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South Jersey S Scale Modelers

Conrail U33C 6573


This is an American Flyer by Lionel S Scale U33C, made in 2010. It is possibly the first all new diesel under the American Flyer name in 50+ years. I have many EMD and Alco locos, but only 2 GE, and nothing that looks like the U33c.


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Another first is Lionel tried to accommodate the S Scale market by offering scale conversion wheels. That effort fell short because the Lionel “Legacy” control system did not accept DC or DCC power, meaning the electronics all had to be removed. A later revised release to the programming made DCC possible, but the drive was also revised that did not accept the earlier scale wheels from version one. No scale wheels were made for the version 2. What a hot mess. Failure of increased sales to S Scalers is guaranteed if you try hard enough. There was no “big picture” thinking here.



This project is not so much as a build as converting the loco from out of the box American Flyer use to scale DCC. This includes gutting all of the Legacy electronics like a fish, which includes a smoke unit and installing a TCS DCC WOW4 sound decoder. There are lots of lights included in this system, but I removed truly everything. It will only have headlights working.


This is the loco right out of the box. The pilots are going to need some help.

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Lionel Legacy Electronics

I was not prepared to see this massive Lionel control system. It completely filled the shell. The motor is not visible here. That is hidden in the fuel tank. The PILE is hi rail wheels, couplers and control system. I removed all of the electronics!


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I have never seen a drive like this before in any scale. There was so much electronics it filled the shell. There was no room for the motor so it had to go in the fuel tank.

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Completed 6-6-20


As mentioned this was not going to be a “build”project, just a conversion to scale track use. I know a few other locos that were converted to scale use. I wonder if they did what I did to mine to make it happen. It is by far not just changing to the scale wheels. Not much was left untouched. With the exception of drilling out the headlights for the 3mm LEDs the shell is original. Fixing the pilots so they did not move was some effort. The pilots are screwed to the frame. There are holes spotted on the pilot that may have been there for this purpose. That is what I used. I had to cut off the tabs on the trucks that held the pilot and coupler because they hit the pilot now that is was fixed to the frame. I then used the supplied scale coupler bracket. I hate having a massive opening in the pilots for the American Flyer coupler to swing. In the past I have made 3D printed parts for other locos to make the pilots look better. I am not sure this is possible here. The body rides so high off the trucks making the Kadee coupler ride very low in the pilot get the correct coupler height. The steps have uneven spacing which is very noticeable. There is only so much perfume you can put on the pig. Lionel did not MAKE it for US S Scalers. This could have easily been a much better locomotive if some input from a Scale modeler was included. But Lionel never seeks such help because they don’t “need” it. At least I do not have a lot of money invested in it.


Someone more motivated could use the shell only, and make a complete new drive and a much better locomotive for scale use. Even though I had the entire shell as open space for the DCC I still did my usual TCS WOW4 decoder under the roof. The speaker is under the exhaust stack pointing up. The massive roof grill at the rear could have been great for speaker placement. The mesh grill is right on plastic. It is not open. I looked at it but figured I could also scratch paint that is difficult to match so it remains as is. I used amber MV lenses where the original lit corner markers were.


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Posing with my other GE loco the Norfolk Southern B32-8

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Updated 6-6-20

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