Monday, August 31, 2015

New power for El Dorado?

This summer has been a very busy summer for me with lots of different things going on in my life and unfortunately I have not gotten out to rail fan near as much as I would have liked to.  But this morning on my way to my shop I heard over the squawk-box that El Dorado had some foreign power shoving the cars around.  I thought I heard someone say BN?
So after work I headed down to El Dorado to see what the the noise was about.

Sure enough, there they were, two BN NW2's!  What in the world were they doing on the property?

Guess I'm gonna have to slip down to the house and see if can catch up with the foreman and see if I can get the scoop on these.


Several years ago after I got the layout running I picked up a couple of Atlas MP15DC locos in the SLSF colors for El Dorado.  My thoughts were: 
1)  They were a "close" stand in for SW1500's 
2) With a bit of prosperity going on that they were going to upgrade their yard power.

Granted MTL has recently released their version of the EMD SW1500, but not in any Rock Island colors yet.  Also I have never been a fan of the LifeLike SW units. Yes they run smooth, but I'm not a fan of their electrical pickup. Supposedly MTL has fixed this to some extent?  So as for now, the jury is still out on this.  

These MP15's are nice locos and proved to work just fine if they were paired up. They have more than enough power to pull yard goat duty at El Dorado.  For several sessions they worked perfect.  Not long after, one of them developed a problem with the chip and in the process of fixing it I damaged it and sent it in for repairs.  It's still sitting on the bench waiting it's turn for the repair shop.

Before I got it back, I scheduled another session and this time I grabbed the ex Rio Grande GP7 which has performed flawlessly, and has become the yard goat until I can get the MP15's back in service.

The GP7 not only works good, but it also fits the job quite well just like the prototype.  Ten of these misfits were acquired from the Grande during the CRP craze of the all of the GP7, 9 and 18's in the late 70's.  But these ten were true misfits as they did not have the ability to MU with the rest of the Rock Island units due to incompatible brake systems.  So working by itself turned out to be a perfect job.

A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a pair of  KATO BN NW2's and the cogs began to turn.  I wonder how well these would work for yard goat duty in El Dorado? Tonight I got them out and started running them a bit to break them in and get them warmed up.  A few minutes later I pulled them into El Dorado and things went down hill pretty fast.

The first thing I noticed was how crappy the couplers were! Then I remembered that most folks replace the stock couplers with MTL's.  

The next thing I noticed was the inability to stay tracked. These things pretty much jumped off the rails for no reason at all.  Not sure if the flanges are that small or if they are just that light.

The third thing I noticed was how they bobbled on the turnouts.  Granted, I'm using PECO code 80 track and turnouts that do have a bit wider gaps in the frogs. I know that this can be overcome by gluing a shim to the frogs, but man!  Not sure if I want to do that just for a couple of yard goats?  After typing this, I now remember having this issue when I was looking for a switcher for Riceland and that's why I settled on the VO-1000.

I'm not saying that these KATO units are garbage, but they may not be the right ones for my layout?
I'm gonna do a bit more playing when I get some more time, but I'm kind of thinking I may go back to the MP15DC's.  At least they stayed tracked and have more pulling power, not to mention they ran a whole lot smoother than the NW2's.  So it looks like these may not be sticking around much longer?

Maybe, just maybe I might pick up a pair of the newer Atlas S-2's?  Malvern finally got one so we'll see how well it will do in time...