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MTH 4-6-2 streamlined engine

An O-gauge Crusader

Price: $499.95 (no. 20-20683-1) Min Curve: O-31 Cmd Low: 4.5 smph Cnv Low: 4.8 smph High: 57.9 smph Drawbar pull: 1 lb., 6 oz. Features: A can-style motor, ProtoSound 3.0 command and sound system, smoke unit, coil coupler on tender Current-production road names: Canadian National, Chicago & North Western, New Haven, Reading, and a special Halloween livery
The great selling point of MTH’s RailKing line is that operators with curves tighter than O-54 are able to choose from a variety of nicely detailed locomotives in body types that would never otherwise have been made for the O-31 crowd. I know that early on I bought a Hiawatha 4-6-4, a Dreyfuss Hudson 4-6-4, and even a Santa Fe
2-10-4. These were certainly uncommon enough on the scale side of the divide, let alone the world of modest-sized layouts.

MTH has continued this concept of offering unusual, often one-of-a-kind locomotives in a variety of paint schemes to allow enthusiasts to enhance their fleets with flashes of color and unique outlines.

Today, we’re taking a look at a RailKing 4-6-2 that is a model originating with the RailKing version of the Reading’s Crusader. MTH offers up this run in Canadian National, Chicago & North Western, New Haven, Reading, and Halloween liveries.

The Crusader was a streamlined train (1937-82) that ran 90 miles between Philadelphia and New York City (via Jersey City, N.J.). It was a new train set built by the Budd Co. The cars stood out from typical coaches, thanks to their having air conditioning, color coordination, and reclining seats. The train was notable for having an observation on each end, so it wouldn’t have to be turned around at the end of the line.

The locomotive’s tender had an extension to its rear that slid over the end of the car to hide the rounded end. Thus only the locomotive needed to be turned at the terminus. This saved considerable labor time since the cars didn’t need to be moved and re-shuffled for the next run.

The Reading rebuilt two 4-6-2 streamlined engines for Crusader service and named them the G1sa class. The goal was to make the locomotives appear futuristic and be a natural fit with the train, rather than just another steam locomotive. The public latched on to the design and ridership rose 175 percent.

Opening the box

The O gauge model is a good replica of the original Reading locomotive. Some hobbyists would dub the design “overturned bathtub,” but to me it symbolizes speed and power. You  could probably find something that looks like this engine in a children’s book from the 1940s about the trains of tomorrow.

The pilot is smooth, with manly looking cast-in rivet heads showing where the panels were bolted together! A raised surface runs from the pilot, up over the headlight, and to the smokestack. There are grab irons on both sides of the headlight and handrails that run up and along the boiler. The number boards and classification lights are on either side of the smokestack.

The sides of the locomotive are a mix of smooth and fluted design that match the fluting of the passenger cars it pulled. Scanning the top of the boiler, you’ll find recesses in the streamlining for pop-off valves, bell, and whistle.

The cab has two crew figures, sliding windows, a decorated backhead, and firebox glow. The model has MTH’s rigid wireless tether.

The tender looks like a rolling bank vault! It has plenty of rivet and seam detailing, and the oversized-rivet heads suggest you could hit the side with a shell from a German 88 and it would barely muss up the paint.

The rear of the tender extends to surround the observation end of the consist, which is a pretty funky concept. The tender does have a backup light. Also worth mentioning is that the coal load is the chunk style, rather than the traditionally cast-in version.

The decoration of the locomotive and tender was excellent. While most railroads probably would have had a flashier paint scheme on their locomotives, I think this fits right in with the black-and-orange scheme the line used on some passenger equipment, notably their Bradley “American Flyer” coaches.

On the test track

The New Haven unit was very responsive. The whistle had some great tone to it, and the chuffing was capable of generating a grin, even though I’ve heard it all before. The crew sounds were conversational, and the background clunks and thunks helped carry off the trackside atmosphere.

Drawbar pull was very good, at 1 pound, 6 ounces. The speed range of the model ranged from 4.5 to 57.9 scale miles per hour.

This model is one of the RailKing locomotives dedicated first and foremost to operators with tighter curves – the men and ladies using O-31 track. There is considerable selective compression in the model, but even so, the Pacific measures roughly 80 feet in O scale.

It is a solidly constructed locomotive with a great sound package and plenty of pulling power. If you are a fan of any of the related liveries in this run, or just want a spiffy-looking streamlined train, visit your local MTH retailer and check it out. You’ll be impressed.


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