Any time I hear a modeler of a railroad other than, say, Santa Fe, SP, Pennsy or Great Northern bemoan his lack of imported brass locomotives, I roll my eyes heavenward with a silent thanks that the Santa Fe is MY road to model, and is probably in the vanguard of ALL railroads when it comes to attention from the importers!
In just the past few months we have been treated to a veritable feast of brass Santa Fe: Sunset's small 0-8-0 and 2-8-0 models and the new 3700 Class 4-8-2; Key's 1050 Class Prairie and 3751 Class in its original configuration; Westside's early 2-10-2 (900, 1600 and 3010 Classes) and huge 2-10-2; and finally Hallmark's 5000! Publication times being what they are, there will probably be still more in the magazine columns and in the shops by the time you read this, but for now let's turn our attention to the last two named above, the Westside Mallet, and the "Madame Queen".
My Santa Fe wool is about as deeply dyed as any fan's, so the anticipation level with which I waited for these two models was high, to say the least. In most respects, I was not disappointed, but it's the purpose of this review to cover the two models - pro and con - so here goes.
Let's start with a brief review of the prototype 2-10-2s, just for background. By 1911 the Santa Fe had taken delivery of a large group of tandem compound 2-10-2 locomotives in the 900 and 1600 Classes. In an attempt to explore just how much it was possible for a single engine to pull, management decided to put together what would then be the largest locomotive in the world - not one, but ten of them. Ten regular engines from the 900-1600 Classes were selected, taken to the Topeka shops, and surgery begun.
But the Santa Fe wasn't doing the whole job by itself. Baldwin was enlisted to construct both the high-pressure and low-pressure mechanisms, the forward section of the boiler-smoke box, and the tender. The ten existing engines were to furnish the actual boiler and firebox, the cab, stack, and other odds and ends...whatever could be made to work.
The accompanying photograph of one of these Baldwin-furnished portions, ranks as one of railroading's all-time rarest photos, and is included here by courtesy of David P. Morgan, Editor, TRAINS Magazine, who gave us special permission to use it accompanying this model review. It is originally a Santa Fe photo, but is now long missing from their photo files.
The ten "New" engines were numbered 3000-3009, and were intended primarily for helper and pusher service over Cajon and Tehachapi passes in California. Since they were much too long for the wyes and turntables of that day, the rear of the tender was equipped with a standard Santa Fe pilot for rearward operation backing down the hills after the long pull up.
In service the engines were popular with neither crews nor management. The latter group almost instantly realized they had created maintenance monsters, so complex that it was virtually impossible to have all of their functions operative at the same time. For the crews they were unwieldy, rough-riding, poor-steaming and slow. In cool climates they offered still another problem: they leaked steam so badly at all their joints that the engines made their way along the tracks in their own perpetual cloud, from which forward visibility was totally impossible.
In a period of four years the answer was obvious - they did not do what the Santa Fe had hoped. Back to the shops they went, this time to be converted into TWO locomotives apiece. The rear, or high-pressure sections became a class of 2-10-2 s numbered 3010-3019, in all respects twins of the 900-1600 Classes from which they came in the first place. The front, or low pressure sections became the 3020-3029 Class, again in almost all ways the same as their cousins.
As a model, Westside's 2-10-2 duplicates the prototype engines, probably even more faithfully than Westside might have desired. Their appearance can be dismissed with one word: Excellent!! Their operation is something else again.
On straight and level trackage they are smooth, responsive to control, and possessed of a fantastic (but unmeasured) tractive effort. Those twenty drivers dig right in and PULL! Their slow speed operation is superb, gently taking out the slack one car at a time, and getting even your longest drag in motion. But when they come to a corner, watch out!
