MPC Era Lionel Trains?

ADCX Rob posted:
Adriatic posted:

...Gramps ordered sight unseen from Lionel from the mid 30s till the mid 70s. Finally, the overall quality made him send an engine back. He cried because "his Lionel" was dead...

Too bad. 1976 was the year things started getting really good again.

That's right. Starting with the 8600 steam loco and the return of Magne-Traction. But the real eye-opener was the 8753 GG-1 from 1977 -- it proved to the Fundimensions guys that they didn't need to re-engineer anything to reduce costs on high-end product, and that there were people out there willing to pay the price to get the items with the features that they wanted. I'm really curious to know which locomotive was delivered that missed expectations so badly -- nothing obvious comes to mind.

 

scale rail posted:

As I remember at the time the Kickapoo was designed by a old Lionel designer. He also designed the small Milwaukee Madison cars. No operating couplers and very simple cars as was the steam engine. I bought all those MPC things early on. I repainted the steamer and detailed it but had no problem running it. I can look up more detail on the steam engine if anyone would like. Don

Bruno Branstner is credited with the Kickapoo, but I believe Gordon Hathaway did the "Milwaukee" cars. (They originally planned on doing the Pennsylvania cars first.)

 

C W Burfle posted:

 He also designed the small Milwaukee Madison cars.

Whatever model railroading magazine I was getting at time (MR or RMC) ran a feature article about those "baby Madison" cars when they were being designed.  If I recall correctly, One of the points the article featured was the changeable end to make a Pullman or an observation.

I only have a vague recollection of that article. I think it was in Railroad Model Craftsman, circa 1973. Anyone know which issue?

TRW

Dan Padova posted:
david1 posted:
Dan Padova posted:

I've never heard of the Mini-Max boxcar.  Anyone have more info on it ?

I had one and it was very small car with two trucks that only two wheels. It was blue and white.

In Europe, four wheeled freight cars are common.  There must have been some sort of prototype for Lionel to have made the Mini-Max.  I suspect they were in the lower price range.  

Dan is correct.  The only time I saw a photo of the Mini-Max prototype, was in the early Seventies, in one of the railroad hobby magazines.  That was why I was motivated to buy the Lionel version when it came out.  I might add that although I bought mine brand-new in the box, it never contained any plastic crates.

If I recall correctly, the idea behind the Mini-Max was that it would be used to haul lightweight, high-volume cargo.  Since I never saw one lettered for anything but General Mills, I presume what they had in mind was cereal, but I don't know for certain.

I can't remember any more which magazine ran the photo -- either RMC or MR.  Many's the time I've searched online for that picture ever since, with no luck.

Incidentally, it seems the Lionel Mini-Max may be on its way to becoming a collector's item.  I've seen them selling for $10 up to $30, both online and at train shows.

I loved MPC and still run it. Every couple of months the scale Pennsy comes off and the MPC goes on, its fun and relaxing and that what the hobby is about. I was born in 1970 and MPC was everywhere in NY. I got my Tuscan PRR F-3's from Train World on Ave. M. My MoPac GP-20's and my Budd Car SSS from Madison Hardware. The B. Altman in White Plains always had a layout at Christmas along with the A & S in Paramus, all MPC trains. When the Blue Comet came out I begged my father for it and I still have it to this day. Even got the diner from Madison Hardware when they were hard to find..It's nice to take out 2 screws pop the shell and a little oil and lube, off you go. My favorite MPC set, the orange Lionel Lines set, all from Trainland or Train World, thanks Mr. Bianco!!!!

PaperTRW posted:
Adriatic posted:
    Pick up a C8 post war, imagine you grew to expect that quality and ruggedness.

Pick up a similar C8 MPC. Note the weight, detail difference, metal content and overall feel of ruggedness. Note the change in sheen because in the 70s you are suspect of the high sheen; previously that was a dead giveaway for cheap, brittle, plastic, even on name brand items.( Time answered the question on the plastic's quality )

  Can motors were considered cheap and unreliable. They were only seen in toys.  Lionels were not "just toys" they were Lionels. The open frame could be rebuilt like a quality power tool; the can motor was perceved as a throwaway toy.

