Today we have a varied trio of reviews; first up, from Rapido, we have a Lehigh Valley ALCO PA-1, LV 601. Next, from Walthers, we have a flatcar and a duo of J.B. Hunt 53' trailers.
ALCO PA-1 History: a product of a partnership between ALCO (American Locomotice Company) and GE (General Electric), the PA series was designed by GE's Ray Patten, and sold throughout North America, and interestingly, Brazil. The series contained the PA-1, PB-1, PA-2, and PB-2, but we'll be focusing on the PA-1 in this history section. The "P" meant they were designed mostly as passenger units, the "A" meant it was the cab equipped version ("B" units were cabless boosters), and the "1" just stood for the first iteration of the series. They were powered by an ALCO 244, a 2,000 HP 4-stroke V-16 turbocharged diesel, which put power to two A1A trucks (A1A means that the first and third axles are powered, and the center axle is not). The whole series was built between June 1946 and December 1953 at ALCO's Schenectady, NY factory, with just 297 units produced overall. They were ALCO's competitor to the EMD "E" series of passenger diesels, but very much came in last place in that competition, as they did with essentially all their diesel models. They were, and are, considered one of the most beautiful locomotives of all time, and were famous (like all ALCOs) for smoking heavily under acceleration. Unfortunately, though beautiful looking, their dependability was anything but, with the majority being scrapped by 1970, and only a handful working later, but rebuilt with new engines. Out of the 297 units produced, only 6 have survived, in various conditions, but all non-operational, though some are under restoration, but only cosmetic as of this time (June 2023).
Lehigh Valley 601 History: LV bought 14 PA units for their limited passenger operations, all painted in their "Cornell red" scheme with black stripes, with 601 being the class leader, and being classed internally on the LV as a DP1 at first, but reclassified to AP20. It was built in March of 1948 with builder number 75458. LV's passenger service ended in early 1961, and the PAs would serve in freight service until 1965, when the last one was traded back to ALCO. However, 601 itself would first be sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad on December 7, 1964, who would then trade it back to ALCO. So 601 would serve for only 16 years, a few of which after being demoted to freight service - a sad history for such a unit, but unfortunately very common among ALCO diesels.
It doesn't come across here, but the headlight is a very cool white LED.
This is the exhaust port on the roof. It is extremely shallow, and the red plastic makes it very obvious. This should've either been molded/painted black, or made actually hollow/deeper.
Scratch on the engineer's side.
Overall Build Quality
Paint and Lettering
Ease of Operation
Good - The manual was the typical Rapido offering; comprehensive, but made to look like more info than actually offered, by Rapido having their various jokes, puns, and humurous asides scattered throughout. The first thing I noticed when handling the model was its weight - very heavy. Also, the details and lettering were perfect, and the paint was really nice, except the minor damage. It operates and sounds perfect, as well.
Bad - a couple little scratches, nothing to terrible, but it suggests they may want to reevaluate their packing and/or packaging. Also, the mentioned exhaust portal and lighting issues. Another thing I noticed is that when picking up the model, the body, which is one big shell, is not secured tightly to the frame - when you pick the model up, the body moves upward a little before picking up the chassis, and the body can be moved around without moving the chassis; not much at all, but noticeably. I checked several other locos, and this was unique to the PA. It could concievably have some loose screws, but I wouldn't think so fresh from the box. I wanted to investigate this further, but I'm not very good at actually working on models and dismantling them, so I skipped that option. None of these issues are at all major, though.
Verdict - It's great overall. A couple really minor issues, but really, a very nice model. Rapido is releasing more PAs in different schemes in the coming months, and I definitely plan on picking up more!
Next, from Walthers, a flatcar.
These trailer stands are removable...
...and came with alternate folded down versions. A nice addition.
This one actually had a few issues straight outta the box.
First was this broken ramp. A blob of glue fixed that.
This coupler's spring had fallen off, but luckily was in the box.
This was fairly tedious to reinstall.
And the last issue was this coupler. The metal rod drooped so low between the tracks it would catch on every switch.
I used some snips to cut off enough to clear.
Verdict - It was overall sturdy, but the damages and build quality issues were unexpected and very unwelcome. They were fairly easy to rectify, but they shouldn't have needed rectifying. A new, ready to run model should be just that, and straight from the box, this car was unusable. I wouldn't say not to order this, but make sure you know what to (possibly) expect.
Next, and related to the prior section, a couple Wathers trailers.
Here's one loaded on the flat. everything lines up and works fine.
Unfortunately, one was missing its kingpin.
Verdict - overall they were fine. Basically sturdy, they looked good. Only issues were the one missing kingpin, and having alternate retracted landing gear would've been really nice.
Well, that's all for this round. Thanks for looking, and I hope you enjoyed!