Today we have four pieces of rolling stock to check out, so let's get started...
First up, from Athearn, a GE C44-9WL.
C44-9WL History: They were built by General Electric from 1993 until 2004, with 3,668 units produced. Powered by a GE 7FDL16 engine, which puts 4,400 horsepower down to two 3-axle trucks, the locos proved very popular, with all the "big" North American railroads purchasing some, a few smaller NA roads rostering some, and some even being purchased and exported to Australia and Brazil. Many remain in service, mostly with their original owners, with some being rebuilt with various modernized components in recent years.
Prototype note: Only Canadian National and BC Rail ordered the C44-9WL variant. I don't know what the "L" stands for, but the most obvious cosmetic difference is that the WL has a 4 window cab, with the bell mounted above the windshields.
CN 2500 History: known as an "EF-644a" in CN parlance, it's the "Class Unit" (i.e. first loco of a model to be numbered) of 228 on the CN, which was built in December of 1994. As of April, it's still in service with CN, with no indications of it or its siblings being retired.
For a time, as I've only seen CN locos in photos, I thought several with this paint scheme were having paint chipping problems near the CN on the hood - this is actually what's known as the "North American Scheme" and that's a gray "map" of NA. Being partially covered by the logo, and often obscured by dirt, it isn't really obvious without seeing it up close.
Overall Build Quality
Paint and Lettering
Ease of Operation
Good - The weight is good, and it's mostly solid and sturdy. The paint and lettering is spot on and looks great, and it operates and sounds just right.
Bad - If you've read any of my other Athearn reviews, you'll know what's coming ... flimsy plastic handrails! Bonus on this one, the rear handrails over the rear pilot are leaning outwards quite a bit.
I won't rant on this again, but in short, plastic handrails are not good.
Verdict - I definitely recommend this model. Other than the minor issue stated above, it's a typical great Athearn product. And personally, I've always liked the CN/BC Rail exclusive "Canadian Cab", and wanted a model of it. And I'm happy with my choice here.
Next up, a very brightly colored boxcar.
From Walthers this time, we have a New York Central box.
Verdict: I like brightly colored rolling stock typically, and I like the NYC, so I couldn't resist this one.
That said, I'll be 100% honest ... it's great. The paint, the lettering, and the details all look great. It's sturdy and it rolls smoothly and freely, and it handles perfect in a train.
Next, something a little different ...
A livestock car! Specifically a poultry box, from Bachmann.
Note the barely noticeable indications of chickens through the grating.
Verdict: I bought this car for 2 reasons, 1. I like eating chicken, and, 2. It looked nice. Simple as that.
The car is solid and sturdy, and it handles just fine in a train.
The only small issue, which is common with certain Bachmann boxcars, is that the door is mounted on a plastic sliderail, and can be opened and closed. This is a problem because there's little friction and no stops other than open and closed, so the door will work itself open and closed at random. A dot of glue would solve this issue, but it's an annoying little thing.
Otherwise, it's good.
Next, Walthers again, a coil car this time.
Notice something missing?
How about a loose handrail?
Which I repaired with a bit of glue. No, I'm not too good at the delicate work.
Verdict: Other than the loose handrail (which are not securely attached to begin with), it looks great.
It's a good weight, and it handles perfect in a train, rolling smoothly and freely.
Well, that's all for this round, thanks for looking!