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For Western Maryland fans, I asked Mr. Muffin to change the road number to 840 or 850 from 734. He currently has it listed as 840 which is an authentic engine that can be found online in the "Western Maryland steam roster" ( which by the way is a great resource for WM guys) The 734 number had been produced by both MTH and Lionel around 2015. I personally do not care to model the WM scenic railroad. I want to pull long coal trains with prototypical engines. I put my pre order in for #840 today and hope 19 others do also. This number has not been previously produced by MTH. thanks speperak

@speperak posted:

For Western Maryland fans, I asked Mr. Muffin to change the road number to 840 or 850 from 734. He currently has it listed as 840 which is an authentic engine that can be found online in the "Western Maryland steam roster" ( which by the way is a great resource for WM guys) The 734 number had been produced by both MTH and Lionel around 2015. I personally do not care to model the WM scenic railroad. I want to pull long coal trains with prototypical engines. I put my pre order in for #840 today and hope 19 others do also. This number has not been previously produced by MTH. thanks speperak

I thought Mr. M. had it listed as 734 when I first saw it, then today it was 840.  I thought I must have been mistaken the first time.    Thank you for asking him to change it.  You were absolutely right.  I have the MTH Premier 734, along with a Premier 830 and a repaint Premier numbered 844.  The Legacy engine is tempting, but do I need another WM Consolidation???  I'll have to ponder on it a while longer.

Thanks Mark, I am glad you agree with me. I was afraid that asking him to change the number might seem presumptuous and offend others who would want the 734. I really did not expect him to change it. On the other hand, every WM train collector I know already has the 734 or doesn't want it because it was an excursion train. Even the sounds on the MTH model are all for the scenic rail road. And again, both MTH and Lionel produced the 734 in 2015 and they are not hard to find.

Last edited by speperak


Personally, I’d be more apt to buy one if it was numbered lower like for a class H-4, H-5, or H-6.  They seem like a closer match than the 734 H-7a or 840 H-9 brutes.

#406 is nice
http://www.northeast.railfan.net/images/wm406s.jpg

#456 looks good except for the pilot
http://www.northeast.railfan.net/images/wm456sa.jpg

#605 looks real close
http://www.northeast.railfan.net/images/wm605s.jpg

Last edited by rplst8
@speperak posted:

rplst8, the Lionel catalog does not say what class of 2-8-0 they are trying to model. I suggested a number based on what MTH has used in the past. I do agree that the Lionel looks more like the H-6 class. I was really just hoping for anything other than 734.

Totally, I get that.  Just throwing some other options out there for you that aren’t 734 but might fetch some more prototypical-ish buyers.

P.S. Someone mentioned in another thread that Lionels 2-8-0 is a “Harriman style” consolidation if that helps.

Pre-ordering that Canadian National one today! Though as Mr.Muffin's preorders are highly order numbers dependent, I kind of wish they had a 'pre-order counter' for each model.  So you could see how close to production it is, and if you need to badger your fellow club members into getting one as well!

@DylTrains posted:

Pre-ordering that Canadian National one today! Though as Mr.Muffin's preorders are highly order numbers dependent, I kind of wish they had a 'pre-order counter' for each model.  So you could see how close to production it is, and if you need to badger your fellow club members into getting one as well!

Need to implement instant runoff voting for these runs.  Rank your top five, everyone votes - top ones get made.  Easy peasy, george and weezy.

@N&WGuy posted:

Just got an email from MrMuffin’sTrains’s. Unfortunately all of the custom runs aside from one have been canceled…

AA11CEF5-82A2-4EAF-8910-D39F32C37FD8

I received the same. Disappointing for sure. Was hoping Harry would be able to see the project through with his talents. Thank you Muffins for trying to run some more obscure road names.

Update: The reason for cancellation is if altered, Lionel would not warranty the engines. Great call to not send a customer a potential paperweight.

Last edited by vash44
@vash44 posted:

I received the same. Disappointing for sure. Was hoping Harry would be able to see the project through with his talents. Thank you Muffins for trying to run some more obscure road names.

Update: The reason for cancellation is if altered, Lionel would not warranty the engines. Great call to not send a customer a potential paperweight.

If 'the lack of warranty coverage' statement is correct, particularly when only superficial changes were being proposed in Mr. Muffin's case, that raises an interesting question.  Are all engines that are 'Custom Runs' not going to be warranteed by ANY manufacturer?

