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I have a load of conventional Lionel stuff in my collection and I just did a video on it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Jt6rhehlMs . I did the video on my Blue Comet Set, my Union Pacific Hudson, The Pennsylvania Flyer, and my Rio Grande FT diesel engine. I think the I Love America SD-60 is my favorite conventional engine.

Original Post

 I wanted to get into O and was at a car swap meet in Jefferson Wisconsin. Found a Earnhardt Jr set still sealed in the box for $100 bucks. Still have it and it runs great and the sounds are very good. The crew talk on this engine is great especially when the engine is stationary for awhile and the engineer starts getting mad starts yelling at the control tower. The GP-38 is not a great puller so I bought another Dale JR GP38 from ebay for $50 bucks, removed the sound board and run them together. I now pull 13 cars with caboose and works great. I also have a Santa Fe F3 that has great sound and plenty of pulling power, pulls a dummy and 5 passenger cars no problem. However all my other engines are MTH or Williams.

To me when you say conventional set first thing pops into my head is postwar and thinking a little deeper yes there are some nice modern sets also but again the best conventional sets to me as kinda personal as I own them is the 2571 Which is a replacement of the one I was given as a child and then I have the 2267W which has the 736 w/2046w tender this set I have all the boxes including the set box. and both of these run flawlessly as was just running them the other day. 

With that said there's a lot of great conventional sets out there. 

I am highly biased and think it is any of the sets with the coal-fired Vanderbilt tender,

from which I will steal and kitbash the 0-8-0 engine, and tender, maybe keeping only the tender and selling off the rest  I am not sure any of these are in current production.  (the internet seems to indicate that others are doing the same as the

engines, without tenders, are offered on there)  Wonder when they are going to

smarten up, like K-Line, and offer tenders for separate sale?

These are the only current Lionel engines I have.

  With model trains "best"  could be described a very subjective opinion. Now what I consider the best conventional loco made was the 1990 Lionel Scale Hudson. It may not run the best but I enjoy the detail, the scale proportions and its ability to operate on 031 curves (if it has to). Remember every post in this thread is an opinion and this is mine.

Dan,

     I agree with Lee on this one, I'd say the scale Atlantic would be at the top of the list. I am a Legacy guy so I do not own any conventional engines but I do have a Legacy PRR Atlantic (Lindbergh) and love it.

 

     About the same time Lionel did several conventional steam engines, 0-8-0, 2 truck shays, K4 Pacific, 2-6-0s, 2-8-2s etc. When I was looking for a Legacy K4 they would pop up a lot. Look in the 2011/2012 catalogs they all looked nice.

 

JohnB

The Thomas set in 2005-2010 the set was the same each year, and I wanted conventional set up just in case I decide to put a front coupler on Percy or James and Double head them. 

My other Conventional Set I have is the World of Disney 4-4-0 nice paint scheme and cars, only have had one problem and that is the motor died after being the original for 9 years.

Originally Posted by Dennis LaGrua:

  With model trains "best"  could be described a very subjective opinion. Now what I consider the best conventional loco made was the 1990 Lionel Scale Hudson. It may not run the best but I enjoy the detail, the scale proportions and its ability to operate on 031 curves (if it has to). Remember every post in this thread is an opinion and this is mine.

I agree with Dennis that everyone has their our own criteria for determining what is the "best" of anything. I also agree that the 1990 Hudson should be at the top of the "best conventional engine" category.  Difficult to think it would not be in the top five if for some reason it doesn't fulfill someone's definition of "best."

Originally Posted by JohnB:

Dan,

     I agree with Lee on this one, I'd say the scale Atlantic would be at the top of the list. I am a Legacy guy so I do not own any conventional engines but I do have a Legacy PRR Atlantic (Lindbergh) and love it.

 

     About the same time Lionel did several conventional steam engines, 0-8-0, 2 truck shays, K4 Pacific, 2-6-0s, 2-8-2s etc. When I was looking for a Legacy K4 they would pop up a lot. Look in the 2011/2012 catalogs they all looked nice.

