The Pennsylvania Railroad was a coal-hauling road if there ever was one. Lists of heavy trains were pulled by a major fleet of standardized freight locomotives. There were 475 of the 2-8-2 L-1 class erected and were a mainstay of the coal and general freight fleet for decades on the railroad.
In 2014, MTH added the L-1 to its line of selective compressed RailKing O-gauge locomotives for operators running with O-31 or wider curves. The locomotives were in operation from 1914 to 1958, so there is a wide range of years the modelers could build their theme around.
The L-1 used the same boiler as the Pennsylvania’s famed K4 4-6-2 Pacific-types, thus could generate 61,000 pounds of tractive effort. The locomotives delivered exemplary service through two world wars and remained in service until the end of the PRR steam operations.
The RailKing line had selective compression to make many locomotives operate on tighter diameter curves. The models may not have the same level of detailing as a Premier line example of the same rig, but where they differ is that RailKing would have cast-in details whereas Premier products would use add-on detailing.
The pilot has brakemen’s steps framing the simulated coupler. There is a large air tank behind the coupler. Just above it is a platform for maintenance access to the smokebox. The face of the smokebox itself has good rivet and cast-in detail, including an add-on number plate with the number 203. Up top, you’ll find a headlight with a turbine that simulates the power supply for the headlight and classification lights.
An add-on handrail runs the length of the boiler, just above the running board. There are also cast-in boiler bands and piping near the firebox. Up top is a sand dome with cast-in lines and behind that a small steam dome and whistle. Behind the steam dome, two pop-off valves are positioned on the front of the firebox.
Cab and tender
The interior of the cab features two crewmen and a decorated firebox backhead with a glowing light feature. The windows have red painted frames.
The tender is coupled to the locomotive with a wireless tether that snaps into place. It’s modeled after a PRR 90-F57 tender with 9,000 gallons of water and 75 tons of coal. The coal load is chunk-style nor cast-in.
The model has plenty of rivet detail and the trucks have chains attaching them to the tender. The rear of the tender has a ladder, a backup light, and rear marker lights. Sitting on top of the water tank is a doghouse, a small shack to provide weather protection for brakemen.
On the track
I love this engine. Firing it up, the sounds were terrific as the locomotive began to move. The subdued drive rods looked great as they slowly turned. The sound of the chuff kicking in sync with the drivers always makes me smile.
Our DCS low-speed average was 2.1 scale mph with the conventional low-speed average being at 3.2. Our high-speed average was 68 scale mph, probably faster than any L-1 went, unless it went off a cliff!
Drawbar pull was 1 pound, 8 ounces.
The smoke unit output was in the London Fog range. Be sure your train room has an air filter!
As a New York Central guy, I’ve always admired the Pennsy’s brawny freight steamers. The RailKing line was a great introduction to the steam-era power on the “Standard Railroad of the World!”
Learn about more notable models from the hobby in our special issue, Great Toy Train Locomotives.