The Model Railroader staff gets a first look at a pre-production sample of a new Broadway Limited Imports Paragon3 HO scale steam locomotive
Get the newest photos, videos, stories and more.
Recently I had a chance to examine and run a pre-production sample of Broadway Limited Imports’ Pennsylvania RR class L1s. The HO scale 2-8-2 steam locomotive is available detailed and decorated for either the pre- or post-war versions in several different road numbers. Part of BLI’s new Paragon3 line, these models all feature upgraded electronics, dual-mode sound effects that work on direct-current (DC) and Digital Command Control (DCC) model railroads, and a synchronized operating smoke unit. All Paragon3 locomotives also include a transponder that works with the new BLI Rolling Thunder system (sold separately), which is an external subwoofer that mounts under the model train layout and transmits low-frequency sounds from the locomotive
Class L1s Mikados served all over the vast Pennsylvania RR system. The PRR rostered more than 500 class L1s Mikado 2-8-2 steam locomotives. The first of the class was built in 1914 at the Pennsy’s Juniata Shops, while PRR no. 520 was the last of the class to be retired in 1957 and is now preserved at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
The model’s dimensions match a drawing in the Model Railroader Cyclopedia, Vol.1: Steam Locomotives (Kalmbach Publishing Co.). The locomotive boiler, cab, and tender are die-cast metal with well-defined cast-in detail, including rivet seams and boiler bands that match prototype photos.
Sand lines, throttle linkage, and handrails are brass wire. The many other separately applied brass and plastic parts include the bell, safety valves, and air pump. I was happy to see an accurately modeled, stubby brass “banshee” whistle behind the steam dome.
Our sneak peek locomotive was a close-to-production sample, so it had the correct mechanism and electronics. Cradled in a die-cast metal chassis, a flywheel-equipped motor powers all four driver axles. The rear drivers both have vinyl traction tires. On our club layout, the Milwaukee, Racine & Troy, the L1s had a chance to show off its stellar pulling power as effortlessly hauled a 20-car coal train up a 3 percent grade.
It’s important to note that a Rolling Thunder unit isn’t required to operate the locomotive. The subwoofer wasn’t available at the time of this writing. However, the sound system in the preproduction sample functioned properly on its own. The die-cast metal tender made a superb speaker enclosure, and the sounds were crisp and clear even at the highest volume setting.
Most of the other functions are the same as those found on Paragon2 locomotives. These include the bell and a coupler crash. The whistle is the correct high-pitched PRR “banshee” type. Functions 5 and 6 raise or lower the intensity of the exhaust, respectively, which will also get deeper and louder the greater the load placed on the locomotive. At all speeds the exhaust perfectly in tune to the drivers at four chuffs per wheel revolution without any adjustment needed. When turned on, the smoke unit was also perfectly timed.
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the Paragon3 PRR class L1s is $499.99 and delivery is expected in fall/winter 2015-2016. For more information on the class L1s or the Rolling Thunder system, visit www.broadway-limited.com.