  Add to that the fiasco that occurred as thousands of kids planted that new Lionel starter set loco on the old family Christmas loop and had them quickly toast.... DC trains did little to continue the confidence Lionel had earned with the Christmas crowd. I recall stacks of returns 4' high at Kmart. These starter set's likely ended a few hobbyists future fun permanently and ended some family traditions.

  Gramps ordered sight unseen from Lionel from the mid 30s till the mid 70s. Finally, the overall quality made him send an engine back. He cried because "his Lionel" was dead. He continued to buy, but never ordered another thing.

  Gramps was an operator, but also a serious collector. The kind with "white glove cabinets". I feel guilt cutting into anything pre70 not already broke.  I see MPC as something cheap and acceptible that I can enjoy; or hate... bashing on it till I do enjoy it, without " guilt".

Posts like the one above make me cringe a bit, because they're long on emotion and short on facts. Let me start with two questions:

1) What was the set name and approximate year that you saw 4' high stacks of returns at K-Mart? How do you know the reason why they were returned?

Because I grew up in a Lionel environment, I listened and asked.  Many were returned for "cheapness", but the majority because the DC motors were not compatible with Lionel's previous ac power, though it was expected.  This was poor marketing on Lionels part imo, they didn't make it clear enough the two types were not compatible.

2) What was the locomotive that your grandfather returned because it didn't have the overall quality he was looking for?

I'm having trouble on that at the moment, I'll have to think a while. It was white and there were quite a few white loco's about that period.... Alco, GP or U-boat ?Disney, one of the State sets or other patriotics?

TRW

ADCX Rob posted:
Adriatic posted:

...Gramps ordered sight unseen from Lionel from the mid 30s till the mid 70s. Finally, the overall quality made him send an engine back. He cried because "his Lionel" was dead...

Too bad. 1976 was the year things started getting really good again.

   He didn't "give up", he just never bought a loco without inspecting it first, no more orders after near 50 years of ordering direct, sight unseen.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





I still have and run the MPC New Haven F3 AA set that I bought from Charles Siegal's web site when he was still in Pennsylvania in the late 90's. Super inexpensive.I was also able to aquire the matching MPC B unit shell from Trainworld for a giveaway price shortly thereafter. 

Never had any trouble with the set, it remains to this day one of my favorite trains. I have never looked down upon MPC offerings. They're fun to run.

John

 

Member of the AGTTA

San Diego

philo426 posted:

U36 #8773?1518724975931-994089054

I have to chuckle when I see the Disney series.  In the late '70s, I was browsing in Two Guys Department store.  In the toy department of course.  They had quite a bit of MPC Lionel on the shelves, including all of the Disney cars out up to that time.  A woman was a few feet away admiring the Disney box cars.  She remarked, "Aren't these cute".  Then I noticed her look at the price and she promptly put it back on the shelf.  I suspected that she had thoughts of buying some cars and a loco for her child that was with her.  I don't recall what the prices were but I wasn't ready to spend money on Disney cars at that point.  In those days work was scarce for a carpenter in Philly.  I was on unemployment and looking for a job, so any train purchases were an extreme luxury.

Dan Padova

 

"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill

                                                                                                                                        

I remember that article and it got me motivated to anticipate and later purchase the Milwaukee Special Set. I also remember the exclusive extra coach offer through the mail. A few years ago, I purchased a mint MR set and most of the add-on coaches and the combine. Engine and SOS with whistle runs fine! I should mention a forum member sent me the mail order car gratis, for which I was very grateful! Engine is also a good smoker, BETTER than both my black and gray JLC Challengers!

