New Jersey Hi-Railers, Lionel Ambassador and home to 50+ members is located in Paterson, NJ.
HiRailers Model Railroad Club is a 501© 3 organization located in historic
Paterson, New Jersey and houses the countries larges O scale layout that
measures 285 long and 35 feet wide. In addition, the club houses television
host Tom Snyder’s Standard Gauge layout and the famous Soprano’s layout that
was located in Bobby Baccalieri (Steve Schirripa) garage.
continues to evolve with major enhancements being completed in 2016. They have
expanded the use of TMCC and Legacy technology to the entire layout and are in
the process of adding the Legacy technology to their Millhouse River Turntable. The NJ Hi Railers pride themselves on the
dedication provided to members for the best operating experience which can be
seen through their webcams and in the faces of their visitors.
the club has been active in promoting the model train hobby by holding 6-10
events for the public annually and hosting birthday parties, working with the
Boy Scouts of American and fundraising for charitable organizations such as
This is the second year that the NJ Hi Railers represent Lionel as an Ambassador. See 2015-2016 Activity
NJ Hi-Railers and Lionel in Concord, NC
My brother, Stephen, was recently transferred from Sarasota,
Florida to Charlotte, NC which meant he need help to disassemble a beautiful
small model rail road built exactly like the one found in Lionel’s 1957 catalog.
I helped him take it down and along with his other household items he shipped
them up to his new house where he had a special room built for his layout.
I took a few days off, traveled to Charlotte, to help him
move his “stuff” out of storage on the condition that we make a visit to
Charlotte Motor Speedway and Lionel. Yes, model railroading and NASCAR do go
hand in hand. Lionel besides manufacturing trains also make die cast NASCAR
race cars that are sold through their retail store, on-line and through the
Prior to making the trip I contacted my friends at, well I
would like to think of them as friends and visa-versa, letting them know I
would be in the Concord, NJ area. I wanted to stop by for a variety of reason
including seeing the new facility. I let my brother know we had a day tripped
planned and he jumped in his car and I had a taxi for the day. The Lionel team
agreed and off we went.
One of the key goals was to follow up on the items we were
producing as part of the Club Ambassadors. In 2015, Lionel created a program
called “Lionel Ambassadors” where they canvassed their dealer base looking for
clubs nationwide that we promoting the hobby. The NJ Hi-Railers were fortunate
to be selected as a charter “club” for the program. During the course of 2015 ~
2016 the NJ Hi-Railers worked closely with Lionel to develop honest review of
product that was being delivered to the market. Many of these can be found on
our Facebook page and on Lionel’s site under the Hobbyist section.
The purpose of being a club Ambassador is to partner with
Lionel in their mission to grow the hobby and pass on the “Magic of the
Trains” to the next generation.
The 2015-2016 Ambassador Program was a tremendous success and we,
the NJ Hi-Railers are excited to be part of the program will be returning for
the 2016-2017 year.
Let’s get to the good part, I had
made arrangements to meet with Lauren Morris, Mike Reagan and a few other
members of the Lionel leadership team from sales, marketing and engineering.
Upon our arrival we were greeted by Mike Reagan. We had
planned to bring Dunkin Donuts, coffee and goodies but Dunkin Donut’s decided
to hide the franchise in some store and failed to post signs. When we explained
our inability to find Dunkin Donuts, the laughter resonated through the entire
facility. Seems like we were not the only one that could not find the store.
Note to DD’s – post a sign.
The Lionel team is first class, friendly and willing to take
time to introduce themselves, their roles, and how they came to work at Lionel.
Conversations were extremely enlightening with genuine interest in what part of
the hobby we liked. Road names modeled, what accessories we typically purchase
and what would we like to see in the future.
Mike gave us a full
tour of the facility taking the time to explain what happened in each area of
the company. First, we spent time with the Engineering team discussing design,
development, and production and testing of new products to be released.