@vash44 posted:

I received the same. Disappointing for sure. Was hoping Harry would be able to see the project through with his talents. Thank you Muffins for trying to run some more obscure road names.

Update: The reason for cancellation is if altered, Lionel would not warranty the engines. Great call to not send a customer a potential paperweight.

That’s disappointing that Lionel won’t give a warranty for these, they did when they paid Harry to fix their painting mistakes on the 611. @Conrail6358 why did you guys change the order minimum for dealers and then refuse to give a warranty? I mean don’t you want to sell products and keep your dealer network functional?

Mr. Muffins, thanks for trying and sorry that Lionel is being unreasonable and monopolistic.

@PH1975 posted:

If 'the lack of warranty coverage' statement is correct, particularly when only superficial changes were being proposed in Mr. Muffin's case, that raises an interesting question.  Are all engines that are 'Custom Runs' not going to be warranteed by ANY manufacturer?

I suspect,from the manufacturers standpoint. " Factory " custom runs are fine.

Mr. Muffins plan was to have Lionel manufacture unfettered versions to then be customized by Harry Heike.

Another guess, but maybe Lionel was concerned about whatever minimal risk is involved with the extra handling of the Locomotive.

Just thinking to myself,but. If Harry can make whatever roadname folks want. Maybe it lowers demand on what roadnames Lionel already announced?

Regardless, it was another outstanding effort by Mr.Muffin to offer folks unique locomotives and add some excitement to the hobby.

Steve is a great ambassador for this hobby.

I was worried that upping the minimum to 40 would throw cold water on a lot of custom runs. I’ve found the custom runs to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of each new catalog release. I’m assuming the new minimum is related to setup/design cost recovery, but it just eliminated 125+ new engine orders at Steve’s shop alone. Hopefully, something can be worked out in the future to lower the minimum back to a workable level.

I appreciate the Muffins very much for their offering. ICRR and C&EI were a hail mary at best.

Maybe it's extra handling or maybe the fear for the run is that it will take away from other cataloged names. Either way, I will continue to support dealer custom runs when I can.

I will add in fairness to Harry, Lionel recommended him recently to fix my factory sealed KC"S" branded locomotive.

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  • KC"S" Factory New

It sounds like there was some substiantial opposition to the idea from Harry's latest email - is there really a noticable or long-term difference between factory painting and Harry's decaling?



@vash44 posted:

Update: The reason for cancellation is if altered, Lionel would not warranty the engines. Great call to not send a customer a potential paperweight.

@PH1975 posted:

If 'the lack of warranty coverage' statement is correct, particularly when only superficial changes were being proposed in Mr. Muffin's case, that raises an interesting question.  Are all engines that are 'Custom Runs' not going to be warranteed by ANY manufacturer?

@rplst8 posted:

So if I paint or custom decal a new Lionel locomotive, I've voided the warranty?  What if it get's dust on it?

Please explain where you heard this, Mr Muffin said they were still under warranty in his original email pitching the idea of ordering unlettered locomotives. Did Lionel change their policy with the latest catalog?

That explains the email I got this morning cancelling the order I placed yesterday.  And I had asked for an undecorated, unlettered one, no roadname or weathering.  I don't know why manufacturers doing a BTO run seldom do unlettered options, especially on common engines like these.  Literally less work for them at the same price.  Oh well, I guess I'll buy two late 19th-century locos on the second-hand market for the money I've saved and decorate them myself (can't buy a Lionel one and change the roadname, that would void the warranty!).

EDIT: I should mention that I hold nothing against Steve for this.  I have two other custom runs on order from him...from a different manufacturer

Last edited by Cheap&NothingWasted
@0-Gauge CJ posted:

It sounds like there was some substiantial opposition to the idea from Harry's latest email - is there really a noticable or long-term difference between factory painting and Harry's decaling?



Please explain where you heard this, Mr Muffin said they were still under warranty in his original email pitching the idea of ordering unlettered locomotives. Did Lionel change their policy with the latest catalog?

My source is an email from this morning between myself and the Muffins.

Normally best business practice dictates that I keep my mouth shut here, but I feel compelled to offer some explanation to clear the air and before the inevitable spiral of speculation takes this to unbelievable levels.