 

JohnB

JohnB, an Atlantic is a 4-4-2 locomotive right? I think I've seen some at my local dealership, they're cool little engines! The PRR K4s are really nice! Is the locomotive in tuscan red, and do you run passenger trains with it?

 

Dan 

Originally Posted by AXP889:

For modern Lionel, the only one I own is the Hogwarts express.  the engine did exceed my expectations though.  runs very smoothly and those big drivers with the big drive-bar look cool going around.  very happy with the engine; not bad considering I picked up the set in box for $60

AXP889, 

 

Thats AWESOME! 

 

Dan

Originally Posted by baltimoretrainworks:

I'm going to have to go old school here, my Lionel 675. It was one of my grandfathers trains and the first one he bought after the war. It still gets a small amount of running time on the layout when ever I have it out. It took a lot of beating when we were kids and it still runs like a champ almost 70 years later.

 

Jerry

Well, Jerry, had I not seen your post, I was all set to say the 1973 Southern Crescent set I got as a toddler. That thing was beaten on and beaten on for years. Dropped from heights, kicked off the track several times by my older sibling to **** me off. Stored and kicked under the bed, hidden from view like an ancient artifact in dust bunnies, never ever lubed. Mom found it about a year ago and brought it up on her visit. We put it in the track and voila!  Runs just fine. 

Originally Posted by PJB:
Originally Posted by baltimoretrainworks:

I'm going to have to go old school here, my Lionel 675. It was one of my grandfathers trains and the first one he bought after the war. It still gets a small amount of running time on the layout when ever I have it out. It took a lot of beating when we were kids and it still runs like a champ almost 70 years later.

 

Jerry

Well, Jerry, had I not seen your post, I was all set to say the 1973 Southern Crescent set I got as a toddler. That thing was beaten on and beaten on for years. Dropped from heights, kicked off the track several times by my older sibling to **** me off. Stored and kicked under the bed, hidden from view like an ancient artifact in dust bunnies, never ever lubed. Mom found it about a year ago and brought it up on her visit. We put it in the track and voila!  Runs just fine. 

Thats awesome PJB! Glad to hear it!

 

Dan

Dan,

 

    Yes, the Lindbergh engine (Atlantic) is a 4-4-2. It is scale so it's 18 1/2 inches long. Don't get these engine confused with starter set engines. It is not Tuscan red it is Brunswick Green like all good PRR engines should be. Lionel did not a few other road names Reading, B&O, Santa Fe. They were black.

 

    I pull the Lindbergh two car set (baggage and coach) with mine. A great little train but again it is scale. I think Lionel did make a Tuscan K4 in both Legacy and conventional.

 

JohnB

Well, my favorites would be the mth traditional sized silver/red stripe gg1 with horn only, a k-line mp15 (I have the Kennecott Copper one), and a the lionel Rdg T1 6-18606.  The T1 needs o42 track but I love it.

 

Just my $0.02

 

jhz

 

edit - sorry I missed the lionel only note in the original post. 

Last edited by jhz563

For Conventional ONLY, my vote would go to the Mikado jr, it is a Nicely detailed locomotive, that has to be the best running Traditional size locomotive that I have either had or seen, Very SMOOOOTH runner, and if needed will pull stumps too, I have pulled 55 cars on level track with 072 and 082 curves, no slipping, no over heating, just a Great locomotive.

 

 

 The 4-6-2 Pacific second and third from the top, in the center of the above pic, were available as conventional, with signal sounds(Upgradeable to TMCC/RS) and with TMCC and Rail Sounds from the factory, these are also great runners as well.

 

Those would be MY choices from what I have had experience with, but there are admittedly many that I have never had the Pleasure to run, and can't comment on.

 

Doug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I would also have to give High marks to Lionel's little 0-6-0T Docksider, this is another Well detailed, Smooth running little Locomotive, that will pull many more cars than I am sure the prototype did, I have pulled 42 cars on level track with large curves, with just one of these little guys. When they were released, they had an MSRP of $109.99, and were probably THE Best buy in O Gauge trains. I don't have a close up of one, but there are three of them at the bottom of this pic.

