by Wesley James & Sons
ScaleTrains.com is a leader in producing some amazingly detailed HO-scale models, and Model Railroad News has presented quite a few of these releases in past issues, touching on both Rivet Counter and Operator releases. One of ScaleTrains.com’s newer offerings is an HO-scale ES44 model, complete with variations based on prototypes. BNSF, Canadian National, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, and CSX road names were announced for this production. CSX models include specially painted “Pride in Service” units debuting on the railroad in 2019. ScaleTrains.com worked closely with CSX graphic designer Tyler Hardin and the railroad’s Huntingdon Locomotive Shop to replicate the original paint and lettering diagrams into HO-scale for all three special livery prototypes. As ScaleTrains.com Rivet Counter models have shown before, the level of detail on these is amazing! From separately applied grab irons, lift rings, air hoses, and underframe wiring, the model truly looks as if the prototype was shrunk to HO! Did I mention Digital Command Control (DCC) and sound are features? Yes, they sound real too, each equipped with ESU’s LokSound! Let us look at what CSX’s Pride in Service program is about and then look at each one of these eye-catching locomotives separately.
CSX has a long and interesting corporate history that can be traced back to the nation’s first common carrier railroad started in 1830, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. CSX is North America’s fifth largest rail carrier, with some 21,000 miles of rails stretching through 23 States, the District of Columbia, and into Canada. Moving freight is the service the railroad provides, but what could the railroad do to better serve those communities it passes through? CSX had made contributions to non-profit groups in the past, but it found it needed direction and organization to give the programs a better focus. After reaching out to its 36,000 employees in a survey, CSX found overwhelming support for “serving those who serve” by offering assistance to members and families of the military, veterans, law enforcement, and first responders.
ABOVE: Using bolds colors and stripes associated with Fire and EMS vehicles, CSX 911 pays memorial to the first responders lost on September 11, 2001. You can see the flag on the rear radiator section, just above the rear headlight, with the three memorial sites listed in tribute from that tragic day.
These ScaleTrains.com models are based on the General Electric (GE) Evolution Series ES44AC. The locomotives, this series introduced in 2003, were the first models where GE had taken steps to meet the stricter Environmental Protection Agency emission standards by using their FDL16, or 16-cylinder, power plant and create the same 4,400 horsepower from a 12-cylinder engine block. This revision created the GEVO 12. Friendlier on fuel and emissions, the GEVO 12 powers the ES44 line of locomotives. CSX worked with GE to customize some options on their ES44 orders, adding radial steering trucks, high traction software, a special air hose positioned to blow away debris and dry the rails for the best wheel-rail adhesion, and 17,000 pounds of extra weight (432,000 versus 415,000). CSX ordered ES44 units designated ES44AH: Evolution Series; 4,400 horsepower; AC traction motors; High Traction. You’ll note all of the models have the lightning bolts under the cab windows that CSX has used since the mid-1990s to identify the AC traction equipped units from their DC equipped brothers.
ABOVE: Under the hood, ScaleTrains.com’s model is full of detail on the outside and down to business on the inside. The Rivet Counter releases come optionally equipped with ESU DCC decoder with LokSound; you can see the speaker area toward the rear where the white cover is and the ESU decoder in blue above the motor and main PC power board. Any space left is filled with weight to make the model an outstanding hauler!
As I wrote this review, another piece of information came to me via ScaleTrains.com President Shane Wilson announced that a core value of ScaleTrains.com business culture is giving back. In return for CSX’s cooperation in working so closely on the Pride in Service ES44 models, they would donate $30,000 from the sale of these models to the five signature organizations displayed on the locomotives! Outstanding models and an outstanding gesture from ScaleTrains.com to support those who serve in our communities.
Wesley James and his sons are avid model railroad enthusiasts (operators and collectors), prototype railfans, and volunteer firefighters. The Pennsylvania natives have been regular Model Railroad News contributors for many years.
Read the full review in June 2021’s Model Railroad News!