Lionel’s engineering team is top notch and answered every question we had about
their products. In fact, they even asked us about what new engines we had and
what we liked and did not like. Asking for recommendations about features, we
suggested adding more sound files like a special horn / sound for approaching
to crossing gates, better smoke output on the diesels, improved and expanded
crew talk and the ability to upgrade TMCC engines to Legacy. From a product
perspective, we suggested a Legacy Niagara and something, a road name that
Lionel had not made recently. From a rolling stock perspective, we asked that
Lionel consider including in the box a Kadee coupler with all the required
shims to install them. I know price is everything, but my bet for those folks
that like scale equipment, will pay $5.00 ~ $7.00 more. Or at least offer them
to the hobby in a $10.00 pack. They are already designing rolling stock to
handle the Kadee coupler so it is a natural to make it available.
Our Engineering leader, you see him at York, took us to the
“Archive Room” which by itself is completely overwhelming. Original engineering
drawings, handmade samples of engines, rolling stock and accessories dating
back to the day the company open. This room is like a museum, anything and
everything Lionel and his team thought is here. Well protected and there is no
way to access the room without an escort. Amazing history. I mentioned that
Lionel owns Lionel Racing and to that extent, there is a body of a NASCAR race
car bolted to the wall. It appears to have been part of a race at one time and
adds cool element to the company history and association with NASCAR.
Moving throughout the facility, you walk up a flight of
stairs and arrive at their test layout. Made of fast tracks, it has every item
need to run any engine. Operation is conventional, WIFI and Legacy. VisionLine,
LionChief, Legacy engines were being tested, see the pictures, no you won’t
find any future releases as they were all hidden away. With that said, Lionel
is clearly working on the 2017 product line as lots of activity was going on.
We were headed over to “where the magic happens” or the
service department but we got side tracked with the new Lionel Mega Track. We
ended up playing with this new product for over 30 minutes. If you have not
seen this, go to the Lionel website and take a good look at this. If these were
available during our visit I would have bought 5 sets and created the exact
same demo found in the board room. You can also search the web as Howard
Hitchcock has been on TV promoting the product. Search “Toy Fair” and you can
see Mega Tracks in action.
As we wound down the tour we were able to discuss making a
special car to raise money for charity. More on that at another time, but if
this moves forward it will be a limited edition car made in Charlotte.
Finally, we made our way to the retail store. Another great
place. There is an operating layout, all the accessories one could need or
want, every engine (no BTO’s) you could want including all the LionChief and
Ready-To-Run sets. If you are an LCCA member purchasing at the retail store,
have your membership card and you will get a discount.
We, Stephen and I, would like to thank everyone at Lionel
who took time out of their busy day to make our visit enjoyable and memorable. See More
The Day Had Finally Arrived!
by NJ Hi Railers Train Club member Mr. Allen Spaventa and his grandson, Brandon.
grandfather was going to take me with him to the NJ Hi Railer’s layout in
Paterson, NJ. I could hardly wait to go. He had told me about the layout for a
while now and showed me pictures of the layout. I could not believe how big it
was with all the scenery and track. It was going to be an experience to
remember forever. To top it all off he was going to let me run some trains
on the layout. I hoped he would let me use the Lionel Norfolk Southern SD70.
What a beauty that engine is.
He told me I had to be on my best behavior because I was a guest
and had to respect the other members as the work they did on the layout. Not a
problem because I wanted him to invite me back for another visit.
When we arrived, my grandfather
opened the door. When we walked into the room it was beyond my imagination.
WOW, the room was huge and the layout bigger than I expected. it is very
detailed and I could not take it all in at once. We walked around the layout
and Grandpa pointed out the different features, including the waterfalls and
What a layout, it was more then I
imagined it could be. We went up to the balcony where the dispatcher works and
where all the control panels located. I could see the layout from above and I
was impressed all over again.
