model train set on track

Let’s Start a Fight! A Postwar War!

e*Train Issue: Feb 2004   |   Posted in: ,

By Mike Tripp

I’m gonna compare American Flyer to Lionel in a monthly series taking a good look at different pieces they produced that were in common…but before I do let’s look at two odd product choices they made somewhat in common.

Not so odd they both chose a Pennsy locomotive but odd they both pick an experimental version. The prototypes were both short lived. Only one turbine was made, 2 of the K-5’s were produced; each with different valve gear. The K-5 was too powerful for six drive axles so the design was transferred to the Hippo’s. The turbine was too thirsty starting up. The concept would have been successful had traction motors been installed in the pilot and trailing trucks. Steam driven generators could drive these to get the train moving then drop out as the turbine kicked in. Oh well.

Lionel and American Flyer on the other hand produced hundreds of the models and profited from their efforts. Alas the Pennsy’s efforts were too frantic and too late to save steam power or the Pennsylvannia R.R.
How strange of the management of the ‘P’ to cling so long to underpowered, double headed locomotion then reverse field, spewing out a plethora of designs instead of one or two and wasting precious funds.
Of all the railroads that designed new locomotives, I’ve always marveled at the beauty of their locomotives. In some ways it was a marvelous macro era. Big was in. The bigger the better but why design and build locomotion that couldn’t make the curves or fit the turntables of the railroad? Talk about brain cramps! Too much whiskey in the board room? Makes you wonder. Until next time happy railroading!