Newest Lionchief Plus Locomotive- Lionel Lines Berkshire 726

I just picked up the "Berk" after waiting since my order in May.  It is fantastic- much better than my first LC+ (a LL Pacific).  The Pacific is a good locomotive, and I am happy with it- but this new one!!!  

- WAAAY better smoke unit - as it comes to a stop a solid plume of smoke comes out (the other one does not do that)

- Terrific whistle- very realistic "big engine" sound

- Runs great, but so does the other one.

 

Nice to see that Lionel apparently is still making improvements.  It could use some more detail, but it's not a Legacy.  But a good buy for $ 400.

 

 

Original Post

Hi Mike,

I’m with you...the whistle and smoke are truly great improvements over the original LC+ first issues. I still have a Hudson as a New York Central and had a Pacific as a Canadian Pacific.

37685752-D549-42FC-9B0A-770F4B041155

I am having an issue with my new Pere Marquette Berkshire when running it using the app on my iPhone. At a distance exceeding 16 to 18 feet, the throttle on the app bottoms out, then the disconnect sign comes on followed by the train stopping. It also seems to occur if I turn away from the layout and my body is between my iPhone and the layout. I have also exerienced the disconnect when the whistle or bell have locked on while operating and won’t/can’t be shut off. There has not been a disconnect while using the dedicated remote. However, one of the reasons for making this purchase was the increased functionality available through the app.

Please followup here as to how your experience goes while operating your new Berkshire with the Bluetooth and app. 

Paul

The Marshall & Michigan Southern Railroad

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I haven't had the hood off yet-  but I am sure (like the other LC+ locos I have) it uses a can motor.  I can't comment either on the tooling.

A shop near me has several nice original 726's, I might go take a look and compare later this week.

Jeff2035 posted:

How does the casting look?

Was the old post war Lionel tooling used or was it reworked or is it new tooling?

And, is a can motor used instead of an AC worm gear motor?

Lionel uses can motors in LC and LC+ engines.  I don't think they've used an AC motor for several years going back to the conventional classic line.

Below the Signature Line...

 

“I don't know what to say, except it's Christmas and we're all in misery.”

 

I received mine yesterday.   Not yet mentioned is that the headlight is much brighter than my other LC+ locos - a nice improvement!

I also have experienced the bluetooth drop out when the train is 12 feet away and there is an obstruction between the phone and the loco.  But the phone app is very nice.   Lionel could stand to extend the momentum delay a bit.   There are three levels and the highest level could be twice the delay at present - a software tweek that I hope will be in the next phone app update.

The sound and whistle are sooo much better.   Great work with this Lionel, and the ability to change the pitch on the whistle and bell is excellent.

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

I think that there is a place for both.   I might buy a PW 726.  I have several postwar engines, and several LC+ engines, and run them all. 

I tend to park or run all of one type in a session-  although I have run conventional and LC+ together, running the LC+ (using handheld control) and it seems to work OK except no smoke.  I set the PW engines at about 10V, and control the LC+ to not run into them or vice-versa.  The  LC+ seem to be getting enough voltage.  It keeps me busy though!!

Of course you can run all of them conventionally. switching the LC+ to conventional control.  The LC+ actually run nice, with the electronic E-unit.

SJC posted:

I'm also considering one but hesitant given that I have an original 726RR from '52. There are enough differences here (tender, drive wheels, etc) to make me consider it. It looks like such a nice engine!

Yeah, this is a tough one.

I passed on this one (I have the Conventional Classics Berk with the passenger cars from a 7-8 years ago) and it's a great loco. Still -- these glowing reviews and comments here are tempting me.

Maybe too early to call but this sounds like the best offering yet in the Lion Chief Plus line. 

Big time kudos to Lionel on this one. Good job! 

TCA, LCCA

Good news on a new casting. Must have made a million Berks with the original castings.

This means the details are nice and crisp.

I hope more photos are posted. I may add this to my roster of 726RR, 736, and the last Berk made in the US (759 Nickle Plate).

Jeff2035 posted:

Good news on a new casting. Must have made a million Berks with the original castings.

This means the details are nice and crisp.

I hope more photos are posted. I may add this to my roster of 726RR, 736, and the last Berk made in the US (759 Nickle Plate).

There have been a couple of videos posted of these engines.  Very nice whistle and a great smoker.

KOOLjock1 posted:

The Post War berk tooling was tossed long ago... a crisp, new version was created 10 to 15 years ago.

Jon  

I'll re-post some information on the subject I posted about a week ago.

The original Postwar tooling for the Berk has been gone a long time. I recall there was information (years ago now) that the MPC era No. 8615 L&N Big Emma was the last Berk built with the original tooling (this was back in 1986), and the tooling broke during the run, which resulted in fewer engines made than planned. That used to be a high dollar engine, at least partly because of the reported shortage (plus the engine is very attractive). There may have been other stories about the demise of the orginal Berk tooling as well. In any case, it was a long time (quite a few years) after the Big Emma before the next Berk was produced by Lionel, because they had to make a completely new tool for the engine, which took a lot of time (and a lot of money back then).

