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I personally think Paul should sell you those Pennsylvania dual motor f3 for a good deal. He's mainly a NYC guy anyway.. 🤣

I think NOT, Donnie… I was a Pennsy fan before I was drawn into the NYC - my first train was a PW 637 steamer with a Pennsylvania tender. In addition to the Pennsy ABA F3’s, I still have my first GG-1 - the MPC 8753. Pulled all the aluminum passenger cars without breaking a sweat, even better than the F3’s.

@breezinup posted:

Paul, actually I don't begin to have the time or skills to do it, either. I shortcut the process by picking up a set of newer Lionel aluminum passenger cars that came with interiors and passenger figures, removing their chassis' with interiors, and slide the older aluminum shells onto them. (I then transfer the silhouettes and sell the cars that had their interiors removed.)

Maybe I’ll have to look out for some detailed interior parts for a possible upgrade. Thanks for the tip.

MPC was great. I loved it. So many beautiful items.

Favorite caboose #9174 New York Central Bay Window

Favorite Box Car #9772 Great Northern

Favorite Crane Car #9329 Chessie

Favorite Hopper Car #9338 Pennsylvania Power and Light

Favorite Reefer #9883 Oreo

Favorite Stock Car #9450 Great Northern

Favorite Tank Car #6305 British Columbia and #9369 Sinclair (To close to call)

Favorite Misc Depressed Flat Car With Transformer #9233

Favorite Diesel #8970-8971 Pennsylvania F-3's

Favorite Steam Engine #8702 Southern Crescent                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Last edited by jim sutter

People laughed at me in the early 90's when I gave postwar a rest and collected MPC. I now have just about a complete collection of the entire higher end MPC line. Cataloged and Uncatalogued sets, Service Station sets, Limited Edition Sets, All of the Steamers, Diesels and Motorized units along with the entire freight and passenger cars offered.  I also have about 30 B Unit Horn Kits still in the box and an abundance of the Sound of Steam Circuit boards with and without whistle. Many of the parts are still available and you can still get mint box examples.......They will run forever.....now back to my postwar and LTI :-)

I know MPC used the postwar tooling, but I was wondering if MPC engine shells were made in plastic as opposed to their original postwar metal shells?

My experience with MPC is generally unfavorable.  Extremely light-weight rolling stock, and plastic-bodied engines that sat high on their trucks.  I compare it to my postwar GG-1, which I abused the **** out of as a child and never flinched!  Then again, I had the lower-end stuff.

For the most part MPC followed Postwar practice.  All of the high-end steam engines and GG-1s were die cast.  Among smaller steam engines only the Generals and basic starter set steam engines were plastic.  The higher-end set steam engines, like the steam switcher and 4-4-2, were die-cast.  

Among diesels the Alcos, switchers and Trainmasters are near-exact copies of the last Postwar models, minus the horn.  Same with the GG-1, MPC models have dual motors, magnetraction, etc.  

One issue with MPC locomotives is that they do tend to be a little stiff when first put on the track.   I’m not sure what it is, but the tolerances seem a smidge too tight in the drive trains (also sitting on a box for 30 years doesn’t help).  The big steam engines are particularly susceptible to this, and they tend to be noisy at first.   After breaking in they run fine.  

Not to beat a dead horse but I wanted to expand on the “MPC is cheap” cliche bounced around occasionally on here.  

The problem is sometimes we will read about how bad MPC was followed by a comparison of MPC’s bottom of the line set to a dual-motored F-3.  What this approach ignores is that half of the Postwar era fails the test as well.

Lionel cheapened the diesel switchers in 1955, not 1970.   Plastic trucks were introduced in 1957, plastic-bodied steam engines took over starter sets around 1959, and 25-watt transformers were the norm through the 1960s.  That was MPC’s starting point, not what was made in the late 1940s.

We take for granted how remarkable it is that MPC revived nearly every Postwar-era locomotive and rolling stock design and was willing to invest the capital to do it.  When drawing comparisons we need to look the MPC era vs. 1960s Postwar and recognize what a comeback they pulled off.  

Last edited by Tommy_F

My first Lionel train set was a ACL steam starter set that I got for my birthday in 79 or 80.  The only headache was when I got my dad's postwar set given to me a year or two later as it was AC and the MPC set was DC powered.  I had quite a few MPC items thru the years and never really had any issues with them.  MPC keep the line going till the LTI years and the resurgence of 3 rail trains that have carried us up to where we are.  Other than a short stint of mfg in Mexico, I believe most where made in the USA still.  Cant say that about the current state of things other than cars that Lionel is offering from the old Weaver tooling which I believe they kept stateside.  So while MPC might get looked down upon by some, its an important part of the history of Lionel and there are some darn good trains made thru those years.   AD

Here are some pics of my B&O tool car.  This side of the box has a 1984 copyright by Fundimensions, and it says 'Made and Litho in USA'.  It probably has all of 5 minutes of track time from sometime in the mid-80s.  I thought it was my only B&O car, but I bought a 51501 B&O Hopper back in April or so of this year from Stout.