The wheelbase of the engine is so long that both vertical and lateral fluctuations in the track show up as grossly magnified, although there is nothing basically wrong with the engineering that went into the model, it semply comes down to the fact that the object being modeled will NEVER lend itself to bending around the average modeler's curves. My own layout has 36" mainline radii, and while my model will inch around them, it wobbles, hitches, sounds as if it were being strangled, and does its best to straighten out the nickle silver rail.
In addition to operational problems, the appearance of the model on curves should be mentioned. So long is that boiler that on any curve less than about 50" it looks as if the whole model was going to fall over. Even if all the engineering problems were worked out for it to handle the average layout curve, the totally astonishing look of the engine on a curve would rule it out for most.
Much as I admire the engine, my decision is made: it's a Display Model, nothing more! Now, as such, it is absolutely TREMENDOUS, and I wouldn't take anything for it. And once in a great while, for a few select friends, I may set it out on the railroad and let it go back and forth (on straight track) just to see all those pieces flying around, and possibly I'll let it start a long drag for them to watch. But that's about it!
Before any of us begin to condemn either Westside or the builder for this, let's remember that the model is only duplicating exactly what the prototype did (and didn't) some sixty-five years back. Rather than a criticism, perhaps this is a degree of faithful modeling un Now paralleled to this date. Possible? if they could only get it to leak steam........
Turning to Hallmark's brand new Korean import, the 5000, we have still another uniquely Santa Fe product for our layouts, one that has been anticipated for about six years, and one that is glor iously welcome.
The 5000 was actually the railroad's second engine of the 2-10-4 type, if wheel arrangement is the only criteria. When the 3800 Class 2-10-2s were ordered for delivery in 1919, the last engine of the initial thirty (the 3829) was ordered with an experimental four-wheel truck under the cab and firebox, making it the first of that type ever constructed. Several years later, Lima began production of their "super - power" engines, 2-8-4s and 2-10-4s, and should really receive the credit for the type as a high-horse power producer.
In early 1930 the Santa Fe took notice of a group of 1-10-4s Lima was building for the C & 0 Railroad, notable principal ly in that for the first time drivers of 69" were being put under that type to take full advantage of the speed potential. With some modifications of their own, the Santa Fe ordered a single locomotive from Baldwin, also utilizing 69" drivers, but with markedly higher boiler pressure, 3000 Ibs per square inch.
Delivered late that year, the 5000 be gan attracting considerable attention both on the Santa Fe and in America's railroad world. There is no question that more machines of the same design would have followed shortly had it not been for the depression which captured the country within the next couple of years. Good as the 5000 was, with traffic figures drop ping faster, more motive power was hard ly what the Santa Fe needed.
Thus it was late 1936 before more 210-4s were to be ordered , and by this time development had moved even fur ther, so that the 5001 Class sported even larger drivers - 74" - and 3 10 Ibs. boiler pressure. The 5000 became a one-of-a kind !
It continued in service well into the '50s, not being retired until the diesel in vasion was secure. Even to the end, the 5000 was a landmark locomotive, instant ly indentifiable with its distinctive top mounted Elesco feedwater heater, flip top stack, and outside journals on the pony truck.
The 5000 was delivered as a coal burn er, with the first 20,000 gal. tender to be used on the Santa Fe. In appearance, it (the tender) was quite similar to the 15,000 !!al. tenders used on the - 10 1 , 4 3450 and 3 7 5 1 Classes which imme diate Iy proceded it, but it was noticably longer. It should be mentioned that a later extra order to Baldwin for more of these tenders resulted in a number of locomotives in the 3 8 00 Class - mostly coal burners - receiving them as a retrofit.
I am not sure of the exact date, but as nearly as I can establish the 5000 was converted from coal to oil fuel about 1937 or 1938, but this only involved in serting the oil bunker into the space pre viously devoted to coal. Then, only about a year before the 5000 was to be retired, it was equipped with one of the more familiar square 20,000 gal. tenders, and it was with this tender that it was put out to pasturE', on display before the Amarillo, Tex., station of the Santa Fe.
