Monday, January 13, 2020

LGB Alco Diesel White Pass -- Part 3

After the success of the first Alco Diesel White Pass # 2055 LGB wanted to continue that route. The # 2055 had no sound or any other 'lively' features. LGB had put analog sound in two other Diesel locos already, the #2051, the LGB Ruegen or BR 251, a German Diesel loco from the island of Ruegen and the # 2096, the Austrian OBB in beige and red. To have an American Diesel loco with sound would be a first.

As it turned out it was going to be the first ever digital sound in an LGB loco. And your Famous Klaus would be the one to record it. Here is how: 

Wolfgang Richter had been in Alaska and had recorded White Pass sound in the roundhouse in Skagway. But it turned out not to be usable at all. This is what Mr. Massoth Sr. told Klaus when they met at the booth/stand of LGB at the 1991 International Toy Fair in Nuremberg. Klaus was listening carefully. Klaus had since established a very tight and well working relationship with LGB and Mr. Massoth Sr. and knew how to do it right. Right then and there he went to talk to Wolfgang Richter and suggested he himself would fly to Alaska and do the sound recordings. This time versions that could be utilized.

In April of 1991 Klaus flew via Toronto and Seattle to Juneau. From there a single-engine airplane (Skagway Airways) took him to Skagway, AK. The then president of the White Pass Railway, Paul Taylor, was already expecting him and welcomed Klaus to the WP&Y RR.

Klaus operated a brand new, latest technology digital Sony tape recorder as well as a state of the art SONY video camera. The recordings were made with the 90 series loco because she has the same engine as the 100' series and it was the only engine operable and not winterized at the WP&Y RR. The season would only start in May and the 100 series was still in winter storage.
The 93 of the WP&Y RR
Klaus spent 2 days recording with Mr. Taylor, the engineer Mr. Hunt and a workshop mechanic present. You can tell it was of great fun for Klaus since he remembers all the tiny details as if it happened yesterday. The 93 back then was painted in blue.
Klaus stayed at the Golden North Hotel
Golden North Hotel,Skagway -- Courtesy of the National Park Service
A national treasure today, the hotel was built as a trading store in 1898 and became a hotel in 1908. It functioned as a hotel until 2002 when it was turned into a museum with parts rented to a tourist company. It was rumored to have ghosts appearances. Klaus however remembers best the shower stall in his room that featured steel walls.....

Back in Germany Klaus found out that the engine sound recordings worked very well but the whistle sound revealed an echo. The whistle sound though Wolfgang Richter had recorded was fine. And so the sound engineers went to work and created the first ever digital LGB sound. It was a big step for LGB to go into the digital age and it seemed even more fitting to do so with an American loco.
LGB 21552 with first ever digital sound for an LGB loco -
photo courtesy of Only Trains

The LGB 21552 was revealed in the 1993/1994 catalog for all LGB customers worldwide. A new age was dawning not only in sound technology but soon also in driving technology and in decoder technology that would open up a new world of operating model trains.
The price for the first digital sound engine was a whopping DM 1,490.00 or about US$ 650.00 which would translate into about US$ 1,200.00 today.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++to be continued

Monday, January 6, 2020

LGB Alco Diesel White Pass --- Part 2

The White Pass and Yukon Alco Diesel was the first American Diesel engine for LGB and only the second American loco (after the Mogul) to be offered. First presented (as hand model?) in the New Item brochure of 1989 and then again in the 1990 catalog it entered the market via dealer stores more towards 1991.
LGB 2055 - Courtesy of Only Train
The first 2055 featured 2 Buehler motors, loco lights, signal lights and lighted loco number plates as well as a cow catcher/rail sweeper. The introductory price was around US$ 450.00
After a long introduction without real merchandise to show in dealer stores LGB upped the ante by offering three limited edition cars along with the White Pass engine introduction in their 1990/91 brochure. The offer was made to US customers only: The LGB # 4065 W 03:
LGB 4065 W 03 - Courtesy of Only Trains
This White Pass caboose had a limited edition volume of 2,800 and was priced at around US$ 100.00

LGB 4076 W 02 -- Courtesy of Worthpoint

This black/red self unloader with a 4 axle truck was a limited edition as well at 3,000 and also limited to the American customer. And the 3rd car on offer with the new LGB 2055 engine was the LGB 4080 W 01
LGB 4080 W01-- Courtesy of Worthpoint
Again, this was also a limited edition of 3,000 and sold at about US$ 75.00 in 1990. All 3 cars were sold separately. The limited series for American customers only was soon discovered by German die-hard LGB fans. The club magazines by German LGB clubs (i.e. NOT the  LGB owned club magazine "Telegram") were humming with news about the new LGB 2055 engine and these new freight cars. 'Re-import' was the name most often used by German LGB fans with a knack for US wares. Savings on the very high German VAT (value-added- tax) would level the costs for shipping. There was a whole bunch of US LGB dealers in and around Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey who benefited from that interest.

