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I have a small 4x8 tabletop layout for my traditional O trains (scale engines are on a separate floor layout), with the idea of running conventional and any LionChief engine. The layout has two loops, the inner is O31 and the outer is O36. Both loops are powered by either a CW-80 or a 40W Powermaster. I have the LC+2.0 UP Big Boy and think it would be cool to have a grayhound Challenger to accompany it and pull some traditional O passenger cars. I have been looking online for a Lionmaster Challenger, but recently realized that, since the layout I will use the Challenger on is for conventional-only locomotives, I could also use MTH engines since control systems won't be a problem.

The Challenger I have been eyeing is a 30-1107-0. The MTH website doesn't say if it's PS-1 or PS-2. I understand that PS-1 engines don't like the CW-80, would this engine operate with one? Any other considerations to take into account before buying? The RK version is a lot cheaper than what I can find from the Lionmaster line, so I think it is a legitimate contender to be my first MTH engine. Since this is a traditional O layout I am fine if the RK Challenger has less detail than the Big Boy.

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I considered both Lionmaster and Railking Challengers.  To me, whistle steam is a really cool effect, so I got the Lionmaster Challenger with Legacy and whistle steam from three or four (five?) years ago.  To my eye, the Lionmaster Challenger does a more aesthetically-satisfying job at "shrinking" the engine down to a size so it can fit on O-31 tracks.  Again, to my eye, part of the essence of the "look" of a Challenger is those number boards up top on the front making a kind of ship's-prow around the bell, which I don't see on the Railking Challenger.  I also thought the leading truck structure on the Railking Challenger looked truncated in comparison with the more fulsome design on the Lionmaster.  Basically, I though the Lionmaster looked more like what I wanted to see in a Challenger and I could get it with a fun special effect that is important to me.

Obviously you may lay different emphases on aesthetics and features and price.  To you, the Railking version might look more satisfying.  Or the money might be a big difference.  To me, the cost of any engine is less significant than the long-term burden of finding enough space for it.  You might be more comfortable buying and selling engines all the time, like some people on this forum are.  I loathe trying to sell stuff on the Internet and space is at a premium for me, so when I'm evaluating whether to buy an engine I'm really deciding whether I want to commit a finite and shrinking amount of closet space.

@0-Gauge CJ posted:

The Challenger I have been eyeing is a 30-1107-0. The MTH website doesn't say if it's PS-1 or PS-2.

Actually, it's PS-nothing.  This is the basic conventional model that only includes a somewhat lame whistle board.  You won't have any running sounds, crew talk, bell, etc.  The -0 tells the tale, that would be a -1 if it had PS/1.  It for sure couldn't have PS/2 as it was released years before PS/2 came on the scene.

@BC1989 posted:

To my eye, the Lionmaster Challenger does a more aesthetically-satisfying job at "shrinking" the engine down to a size so it can fit on O-31 tracks.  Again, to my eye, part of the essence of the "look" of a Challenger is those number boards up top on the front making a kind of ship's-prow around the bell, which I don't see on the Railking Challenger.  I also thought the leading truck structure on the Railking Challenger looked truncated in comparison with the more fulsome design on the Lionmaster.  Basically, I though the Lionmaster looked more like what I wanted to see in a Challenger and I could get it with a fun special effect that is important to me.

This difference has been stated quite a few times over the years when this subject has come up, when comparing the Lionel Lionmaster and MTH RailKing Challengers. As BC1989 says, the Lionel version looks considerably better. Lionel did a much better job of resizing the locomotive and making the dimensions more realistic. If you don't want to spend the money for the more recent Legacy versions, the older TMCC versions are the same construction, and also are very good runners.

For those of us with traditional size layouts, the Lionmaster Challenger with Legacy and whistle steam is a must. I had a "scale" model railroad friend over today, and he couldn't keep his eye off this model. The whistle steam, synchronized smoke, and Neil Young quality sound are all stunning, not to mention the artful way Lionel selectively compressed the model.

L1020476

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@breezinup posted:

If you don't want to spend the money for the more recent Legacy versions, the older TMCC versions are the same construction, and also are very good runners.

I haven't seen a Legacy version for sale (aside from the Vision Line), didn't even know it existed. I was lookin at a couple of TMCC challengers, thank you for the suggestion!

Actually, it's PS-nothing.  This is the basic conventional model that only includes a somewhat lame whistle board.  You won't have any running sounds, crew talk, bell, etc.  The -0 tells the tale, that would be a -1 if it had PS/1.  It for sure couldn't have PS/2 as it was released years before PS/2 came on the scene.

That will be the dealbreaker for me. Sounds are important to me; chuffing, whistle, etc, so it sounds like one of the Lionmaster engines will be the winner.

Thanks all for the input!

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