Hallmark's model of the engine dates in appearance after the oil conversion of the original tender, and in external ap pearance the model is excellent. It is however, apparently one of the first - if not the first - effort of a new Korean manu facturer, and there is considerable refining to be done. On the outside the assembly is neat enough, at least my model is, but when the superstructure is removed from the mechanism it is obvious that the con struction theory was: If a little solder is good, lots is better! The blobs of solder remaining just out of sight were unbeliev able, and not all of them were really out of sight. On the left side of the cab, the rear handrail was soldered so heavily that the blob hung forward into the win dow. In turn, although there was lots of solder around them, both the feedwater pump under the cab and the vertical plate through which the rear of the super structure is fastened to the chassis were totally loose and dangling. Properly mounting them was no problem, but they should not have required it.
On the chassis, the pilot was also heav ily blobbed - but loose! The underside of the pilot was just one single deposit of solder firmly attaching anything and everything for all time to come.
Back to the superstructure , the interior of the boiler still contained all the little bits of wire, ends of mounting lugs, and more solder. As with most brass loco motives these days, the boiler weight is shipped unmounted, and it was neces sary for all this debris to be removed before the weight could even be slid down into position. Like the other items men tioned, none of these tasks are particular ly difficult, it's just thl!t we've come to expect more.
Thus far, the problems mentioned with the model of the 5000 have been primar ily cosmetic; there IS an operational pro blem. It is what would be called a "stiff" locomotive. There is not more than .05" lateral sideplay in any of the five driving axles, and for anything less than very wide radii, this is simply not enough. Prelim inary test operation before painting, and before installation of any weights resulted in the leading drivers simply climbing the outer rail as it entered a curve. Adding finger pressure to the front sand dome to simulate weight helped the tendency a bit, but far from corrected it.
Checking a model of PFM's 5011 Class showed that the tight lateral sideplay for the three center axles was satisfactory , but both front and back axles had better than .030" play, and experience showed the model had no tracking problems on my layout whatever. If the 5000 was to run as smoothly, there was some structur al work to be done.
Examination of the chassis itself showed that just narrowing it at the front and back axle slots would do the trick, but would be a very touchy job to do and keep things square . . . . there must be another way. My solution was to totally dismantle drivers, valve gear, rods, motor and gear box, and then carefully using a milling tool in a hand-held Dreml, grind down the thickness of the chassis side frames around the front and back slots so that the bushings on the driver axles could move further in.
All driving axles on the model are sprung, but not the way most imported models are equipped. Instead of a single coil spring between each driving box (bushing) and the frame , there is a long spring wire threaded over each bushing and under small lugs on the inside of the sideframe. This results in some quite pro totypical equalization as well as springing, for as one wheel or axle moves up or down, weight is also transferred to or from adjacent axles. This is a good sys tem, and one I'd like to see used more frequently. It does not result in any side to-side equalization, but it is in my opinion superior to the system we have so long accepted as standard.
At any rate, while the chassis was dis assembled it was painted, the axle slots then cleaned to insure proper electrical contact, and all the goodies reinstalled (nowhere near as hard as it sounds). A test run? MAGNIFICENT! ! !
Literally, that was all i t needed, and the 5000 on my little comer of the Santa Fe is now as sweet running and reliable in its footing as any locomotive I have.
Now before these comments are taken as being too negative, I'd like to point out one last thing: Hallmark has managed to bring this model into the USA to retail at $220.00, a cost that is almost unbeliev able when compared with what many other brass locomotives are commanding. It's not hard to see how this was done, a new manufacturer in Korea, builders still learning their craft, and labor costs not yet shooting skyward. In this light, the 5000 from Hallmark is not to be criti cized, it should be complemented to the skies, for in most areas the units I chose to pick are not visible, they are behind the scenes.
Let's not downgrade this builder, Dong Jin, let's encourage him, for if it really is a first effort, it's a good one !