My first foray into Steam

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by LongIslandTom, Oct 13, 2006.

  1. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    I want to began by giving a shout-out to fellow posters Jim Krause, Ed Acosta, pgandw, and steamhead on heling me choose a locomotive on my past threads asking about the performance of various HO steam locomotives. Thanks for your advice guys-- You rock!

    I'm a modern-era modeler and my locomotive fleet has been all diesels up to now, with stuff like GP38-2s and B40-8's. My first foray into steam started when my 5-year-old nephew asked me, "how come you don't have any old-fashioned engines with all the moving things on the wheels like my Thomas Tank engine?" :confused:

    Good question! He got me thinking, it'd be kind of neat to have a steam engine or two for variety. So off to researching I went-- I decided I wanted something that will work on sharp curves so I can run it on my little nephew's circle of 18"-radius track whenever I visit him (he loves his HO-scale Thomas, but it's plain to see he gets bored with just that one train). It has to be heavy so it can pull lots of cars-- My nephew complains that his Thomas couldn't pull more than 3 or 4 cars before it starts getting wheelslip. And it has to be relatively inexpensive-- I just had a binge buy in my other thread so I'm trying to keep costs to about $100.

    I narrowed it down to the Spectrum K4, the BLI K4 and the BLI Hudson. Tripped down to Trainland this afternoon and asked them to test-run those for me and made my decision. I ended up with the $129 BLI J1e NYC Hudson. I heard that for $129 is a heckuva deal too, since it has sound and DCC on-board.

    Took it over to my sister's place to show off my new acquisition to her son. I think he was mighty impressed, when I hooked on 15 cars to the engine on his loop of 18"-radius car and started the train going. My little nephew was also impressed with the sound, since Thomas the Tank Engine had no sound at all. :D

    My impression on the BLI J1e Hudson:

    It's a heavy, nice-running engine with good throttle response on analog DC (0 to 12 volts)-- I'll take it to my local MRR club and run it on their DCC layout later. It does have a built-in delay where the sound effects start, then the drivers start moving at around 2 volts or so. It had no problems pulling 20 cars on level track with no wheelslip-- quite powerful. And at full throttle at 12V, it goes quite fast-- I'd say around a scale 70-80mph or so hauling 20 cars. Not a bad performer at all.

    The manual is very detailed on how to program the on-board decoder for DCC, which should come in handy for me in the future when I convert my layout to DCC.

    There are little annoyances though... The running gear requires lubrication-- I can hear them squeak on every revolution. Also, it's sensitive to uneven track-- All the weight is carried by the six driver wheels while the leading and trailing trucks are just there for show and contributes nothing to the suspension, so I do see a bit of bobbing and weaving when going over rough track. Under heavy load it will also waddle a bit (which most model steam locos tend to do), though it's not as pronounced as some of the cheaper steam locos I've seen. Also, the manual does not explain how to detach the electrical harness to separate the tender and loco. :curse: It looks delicate, and I'll have to be careful to mess with it later on.

    Overall I'm pleased with the BLI J1e Hudson for my first foray into steam-- For $129 it's quite a nice deal.

    Oh, before I forget... Photo of the J1e running on my nephew's 18" loop (yes I know, it's a passenger engine and it looks funny hauling a string of modern freight cars, LOL):

    Attached Files:

  2. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    thats why i went and spent all my christmas money one year on a UP Challenger. I'm very happy with that decision.
  3. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    Very comendebale.
  4. viperman

    viperman Active Member

    I've been thinking of getting a Mikado for myself lately
  5. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Welcome to the steam era. Your comment about the heavy maintenance required on steam loco's goes back to the prototypes. One of the primary reasons they aren't around anymore. Just reading another thread where someone was commenting on the dirt, crud, noise etc, involved with steam operation. I'll take the models. Light oil and white grease will make a difference, no asbestos do deal with.
  6. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Yeah, that's an amazing deal you got!!! To detach the tender from the engine, grasp the wires as near to the cab as you can and pull. It's a plug - and comes out quite easily.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of steam! :wave:

  7. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Green: LOL, considering that your layout depicts southeast Pennsylvania, I figured that you'd get something like a Pennsy K4 rather than a UP Challenger! tooth1

    Viperman: You gotta check out Trainland. Those guys have some really insane prices on Broadway Limited steam engines... They got BLI Mikes (both heavy and light) for $169, with sound and DCC. :eek:

    Jim: Roger that on the white grease-- Glad I picked up some along with the engine today (bought the Atlas lubrication kit, complete with degreaser, light oil, and white grease.) :thumb:

    Spitfire: My particular engine was really wierd-- I might have pressed the harness plug into the engine too firmly or something, because it won't budge. :oops: But that's OK-- I took off the tender body and disconnected the harness on the tender end.. That one came out easy. Those wires look real thin-gauge and fragile, and I'm in constant fear of pulling loose one of them. Connecting or disconnecting the tender seems much easier with the tender's shell off though, so that's going to be my standard operating procedure with this loco from now on. train97

    All in all, a nice day of running a brand-spanking-new train! Life doesn't get any better than this.
  8. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    lol, more like an NYC hudson, i'm little farther up in NJ for the Pennsy! although i still might get a K4 anyway. don't give me any ideas!:D i'm trying to save.... I just bought an AEM7 and SD80MAC last week :rolleyes: , i need to earn that money back!

    I think if i had the choice though, i'd go for one of those larger Pennsy steamers, like a 2-10-4 or something. It was either a class I or J something. I saw them on a pennsy video, and they looked awesome.
  9. Fluesheet

    Fluesheet Member

    Congratulations on your first steam purchase Tom! The Hudson is a very good looking steam locomotive - good choice!

    Your minor frustrations with it are something that you'll have to come to expect to some degree with steam models. While the front and rear trucks on the real thing were important load bearing and guiding devices, neither are really needed for a model, and it would take away from some pulling ability (you WANT all that weight on the drivers!). As far as the bobbing and weaving, heck that's prototypical! Steam locomotives were very rigid compared to deisels - this is the reason you're much more likely to see track imperfections echoed through locomotive movement than with deisels. That lack of flexibility is also a major reason that a deisel, pound for pound, will get better grip than a steamer (especially on rough track).

    BUT, in my mind (and my wife's), steamers are much more interesting to watch...
  10. Fluesheet

    Fluesheet Member

    Good choice for a general purpose locomotive. The GP series of steam. There are a lot of good models out there as well, especially for the light Mikes - Athearn, BLI, Trix (my current favorite), and I believe PCM is coming out with one as well.

    Sorry for getting off topic in your thread Tom!
  11. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    The 2-10-4 is a J1. The I1 is a 2-10-0.
  12. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Wow...!!! A BLI Hudson for $129..!!!Man, what a deal!! I think you'll become a steam fan before long. The Hudson is one of the "Signature" steam locos. Beautiful engine. I'm happy to have contributed a little bit to your choice...Good luck!!!:thumb:
  13. viperman

    viperman Active Member

    Thank you Fluesheet, if you want, feel free to post this info in my thread, and we can continue this there, so we don't take over Tom's post

    Tom, I forgot to say - Nice engine! Just makes me want one more
  14. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    thanks! i remember seeing them on the PRR in a video where they linked up with the ATSF in ohio or something, and since then i think they are cooler than the K4, although i like that one to. saw an MTH O scale one for $999.99. decided that wasn't worth the money if i had it. I think i'd get that scale S1 or GG1 if i had the choice, but thats O scale.
  15. Fluesheet

    Fluesheet Member

    They didn't actually link up - the Pennsy leased the Santa Fe 2-10-4's towards the end of steam due to a surge in traffic. I've always liked Pennsy's Texas types, but the Santa Fe's version were the best looking ones out there (IMO). Those huge drivers (74") made them look very proportioned.
  16. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    It was something All pennsy with 10 drivers. it might have been a 2-10-2 then. that show also talked about leased 2-10-4s. must be the I1 then.

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