He turned on the power to all the
Lionel transformers and said he was going to put power on the white line
so I could run a train. I asked if I could run the
Norfolk Southern SD70 and he
said, “Why not”. I couldn’t wait. He gave me the hand held controller and said
let’s put the engine on the track with some cars and get rolling. We did just
that and away the big diesel went with the string of freight cars. I ran the
train for about an hour during that time grandpa showed me how to throw
switches so I change the route. We ran and watched the trains run from the
balcony and from other spots on the layout. He let me go on my own and just
explore. I had a blast.
I could not believe all the
openings in the middle of layout and pockets that one cannot see from the
outside. There were control panels imbedded in the layout, it was really great!
I asked my Grandfather if I could
bring some of my friends from my Boy Scout Troop to see the layout and he said
he would work on it and let me know. He also said that the next time we would
double head the SD70 with the Dash 8. I cannot wait to go back. What a day, and
what a layout and what a diesel.
NJ Hi Railers Train Shows: 185 6th Ave Paterson, NJ - 10 AM to 4 PM:
Sunday - October 30th - Halloween Spooktackler
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Sunday, December 4, 2016
Sunday, December 18, 2016 - Santa Claus
Saturday, January 7, 2017
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Sunday, March 21, 2017
else have the Ambassador’s been up to? Check out their product reviews on new and old product below:
NJ Hi-Railers Lionel Ambassador Program
Lionel 6-82271 New York Central 4-6-0 Product Review
Video produced by Jeffrey Potischman and Kevin Martin
The following review was written by Jeffrey Potischman
Recently, I picked up Lionel item number 6-82271, New York
Central 4-6-0 “Ten Wheeler” number 1258 from a local hobby shop. Being born and
raised in the greater New York area, I naturally became a fan of the New York
Central Railroad; watching CSX freight trains on the West Shore Line and taking
Metro North to Grand Central Terminal on the Hudson and Harlem lines. I have
always been fascinated by the New York Central and enjoy learning about its
history. When delivered, the Ten Wheelers were put to work by the New York
Central as a main line locomotive pulling freight and passenger trains. As
technology improved, bigger locomotives such as the Mikado’s and Pacific’s, and
later the Hudson’s and Mohawks would replace the Ten Wheelers on the Water
Level Route. A vast majority of the Ten Wheelers were put to work pulling
commuter trains and the occasional freight on the Putnam Division and the
non-electrified portion of the Harlem Line.
Out of the box, I was very happy with the detail. The
locomotive is decorated in the standard New York Central black with the front
section of the boiler being grey. The headlight is mounted on the front of the
boiler which swings open. The front of the engine has lighted number boards on
the headlight and two green marker lamps which look real sharp when on track
power. The locomotive features separately applied details, handrails and
legible builder’s plates. The cab is highly detailed featuring two crew
figures, glowing firebox, and painted instruments. As with most Lionel engines,
the Smoke, Odyssey, and Run/Program switches are under the cab, but are easy to
get to. The locomotive is connected to the tender with a wireless drawbar which
is a real nice feature by Lionel which makes hooking the two up very simple as
well as aesthetically pleasing. The tender is nice and heavy and is equally as
detailed as the locomotive featuring a realistic coal load and backup light at
On the track, this locomotive is nothing short of amazing!
The engine performs, looks, smokes and sounds great! One of my favorite
features besides its nice sounding whistle is the variable labor intensity.
When running the engine light (by itself) I keep the intensity at a minimum to
make it sound realistic. However, when pulling a freight train like shown in
the video, I raise the intensity to get a real nice, deep sounding chuffing
simulating the locomotive laboring. I was also impressed by the high volume of
smoke this little engine could produce. The running gear looks great when the
locomotive is in motion and the headlight and green marker lamps look beautiful.
Overall, I can say that I truly enjoy running this engine.