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

philo426 posted:

U36 #8773?1518724975931-994089054

This is the first set I bought in 1977 or 78, when I got back into trains.  I think I paid $180 for the engine and the first 6(?) cars. I bought the additional cars for $12 each and refused to pay $50 for the Mickey birthday car when it came out.  ($50 for a plastic car, no way.)  I wound up buying it a year or so later for $350  

O O o o
O      ____ ____.
Y__._|[]|_/  Bill  |
{|__|_|__|_____|
//oo-OOO-oo--oo

 

Member TCA & LCCA & NLOE www.nloe.org , OGR 11-23-2001

philo426 posted:

Do you still have them?Can you post pics?

here are a few, I tried panorama but kept doing something wrong :-) just before Christmas my wife had me move a hutch (temporarily) in front of some train shelves.  Guess what it’s still there.  I added a picture showing some of my 9800 series billboard reefers.

 

O O o o
O      ____ ____.
Y__._|[]|_/  Bill  |
{|__|_|__|_____|
//oo-OOO-oo--oo

 

Member TCA & LCCA & NLOE www.nloe.org , OGR 11-23-2001

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Lionel from that era was no different than other major product lines. It had its its and its misses. Now fast forward four decades to today. Most of the junky, overly plastic pieces are in landfills and what is left is generally good quality, reasonably prices (check Ebay) fun, fun, fun.

Frank Ventura

choochoo@technologynation.us

 

 

... Another dedicated member of the model railroad quality control department. whenever I see quality, I try to control it...

 

I run and collect mostly post war but most of the F3's and EP5's that I want are out of my price range.  Recently I picked up a real nice B&O F3 and a PA EP5 for a VERY reasonable price.  I'm looking for more now and can't wait for an upcoming show in March. 

671/681 posted:

I run and collect mostly post war but most of the F3's and EP5's that I want are out of my price range.  Recently I picked up a real nice B&O F3 and a PA EP5 for a VERY reasonable price.  I'm looking for more now and can't wait for an upcoming show in March. 

I found great buys on a couple of MPC era Pennsey EP-5 units, and run them together in a pair. They look great and run really sweet !

-- Not a "rivet counter", but do love fine-scale detail ! --

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Oh boy.  I'm beginning to have a bit of buyer's remorse.  I just purchased, from a forum member, An MPC F3, Pensy ABA in Tuscon Red for what I though was little money, I guess, $125.  I should have researches first.

I now understand what I bought.  I don't want to look like a fool and renege on the deal.  I just hope it will pull several heavy cars and not sound like a coffee grinder or hair clipper.

Someone please put my mind at ease.

Ponz

david1 posted:
imageDan Padova posted:

I've never heard of the Mini-Max boxcar.  Anyone have more info on it ?

I had one and it was very small car with two trucks that only two wheels. It was blue and white.

I think the chassis was revived for the first Thomas and friends goods vans and passenger cars.

RoyBoy

Ponz posted:

Oh boy.  I'm beginning to have a bit of buyer's remorse.  I just purchased, from a forum member, An MPC F3, Pensy ABA in Tuscon Red for what I though was little money, I guess, $125.  I should have researches first.

I now understand what I bought.  I don't want to look like a fool and renege on the deal.  I just hope it will pull several heavy cars and not sound like a coffee grinder or hair clipper.

Someone please put my mind at ease.

Ponz

Ponz.

i ran into a young guy who was selling trains that his dad who passed away had. I bought  a Mpc Chicago & Alton 4-6-4 steamer, an mpc great northern steamer 4-8-4 steamer and pw crane car, coal dump car and 3662 milk car for 300.00

i have 99% postwar and the mpc steamers were the first I purchased, actually second, I purchased the mpc 783 Hudson from him previously and put in a ERR railsound board, excellent whistle and bell upgrade. A keeper.

