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A famous Milwaukee Road steam locomotive made a stop, albeit in HO scale, at the Model Railroader offices in Waukesha, Wis. This week I got a first look at a preproduction engineering sample of the new Milwaukee Road S3 class 4-8-4 from Broadway Limited Imports. Although this engineering sample didn’t have a finalized mechanism or electronics, the production model will feature BLI’s all-new Paragon3 sound, control, and puffing smoke system with a transponder for the firm’s new Rolling Thunder subwoofer (Rolling Thunder system sold separately). The Paragon 3 decoder will operate on direct-current (DC) and Digital Command Control (DCC) layouts.
As on the prototype S3 no. 261, the BLI HO scale locomotive model features an air horn as well as a whistle.
The die-cast metal tender also features an impressive level of detailing.
Alco built the prototype no. 261 in July 1944. The locomotives was one of 10 S3 class 4-8-4 Northerns built for the Milwaukee Road. The Milwaukee used its 4-8-4 engines to haul heavy mainline freight. Retired in the mid 1950s, no. 261 had a relatively short career in revenue service. After spending years as a display at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wis., the locomotive was restored in the 1990s. Today, the big Northern continues to haul regular excursion trains.
The major dimensions of the Broadway Limited HO scale model match prototype dimensions. The front and rear plastic operating knuckle couplers are Kadee-compatible and mounted at the correct height.
The boiler, cab, and tender are made of die-cast metal, contributing most of the model’s weight. The locomotive and tender weight a hefty 2 pounds, while the locomotive itself weighs 1 pound 6 ounces.
The BLI models bristles with separate detail parts, which is easy to see on the unpainted model. These include plastic parts, such as the ashpan and air reservoirs. Brass details include the stack, whistle, and safety valves. I was also happy to see that BLI included the prototype’s air horn atop the smokebox and hope that a proper air horn sound is included in the production model’s electronics. The handrails, throttle linkage, and uncoupling levers are brass wire.
This view shows the engineer's side of the preproduction sample of the Broadway Limited Imports Paragon3 HO scale Milwaukee Road S3.
All the model’s wheels are die-cast metal, as is the rest of the locomotive running gear. The crossheads are die-cast metal, while the siderods are brass. There’s one discrepancy with the prototype. On the model the eccentric cranks leans rearward when the rods are at bottom dead center. To be prototypical, the eccentrics should lean forward. Hopefully this will be corrected on the production sample.
The HO scale locomotive's cab featured painted crew figures and a detailed boiler backhead.
Inside the cab two painted crew figures sit before a molded backhead that looks correctly detailed compared to prototype photos.
The preproduction sample of the BLI Milwaukee Road S3 looks very promising. I’m really looking forward to seeing, hearing, and running the final production model of this historic, preserved steamer.
Expected delivery date: February 2016
Broadway Limited Imports LLC
9 East Tower Circle
Ormond Beach, FL 32174
This article first appeared on mrr.trains.com
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