressed diaphragms. Otherwise the diaphrams would not compress, causing derailments even on 072 curves. In order to keep them on the rails through the curves coupled this tight, you have to have diaphragms that compress, and maximum swing in the coupler box.




and the fixed pilot... I just ran the coupler moutning screws all the way into the frame.





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Last edited by Former Member
Good question... And no.

They're not for me, but for a friend that saw my work and wants to do the same to their poor excuse for a pilot on the their brand new FTs. 

He called and wrote MTH a at least three times each, and doesn't know if they have them, as they've nevet rwached out back to them.

Meanwhile, I already have the Legacy Railsounds board for my sharks back from Lionel and it was a week today that they got them. I didn't even pay for it yet, and they sent it to me anyway. I called and paid when I got it.

That's why I don't buy MTH. Well, one of the reasons. They're not for me.

Ron H posted:



The F3 s he references are a completely different truck mounting system. For ours I'm going to fab a whole new mounting plate out of brass sheet.



Old thread, but does anyone know if Ron or anyone else has fabricated these mounting plates for the TMCC F7s?

Alternatively, I believe there is now a Legacy version of the F7.  Do they have an improved lower profile mounting plate that can be got from Lionel parts? 

It's a pleasure to re read this thread again after all this time as it really showcases what is good about the forum itself and the participation of the membership in particular. Sorry to see 'former member' in place of Doug's name as he (along with Mario, Ron H, Marker, and others) was one of the pioneers in modifying these models. Didn't realize that he was gone...  :-(

Sam, I agree  it's a good thread.  

The plate has a bowl into the bottom of which the vertical stem of the truck goes   On the tmcc the bowl is just too low.  Whereas from the parts pic above it looks possible that they made it shallower which would bring the trucks up closer to the frame.  I doubt they would have made a new casting for the frame (which is die-cast) so I am hoping it just fits in the tmcc versions and fixes the problem, but can tell just from the picture.  Although I might just try to order and take my chances . If they don't fit at least I will a have them as extra parts to try to modify to fit. 

I do feel like I have to say that while it is true that the ride height is crazy high on the tmcc f7s, I am pretty impressed with the quality of the engines.  The plate and other components are solid and make for a nice sturdy, strong, and stable locomotive (just too high compared to the prototype)  

I took a bit of a leave of absence for a few years and missed some stuff, but would like to avoid reinventing the wheel! 

pennsy484 posted:

Looks like part no. 28.  Anyone know if this fits the frame and trucks of the tmcc f7s?  And if so does it on its own lower the ride height? 


On some locos, you can move this plate to the top of the frame, if the bowl is large enough, to the top of the frame and get great results. 

I did do the F7s, as well...



Hi Mario. On the tmcc F7s  the bowl plate is incorporated into a larger square plate that fits into the bottom of the frame . I did try moving it to the top of the frame but the truck mounting cams won't reach so that's a no go.  I read the thread you posted, thank you for posting that.  I guess I am confused though since adding washers as with the f3s won't work for my f7s.  Sorry I am just not seeing how you lowered the F7s. (other than cutting down the posts on the shells, am I reading it r8ght on that?)  

I went ahead and ordered the part from the Legacy version, which looks to be just the bowl plate part and am going to see if I can get that part mounted to these frames somehow that produces a better height. They were like $4.50 each, so even if they don't work out the fun of the attempt justifies the price for me.  👍🏻

I am currently so happy about the color change that the height doesn't bother me as much (for now 😂), but am still goings to see what I can come up with.

Looking forward to any other assistance.

pennsy484 posted:

Hi Mario. On the tmcc F7s  the bowl plate is incorporated into a larger square plate that fits into the bottom of the frame . I did try moving it to the top of the frame but the truck mounting cams won't reach so that's a no go.  I read the thread you posted, thank you for posting that.  I guess I am confused though since adding washers as with the f3s won't work for my f7s.  Sorry I am just not seeing how you lowered the F7s. (other than cutting down the posts on the shells, am I reading it r8ght on that?)  

Looking forward to any other assistance.

You totally can use the just washer, and it will be a good start.  on my F7, I need to lower it more than just what the washer could do...

I never got the plate on top to work, but some have.


- Mario.

This is a fine thread that is now relevant to a project I am into. I have a B non-powered unit that I have lowered and have done the Kadee conversion. But I am unsuccessful at body-mounting the 4 inner steps that originally factory mount to the trucks. Is there a simple way to accomplish this since on one side of the frame the slide switch cut outs prohibit drilling and tapping a mounting hole?
Though made awhile back, it is still a beautiful model. I am marrying it to a 3rd rail FP7 that has the steps cast into the truck.

@c.sam posted:

Glad to see this still around. I have a Santa Fe F7 'Breakdown' unit that I'd like to lower for future use with an ABBA locomotive.  Were you guys able to successfully lower the F7's after all?

Hi Sam, I think I did. Just went to the train room to look. Couldn't find the F7 A , it's around somewhere, but found some B units.

Last edited by Ron H

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