 

 

 

 

 

 EDIT: I don't know what happened, but my pics got reversed from the way that I inserted them, and a paragraph posted completely out of order, Sorry, if anyone finds this confusing,

 

Doug

 

Last edited by challenger3980
Originally Posted by challenger3980:

For Conventional ONLY, my vote would go to the Mikado jr, it is a Nicely detailed locomotive, that has to be the best running Traditional size locomotive that I have either had or seen, Very SMOOOOTH runner, and if needed will pull stumps too, I have pulled 55 cars on level track with 072 and 082 curves, no slipping, no over heating, just a Great locomotive.

 

 

 The 4-6-2 Pacific second and third from the top, in the center of the above pic, were available as conventional, with signal sounds(Upgradeable to TMCC/RS) and with TMCC and Rail Sounds from the factory, these are also great runners as well.

 

Those would be MY choices from what I have had experience with, but there are admittedly many that I have never had the Pleasure to run, and can't comment on.

 

Doug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I would also have to give High marks to Lionel's little 0-6-0T Docksider, this is another Well detailed, Smooth running little Locomotive, that will pull many more cars than I am sure the prototype did, I have pulled 42 cars on level track with large curves, with just one of these little guys. When they were released, they had an MSRP of $109.99, and were probably THE Best buy in O Gauge trains. I don't have a close up of one, but there are three of them at the bottom of this pic.

 

 

 

 

 

 EDIT: I don't know what happened, but my pics got reversed from the way that I inserted them, and a paragraph posted completely out of order, Sorry, if anyone finds this confusing,

 

Doug

 

Doug, 

That looks like a mighty fine little steam engine! I own a Union Pacific conventional hudson #673 and I like it a lot. Do you still think I could get one for around $110 or have they appreciated in value since their release?

 

Dan 

Originally Posted by jhz563:

Well, my favorites would be the mth traditional sized silver/red stripe gg1 with horn only, a k-line mp15 (I have the Kennecott Copper one), and a the lionel Rdg T1 6-18606.  The T1 needs o42 track but I love it.

 

Just my $0.02

 

jhz

 

edit - sorry I missed the lionel only note in the original post. 

Don't worry, K line is still pretty solid when it comes to conventional engines!

 

Dan

Hi Dan,

The Lionel Item #'s and MSRP's are:

 

2-8-2 Mikado jr, Union Pacific  6-28684 MSRP $259.95 most recent catalog: 2007 Vol 1

 

0-6-0T Docksider, Union Pacific  6-38600  MSRP $109.99 most recent catalog 2009 RTR

 

These occasionally show up on the secondary market, you might check with Northeast Trains in Peabody, MA, and Gryzboskis, I have bought the Mikado from both of them, it's been awhile but might worth a phone call to check if they have any left. Unfortunately, Lionel does not have a product locator function like MTH has, so finding product at dealers, you are completely on your own.

 

The Mikado jr has the Rail Sounds, sound system, about the only negative about the Docksider is, the whistle leaves a bit to be desired, and the whistle is the only sound that they could squeeze into it.

 

Lionel also offered a Berkshire jr, the Union Pacific version was only available in a set. The UP set Berk jr had the Train Sounds system, which is a step down from Rail Sounds, while the Berk jr is a Nice locomotive, it is not quite up to the standards of the Mikado, this locomotive is third from the top, left side in the group pic in my previous post.

 

 I know the UP Hudson jr very well, it earned the TOP & CENTER position in the group pic, by being THE locomotive that started my interest in 3 Rail O Gauge, after close to 40 years in HO.

 

Good Luck in finding either the UP Mikado jr, or Docksider, I'm NOT letting go of mine!

 

Doug

Originally Posted by challenger3980:

Hi Dan,

The Lionel Item #'s and MSRP's are:

 

2-8-2 Mikado jr, Union Pacific  6-28684 MSRP $259.95 most recent catalog: 2007 Vol 1

 

0-6-0T Docksider, Union Pacific  6-38600  MSRP $109.99 most recent catalog 2009 RTR

 

These occasionally show up on the secondary market, you might check with Northeast Trains in Peabody, MA, and Gryzboskis, I have bought the Mikado from both of them, it's been awhile but might worth a phone call to check if they have any left. Unfortunately, Lionel does not have a product locator function like MTH has, so finding product at dealers, you are completely on your own.

