Review by George Riley/photos by the author
American Standard-design 4-4-0s and 2-6-0 Moguls have been overlooked by most model railroad manufacturers in favor of larger, more glamorous and modern steam locomotive prototypes. This oversight has left a gap in model railroad motive power, particularly since literally tens of thousands of examples were constructed for the country’s rail lines forming the backbone of most rosters from early in railroad history to the advent of World War I. Even with the culling that occurred during the 1930s —when any obsolete or unnecessary item was scrapped to save money during these austere times — a number of examples were able to continue in service right into the 1950s and early 1960s before their fires were finally dropped. Model Rectifier Corporation (MRC) has chosen to offer a group of models representing locomotives constructed at the turn of the 20th Century in N scale to fill this gap.
The two samples received for review were a Boston & Maine (B&M) 4-4-0 American with DCC and sound with the road number of 950 and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) 2-6-0 Mogul with DCC and sound with the road number of 1258.
To offer credible representations of these differing prototypes, a set of road name-specific details has been included to differentiate each model. These details include two different headlight positions (either top- or center-mounted); two different pilots (foot board or boiler tube); two different valve and cylinder configurations; two cab styles (either with two side windows or with a single arched window); and Andrews or Arch Bar tender trucks. The models also include golden white LED illumination, newly tooled and separately applied metal handrails, and knuckle couplers.
American Standard 4-4-0s constituted the largest single wheel arrangement type operated by Boston & Maine. The B&M model is numbered 950 for the A41-a Class that was built in 1900 by the Manchester Locomotive Works. This class served into the late 1930s on the line before being retired and finally scrapped. The model features the arched cab window, boiler tube pilot, and center-mounted headlight, which follows B&M’s standard practice for its 4-4-0s.
Models with factory-installed DCC and sound list for $339.98. You can also purchase the company’s recent 2-6-0 and 4-4-0 steam locomotives in a non-sound version with DCC-ready electronics for $269.98.
Burlington Route No. 1258 had an even more varied career, having been built by Rogers in 1900 for the Kansas City, St. Joseph & Council Bluffs Railroad before being renumbered in 1904 and assigned to Class H-4 on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. The locomotive’s service as a Mogul would be short-lived, however, for in 1908, the engine was rebuilt at the company’s Aurora shops as a 4-6-0. Renumbered 951 and classified as a class K-10 in this new guise, the locomotive would serve on the CB&Q until it was scrapped in 1953. The Burlington engine model utilizes the two-window cab, foot board pilot, and headlight mounted on the top of the smokebox more closely following the CB&Q’s practice.
The inclusion of these details does go a long way to matching the model favorably against the prototype, even though the final model is not an exact match due in no small part to the compromises necessary to offer a reasonable-priced production release to the hobbyist. A few additional aftermarket details and modifications by the modeler will further enhance these models’ fidelity.
A variety of road names is available now for both Model Power steam locomotives reviewed. Check your hobby dealer or MRC’s website for current availability.
Each locomotive has a solid operational base with a die-cast metal boiler, chassis, and cylinder block. Additional tender weight assures consistent tracking and electrical contact. All-wheel electric pickup provides a decent electrical footprint that minimizes stalling on insulated turnout frogs and dirty spots on the rails. The drive train features a Mashima motor with a five-pole armature and machined flywheel, providing very smooth and quiet operation. Traction tires are installed on the rear drivers of the Mogul and front driver set on the American to improve the tractive effort of these diminutive models. The combined permanently coupled locomotive and tender of both models weighed three ounces. On the 42×26-inch test loop, which uses 12½-inch radius Kato Unitrack curves and straights, the Mogul easily handled a dozen Micro-Trains 40- and 50-foot cars while the American comfortably hauled nine. This is well within the range of what was expected by the prototype.
Both models included a factory-installed, sound-equipped dual-mode decoder that allows the model to be operated on either analog DC from a conventional power pack or digital command control using any one of the readily available DCC systems. Using an analog DC power pack, the locomotive started up at eight volts, which is fairly standard for these types of decoders. Slow speed for the American was 2.3 scale miles per hour with a top-end speed of 23 scale miles per hour. Slow speed for the Mogul was also 2.3 scale miles per hour with a top speed of 20 scale miles per hour. On DC, the only available sound was the exhaust chuff.
For this production, the model benefits from a newly designed electrical pickup. This enhanced pickup provides this N-scale steam locomotive release with improved and more reliable performance.
Operating the locomotives using DCC yielded the expected results with a top speed for the 4-4-0 rising to 70 mph and the 2-6-0’s top speed to 64 mph. This is due, in no small part, to the difference in driver size just as would have been the case with the prototype. Surprisingly, the low-end speed was slightly higher on DCC with the American logging in a 3.8 smph and the Mogul at 4.6 smph. These results were obtained operating both models right out of the box without any adjustment of CVs. Scale speeds both on analog and DCC are exceptional, matching up well against the speeds of their prototypes.
The decoder installed in each model features full 28-function control in addition to the standard range of programmable CVs and 16 bit sound. By adjusting CVs, a number of different bell, whistle, and chuff sounds can be programmed to customize the sound package. From the factory, the volume levels are set at the highest level. This produced a sound level of between 118–120 decibels at trackside, which is perfectly adequate for home use; however, it may be drowned out in a large hall or at a busy train show. It remains a constant source of amazement how so much technology can be installed in such a small package.
Both models are neatly finished and follow standard prototype lettering practice for each of the represented railroads. Painting and lettering are opaque and even. Assembly is precise with the only glaring departure being the gap between the smokebox front and smokebox, which has been accentuated by the extreme close-up photographs. Even this, when normally viewed, is hardly noticeable.
Road-specific attributes on Model Power’s N-scale steam locomotives include varying headlight design and placement. This Burlington example presents a headlight located on the top edge of the boiler. The headlight is lower and centered on the boiler facing on the company’s Boston & Maine example. The tender features arch bar trucks with metal wheels. The model includes spring knuckle couplers on the tender and front pilot.
These new American steam locomotives from Model Rectifier Corporation under the Model Power brand fill an empty segment in the N-scale steam roster. The models are nicely done with the latest in technology factory installed. Both models clearly capture the era in which the prototypes were operational.
2-6-0 Mogul steam locomotive with DCC and sound
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy
#06876031 MSRP: $339.98
4-4-0 American steam locomotive with DCC and sound
Boston & Maine
#06876231 MSRP: $339.98
Model Rectifier Corporation
80 Newfield Ave.
Edison, NJ 08837