IMG_4460IMG_4458

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@Tommy_F posted:

Not to beat a dead horse but I wanted to expand on the “MPC is cheap” cliche bounced around occasionally on here.  

The problem is sometimes we will read about how bad MPC was followed by a comparison of MPC’s bottom of the line set to a dual-motored F-3.  What this approach ignores is that half of the Postwar era fails the test as well.

Lionel cheapened the diesel switchers in 1955, not 1970.   Plastic trucks were introduced in 1957, plastic-bodied steam engines took over starter sets around 1959, and 25-watt transformers were the norm through the 1960s.  That was MPC’s starting point, not what was made in the late 1940s.

We take for granted how remarkable it is that MPC revived nearly every Postwar-era locomotive and rolling stock design and was willing to invest the capital to do it.  When drawing comparisons we need to look the MPC era vs. 1960s Postwar and recognize what a comeback they pulled off.  

I totally get you Tommy. Mpc was not the best quality, but it is what I grew up on. My parents could barley afford those trains as it was. If they were made any better I dont think I would have had much. My parents bought me the Spirit of 76 complete set one Christmas and I was buzzing for a month. I still have it today and it is very close to my heart. More than my Vision line locomotives. Guess its all in your perspective.

Enjoy those trains! Nick

MPC line from Lionel tried to keep the post war O gauge TOY train Lionel line affordable for the masses.  It was great value at the time.

Lionel type O gauge trains now have evolved from TOYS into more scale like details and tons of features and at $600 to $1200 or more for an engine are out of the average Joes price range.

Charlie

Charlie,

I hear you but it's not quite that simple.  Three things to remember:

  1. Not all of them have evolved in that way.  The 'Traditional O' line are still toys and are still "affordable".  Standard O is a scale line, is not, never was, and was not intended to be "affordable".
  2. Prices are indeed getting ridiculous; runaway inflation is currently a big problem.
  3. If you paid close attention, back in the 1970's when MPC was in its prime, you'll know that runaway inflation was a big problem then too.  I purchased precisely zero MPC locomotives during that time because they were much too expensive for my meager paper route proceeds to support (at 13 or 14 years old).  I did buy cars and accessories, which I still have, and still enjoy.

Don't forget this as well: Lionel has always been expensive, from day one in 1900, and in every year since.  That's why Louis Marx was so successful back in the day.

Mike

@Tommy_F posted:


One issue with MPC locomotives is that they do tend to be a little stiff when first put on the track.   I’m not sure what it is, but the tolerances seem a smidge too tight in the drive trains (also sitting on a box for 30 years doesn’t help).  The big steam engines are particularly susceptible to this, and they tend to be noisy at first.   After breaking in they run fine.  

This is a very well-known characteristic of the Lionel AC Pullmor motors, including those made in the Postwar period. The longer these engines are run, the smoother they get. Pullmors always need a certain break-in period. Well run Pullmor motors can run like sewing machines (well, figuratively).

My experience with MPC is generally unfavorable.  Extremely light-weight rolling stock, and plastic-bodied engines that sat high on their trucks.  I compare it to my postwar GG-1, which I abused the **** out of as a child and never flinched!  Then again, I had the lower-end stuff.

This kind of opinion has been seen many times in the past -- pronouncing sentence and condemnation based only upon an experience with the cheapest beginner products in the MPC line. Of course, there was no comparison between the cheapest MPC and the higher quality products of the MPC line, which was most of it. Much of the upper line quality pieces remains robust to this day, even basic rolling stock. (I know because I still have a bunch of it. )Too bad the poster didn't have a MPC GG-1, so he could have done a fair comparison.

Last edited by breezinup
@breezinup posted:

This kind of opinion has been seen many times in the past -- pronouncing sentence and condemnation based only upon an experience with the cheapest beginner products in the MPC line. Of course, there was no comparison between the cheapest MPC and the higher quality products of ther MPC line, which was most of it. Much of the upper line quality pieces remains robust to this day, even basic rolling stock. (I know because I still have a bunch of it. )Too bad the poster didn't have a MPC GG-1, so he could have done a fair comparison.