The last Lionel engine made in the U.S. was a Nickle Plate Berkshire, No. 28074, which was made in 2001, 16 years ago, which would have used the new tooling. This engine was the last product to be manufactured at the Chesterfield, Michigan plant. A letter was included, signed by Richard N. Maddox, President & COO of Lionel, that attests to this fact. I don't know of any Berk made between the No. 8615 in '86 and the No. 28074 in '01. 

Image result for lionel big emma

 

Lionel 6-28074 Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 Berkshire with Command Control

 

A couple of additional observations of my new Nickel Plate Berkshire:   The settings to the pitch for the bell and whistle, and the volume for each of the sounds set with the phone app, hold for running with the hand-held.   My phone this morning was low on juice, so I picked up my universal remote and was happy to see that theses settings which I had set with the app still applied.

The details on the boiler casting are crisp.   The locomotive drivers are very cool - hard to see in any of the photos, but these are very well done.

Unfortunately for me, when the loco is standing, the fan for the smoke continues, but the smoke heater is either off or very low, I get smoke for a few seconds which gradually trails off to nothing, just the fan noise still going.   Perhaps this is prototypical, but with the fan going continuously, I would like to see some smoke.   With the phone app I can turn off the smoke&fan while the loco is standing, and then turn it back on again when ready to get under way.   So I guess I can live with it.

I believe that this is the longest of the LC+ steamers, but it rolls around my O-45 curves very gracefully.

O Gauge: the IMAX of Model Railroading, and a multi-sensory experience.

breezinup posted:
KOOLjock1 posted:

The Post War berk tooling was tossed long ago... a crisp, new version was created 10 to 15 years ago.

Jon  

I'll re-post some information on the subject I posted about a week ago.

The original Postwar tooling for the Berk has been gone a long time. I recall there was information (years ago now) that the MPC era No. 8615 L&N Big Emma was the last Berk built with the original tooling (this was back in 1986), and the tooling broke during the run, which resulted in fewer engines made than planned. That used to be a high dollar engine, at least partly because of the reported shortage (plus the engine is very attractive). There may have been other stories about the demise of the orginal Berk tooling as well. In any case, it was a long time (quite a few years) after the Big Emma before the next Berk was produced by Lionel, because they had to make a completely new tool for the engine, which took a lot of time (and a lot of money back then).

The last Lionel engine made in the U.S. was a Nickle Plate Berkshire, No. 28074, which was made in 2001, 16 years ago, which would have used the new tooling. This engine was the last product to be manufactured at the Chesterfield, Michigan plant. A letter was included, signed by Richard N. Maddox, President & COO of Lionel, that attests to this fact. I don't know of any Berk made between the No. 8615 in '86 and the No. 28074 in '01. 

Image result for lionel big emma

 

Lionel 6-28074 Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 Berkshire with Command Control

 

There were a few berks and at least one mikado made with the new tooling in the 90's. The Pere Marquette and Century Club Berk and the 1993 Santa Fe Mikado. Not sure if the B&A and Wabash Hudsons of 1995 were the berk tooling or not.

Ron

Ken-Oscale posted:
I also have experienced the bluetooth drop out when the train is 12 feet away and there is an obstruction between the phone and the loco.  But the phone app is very nice. 

 

Hi Ken,

I received this explanation from Dave Olson regarding the Bluetooth drop out when operating with the APP.

“The limitation in range comes from the Bluetooth chip in your device.”

He referenced that an iTouch that they use at Engineering has a range of about 15 ft., while a Samsung Galaxy phone has a range of about 30 ft. when operating using the APP.

Not sure, when upgrading a handheld device, that there is a way to know which one contains the best Bluetooth chip and will provide for maximum range? Both my iPhone and iPad are more the 2 years old and guessing the newer models of each will have updated Bluetooth chips...

The increased functionality when using the APP, though, is a great improvement for the LC+ locomotive lineup!

Paul

The Marshall & Michigan Southern Railroad

Bluetooth has limitations on it, there are first of all different levels of it, bluetooth 3,4 and 5, which have different data rates and speed, 3 has a range of up to 30 ft, 4 is like 200 feet and 5 is 800 (older versions of bluetooth were around 15').  Bluetooth also doesn't necessarily go through walls well, and can be blocked by metal and so forth. 

I don't know what version of bluetooth Lionel is using (likely 3.0), but the quality of the bluetooth device you are using to control it also affects it, not to mention that potentially electrical noise from the layout room could potentially cause problems (I am not an EE, just mentioning this as a possible variable). Best service with bluetooth is going to be line of sight, and it degrades from there. 

The person who dies with the best toys dies a happy person

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