News & Reviews Product Reviews Lionel New York Central Legacy Dreyfuss J3 Hudson

Lionel New York Central Legacy Dreyfuss J3 Hudson

By Ben Laremont | January 12, 2024

The locomotive that defined the art deco era

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As a child I remember my parents buying me a big book filled with photos of the New York Central Railroad. The book cover featured a unique steam locomotive. I was too young to understand its significance, but I knew that this locomotive stood out from every other train I had seen. Its beauty left such an impression, I held on to the book for decades later realizing the art deco masterpiece on the cover was known as the Dreyfuss Hudson.

steam locomotive on layout
NYC No. 5454. Ben Laremont photo

As luck would have it, I saw the Dreyfuss on the cover of another “Big Book;” but this time it was on the Volume 1 2023 catalog from Lionel.  Before reading the list of features in the catalog, I knew this would be an immediate preorder.

Lionel’s latest Dreyfuss offering is based on an all-new tooling, as it has been several years since this model was produced.  Other features include, Legacy, Bluetooth, whistle steam, road number specific details and dependent on the model, the PT tender water scoop effect!

Of the various Dreyfuss models Lionel offered, I decided to go with the darker fantasy scheme (#5454, SKU 23331430) I took delivery of the Dreyfuss preorder just ahead of Christmas. The darker paint work of the fantasy scheme turned out to be the most prototypical offering and highlighted one of my favorite characteristics of the Dreyfuss, the massive silver drive wheels!

control panel on model locomotive
Ben Laremont photo

Once I had the Dreyfuss on the rails, programming was easy. All switches are hidden underneath two doors on the back of the boiler chamber, there is no need to look for any switches underneath the engine, which I’ve always found to be a hassle on other models.

model tender with water vapor around it
The water scoop effect is available in some versions of this engine (2331430, 2331412, and 2331411). Ben Laremont photo

The fantasy scheme also came with the PT tender featuring the water scoop effect. This is a “second chance” for those of us who missed out on the VisionLine Niagara a few years ago. After finding the hidden smoke fluid reservoir in the tender, I immediately had to give this feature a try.

side view of model steam engine
Ben Laremont photo

I did not realize the how incredible this effect was until I had the chance to try it on my own layout. One press of a button on my Cab 2 remote, and my tracks were covered with a simulated water vapor effect as the Dreyfuss flew by. The Dreyfuss is an engine that looks fast at standstill, but the water scoop effect while in motion makes it look like it’s traveling at light speed!

close up of model steam locomotive
Ben Laremont photo

Lionel has also offered eight passenger cars for those who would like to complete the 20th Century Limited set (35403, 35408, 15326, 15521) . There is no doubt that would make for a stunning consist on any layout. The Dreyfuss Hudson features a minimum curve of O-60, which is reasonable enough to accommodate most scale layouts.

Lionel New York Central Legacy Dreyfuss J3 Hudson

MSRP: $1799.99

Features: Legacy Control System equipped; able to run in Legacy Control mode, in TrainMaster Command Control mode, or in Conventional mode with a standard transformer; Bluetooth control; Lionel Voice Control; Legacy RailSounds sound system; 0-60 operation; adjustable smoke output; water scoop steam affect (in 2331430, 2331412, and 2331411 versions)

Road names: New York Central No. 5445 (2331411), NYC No. 5445 (2331420), NYC No. 5447 (2331412), NYC No. 5449 (2331401), NYC No. 5452 (2331402), NYC No. 5454 (23331430)


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