The 2055 eventually got sound and was launched in 1993 as the LGB 2155 (LGB 21552 since late 1993)
LGB 2155/21552 - Courtesy of

This was the first digital sound in ANY LGB engine. Klaus himself did the sound recordings. He was travelling to Alaska............... Let's start at the beginning of this truly amazing LGB story in part 3 of this blog................+++++++++++++++++++to be continued.........

Monday, December 16, 2019

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

We wish all our followers and readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Our blogs will continue in January 2020.

Monday, December 9, 2019

LGB Alco Diesel White Pass

The White Pass and Yukon Railroad is a legendary narrow gauge RR with a literally fantastic history finding its beginnings with the Klondike gold rush. The story of the building of the railroad is superbly described on this website It is worth to read at least a little bit into it.

After a long history of steam locos on the White Pass and Yukon RR times required to find an 'ersatz' to steam locos no longer built by manufacturers. Benoit Poulin put it best on his website, quoted here:

"In 1969, to face the fast growing traffic (especially ore shipping), the White Pass & Yukon seeked again to increase its diesel roster. This time, the railroad turned to Alco (American Locomotive Company), precisely to its Canadian subsidiary Montréal Locomotive Works (MLW). The locomotive manufacturer proposed its DL535E model, a 1200hp 6-axle diesel-electric engine, with narrow hoods and a single cab. These locomotives were related to the classical Alco RS (road switcher) and were equipped with a new and more powerful version of the same Alco prime mover used on the WP&YR GE class 90.
Courtesy of Benoit Poulin

    Seven of these engines (#101 to 107) were delivered by MLW to the White Pass & Yukon in 1969. Unfortunately two of them were almost immediately destroyed by the terrible fire of the Skagway roundhouse. That incident prompted the railroad to order three more locomotives. These three engines (#108 to 110) were delivered in 1971 again by MontrĂ©al Locomotive Works (despite the demise of its parent company Alco in 1969). The eight surviving engines were used by the WP&YR until the abrupt end of its operations in 1982. Later in 1988, the railroad re-opened in summer only as a tourist railroad, but the GE diesels were found to be sufficient to run the trains, so the first five Alco of the class were sold to a Colombian narrow gauge railroad, the Societad Colombiana de Transporte Ferroviario (STF).
Courtesy of Benoit Poulin
Yet in 1999, because of high tourist demand, the White Pass & Yukon wished to retrieve its five engines exiled in Colombia and bought them back from STF. Four of the ex-Colombian Alco have been put back into service on the WP&YR, the fifth one is still undergoing restoration."- Quote end.

In the mid 1980's LGB had landed a huge success with the Mogul. Now it was the late 1980's. With an American audience growing crazier and more enamored with LGB almost daily more loco stock was needed desperately. The White Pass and Yukon Alco Diesel was the perfect fit.  American to the core with a sister engine easy to copy (#2056 Alco Diesel) they got ' two birds with one stone'. The LGB # 2055 hit the catalog first in 1990 followed by these variations: (LGB # on left, year on right)

2055 1989
2155 s 1991
21552 1991
72855 1995
72550 1996
72855 1996
22552 1998
23552 1998
24552 1998
25552 2002
26552 2005

The White Pass and Yukon Alco Diesel was the first American Diesel engine for LGB and only the second American loco (after the Mogul) to be offered. First presented (as hand model?) in the New Item brochure of 1989 and then again in the 1990 catalog it entered the market via dealer stores more towards 1991.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ to be continued.

Monday, December 2, 2019

LGB Forney -- Conclusion

Note from Klaus: Have your grand-kids or any family member/ loved one announcing your Christmas Train and wishing you all a Merry Christmas! The ESU 4.0 and 5.0 sound decoders can be programmed and re-programmed (!) with ANY recording/sound file you like!!