I have to agree. IMHO, MPC is not all that different from Lionel’s current offerings (except for the price!!!). There were inexpensive - some say cheap - cars/sets, as well as high end cars/sets. As @breezinup mentioned, the MPC GG1 was amazing as were some of the 15” aluminum passenger cars. There were many great sets such as the Maple Leaf Limited which included some really nice engines and cars.

@ADCX Rob posted:

The 1970-1971 MPC line was mechanically superior to the 1962-up starter sets, and any set cataloged after 1966(as an example, compare a 8010 to a 634).

From 1973-1991, there were DC-only sets cataloged that were very cheaply made, but they served their purpose, and were cataloged alongside continually improving equipment.

Good points.  One of MPC’s greatest challenges was trying to remain competitive in the mass market.   The AC transformers and motors were an insurmountable roadblock until Lionel finally hit on the DC can motor idea.  

It’s easy to take for granted just how difficult it is to manufacture a train set.   A single piece of 027 track has 12 components—3 rails, 3 pins, 3 ties and 3 insulators.  Half of those parts are plated and three are painted.   Most sets in the 1970s had 10 to 14 track sections each.  Even the most basic MPC-era truck with an operating coupler contains 12 parts.  Now factor in the locomotive and transformer, which of course is where the complexity is.  Even the most basic set easily has a couple hundred component parts.  They ain’t nerf balls.  

In the 1940s and early ‘50s Lionel could over-engineer everything because the market would bear it.  When the economy evolved towards mass marketing and discount stores, Lionel trains became “a” toy rather than “the” toy, and parents were less willing to spend 80% of the Christmas budget on a train set.   To their credit Lionel picked up on this and redesigned set components beginning in 1955.  What is often overlooked is that this “cheapening” lowered the price points of many sets.  In terms of raw numbers Lionel annually sold a lot of sets until the early 1960s; the problem was they were making a lot less on each one.  MPC reversed the trend for a while in the ‘70s but couldn’t keep the momentum going.  

Last edited by Tommy_F

Don't forget this as well: Lionel has always been expensive, from day one in 1900, and in every year since.  That's why Louis Marx was so successful back in the day.

Mike

This x 100.  The basic 6462 NYC gondola sold for about $4.50 in 1950.  How much is that in 2022?  55 bucks.  Milk car sets at that time retailed for $11.50.   In today’s money that translates to $140.

Lionels have never been cheap.  

MPC for me is OK. I have a lot of Post War, MPC, Modern and the newest production. The F3's, Trainmasters and GG1's are fairly good runners and the paint schemes are decent. They made a large number of passenger car set to match the F3's. All said I have about 700+ pieces of MPC in my collection and I am happy with it. Plus most of the engines runner pretty good.

Just my 2 cents worth.



Thanks;

idea-thinker

Here's an example of mpc using postwar tooling. Just got these 1973 f3 Baltimore and Ohio's. The frames are stamped 2243 which was the 1958 Santa Fe f3 A unit. PXL_20221014_202950974

Not only parts, but they reused stamping dies too.  Check out the lettering, built date and circle-L mark on the 6417 PRR caboose from 1953 and the 9162, made 29 years later:

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Images (2)
  • 9B640776-7B3F-4A21-8DAB-22C89076C495
  • A935126B-DF8C-4D9D-8900-0543D1229460

Here's an example of mpc using postwar tooling. Just got these 1973 f3 Baltimore and Ohio's. The frames are stamped 2243 which was the 1958 Santa Fe f3 A unit. PXL_20221014_202950974

Not only parts, but they reused stamping dies too.  Check out the lettering, built date and circle-L mark on the 6417 PRR caboose from 1953 and the 9162, made 29 years later:F628EF99-2997-4223-9F97-87B359D668A1EF3F59B7-B5F4-4DF8-A1DE-439FC23FF976

Attachments

Images (2)
  • F628EF99-2997-4223-9F97-87B359D668A1
  • EF3F59B7-B5F4-4DF8-A1DE-439FC23FF976

Here's an example of mpc using postwar tooling. Just got these 1973 f3 Baltimore and Ohio's. The frames are stamped 2243 which was the 1958 Santa Fe f3 A unit. PXL_20221014_202950974

Not only parts, but they reused stamping dies too.  Check out the lettering, built date and circle-L mark on the 6417 PRR caboose from 1953 and the 9162, made 20 years later:F628EF99-2997-4223-9F97-87B359D668A1EF3F59B7-B5F4-4DF8-A1DE-439FC23FF976

Last edited by Tommy_F

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