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Never one to miss a chance to showcase my shutterbug skills, I offer these pix of my Lionel New York Central  J1d Hudson. Of course, they come with a story.

The Mexican-built 783 Hudson from the late General Mills/MPC era was the first example of a "scale" 4-6-4 Hudson that Lionel had produced since the 1964 edition of the 773, some 20 years earlier. I couldn't wait to get one, but when it was delivered I found it to be both cosmetically and mechanically disappointing. Since it was a direct descendant of the fabled 1937 700E, I figured I should put some effort into making lemonade from a lemon. Here's where I started -

The Guide to Lionel's MPC-Era Large Steam Engines - Trainz


Using many original Lionel parts including a set of spoked 763E drivers, several homemade details and grab irons, and a Madison Hardware motor and tender, I came up with a good running model that is perhaps better detailed than a 700E -

The various Lionel Hudsons in the 700 series all were modeled after NYC J1e 5344, the twice streamlined "most famous" Hudson of all. Given the additions and changes I had made, I didn't want to wind up with "just another" J1e. There weren't a lot of visual differences between a J1e and a J1d, so I decided to back date it.  Also, as another O gauge modeler once noted, I like my passenger engines "all gussied up." He was right, so I did this one in a striping scheme that was sometimes applied to J1d Hudsons in the late 1920s and early '30s.

Having styled it as a J1d, I needed to give it some justifying detail. If you look closely at the picture below, you'll see that the  finished model has an tubular Elesco feedwater heater mounted through the top of the boiler just behind the class lights. No doubt the NYC experts here will know better, but I think this was the main visual difference between the J1d and J1e.

Incidentally, the engine in the background is an original 700E with refreshed lettering. I found some old Letraset Railroad Roman lettering sets in an art supply house that matched the original font and size almost perfectly.

You can apply your eyes drops now. I won't mind. Really.

Cheers,

- Mike

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Last edited by Mike Casatelli
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I did know that Lionel had some Mexican production at some point, but I did not know that the 783 was in that group of products. I have a gray 785 from '86 - '87 (bought new - boy, that was a lot of money for a bad electronic whistle and some smoke), and I do not think it was Mexican-made. I do not know where the box is, though I have it.

J1 Hudsons used both Coffin and Elesco FWH. The 5344 had a buried Coffin (you can see the piping on the model's smokebox sides). I do not recall whether the J1d and J1e used both. I'll have to consult my Know Thy Hudsons book.

Nice work.

Last edited by D500

Glad you like it, guys.

Lionelski, just my opinion, but if you don’t want scale cars you might try and add a set of Madison cars to your roster for use with any of those Hudsons.  When Lionel introduced the 773 in 1950, it came with three of them -

If your preference runs to freight, a train of MTH 36’ billboard reefers will give you moderately sized, colorful cars.

Dennis, I know how you feel. The 763E is the one I always wanted but never had. I especially like it in gray with the Vanderbilt tender.

D500, the 783 definitely was produced in Mexico, but the 784 (B&A) and 785 (Gray) Hudsons came out after Lionel had left there and were built in Michigan. Of course, it’s quite possible that many of their parts were left over inventory of Mexican origin.

When I undertook this project, Tom Gerbracht’s authoritative Know Thy Hudsons was a couple of decades down the line. That said, it contains several photos of J1ds decked out like mine. See pp. 59 & 60. At the time, I referred to pictures in Al Staufer’s Thoroughbreds, especially two of those shown on p.69.

Cheers,

- Mike

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I bought my 783 in 1987 for $1000.00 and ran it a lot on my 8x8 layout. It was a fairly nice runner and I got rid of it when I had The Great MPC Sell Off in 1995. (that and the other 3 Hudson’s that we’re available at that point)

I was able to pick up another one about 18 months ago at one of the kutztown shows for $225.00 . I brought it home took it apart and reseated the magnets which were both jammed against the drivers from dried out glue. I then greased it and it has ran beautifully ! I never monkeyed with the tender because I put my Century Club tender behind to get a much better whistle and a bell.

The 783 was made in Mt Clemens.  Its been documented as one of the first products produced upon the return the Mt. Clemens.  I have one new in the box and is labelled Made in USA.  Though many have issues with the gearing.  I believe there is some loose spacing in the motor shaft that is the culprit.

Lionel was producing only in Mexico for a few months.  Most of the parts and deco were done in Mt. Clemens and shipped to Mexico for final assembly.

@Mike W. posted:

Though many have issues with the gearing.  I believe there is some loose spacing in the motor shaft that is the culprit.

I hadn't heard of any issues with the gearing, per se.  Lionel changed the gear ratio in its 700-series Hudsons sometime around 1939 to achieve better performance at slow speeds, and that change carried through to the MPC era.  The 773 is the ONLY postwar steam loco that doesn't run too fast; it's a good thing!

I have a 784 with the issue of rubbing magnets.  I don't have much confidence in my ability to remove and re-glue them, so bought another whitewall chassis on eBay, hoping to solve the problem by swapping it for the original.  Unfortunately, despite seller's assurance to the contrary, it also has rubbing magnets!  This is the later 784.  So much for Made in USA quality!

Yes, the known issue with the 783 is the motor itself--they are noisy and sluggish.  MPC used a "large stack" motor and touted it in the literature.  Lenny Dean stated that Lionel tried a large stack motor in the 1950 prototypes.  It actually didn't run well, so a standard 622-type motor was fitted to the production models.  Mike fixed his by swapping in a Madison Hardware motor, an excellent choice that unfortunately is no longer available.  MPC improved the large stack motor in subsequent releases; you can see evidence of this by perusing the parts supplement.  Probably, if I put the motor from the 784 in my 783 chassis, I could build one decent-running loco!  I wonder if later versions use a different winding, because my 785 runs much faster for any given voltage.  However, it also slows down more on the curves.

I love these engines, but as someone else said, they're really too big to look good with Postwar cars and O31 curves.  If only Lionel had developed a high-ratio worm drive like the Hudson's for its other postwar steamers!  As an "MPC kid," I lived through the Mexican Misadventure, and I always like seeing customized traditional trains.  Good thread!

Last edited by Ted S
@Ted S posted:


Yes, the known issue with the 783 is the motor itself--they are noisy and sluggish.  MPC used a "large stack" motor and touted it in the literature.  Lenny Dean stated that Lionel tried a large stack motor in the 1950 prototypes.  It actually didn't run well, so a standard 622-type motor was fitted to the production models.  Mike fixed his by swapping in a Madison Hardware motor, an excellent choice that unfortunately is no longer available.  MPC improved the large stack motor in subsequent releases; you can see evidence of this by perusing the parts supplement.

My 783 had many problems and the motor was one of them. It was an unrun unit.  USA vs. Mexico assembly on mine I don't know.   Once you get it running smoothly it is fun to watch. 

The 783 is a beautiful Hudson.  Each of the Lionel Hudson versions represents a different part of Lionel history after dramatic corporate change yet continue the theme of a quality/magical offering that still delights collectors.   Pre-war scale & semi scale Hudsons; 1950 773.  1960's 773s produced after new product engineering had been discontinued with even more assembly simplification.  Fundimensions 1984 **after the return from Mexico.  BTW I believe a spacer can be added to the drive shaft to reduce the motor harshness.  There have been articles on that topic.    One of my favorites that I regret not purchasing new was the ATSF Warhorse Hudson Set from around 1997.  If Lionel is listening I think a LionChief 773 Hudson would be an amazing offering.  Perfect for the line...premium yet using traditional tooling with modern motors and electronics. 

Last edited by Mike W.

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