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I will start with a little background... Because I like traditional sized trains, I had avoided getting into anything command control. About a year ago though I wound up getting the Post War Celebration series 773 Hudson for a steal. After awhile I started to wonder about the features available if I got a basic TMCC set up to run it. I am now a convert of sorts, I guess. But, I want to stick to my post war sized trains. Scale Legacy is cool but not my thing at all.

My question with all that in mind is this. Besides the Century Club NYC F3s did Lionel ever offer these up again? For some reason the gold trim and the CENTURY script on them really bother me. I tried looking around a bit but it was hard to search around and not wind up with a bunch of SCALE offerings that I have no interest in. I have seen the Conventional Classics pop up a few times also, making me wish they went ahead and put TMCC into those...

I have thought about getting a set of the PWC F3s and doing a shell swap but something ready to go out of the box would be nice.

So, if anyone knows of something that Lionel has offered please let me know. Furthermore, if you have any insight into any sets I should avoid due to quality issues or anything please let me know on that also.

Thanks in advance!

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"If you use Williams engines instead you can get Cruise Control. They have done all the Lionel Post War engine plus a few more."

Are you suggesting adding ERR to Williams engines?  They have never come with TMCC, of course.  For a fair period in the 1990s and early 2000s, Lionel made traditional size engines with TMCC/Railsounds.

Nowadays, I would suggest considering purchase of the equivalent LionChief or LionChief Plus or LionChief Plus 2.0 locos which give you command and basic sounds in a traditional size postwar or MPC type loco, sometimes for very attractive prices in the case of LionChief ($250 for diesels and a bit more for steam locos).  In the most recent Lionel catalog, you could get a LionChief steam loco from Charles Ro for $230 pre-order, for example.

@MED posted:

@Norton my mistake, but based my post on the fact that the engines I posted are 13inches in length, that I believe is the length of a postwar F3 such as 2343.

This post seems to imply that for Lionel F3s, traditional and scale are nearly identical length. Difference is in height and body details.

You are right, size is very close and pretty sure most all run on 031 even the scale engines save 3rd Rail.


Lionel didn't make a PWC set of NYC F3s, so that's not an option.

As to some of the suggestions, first, as to the Williams NYC F3s, those are good engines, except you'll need to consider the overall expense. First you have to find the engines, which have been out of production for a number of years. Then you'd have to purchase the ERR Cruise Commander to get TMCC, which will run you $160 plus shipping plus installation. Then to get sounds you'd need to add an ERR Railsounds kit for another $130 plus installation. You'd also have to add the cost of electrocouplers if you want those. As Norton mentioned, the ERR components have gotten quite expensive, so using those is significantly more problematic than it used to be. I'm not sure what would be required to install a speaker for the sound system.

Lionel has made a LionChief Plus 2 A-A set of NYC F3s (no. 2034100), which would be great if you want to spend the money, but LC F3s are quite expensive. Street price is about $700. These are sold out a lot of places, but you can still find them if you look around.

The final alternatives are the ones you mentioned, being to get a set of Conventional Classics and then adding ERR Cruise commander and a ERR Sound Kit. You can add up what that setup would cost, being the cost of the the Conventional Classics engines plus Cruise Commander plus Sounds kit plus installation plus electocouplers. I think these NYC engines in the Conventional Classics series only came as part of a freight set, though, so you'd have to shell out for the set and then sell off the cars. The end result of this, including the ERR components, would probably run into a fair amount of money. Note that the sound system of these engines already includes a speaker which is mounted in the fuel tank, though, which is an advantage compared to the next alternative.

The other alternative you mentioned is to use the chassis of a PostWar Celebration set of F3s, which already has TMCC, RailSounds, cab interior and figures, directional lighting and electrocouplers, and combine that with the shells of the NYC Conventional Classics. That would be quite easy to do, I'd think, especially given that the speaker is already in place on the dummy A (these only came as an A-A set). It would only involve transferring the TMCC antenna, the volume control for the RailSounds, and hooking up the wires to the speaker, which is already in place. Again, though, between buying the Conventional Classics set (including the cars), plus a set of PWC engines, this will run into some money.