 

The Mikado jr has the Rail Sounds, sound system, about the only negative about the Docksider is, the whistle leaves a bit to be desired, and the whistle is the only sound that they could squeeze into it.

 

Lionel also offered a Berkshire jr, the Union Pacific version was only available in a set. The UP set Berk jr had the Train Sounds system, which is a step down from Rail Sounds, while the Berk jr is a Nice locomotive, it is not quite up to the standards of the Mikado, this locomotive is third from the top, left side in the group pic in my previous post.

 

 I know the UP Hudson jr very well, it earned the TOP & CENTER position in the group pic, by being THE locomotive that started my interest in 3 Rail O Gauge, after close to 40 years in HO.

 

Good Luck in finding either the UP Mikado jr, or Docksider, I'm NOT letting go of mine!

 

Doug

Haha! I'll be on the lookout! I might get a docksider or something that's scale for my next conventional steamer if not i think I'll get a Mikado Jr... I haven't made up my mind yet!

I'll second the vote on the 0-6-0 docksider being an excellent engine.  They run great, smooth, pull a crazy amount of cars compared to many larger engines and especially for their size.  They are all metal, well detailed, light in the cab so you can see the figures as it runs around.

 

Only complaint would be that the smoke output is anemic, at least on mine.  I have not tried the suggestions on this forum for improving smoke output (new batting, different wire wound resistor, etc) other than switching to Megasteam. 

 

I found my son was in the habit of running the engine about 6 hours a day while I was at work during the Christmas season for the past two Christmas' pulling as many cars as he could - up to having the last engine almost pushing the last car around a 7 x 10 loop with 048 curves.  This was without proper maintenance as I didn't know it was happening.  Rollers and wheels show wear but the engine runs like new.

 

Some of these with the "Series 1" motor seem to get dry bushings causing them to squeal and stall.  As the docksiders are all quite a few years old at this point, I'd lube the motor bushings as well as the normal maintenance points if you get one.  If the series 1 motor goes belly up, Lionel is out of them and has no plans to get more.  You can get the original, or an upgraded motor from a repair depot.

For my 027 sharp curve layout with 27 Marx switches the best conventional engine is hands down the Lionel 2035.

I started out with light weight 242, then 2026 and then 2025 (675) and then found the magnatraction 2035.

 

This is the best pulling, reasonable cost, stay on the tracks loco I have.  It will pull 6 or 7 heavy operating cars like the milk and cattle car which other locos have trouble getting to move. 

 

I will admit the 2035 is not the best looking loco, being sort of short and stocky looking, but its operation makes up for lack of looks.

 

 

I have 5 or 6 Lionel 2035 and usually have 4 on the layout most times.  Others like the 2056 etc have trouble with the curves and getting started.

 

Charlie

Last edited by Choo Choo Charlie

Charlie,

I have to agree with your comments about the 2035. It's my childhood engine and while I have a large collection of engines now (PW and modern), that 2035 is one of the silkiest and smoothest engines I have. And it runs better than it did from the factory. Reason.....when I got back into this hobby 6 years ago (after a 35 year absence), I discovered that the armature plate on the back side of the motor (which had never been taken off or accessed), was not mounted correctly and was pressing on the side of the armature shaft where it emerges from the plate. I remounted the plate and.....pure "silk"

 

Roger

Well, the OP said SET so I would vote for the Lionel 0-8-0 sets. For conventional engines any of the K-Line scale engines would be my suggestion. K-Line made their scale Hudson, Mikado, 0-4-0, 0-6-0 in conventional. Their semi scale engines, hudson, mikado, pacific, also run very well. I am referring to one that had a TMCC counterpart. Avoid the K-Line starter set engines. Cheaply made and don't run that well.

 

Pete

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