Note: I changed my mind and decided to do this as a separate post. Here goes...
OK, I’m a little late to the game, but my between-layouts-friend picked up his FlyerChief Baldwin Switcher Last Friday night, so I get to play with it for a while.
Given this is the latest generation of the Gilbert designed and tooled locomotive, I’m not going down to the rivets and accept it for what it is, a continuation of the breed.
Of course, the conventional model’s manual and not the FlyerChief was in the box. Other than that, I continue to like how these things are packaged.
Out Of The Box:
The model is lubed from the factory.
Checking on lubrication lead to a discovery of Lionel engineering "brilliance." Now maybe some of the old hats knew this, but it was news to me. Four screws hold the sideframes and cover plate on. The two middle screws also hold the motor in place and have to be removed to get the sideframes and coverplate off. At least I couldn't get the coverplates off without removing these two. This allows the motor to flop around when these two are removed.
Really now, one would think that you should be able to remove the coverplate and sideframes without disturbing the motor…
I discovered this when the front motor wouldn’t run after putting the truck back together. It was only by luck the rear motor didn’t fall loose after I checked the rear truck.
Needless to say the "OH CR*P" light went on in my head because it test ran fine at the LHS...
As I want my friend to still remain my friend, naturally I had to fix this. I managed to get the motor lined up and back in working order after several tries. As long as I had the shell off, here’s a picture of the innards. Unlike the SD70's and ES44's, the motors pivot with the trucks.
One more thing, the front body screws have steel rings around the mounting studs to prevent them from splitting. They popped off and were nicely attracted to the loose motor when I removed the shell.
Paint is excellent. There is perhaps a little fuzziness between the green and yellow in a couple of places, but nothing really worth noting. About the only thing that’s a little weak is the green stripe along the middle of the hood. The weak green looks much worse in the photos than in person. I'll also add the addition of the speaker enclosure/fuel tank greatly adds to the appearance of the model.
About the only thing I’ll say is that the stripe should be black, along with a black pinstripe along the color separation along the top of the hood. It's pretty obvious the pinstripes are black on the builder's photo. (OK… A rivet counted… Sorry…)
It’s a minor issue, if this was a fully scale Legacy model, it would be something to carp about.
I have my Christmas loop still set up: SHS S-Trax, R20 curves and an MTH Z-1000 transformer. I first ran the switcher in conventional.
Like other FlyerChief diesels, power is picked up only through the two rollers on each truck.
The locomotive powers up in neutral with front headlight and cab light on. The sound of a Baldwin prime mover goes through a startup and then idles. If you’re fast enough the sound won’t cut out by pressing the direction button, otherwise the sound cuts out and the startup repeats when you change direction.
The Baldwin sound is pretty good and sounds crisp. The bell is fine, the horn sounds more like a car horn to me. I was expecting a more convincing “BLAT!”
Under conventional control, I had to crank the Z-1000 almost half way before the locomotive moved. I really couldn’t get the loco down to “switching speed” under conventional. Also at lower speeds, the operation was also a little jerky.
Under FlyerChief control operation is much better. The Baldwin started smoothly and ran smoothly at low speeds. The Baldwin responded to all commands as expected from FC controller. I’ll leave pulling power to folks that have bunches of cars to throw behind, as my 7 Pikemaster cars were hardly a challenge to this locomotive. I was able to uncouple from the Pikemaster cars "on the fly," coupling was another matter. The Pikemaster cars are just too light.
Now, I have yet to make friends with my video camera, but here’s a brief so-so video of the Baldwin. If the video can't be seen, try clicking on the thumbnail in the Attachments Area below:
Apples and Oranges:
Finally, because no one asked for it, a totally uncalled for and unfair visual comparison of the Flyer and AM Baldwin. Outside of the fact they are of two different model Baldwin locomotives ( DS-4-4-660 vs. S-12 ), no pontificating on which one is better, just a look-see:
Well, that's about it. All in all, the FlyerChief Baldwin a nice locomotive for the Traditional Flyer enthusiast.