Lionel states that the minimum radius for operation is O-48 and makes this
locomotive in various other road names. If you want a nice scale steam
locomotive but have a small layout, or are just looking for a nice small steam
locomotive in general, I would highly recommend the Lionel Legacy Ten Wheeler. See More
NJ Hi-Railers Product Review by Kevin Martin & John
Pacific ‘Sunset Limited’ 18” Passenger Aluminum Passenger Car 4-Pack. Item
Pacific 18” Passenger Aluminum Passenger Car 2-Pack (Sleeper & Coach). Item 6-81975
There are many Lionel
train products available today but one that stands out to me is the Southern
Pacific Sunset Limited 18" aluminum passenger cars. The 4 car set
includes Observation car, a Diner car, a Coach car and the Vista Dome car. The 2
car set includes a Sleeper and Coach car.
These were offered in
the Lionel 2015 Volume 2 catalog. I am a fan of the Sunset Limited so I decided
to purchase the complete set. I was not disappointed and quite frankly the
pictures in the catalog does not do them justice. Take a look at the pictures,
the interior detail is fantastic. Unlike the newer 21 inch passenger cars,
these cars have people, yes people actually seated in the cars which adds
realism. Note to Lionel, I know that you offer a “figure set” so you can
“update and add realism to the 21 inch cars but I prefer to have them already
seated and painted. Unlike Alex M., an OGR Forum member, who is one of the
better modelers, anything the guy works on comes out fantastic, I am not
comfortable pulling apart the cars and adding the detail. I know it is a hobby
I received my cars in late
December 2015. Like a kid in a candy store I could not wait to open them up and
get them on the layout. My heart was beating intensely as I took them out of
the box and from the Styrofoam inserts. These cars are absolutely awesome.
Stunning grab rails, roof vents along with highly detailed sprung trucks. LED
lighting offers view of train crew and passengers. What caught my attention the
most was that the lights in the cars remained on after the power was shut down.
There is a switch on each car so that you can turn the LED lighting on and off.
Another very cool engineering feature is that Lionel added capacitors to avoid
the flickering lights of the previously manufactured cars. Lionel packed quite
a few features in these cars and there are too many to mention.
One important item to
be aware of is that the minimum recommended curve is 0-42 / 0-54. These are
need to avoid having the diaphragms bind on curves. Overall I am very pleased
with my purchase and I recommend if you are a Sunset Limited fan add these to
Click the link below
and enjoy a few videos.
View Lionel SP "Sunset Limited" #1 Video and View Lionel SP "Sunset Limited" #2 Video
Great job Lionel!
Lionel Command Control Smoke Loader - Advanced Fluid Co.
By Kevin Martin
Today, I received Lionel’s Command Control Advanced Co.
Smoke loader (Item 6-37821). Lionel has
cataloged a few of these including Keystone (6-83634) and North American
(6-83635), both found in the 2016 catalog and offered at an SRP of $349.99. I
have seen these on line and through Lionel’s dealer base under $275.00. All
operate the exact same way.
Before you rush out to purchase this accessory, please make
sure TMCC and or Legacy systems on your layout because you will not be able to
operate the unit. The functions are accessed visa the CAB-1, CAB-IL and CAB 2
I am not one for adding a lot of operating accessories to my
layout but because of the footprint on this accessory, approximately 5 ½ inches
wide by 12 ¾” and because the model simply looked good. The feature set was a
secondary consideration. For example, the pre-painted figure, building, painted
valve wheels and tank are color coordinated and makes it easy to add additional
The loader comes with three items, the main building with
the tank, the loader arm with the nozzle and the lighted lamp post. Assembly is
very simple, plug in the light and install the loader arm. In both cases, take
care when performing the installing the components. Assembly of the three
components that take less than 5 minutes.
Whether you model steam era, diesel era or a combination of
both the key to enjoying this really cool accessory is positioning it for
success. You must find a location on your layout that has sufficient space for
the Loader Arm and its movement. When
extended, the Loader Arm, needs to be positioned directly over your locomotives
stack or the caboose’s chimney.
