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Thread: Lionel HO compatibility?

  1. Default Lionel HO compatibility?

    Hi all.
    I was generously given two boxes of old HO rolling stock and locomotives. Most of the equipment is Athearn with the occasional Tyco or Mantua car. However, I did get one Burlington Northern locomotive that was made by Lionel. The date on the bottom of the engine says 1976.

    Somehow, I seem to recall that Lionel's HO locomotives were not compatible with normal DC operation, due to the fact that they ran on AC power. Is that true? Or am I misinformed?

    I'd like to run the engine on my layout, but I don't want to fry anything.

    Thank you.

  2. Default

    I can't imagine that Lionel would have made the gross error of attempting to market HO scale locomotives that ran on AC when 90% of the HO world in N. America was DC at the time....but stranger things have happened. Just look at MTH's foray into the HO market with their DCS proprietary system. It has been a big uphill struggle for them to break into the mainstream.

  3. #3


    Lionel's HO stuff was DC. I had an early attempt at their GS-4. It should work just fine with the rest of your stuff, if it still runs!

    Modeling Espee on the Coast and in steam

  4. Default

    Thanks. I shall try it out and see what happens. Hopefully she'll still run.

  5. #5


    I have a Lionel HO GP30 that was originally in BN paint. Late 70's vintage. Yes it is DC and you'll have no problems. I haven't run it on a while ( long while ) but it ran quite well.

    Lobuc Valley RR
    "The Hobo Route"

  6. Default

    I gave it a shot, and she runs. It took a minute to break her in, but she's up and moving. Mike, mine is a GP-something in BN paint, so I bet they're identical.

    I ended up popping the shell off of the frame, and the motor looks identical to some old Bachmann and Life-Like stuff that I've seen. The motor is mounted on the rear truck with a wire leading to the front truck for electrical pickup. The middle of the frame is just a bunch of metal weights screwed together.

  7. Default

    I do believe that when Lionel exited the HO scene most of the line was sold to Kader (Bachmann).
    Nathan Rich

  8. #8


    Good to hear it still runs. Quite some time ago there was mention of Lionel HO in another thread on here. If I recall someone replied with who actually made them for Lionel. Bachmann seems to sound right.

    You can't miss a GP30 due to the shape of the cab roof. It has a large bump on top that extends back even with the long hood and the dynamic brake blisters have extensions that run forward to meet it. No other Geep has this roof. All others are round or flat with angular sloping sides.

    Bachmann has released a GP30 recently with DCC on board. I bought an undec and painted it for my own road. It runs very good at all speeds on my DC layout.

    Lobuc Valley RR
    "The Hobo Route"

  9. Default

    The GP30 looks like this:

    Dr Frankendiesel -- aka -- Running Bear
    Collector of Apple //e's
    15 year veteran fire fighter
    Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out of it alive.
    beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam

  10. Default

    I believe that Lionel did the GP30 and GP9, both of which were made under contract by some other company (I think it was either Tyco or Life Like). The Lionel GP9 still currently exists. I think it still exists as the Model Power version. (my memory is a little fuzzy on this though)
    Eric from Boston, MA. Modeling Norfolk Southern and Pan Am Railways.

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