Another alternative, which is the one I've used, it to buy a set of PWC celebration engines and a set of MPC engines which have the shells I want, and then sell the shells of the PWC engines and the chassis of the MPC engines (actually I combine them and sell the complete engines),  and put the MPC shells on the PWC chassis. MPC made the no. 8370 NYC A-B-A F3s, so those are the shells you'd want to use. The shells are competely interchangable, but there is a little surgery required on the interior electronics. That's very easy, with the exception of rigging up a baffle for the speaker, which requires a little more work.

I've attached some pictures from one of the conversions I did, transplanting a MPC F3A shell onto a PWC F3A chassis. The TMCC antenna is removed from the PWC shell and glued onto the MPC shell, very easy. The volume control knob is removed from the roof of the PWC shell. The volume control on the PWC engines is controlled by turning one of the fans, which is attached to the volume control knob. I ran the wiring with the control knob through one of the windows in the rear of the shell, again pretty easy, and hardly noticeable.

The last thing is to mount the speaker. Lionel changed the mold of the PWC shells, and a baffle with screw posts are molded in, making it easy to mount the speaker to them. This molded in baffle and screw posts aren't in the MPC shells, so those have to be constructed. I've done this two ways. On a B unit, I cut out the portion of the roof on the PWC shell that had the baffle and posts molded in, and then glued that piece to the roof interior of the MPC  B unit. Of course that destroyed the PWC B shell, but it  was relatively quick and easy, if not elegant. Note that the PWC engines have a roof opening with screens that the speaker fits against, while some of the earlier MPC engines have multiple slot openings instead of screens. Either way there's an opening for the speaker sound to exit the shell, and it works fine.

On an A unit I did (photos attached), I searched around for a circular piece with the same diameter as the speaker to use as a baffle. I found something that worked in the form of a detergent bottle cap I located at a Dollar Store. I cut out the closed top, and also slightly curved the part that would fit against the roof, given that the F3 roofs are slightly curved. This doesn't need to be perfect, because any gap will be filled with glue when the baffle is attached to the roof. Theres's a separate speaker holder (which is included with the PWC speaker assembly), which fits on the back of the speaker and is screwed down to four posts which are attached to the shell, and this holds the speaker to the shell. There are a number of things you could use to construct those, even wood dowels, but I cut up pieces of a clear plastic rod that is used to contol venetian blinds. I don't recall how I came up with that! Anyway, I drilled holes in the ends of the posts and screwed them to the speaker holder, and dremeled the post ends to curve them a little to fit them against the roof. Again, this doesn't have to be perfect. I glued the baffle to the shell, and then fit the speaker with it's holder to the baffle, and glued the posts to the shell. Note that the speaker can still be removed (although it probably never would be) by unscrewing the speaker holder from the posts.

One additional note. Most of the PWC F3s came as A-B sets, with the B unit having the sound, and an add-on dummy A was also offered. A few of these F3s came as A-A pairs with the sounds in the dummy A, though, although not many. Also many of these A-B engines came in a set with cars, but sometimes you can find those set engines separately. Obviously it would be easier to find the engines that were originally sold separately, otherwise you'd have to buy the set and sell the cars. Of course you can get a PWC AB set add the extra A if you want an A-B-A set.

You'd have to run the numbers to see which choice is most economical.

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@RamblerDon posted:

I looked into the Lionchief items @Landsteiner recommended and I found this item number - 2034100 looks like they came out a few years ago. A quick search on some of the big retailers didn't show any stock. Hopefully that means they sold well!

Looks like I may have found an option, I just need to find some out in the wild.

@Landsteiner posted:

Here's an entire LionChief set for $400. Basically TMCC "light" with Bluetooth capability.   Significantly cheaper than LionChief Plus 2.0 for one thing.  Won't work in conventional of course, unlike LionChief Plus or 2.0.

The 2034100 LionChief NYC set was cataloged 4 years ago, so it's not too surprising that may be a little hard to find.

Note the $400 LionChief set cited has just a single A engine, and it's a FT diesel and not a F3, and is not a NYC diesel. Also no cruise control or other LionChief Plus 2 features.

Oops, I didn't notice the original poster wanted NYC locos and didn't notice the LionChief set was an FT.  Two out of three wrong ain't bad, but it's not good either, to paraphrase Mr. Loaf.

Here's a NYC FT LionChief for $270. Also coming at that price from Charles Ro.  Also available from Legacy Station I gather.  To me the FT looks close enough to F3s that it does not matter .   These are pre-orders for future production.