To help assure that I could line up the Loader Arm any
engine, steam or diesel, on the layout I drew a red line across the track and using
a square, extend the line from the track onto the Homostote platform. Once
again, to double check my work, see the pictures, I used the UP smoking caboose
to ensure my “stop” point worked. My next step in the plan is then to make or
buy a small sign to put a “stake” in the ground at the “stop point” to be used
as the marker to help line the engine /caboose up to the loader arm should
extend. Ultimately, the engine or caboose needs to be line up on a 45 degree
angle. Once these steps are completed and the Smoke Fluid Loader is in
position, attach it to your platform deck. The entire process took me about 30
minutes. One other item, the Smoke Loader Arm motor will move the arm up to 90
degrees but the arm has a full 360 degree motion. The arm is engineered for
positioning it however you feel like it on your layout and for making
adjustments as needed.
Why do I take the extra time to position the accessory?
Simple, if the loader arm and the engine stack and caboose chimney don’t line
up, then as you release the fluid it could miss the target ending up all over
the unit on the track. I had to make a few small adjustments to align the Loader
Arm and the center rail and it works perfectly
Now that the unit is set properly seated on the layout the
next step it to fill the storage tank. Filling the tank is simple, just open
the plug on the top of the tank by pulling straight up on the outside edges.
Lionel recommends their premium smoke fluid, item 6-37842 only be used in the
Command Control Smoke Loader accessory. Fill the tank, replace the cap, cleanup
any spilled fluid.
Again, the reason Lionel strongly suggests using their
premium fluid is design related. Their premium fluid viscosity is designed for
their products. Using other brands may impact performance and could potentially
damage the internal pump and tubing.
One of the main reasons I purchased this accessory is
because to see how this would operate at the NJ Hi-Railers Club at my home and
since both locations have the Legacy and TMCC systems. In order to use the
accessory you need to program the unit for operations. On the left hand side of
the unit is the Program / Run switch. Stand procedure for installing or
changing the address. Now that the accessory is properly positioned and full of
fluid it’s time to test, I mean run trains and operate the smoke fluid loader.
With all the basics out of the way it is time to use the
smoke loader. Remember, to use this accessory you need to program an address
into the handheld. I left the factory assigned address for simplicity but you
can change that at any time by following the directions.
Now the fun begins! Using the sign or marker described in
the previous paragraph as your stop point position an engine or caboose under
the Loader Arm. Select the address you assigned to the Smoke Loader unit to
activate it. Turn the red control knob on the handheld clockwise which will
engage the Loader Arm and move it 90 degrees. To dispense smoke fluid pull down
the “Boost / Brake” button. When the “Boost / Brake” button is pulled only one
(1) drop of fluid is dispensed, therefore, if you want 10 drops of fluid, then
you must pull the button 10 times. As a reminder, Lionel recommends twenty (20)
drops of fluid for normal operation in an engine or caboose.
Major Point – Lionel DOES NOT recommend using the Smoke
Fluid Loader for the filling the smoke unit if your engine or rolling stock is
brand new. New units need to have their smoke units fill it the manually with a
maximum of 20 smoke fluid drops to ensure proper operation. We have all
experience the “air bubble” smoke unit blockage so this will help prevent that
from happening. If an air bubble exist is the smoke stack, simply blowing down
the stack should clear the problem.
One of the nicer features on the accessory is the LED lighted
lamp post. The light is turned on and off by using the hand held remote.
Pressing AUX 1 and 9 key turns the light on. To turn the light off press AUX
and the 8 key. Lionel expects the LED light to last the life of the accessory.
If for any reason the light goes out, it is not user serviceable meaning you
need to contact Lionel for service. I am sure this won’t be a major problem but
I plan to purchase another lamp post as a backup.
