Review: FlyerChief Baldwin Switcher

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. 

 FC BLW C&NW 123018 003 Screws

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.

Cosmetics:

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.

FC BLW C&NW 122918 003FC BLW C&NW 122918 004

 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…)

BLW DS4-4-660 C&NW 1260

It’s a minor issue, if this was a fully scale Legacy model, it would be something to carp about.

Operation:

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:

FC BLW C&NW 122918 007FC BLW C&NW 122918 008

Well, that's about it.  All in all, the FlyerChief Baldwin a nice locomotive for the Traditional Flyer enthusiast.

Rusty

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Original Post

Rusty:  You didn't note that the FlyerChief and Flyonel Baldwins do have add on handrails where the Gilbert does not.  There are even some add on railings low on both ends of the engine.  

I think it is interesting that when I went to the Charles Ro site the Northwestern is the only one of the Baldwins marked Sold Out.   

There seems to be weights added to both ends of the chassis to give the engine more traction.  Is that so?

Roundhouse Bill posted:

Rusty:  You didn't note that the FlyerChief and Flyonel Baldwins do have add on handrails where the Gilbert does not.  There are even some add on railings low on both ends of the engine.  

I think it is interesting that when I went to the Charles Ro site the Northwestern is the only one of the Baldwins marked Sold Out.   

There seems to be weights added to both ends of the chassis to give the engine more traction.  Is that so?

Since Lionel added wire handrails on the hood and "lift bars" on the pilots on previous releases, that's why I didn't bother to mention them.

Yes, there are weights on the front and back of the frame.

I also noticed Ro sold out of the C&NW.  Interestingly enough, C&NW also the only S-12 AM sold out of and quite some time ago, too.  Must be popular... 

Rusty

Well done Rusty. 

I so looked forward to this review that I set my phone down and spent 20 minuets tryin to figure out where the heck my kids put the IPad.  

I have this on order from Ro but have not received it yet. They told me it would hit the mail early this coming week.  I think the C&NW paint scheme is the nicest out of the 4 cataloged (though I have two grandfathers that worked for C&NW so I am biased).  Maybe others thought the same, and I would guess that there is some nostalgia from the old Gilbert C&NW Baldwin that appealed to some of the buyers of this unit.  

I am curious to know how people think that this stacks up to the GP7 that came out last year.  While I don’t have my Baldwin yet, I am feeling more positive about it that the GP7.

Ben

NASG&CASG

Rusty...If you have a spare couple of minutes could you check the dimensions of the front and rear handrails (as well as those inboard of the steps) on the AM Baldwin and guesstimate as to whether they could be attached to the Flyer Baldwin size-wise? I do not own an AM S-12 to do it myself.

I plan on ordering a set from AM but if they are too wide (or whatever) to fit the Flyer engine I'll leave "Good enuf" alone.

Thanks,

Mark

Well Mark, for starters the AM pilot is 1-3/4" wide, the Flyer pilot is 1-7/8" wide.  So the end railings won't clear the pilot sides but probably be flush:

It's really going to take some trial and error for positioning and not be a simple drop on installation.  If you're going to order the railings, be sure to get the new brass ones, the plastic ones are too fragile.

The end railings line up with the simulated sorta "footboards" on the Flyer loco.  The end railings would have to be bent outward at the bottom, cut short or something to build up for mounting to the top of the pilot. 

The side railing ends appear to hang a little low for the Flyer frame, they could be moved up a little to compensate, the same would hold true for the cab railings.

Rusty

 

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Rusty Traque posted:

Well Mark, for starters the AM pilot is 1-3/4" wide, the Flyer pilot is 1-7/8" wide.  So the end railings won't clear the pilot sides but probably be flush:

It's really going to take some trial and error for positioning and not be a simple drop on installation.  If you're going to order the railings, be sure to get the new brass ones, the plastic ones are too fragile.

The end railings line up with the simulated sorta "footboards" on the Flyer loco.  The end railings would have to be bent outward at the bottom, cut short or something to build up for mounting to the top of the pilot. 

The side railing ends appear to hang a little low for the Flyer frame, they could be moved up a little to compensate, the same would hold true for the cab railings.

Rusty

 

Thanks for the info. It sounds like ordering the new brass railings would be the way to go as they would probably tolerate some bending and what-not. They won't be a prototypical match however I think that the addition of them would greatly enhance the appearance of the engine so that it better resembles the original:

 vs.

Looks like the original railings were white. At least I can match the color of the railings on the hood.

Mark

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Hey that's great.  It was listed as a feature in the catalog for the latest Berks and prevailed to be the case (tested on a 5% incline and decline, ran smooth and steadily both directions), but it was not listed under the Baldwins.  Glad to hear they have it anyway and as well.  

Dave

Sgaugian

S happens

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