Point being if the desire is for postwar/MPC type locos but with command capability, newly issued LionChief locos from Lionel might be something to collect/operate at a very reasonable cost,  now and in the near future.  I have several myself, mainly BN and GN.  The NYC FT is tempting.

I pre-ordered the fantasy NYC Pacemaker LionChief steamer from Charles Ro (2024 Vol. 1 catalog) for about $225 for example.  See second link below FYI.


Obviously if conventional, electrocouplers and cruise are important, the price difference for LionChief Plus 2.0 may be worth it for many hobbyists, as pointed out above.

Last edited by Landsteiner

I think that this got said up above, but locos like the 773 Hudson and the PW/PWC F3's are scale (1:48) models, if not always scale-detailed. The F3's are a tad low, but the correct length and width, and I would call them "nominal" scale locos. The NW-2 is another scale loco from the PW era.

@RamblerDon posted:


My question with all that in mind is this. Besides the Century Club NYC F3s did Lionel ever offer these up again? For some reason the gold trim and the CENTURY script on them really bother me. <snip>

Thanks in advance!


Are you sure that a bit of gold "Century " in small print and gold horns are a big problem? The NYC CC F-3's are neat pieces which run and sound great with TMCC/RS, have a real postwar 'feel', and are readily available at reasonable prices these days. You could easily swap the horns and cover up the small "Century" imprint, if that bothers you. Frankly, they are very well suited for your purposes and a much easier route as a solution to your quest than the more difficult solutions proposed above. And, they were made in the good ol' USA. I have the A-B-A set and love them.

Just a freindly thought.


Last edited by Bob Bubeck

I would second the PWC option as relatively easy to obtain the features you want at a decent price overall. I picked up an ABA set of the 2356 Southern's for about $350 last year and the MPC NYC cabs should be a perfect fit with only slight modifications for the speaker, antenna, etc. Or, the Conventional Classics NYC could be used as mentioned by you I think it was.  Have fun - sometimes the 'hunt' is more memorable that the final result!

The Century Club set would certainly be the easiest solution (other than buying the new LionChief set), and I think Bob makes a good argument in their favor. The gold horns can simply be painted over with black or silver. I would consider painting some decals with a paint matching the gray bodies, cutting them out to fit over the gold lettering, and applying them to cover the lettering.

If money isn't that much of an obstacle, the LionChief set has updated shells and a few added details, operating marker lights among them. The main thing. though, is that its operating characteristics will be quite different from the Century Club engines, given that the LC set has can DC motors with cruise control for very smooth operation, and superior sound. That said, the CC set might still be the way to go, especially for the price. One last thing - look at the colors of the shells. The LionChief set NYC colors are quite different from the Century Club colors (and the Conventional Classic's as well), and you may not care for them. Personally, I like the Century Club and Conventional Classic NYC engine colors much better.

Last edited by breezinup

I did notice the color difference. The black color on the newer units is from what I understand the correct color for an F7 from the Central. I can go either way on the color.

I do also like the added lighting features you did mention. Plus they have a smoke unit.

I think I've talked myself into the newer units. I'm just concerned with quality. I don't like to dog pile on Lionel but the few times in recent years that I've dabled into their basic LionChief offerings - I have been left very unhappy. I'm hoping the Plus 2.0 items will have a little better QC.

"I think I've talked myself into the newer units. I'm just concerned with quality. "

New units will have a warranty.  I haven't had any LionChief (or any other) failures over the last decade or so.  May just be bad luck or shipping damage, etc. rather than quality per se you are experiencing or hearing about.  Our toys take a beating some times between the factory and our homes.

@RamblerDon posted:

<snip> I'm just concerned with quality. I don't like to dog pile on Lionel but the few times in recent years that I've dabled into their basic LionChief offerings - I have been left very unhappy. I'm hoping the Plus 2.0 items will have a little better QC. <snip>

One last thought. I have found my five Century Club I engines to be very robust and trouble-free over the years and they appear to have a good reputation for durability (and, no zinc pest). On a TCA factory tour I had the fun of watching Lionel assemble and test each CCI 773 Hudson. YMMV, of course.

Enjoy and have fun with whatever you get.


Last edited by Bob Bubeck

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