Call Klaus for repairs, motor exchange  now!

Eventually Rolf Richter and others managed to get Disney's approval. It took 5 years. To be fair those were years of struggle or die for LGB. The Disney logo on any type of LGB train - so the Richter's hoped - would generate the much needed sales volume to prove to banks that they were viable for another line of credit or any expansion thereof. Money was tight to say the least. So eventually, they could manufacture the Disney Forney and went for a set. The LGB # 72350:
LGB # 72350 - Courtesy of
Here  is a closer look at the loco

Courtesy of
The loco in the picture is missing the gold crown on top of the smoke stack and the top of the sand dome which is shown on the starter set box. In 2004 LGB offered the set in Europe and in the USA. That makes it plausible that more than 400 sets were produced. YT tried to find price levels at time of market introduction but only managed to find a purchase price mentioned in a sales offer in 2008; that was US$ 1,000.00.
This set was advertised in its own catalog/brochure together with the Chloe train set, the Disney Mogul and - a first and last- the LGB/Disney game board train set # 92313.

In 2005 LGB continued their Forney offerings with the LGB # 24251, the Wild West Forney:
LGB # 24251 - Courtesy of Only Trains
Shown first in the LGB Fall Special 2005 it made it to the dealer stores in 2006. Price was approx US$ 590.00
Also shown in the Fall Special flyer was the Forney LGB #25251
LGB 25251 - Courtesy of Ebay

At the time of writing this blog episode this all black Forney was offered on Ebay out of Saratoga Springs/UTAH for  US$ 520.00. Used.

In 2006 LGB tried whatever they could before the hammer came down on them. The Forney wasn't left out. Four models were introduced; the LGB # 26251, LGB # 27251, LGB # 28251 and another set LGB # 70120. 19 (!) different brochures, catalogs, flyers and leaflets were published.
LGB 26251 - Courtesy of Worthpoint
This # 26251 Santa Fe # 23 was another conversion 2-4-4T Forney. No wonder, after they had the molds already. This was easy to re-produce and paint differently. Nonetheless a nice Forney!

As was the LGB# 27251 Colorado and Southern.
LGB 27251 - Courtesy of Worthpoint
And the Coca-Cola Forney # 28251. This was a true 0-4-4 in Coca-Cola coloring. When and if it was still delivered to dealers in 2006 is possible but not clear. LGBoA was to go into liquidation but it was also known that quite a bit of merchandise was set aside by those in-the-know. As of time of publication of this blog this 28251 is still or again available on the market for anywhere from $350 to $720.00
LGB 28251 - Courtesy of

The starter set 70120 or in USA 72120 (for 120V operation) experienced the same fate.
LGB 82120 - Courtesy of Only Trains

It pops up currently as well with prices ranging from US$ 590.00 to $ 750.00. Originally probably priced at US$ 829.00. The PRR loco is also a 0-4-4 in dark green and a dark silver smoke chamber. The cabin roof is red.

The Forney type was one of the first locos to be re-issued by the new owner of LGB, Simba-Dickie. A good and a wise choice. Even though it was a 2-4-4T the # 26253 would ring in a new era for the consummate LGB collector and the general LGB fan as well!

Monday, November 25, 2019

LGB Forney -- Part 2

Note from Klaus: Have your grandkids or any family member/ loved one announcing your Christmas Train and wishing you all a Merry Christmas! The ESU 4.0 and 5.0 sound decoders can be programmed and re-programmed (!) with ANY sound file you like!!

After the  1992 "New item brochure"only showed a technical drawing of the LGB Forney to come it took some time for this beautiful loco to actually enter dealer stores. It must have been between the end of 1993 and somewhere in 1994 that she became available to customers.
LGB 20251 - Courtesy of Only Trains
Featuring a smoke generator, fire box light she also sported  - just like the prototype - a water tank cap on top of the water tank. Introductory price was a low US$ 370.00 to 395.00. No LGB Forney after that would cost so little.

Introduced in the 1994 catalog and "New Items brochure", the LGB # 21251 was announced and again not delivered. It took more than a year to show in retail stores. LGB tried to make it an LGBoA "Exclusive" but with an item not ready to be delivered this intend fizzled. This  Forney wasn't even advertised in the European market. Eventually sometime between the end of 1996 and 1997 delivery began.
LGB 21251 - Courtesy of Only Trains
Price was at around US$ 400.00 featuring smoke generator and firebox light.