i love them as the run and smoke like brand new engines, they have sound of steam which is very primitive but goes with the history of the era. I put new foam on the boards in the tenders as it deteriorated over time, and to prevent them from shorting out, pullmore motors which I can service. They add color to the layout and I can’t find anything wrong with them. Everyone has their opinions but I think I did well purchasing them and have no regrets. I may upgrade the boards with the ERR rail sounds,which I can still run conventional with. Since I got at a good price I feel I’ll still come out ahead. 125.00 for an aba I think is excellent, you did good imo. I like to tinker and gave up on the new electronic failures selling for a fortune. People may say mpc, pow is junk, but look on the forum, I see people having problems with the new bells and whistles EVERYDAY.

i believe in th KISS theory. Just my 2 cents,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jsulli21 posted:
Ponz posted:

Oh boy.  I'm beginning to have a bit of buyer's remorse.  I just purchased, from a forum member, An MPC F3, Pensy ABA in Tuscon Red for what I though was little money, I guess, $125.  I should have researches first.

I now understand what I bought.  I don't want to look like a fool and renege on the deal.  I just hope it will pull several heavy cars and not sound like a coffee grinder or hair clipper.

Someone please put my mind at ease.

Ponz

Ponz.

i ran into a young guy who was selling trains that his dad who passed away had. I bought  a Mpc Chicago & Alton 4-6-4 steamer, an mpc great northern steamer 4-8-4 steamer and pw crane car, coal dump car and 3662 milk car for 300.00

i have 99% postwar and the mpc steamers were the first I purchased, actually second, I purchased the mpc 783 Hudson from him previously and put in a ERR railsound board, excellent whistle and bell upgrade. A keeper.

i love them as the run and smoke like brand new engines, they have sound of steam which is very primitive but goes with the history of the era. I put new foam on the boards in the tenders as it deteriorated over time, and to prevent them from shorting out, pullmore motors which I can service. They add color to the layout and I can’t find anything wrong with them. Everyone has their opinions but I think I did well purchasing them and have no regrets. I may upgrade the boards with the ERR rail sounds,which I can still run conventional with. Since I got at a good price I feel I’ll still come out ahead. 125.00 for an aba I think is excellent, you did good imo. I like to tinker and gave up on the new electronic failures selling for a fortune. People may say mpc, pow is junk, but look on the forum, I see people having problems with the new bells and whistles EVERYDAY.

i believe in th KISS theory. Just my 2 cents,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks - that makes me feel better

Ponz

MPC trains are basic but they have proven themselves to be reliable, good running train. If you wish to keep it simple and affordable MPC is the ticket.  I really like MPC engines, operating, and passengers cars but not the stripped bright color plain plastic heat stamped box cars.

Builder of the Hill Lines ( New Delta Lines). Recreating history for the model RR community.

Over winter I bought the AA set of PRR tuscan F3's.   I had to install new traction tires, lube them, and had some trouble with the "dummy" coupler on the lead powered A unit.  I replaced that and they run great! 

Yes they buzz, but I may or may not even mind that- if it really bothers me- I'll install a Dallee reverse unit.  

I wanted to install and engineer and conductor- but in the A unit with the two motors- no room.  So- I installed the figures in the dummy A, run the powered A backwards as the second loco, pushing the dummy A- and who can tell!!

At $100 I think they are fine.  

I've been in the hobby since 1970. The MPC era was a very fun time. We would drool over new catalogs, go to Town House TV and Appliance and buy what we could afford. At first they would run around the Xmas tree. Then we built a table in the basement. 

Today I have new stuff, but I still have all my MPC trains I ever bought, and they all get on the tracks every year. 

I have just about a complete collection of the entire high end MPC series. Sets, Locos, Cars, etc. and I love MPC

No issues what so ever and parts are still available, even some of the circuit boards for horns or sound of steam can be found NOS or repaired. All of my items are near mint and run perfectly out of the box.  Brand new can still be found at shows for great prices. Better then the Chinese paper weights being imported these days...

 

Mark

TCA, LCCA,

All Lionel!!

Postwar, MPC, LTI Standard O, Postwar Celebration Series, Conventional Classics, All the way!!!

 

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