Differences between Lionel & Sunset 3rd rail S-2 scale locomotives

Original Post

The 3rd Rail S2 is brass vs Lionel's die-cast.  3rd Rail's S2 and Lionel's first scale S2 (6-18???) are conventional, Lionel's 2nd release (6-38???) was TMCC, and the last release was Legacy.  Lionel's first release did not have traction tires so was not a great puller.

3rd Rail's S2 was really Williams Trains unsold stock at their bankruptcy.  Sunset bought Williams' S2s and sold them as the first engine under the 3rd Rail brand.  Not as good a quality as all of 3rd Rail's later products.

I would go with Lionel's TMCC or Legacy versions.

I have the Sunset S-2.  It is a quality brass model.  As CapPilot said, this was originally a Williams model that was purchased by Sunset and sold as their first 3rd Rail engine.  It is not as well detailed as later and current 3rd Rail engines.  However, it is OK for most of us.

The Sunset S-2 is conventional.  I had mine upgraded to TMCC using Electric Railroad products with the steam turbine sound.    It runs and pulls well.  It has traction tires on the rear drivers.  It definitely need at least O-72 curves and switches to run without derailing.  

This model even with the upgrade cost me much less than the Lionel models.  If cost is not a concern, I would go with the Lionel models that have command control installed.  If you just want to run conventional or an engine to upgrade, I would recommend the 3rd Rail model.

NH Joe

Further to CAPPilot's comments, Lionel's 2nd scale TMCC version was 6-38028 released in 2001 and their 3rd Pilot Legacy version was 6-11415 released in 2015.

diesel posted:

Differences between Lionel & Sunset 3rd rail S-2 scale locomotives

Both being 1:48 3RO scale models of the same prototype done competently by different manufacturers in different media in different modeling eras:

Almost everything. Practically nothing.

I have the Williams/Sunset, 2-railed.  It is pretty neat considering its cost.  I think only the cab would need some cosmetic work and it would be a first class model.  Not being primarily PRR, i am quite happy as-is.

New Haven Joe posted:

This model even with the upgrade cost me much less than the Lionel models.  If cost is not a concern, I would go with the Lionel models that have command control installed.  If you just want to run conventional or an engine to upgrade, I would recommend the 3rd Rail model.

Actually, that is a pretty good recommendation.

I bought the 3rd rail s2 turbine when it came out (late 90s?) directly from sunset  and opted for the beefier version with pitman motor/ smoke and upgraded the sounds to QS2+ myself (Still not command).   I really like the way it looked except the smaller key stone on the front of the smoke box.   I could never get over how it always seemed to struggle around O72 curves, but not because trucks would not turn but rather from the 4 drive axles that were all sprung.  The two middle drivers would shift to the inside of the curve and then  drop low inside of the curve and bind with the rail while the outside drivers would stay on. While it would make it through the curve, it did not look right.   I had heard of fixes to this where they could replace the springs with spacers, but never pursued it.   Some kind of cruise control upgrade would probably help as well with this some, but I wasn’t willing to make the investment in it before I sold it 10 years ago.

I also owned the original scale S2 turbine from Lionel.  Cosmetically, I like this one the best as it did not have elephant ears, it had a real coal and it was not as green as the two newer ones from Lionel, but truth be told, I never ran it before I sold it.  Based on some of Lionel’s other earlier LTI engines like the Mohawk and T1, dc motor and traction tires seemed important, which it had neither.  Today there are lots of reports of blistering paint on these engines.

Since then, I had been on the look out for a lionel one issued with TMCC or legacy.  I ended up buying a used TMCC one at York 2 years ago at a great price.  The elephant ears would not be my first choice, but it is the only way it came.  It runs really nice and has an early version of odyssey, so it maintains its speed around curves and grades.  Many folks don’t like the earlier versions of Odyssey, as it can lurch a bit at start and stops too quickly when the direction button is hit (as oppose to coasting to a stop) but it works good enough for me as opposed to double/triple the cost of buying a new one with legacy.  Class lights work on it as well (neither the 3rd rail or the first Lionel release light up).  No real coal load (bummer).  It has a weak fan smoke unit, but a large improvement in my opinion over the seuth units that came with the 3rd rail or original Lionel release, as they tended to spit smoke fluid on the engine.  I still own this version and I am very happy with it.  It is a really heavy engine!