At the same time as the LGB 21251 was still advertised but not available LGB also started advertising the LGB# 21252 in metallic blue with (digital) sound as part of the "Queen Mary Series". Quoting :" Lehmann Patentwerk (the owners of LGB) created the "Queen Mary Series" to market locomotives and rolling stock that were painted in liveries of standard gauge railroads but where no standard gauge prototype actually existed.
The series name was chosen to commemorate the 1990 LGB Model Railroad Club convention, held aboard the ocean liner Queen Mary at Long Beach, California."

LGB 21252 Queen Mary Series - Courtesy of ebay
Also offered that year was the LGB # 20252, the 'yellow' Lake George and Boulder' Forney with digital sound. First presented in the New Item Flyer for USA in 1995 this Forney reached markets in USA in 1996 and was marked as limited available in 1997.
LGB 20252 - Courtesy of Only Trains

Before the end of the Millenium LGB offered the LGB# 23252 in 1998. The "Columbus" Forney was an extended Forney version 2-4-4 with  pilot wheels in front of the driving wheel set. LGB couldn't get Disney's approval obviously so they couldn't advertise the Forney as the Fred Gurley 2-4-4T converted Disney Forney. That would come in 2004 in the Disney Starter set # 72350. This converted Forney was advertised as the 'Christmas loco' since the "colors would fit" .
LGB 23252 - Courtesy of Only Trains

++++++++++++++++++++++++++to be continued........................

Monday, November 18, 2019

LGB Forney

The Forney is a steam engine concepted, patented and built between 1861 and 1864 by Matthias Forney. As a tank engine it carries its water tank on-board instead of in a tender. The wheel arrangement was originally a 0-4-4T with 4 driving wheels followed by a truck with 4 wheels as can be seen in this old photograph
Courtesy of Wikipedia
Typical for the Forney type is the size difference in the 2 pairs of wheels. Many other locos with a 0-4-4 or 4-4-0 arrangement have been called Forneys, albeit incorrectly. They are basically all 4-4-0 American.
Another characteristic is that the second pair of driving wheels have no flange. That ensures that the loco would not derail in any curves: The first wheel set with flange ensures to stay on the rails and the second wheel(set) could then slightly slip sideways on the rail while the bunker/cab  had its own 2 pair of wheels to follow easily.
Lastly, the coal bunker and water tank were placed over the four-wheel truck.

The Forney was used in big numbers in commuter railroads in the burgeoning cities of New York, Boston and Chicago since she was fabulous in small areas, tight curves and ideal in short range usage. The Forney was also used on the narrow gauge railroads of Maine. Here the Forney was soon converted to a 2-4-4 by adding a pony truck which improved her tracking ability.

One such conversion was later done by Disney Railroad, see below

Courtesy of Disneyland Railroad

To rebuilt the Forney LGB wanted to honor Forney's idea of curve manageability. Their solution was to add a peg/gudgeon to the gearbox enabling an pivoting connection to the engine chassis above. Thus the little engine could do a (narrow) curve with the gearbox while the housing would slightly lurch away from the gearbox without derailing the loco.

These Forneys (LGB #s on left, first year of production on right) were built by LGB over the years:
2025 1992
20251 1993
21251 1995
20252 1996
21252 1996
23252 1998
72350 2004
24251 2005
25251 2005
26251 2006
27251 2006
28251 2006
70120 2006

The first LGB Forney was announced in the 1992 "New Items" brochure just with a photo of the old prototype Forney #22 by Sandy River & Rangley RR and a technical drawing of the locomotive:

This Forney was originally built by Baldwin Locomotive Works for Eustis Railroad (part of P&R, Maine) in Maine in 1904 as a 0-4-4T original Forney Steam Loco. It was one of the largest and heaviest Forneys on the Maine narrow gauge RR's and was so heavy that it literally destroyed the 35 pound steel rails of the Eustis RR but the RR only needed them to carry logs to the Berlin saw mill which was close by. The mill closed in 1908. This Forney was No.9 at Eustis RR. When the decline of the saw mill industry closed several small RR's The Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes RR bought out and / or got receivership of among others the Eustis RR and their locomotives. They renamed the Forney S.R. & R.L. No. 22. She was scrapped in 1935.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++to be continued....