I could swear I saw another thread about these great new locos but it seems to have disappeared. So I will post here about my delight with the two I bought. I bought both a New York Central and an Illinois Central model from Pat's Trains, and they arrived last week. I think they are incredibly good looking locos, and they certainly are great runners – just great toy locomotives all the way around.
The Boston and Albany Railroad (later part of the NYC) is the only US railroad that steamlocomotive.com’s database indicates owned and ran 4-6-6 tank engines, although I recall reading somewhere once that the Illinois Central had some, too. Regardless, the D-1A is one of the best-looking small steamers I have ever seen.
The D1-As had a headlight, running lights and “cow-catcher” at the rear as shown below. The narrow coal load gave the engineer as good a view of the track ahead going backwards as as when going forward. So they were often used as switchers, and routinely driven backwards when pulling a train, rather than having to be turned around on a turntable. These Lionel 4-6-6s have a very pretty scale coupler at the front, which I will replace with a lobster claw so they can pull a train like this . . .
These are big for a small steamer – if that makes sense. To the left in the photo below is my new Lionel New York Central D1-A tank loco, and to the right a Legacy NYC ten-wheeler I’ve had for several years. both are 1:48 scale. Discounting the “tank” part of the D-1A, the two locos are roughly the same length although the tank engine is slightly taller and wider. In the real world the 4-6-6 was a good deal more powerful, but as models they are about equal: both weigh enough to have plenty of traction and they have enough power to pull a long train well.
K-line made a model of this loco way back when (far left). Ten years ago I bought a used one from Trainz because I thought it was such a good looking model. It was detailed, well made, and looked great. But it was a truly terrible runner with hairtrigger jackrabbiting and a cruise that didn't control well. So much as I wanted to run it, it quickly became a shelf queen. My new Lionel NYC (middle) and ICRR models (right) are clearly made from the K-Line molds and plans. All but one thing one them appears to be identical to the K-line model). They do seem to be slightly better assembled (pipes and all look straighter, graphics a bit sharper, etc., but maybe that's just fifteen plus years of age at work . . .
That one thing that is different is the coal load. On the K-line model it was cast in the metal. The Lionle locos have a real coal load.
I cannot speak to how these locos run in Legacy because I haven’t run that system on my layout since 2008. I’ve used only conventional for the last thirteen years, and LC+ (Lionchief Plus) since it came out. In LC+ mode using Lionel's Universal Controller, these locos run as well as I could ever want: they start slowly, pull well and run very smoothly at as low as 2 scale mph. They respond quickly and linearly to the throttle, with speed increments that look to be around 1 mph each.
In conventional they respond well to the direction button, they pull well, and their cruise automatically works well at scale speeds above 20 mph, but they do not run smoothly at speeds below that. Both of mine have a ‘stutter’ - a slight hesitation once per driver revolution as if they have a binding gear - until they get above about a scale mph. They don’t do that in LC+.
Both engines have good, but not great, sound. There are four chuffs per revolution which have a fair complexity to their sound, but they don't sound special and aren’t as loud and deep as on many other steamers I have. I think the limited space for the speaker, etc. may have something to do with that. Whistle and bell are good but again, nothing special. Still, I’m pleased with the sound .
The smoke is spectacular. No other word applies. It pours out of the stack (left below) – as much as I’ve seen from any steam loco I have. The whistle steam (right) is particularly good, too, and a feature I am coming to really like!! Operating the whistle steam does nothing to diminish or change the amount of smoke coming from the stack, it looks very realistic – and dramatic!.
At $1,100 list price, even with a good pre-order discount, these locos are expensive, particularly considering their size. But I think they are worth it and I am extremely pleased with them. Unlike the K-Line model I have had for the last many years, these big tank engines will not be shelf queens. They will be hard at work on the layout, a lot. I love 'em!!!