 I would have entertained a newer legacy version with the removable elephant ears, but as I learned more about elephant ears, if they are removed, there are no steps from the pilot to the walk way as they were molded into the elephant ears.  Not a well thought out  design by Lionel.    Also, lots of these units originally shipped with corrosion issues on the electronics.  Lionel corrected these issues, but you had to return the engine yourself for the fix.  There in lies the problem, how do you know if it was sent in by the previous owner and fixed or potentially corroded and working for now.

After that long rant above, the only choice for me to buy was a 2nd hand TMCC version.  I would be happy to answer any questions on it, pictures or videos if interested.  I actually run the old school 18” aluminum passenger cars from mth with it that I originally purchased for the 3rd rail turbine engine back in the day.  I love how the end of the tender shape seems to match the profile of these cars.

Thanks!

Mike

Last edited by Hump Yard Mike

Wish Lionel would bring back their Scale Turbine.  Hoping 3rd time is the charm.  1st Time (1991) the Korean made version is prone to pain rash  2nd time (2012) they arrived wet with damp packaging.  

Mike W. posted:

Wish Lionel would bring back their Scale Turbine.  Hoping 3rd time is the charm.  1st Time (1991) the Korean made version is prone to pain rash  2nd time (2012) they arrived wet with damp packaging.  

You mean 4th time. You forgot about the Odyssey one in 2002 with elephant ears!

Mike W. posted:

Wish Lionel would bring back their Scale Turbine.  Hoping 3rd time is the charm.  1st Time (1991) the Korean made version is prone to pain rash  2nd time (2012) they arrived wet with damp packaging.  

Mike W., What is the pain rash you refer to in the original S2? I bought one at York a few years back for $250 which was well worth the value considering it runs well and looks a like a beastly sized piece!

Thanks.

Further to prrhorseshoecurve's comment, that would be 6-38028 which appeared in Lionel's 2001 catalog (Volume 2).

This is a good discussion for me.  The PRR S2 is one of two models of Pennsy big engines active in 1949 that I do not have (the other is 3rd Rail's T1 prototype with the fairings removed).  I model the Pennsy in 1949, and the S2 was active until Aug 1949 when an accident took it out of service.

In my comment above I hinted at the quality of the Weaver/3rd Rail S2.  I bought two from different sources and sent them both back due to the wheel sets on both the engine and tender loose in the box. One had a broken training truck frame which I assumed was zinc rot.  Therefore I was staying away from this engine.  I find it good that other posters do not have that problem with 3rd Rail's S2.

If I'm understanding everything above the best value for me would be the TMCC version with smoke deflectors (6-38028).  Those smoke deflectors (Elephant Ears) were added in 1946 so that version best fits my era.  That is the second set of smoke deflectors, the first were too small to work.  I'd add ERR cruise and just keep the smoke off.  I'll start looking.

Last edited by CAPPilot
Ted Bertiger posted:
Mike W. posted:

Wish Lionel would bring back their Scale Turbine.  Hoping 3rd time is the charm.  1st Time (1991) the Korean made version is prone to pain rash  2nd time (2012) they arrived wet with damp packaging.  

Mike W., What is the pain rash you refer to in the original S2? I bought one at York a few years back for $250 which was well worth the value considering it runs well and looks a like a beastly sized piece!

Thanks.

Check for blisters in the paint.  Black paint on the chassis also falls off in round specs.  Common with most Korean locos at this time...including the Southern Mikado.   There was also a Pennsy Burro Crane issued around 1990 with a diecast frame from Korea..that paint too blistered off in small pieces.  See pics of my former Turbine and Southern Mikado Drivers.  All due to paint rash...diecast model cars share this fate as well.  Gases/solvents are not cured out of the zamak properly so over time they force out under the paint.  This is not the same as zink pest like old Prewar castings and some modern Chinese castings....the zamak remains in good shape...its micro pores release the solvents.

Lionel 18010 - 1Lionel 18010 - 2Lionel 18010 - 3Lionel 18010 - 4Lionel 18010 - 5Lionel 18010 Southern Mikado - 1Lionel 18010 Southern Mikado - 2Lionel 18010 Southern Mikado - 3Lionel 18010 Southern Mikado - 4

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prrhorseshoecurve posted:
Mike W. posted:

Wish Lionel would bring back their Scale Turbine.  Hoping 3rd time is the charm.  1st Time (1991) the Korean made version is prone to pain rash  2nd time (2012) they arrived wet with damp packaging.  

You mean 4th time. You forgot about the Odyssey one in 2002 with elephant ears!

Totally forgot about the 2002 one.  But it was a Veranda with can motors.  I had it on order for the Odyssey motor but cancelled when it was switched out. 

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