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MTH O gauge Railking Also RS-3

A diesel available in several roadnames
MTH Alco RS-3 model
Price: $359.95 Stock no.: 30-20714-1 Features: O-27, two can-style motors, MTH ProtoSound 3.0 Command and sound, remote couplers, smoke unit Low speed (Cmd): 2 smph Low speed (Conv): 3.35 smph High speed: 3.35 smph Drawbar pull: 2 lbs 1 oz. Road names: Delaware-Lackawanna, Maine Central, Nickel Plate Road, Reading, Rock Island, Union Pacific Website:
In the heady days of dieselization, locomotive builders could sell pretty much anything they could shove out the erecting shop doors. Cab units, hood units, and even center-cabs were gobbled up in the drive to close down steam maintenance operations and reduce overhead.

For general freight work, there were two standout locomotives of the day: Electro-Motive’s GP7/9 series and Alco’s RS-3. While the ubiquitous Geeps dominated the market (nearly 7,000 of all versions were made), the Alco product (1,400 built) was an enduring one and you can still find nearly 50 of them either “stuffed and mounted” or actually operational. Because thousands fewer RS-3s were built, the survivors have an even more exotic appeal.

Like the song went, the Rock Island was a mighty good road at one time. The 7,600-mile system crossed the Midwest (ranging from Chicago to South Dakota) and stretched south to New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana. As essential as it was to the farm belt, the railroad had too much track and not enough revenue. Unable to find a merger partner and beset by labor problems, the railroad was liquidated in 1980.

The last time we saw a RailKing RS-3 was way back in the November 2001 issue. That model was in Rock Island’s red, black, and white “Route of the Rockets” livery. This is the same shell.

I had to smile at the classic maroon-and-white “pinstripe” livery on this model. It’s business-like and handsome, with the white-painted handrails echoing the striping on the body. The silver-painted trucks add to the attractiveness of the scheme.

The pilot and rear are basic, with footboards on each corner, cast-in air and multiple-unit hoses, and a gap for the coil coupler. The steps are maroon with white safety striping. The ends of the handrails are white, with the center being maroon. The decks have safety tread texture for employee safety.

The body has a good level of cast-in detail and captures all the key spotting features. The short nose has an add-on brake wheel below the headlight. There are cast-in grab irons running up the body. Above the headlight, on the roof, is a sand filler hatch. Below the lamp, the letters “R.I.” are inscribed in white, and the locomotive number, “488,” is applied to each side of the lamp.

There are step-up equipment boxes on both sides of the hood. Just above them are cast-in doors with nice, deep louver detail. On the sides of the nose you’ll find the engine number board. At first I just thought it was only painted on, but it illuminates when powered. What a nice surprise!

The cab is a bit Spartan (no crew figures); however, there are three-pane side windows and two fore and aft windows above the hood. Atop the cab is an add-on horn.

The long cab features cast-in rivet and seam detail. The rectangular turbocharger exhaust stack projects upward about a quarter-inch, near the familiar large round
radiator fan shroud. Cast-in sand filler hatches mark each end.

Both sides of the long hood have 13 cast-in doors with louver, hinge, and latch detail. At the front under the radiator fan are air intakes, also cast with great detail.

As previously mentioned, I loved the decoration, particularly the flawless way the stripes wrap around the end. The body color is brighter than the prototype, but looks sharp nonetheless.

Performance was great in either conventional or command modes. I used both straight transformer power, as well as with the TIU/ProtoSound remote and the MTH Wi-Fi app.

On startup the locomotive sounds were terrific. They actually echo the burbling sound of an Alco prime mover.

During a low-speed pass, it sounded like the RS-3 was about to stall as the diesel sounds were barely above idle. If you’ve ever heard a real one, you know this is spot on as the 244 prime movers seem to barely have a pulse until the engineer opens the throttle. Then they roar.

The random crew messages are pretty good and add a bit of realistic “radio traffic” to the fun.

The model has directional lighting and a smoke unit that made a satisfactory level of smoke (easy to adjust with the app).

I turned on my version of the way back machine and compared the numbers with the ProtoSound 2.0 version covered in the November 2001 issue. They were pretty comparable. In 2001 we used an average of low speeds and not command and conventional. The model had an average low speed of 6.9 scale mph.

Today, we use both conventional and command speed averages. Our conventional low speed was 3.35 smph, while the command low speed was 2 smph.

In 2001 the high-speed average was 101 scale miles per hour. In 2001 I had a much longer straightaway for testing, which permitted building up more speed. In 2020 the high-speed average was 70.2 scale miles per hour.

The 2001 drawbar pull was 1 pound, 15 ounces, while the 2020 pull was 2 pounds, 1 ounce. Both indicate the RS-3 is as good a puller as the prototype.

MTH’s RailKing Alco RS-3 sounds good, looks sharp, and boasts the same features on a more expensive diesel – yet it can operate on the tightest O gauge curves available. Not a bad choice at all. Check it out at an MTH retailer.

Locomotive courtesy of Sommerfeld’s Trains & Hobbies, Butler, Wis.


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