First and foremost, I want to make clear that neither our increase in minimum order, nor our policy of not extending the factory warranty on locomotives worked on by a third party is in any way meant to be an indictment or criticism of Steve nor Harry.  I've known both of these men for years and have great respect for them both and the work they do.  And I have no doubts that both would have worked together to bring some models to the market that would otherwise be too limited in demand for us to make ourselves.  (I believe Steve's email mentioned most Consolidations had orders of 3-12 units - well below what we could practically produce and likely even below a safe order at a 25 piece minimum.)  So I do applaud the efforts. 

I also know the fun of customizing models and it's one of my personal favorite parts of the hobby.  Whether its weathering, custom painting, extra details, installing new electronics or kitbashing - if that's your thing go for it!!!  I can't wait till I can get home tonight and put down the keyboard and pick up my tweezers right now.  But that's the hobby side of what we do.  There also has to be a practical business side and although we're a small company we still have costs and liabilities we have to cover.

Let's start with the warranty:  This is nothing new and also I believe a pretty standard thing.  Our factory warranty has always applied to the warranty done by our factory.  It has always been the case that work you do to a model can void the warranty. The reason we say that modifications void the warranty is because once things have been done, we can't tell if the problem was caused by a manufacturer flaw or something you/the 3rd party did. And this is where we have to separate the black and white of a warranty text from the gray area of how we do business. 

I use the word "can" purposefully.  By letter of the warranty page, it explicitly does. But as always we're going to work with you here.  "Getting dust on it" is absolutely not going to void anything.  Neither is damage as a result of normal handling or even some other customization.  If you've painted your smokebox a darker color and later on the speaker in the tender goes bad - we're not going to deny the warranty work.  But if you've decided you want to put a Pullmore in your Vision Niagara, well then you're on your own! The warranty has to cover all of these circumstances because believe me, we get some pretty impressive stories here!  Check out the warranty on your power tools, appliances or pretty much anything else in your home and I think you'll see a trend here.

"But you've used Harry yourself," yes - and when he is acting on behalf of Lionel those projects are covered.  He is in effect part of our factory team. And we produce extra locomotives so that we will have replacements on hand if needed.  But not everyone is Harry.  Once we establish this standard, other modelers as or less qualified could try their hands at this too.  This really opens the door to more opportunities for issues and most importantly to us, unsatisfied customers which we can't help.  When you order a locomotive from our catalog, we order extra components here for our inventory to execute repairs.  We can't stock parts for locomotives we didn't make. That is why the warranty does not cover locomotives sent out to others for custom work. It's not about controlling the market - it's about ensuring we can provide the product and support that we've promised and you deserve.

As to raising the quantity from 25 to 40, again a number of factors went into this, most of which I'm not going to bore you all with here.  We know that this will "kill" some small project runs. However, most of our custom orders over the past three years have actually been for 35 units or more.  And I've spend most of today preparing files for Creative and Engineering for several custom runs from the current catalog so for those who like these, fear not there are plenty more in the works and I don't think you'll see this program go away any time soon.  I could go on for an hour on the costs of decoration fixtures, increasing factory minimums, etc.  We'd both have a better evening at the workbench instead! 

Like Steve and Harry, we all want to deliver you the trains you want at the quality level you deserve. And we remain committed to all of our partners and our customers to innovate and collaborate whenever possible to do just that. Thank you, high greens and happy modeling to you all.

@Conrail6358 posted:

Normally best business practice dictates that I keep my mouth shut here, but I feel compelled to offer some explanation to clear the air...

We appreciate the response, and it makes sense to me as businessman too.  But my question remains, why no unlettered versions of common locos?  Your 2-8-0 doesn't really match the C&NW's 2-8-0s, but I didn't care and was ready to put ~$750 on that fact.  I understand the warranty issue, but - and I probably speak for a lot of us here - that loco probably would not end up on our bench for custom decaling until well after the warranty period is up, as we've just got too much in the queue to get to first.

Ryan, thank you for your comments.  Everything you wrote makes good business sense to me.  I think the 2-8-0 is one of the best bargains Lionel has offered in a long time.  I’ve replied to Steve on two occasions for a less popular railroad that didn’t make the 25 cut.  I get it.  If I want one, I should buy one that is offered by Lionel and maybe after the warranty is over get a highly skilled painter to customize it for my favorite prototype.

Thanks for explanation Ryan, it’s important to hear the context of the company’s decisions. I work for a company in a small niche market, so I understand the stresses and compromises that come along with it.

From my emails with Steve today it sounds like a solution for us disappointed folks is possibly in the works. So I’m keeping hope alive that a middle ground can be found.

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