What happens if you need to empty the storage tank? Simple,
position the arm so that you can place a smoke fluid bottle underneath it. Move the Program / Run switch to “Program”
and pull down the “Brake / Boost” button on the hand held remote until all the
fluid has been pumped out of the tank.
Over all Lionel has
built a very nice accessory with great features and functionality. The design
is elegant, pre-painted and in 30 minutes you’re operational, less if you just
set it down and line up the engine and smoke loader by eye. If you want to
weather it or add additional detail most of the work is already done for you.
It would have been
nice if Lionel added a small tube (like they do with the engines) of premium
smoke to jump start the usage.
Overall, this is a highly recommended accessory for your
home or club layout and I plan to get
one I can see our guests at the NJ Hi-Railers getting great enjoyment seeing
the accessory in action at our shows.
View Lionel Legacy 4-6-0 Video Review
New York Central LEGACY 4-6-0 Ten Wheeler Steam Locomotive #1258)
View Lionel Legacy SD40-2 Video Review
Burlington Northern LEGACY Scale SD40 Diesel #6314)
View Lionel Pennsy M1a Coal Hauler Video Review
Pennsylvania Scale LEGACY M1A Twin Hopper Set)
Nathan’s Famous 100th Anniversary Lionel Scale
Reefer from the Nassau Lionel Operating Engineers Product Review - Item Number 6-58266
By Kevin Martin
Over past 10 years I have been purchasing the Club Cars
offered by the NLOE. These cars have centered on the history of Long Island
businesses. From the Grucci boxcar, P.C. Richards & Son’s TOFC, the LIRR
Gla Hopper 2 pack set and now the Nathan’s Famous 100th Anniversary
Scale Reefer manufactured by Lionel I have been extremely happy with the
product. The NLOE and Lionel have done a fantastic job with the design,
graphics and business selected.
The Nathan’s reefer joins its sisters that were issued in
2013. The NLOE issued two MLR Nathan’s Steel Sided Refer, items 6-58567 and
6-58568 with road numbers, #83131 and #83132. These were reasonably priced and
well done and since have become highly collectible. Add the new Reefer to the
previously issued reefers you have the makings of a very nice consist. The
early release cars and the 100th anniversary car have a yellow roof,
yellow ends and yellow doors against a green body. The ladder and step are also
green and the under carriage is black. On the 2013 versions, the standard
Nathan’s Famous Logo pops off the side with crisp clear graphics. Beneath the
Nathan’s corporate logo painted in yellow is “More than just the best hot dog!”
The combination looks great and match that with the hot dog in a bun, the
topping and mustard…………well they did right.
Looking at the 2016 100th Anniversary Reefer (6-58266),
the NLOE and Lionel replace the standard company logo with the “Nathan’s This
Is The Original” logo which is red and green on the yellow background. In
addition, the hotdog now has company……….Nathan’s fries and a soda. If you
haven’t been to a Nathan’s you’re missing out on a great experience. They have
worldwide reputation for the best high quality hot dog.
The new Reefer, like the previously issued commemorative
cars, are scale Standard O. The trucks are die cast metal sprung trucks with
operating couplers. The yellow roof hatches and door open and as I mentioned
before, the under carriage is nicely decorated and detailed.
Like all NLOE commemorative cars, production is
limited, almost BTO (they were way ahead of Lionel) and tend to sell out
quickly. If you are interest in purchasing one of these cars, the NOLE posted
on the OGR Forum they had a few extra’s. You can download the order form from
the Forum post or by going to the NLOE
I really like these Nathan’s commemorative cars and if you
can get your hands on one (1) or all three (3) do it. I recently saw the 2013,
Lionel – NLOE 6-58266 sell on EBay for around $85.00.
View NJ Hi Railers Video Review Santa Fe ES44AC
Santa Fe 'Warbonnet' LEGACY Scale ES44AC Diesel)
**The information about the clubs is provided by them and may or may not be accurate depending on changes in membership, 501c status, etc..
Lionel is sharing their content and not validating it’s accuracy.