Monday, August 15, 2011

Alcos in the mail--and they aren't 48 class.

Modeling NSW doesn't mean I don't have other modeling interests. I'll collect a few locomotives or freight cars of US railroads that might have sentimental or special interests. There's a small fleet of Milwaukee Road boxcars and grain hoppers and a nice Walthers rib side caboose in the closet. I've got a sweet Burlington Northern F45 from Athearn as a memento of seeing these giants in the Pacific Northwest. And I've kept a nice handful of rolling stock and the locomotives used on my Walla Walla Valley layout before my NWSGR modeling adventure: the two HH660 Alcos kit-bashed using Lifelike Alco S-series underframe and cab and a resin long hood--definitely custom, and I'm sure the only HO models out there when built painted for Walla Walla Valley!

That isn't the case anymore, since Atlas just released their own HH660 in WWV paint. Walla Walla Valley modeling has gone main-stream! Factory-equipped with an accurate McIntosh/Seymour 538 straight-six turbocharged sound decoder, how could I resist? The detail and running-qualities are better than my kit-bashed version, and the price was right.

They arrived today, only a few months after the order window closed. And I paid nearly $100 apiece under retail for them--under $180 each. And that's with sound. And I didn't have to pay in advance. Eat your heart out.

Times like these, waiting three years now for a trio of paid-for 48 Class Alcos to show up (late this year? In 2012?) makes me realize how tough you Aussie modelers have it. Small production runs=high prices. Small production runs+few retailers=no discounts. Small production runs=wait at the back of the line for the American manufacturers to finish their Chinese factory runs, then you'll have your turn. Okay, I share your pain. And I've got postage to pay as well.

So when I read whinging Yank modelers on internet discussion boards complaining that Athearn has fallen three months behind on their delivery schedule, how dare those bastards!, I really have to bite my tongue. You have no idea how good you've got it.


Railway Institute said...

Hi Blair,
I love reading your posts and I am particularly intrigued by an American interested in something Aussie. The reverse is usually true. And yes, modelling US prototype must be much easier. I know a few who, over the years, have abandoned the local prototype in frustration.
I would have thought you would get a laugh from your countrymen when you say you are modelling some backwater branchline with ridiculous place names such as "Gurley" and "Wee Waa", but "Walla Walla Valley" is almost as bad.
James Dalton

B. Kooistra said...

Sorta strange when I was selling off my custom-built and painted US prototype stuff that my two kitscratched Union Pacific SD24B's were sold to modelers in. . . .Victoria! Didn't expect that! Most of the US modelers who are familar with my change of prototype interest are decidedly indifferent to Australian--indeed, any foreign--railroading. That hasn't been my experience with Australians in general: they tend to be more traveled as a whole and accepting to different countries and cultures than us Americans.

As for the place names: a friend is getting ready to design a freelanced NSW railway and is might tempted, just for fun, to include a town named Dildonga.

IainS said...


I have an Atlas HH660 and they are really nice models. It undecorated but yellow and black so when I decide on my steel works layout and its name I can decorate the loco.

I like the look and the history of the early diesels. A very interesting time.

Paul B said...

Hi Blair,

your talk of HH660's drew me to your blog through google. I'm coming from the opposite direct as you, I started with a NSWGR branchline prototype and later shifted to an American based steel industry layout (HH660 talk draws steel modelers like light draws moths).

My decision to change prototype was in large part due to buffers. When I first set out on model railways, I decided I wanted to keep it fairly compact. Steam NSWGR stuff commonly had buffers and these reduce the distance between wagons, effectively making short wagons similar to long cars on curves. So, to get a fair degree of operation, I would have needed too much space due to needing large radius curves than you'd expect from such small locos and rolling stock.

I fell in love with some US switcher models (GE 45 tonner and HH600). The search for their prototypes led me to steel modellng. This genre is an ideal solution for me as I can cram a lot of operation in a relatively small space. Now I am trying to model a short line called the South Buffalo Railway. I trying because I have managed to get distracted by some NS and Alexander Railroad modeling. The problem with US model railroading is there is too much choice of good things to model.

I must say it is good to see an American modeller branching out. I think the Australian modelling scence benifits greatly from a considerable foriegn influence, not just American but various European approaches to model railways as well. This means we can learn about and test out ideas from different sources and combine the best of both (hopefully). I guess Australian culture could be described as a blend of American and Britsh influences with local adaptions.

Anyway, all the best to you and keep us informed of your progress.

Regrads, Paul