BLI's eye-catching PRR Centipede is an outstanding locomotive model in every way. And although primarily associated with the Pennsy, I have a feeling that many non-PRR modelers are going to rationalize ways to add one (or more) of these little beauties to their layouts. They're just that cool!
These models are generally sold in A/B pairs (permanantly MU'd together by way of a plastic drawbar), although single units are available as well. For the A/B sets, the drawbar comes screwed to one of the units and an additional screw is provided in the box to connect up the other unit. Spare MT couplers are also provided should you wish to remove the drawbar connection entirely and just go with couplers.
The plastic shells are crisply painted and include many fine details (standalone handgrabs, trainphone antenna, lit numberboards, cab interior, etc) -
Internally, the chassis is a single all-metal casting (IE, not split-frame) -
The five-pole motor is open-sided and skew-wound. Both driveshafts are equipped with large brass flywheels. Short plastic dogbone-style driveshafts connect the flywheels to notched cups on each wormshaft. The worms are mounted between bearing blocks that seat inside of the plastic truck towers (IE, the worms pivot right along with the trucks).
Pickup and propulsion are provided by the sixteen drivers on the two central trucks (the outer two trucks are ungeared and electrically neutral). The axle wipers in the truck sideframes are similar to the old-style wipers used on BLI's earlier EMD diesels (IE, the axle points protrude through holes in the wipers, rather than nestling inside of dimples). Wires soldered to the tops of the axle wipers transfer current up to the decoder board (two wires per truck). Wires from the decoder board run to the motor, the enclosed speaker, and the directional headlight LED board mounted on the front of the chassis.
Apart from the brass worms, all gearing is plastic. The pilots and couplers are mounted to the trucks (ala the prototype). Couplers are Micro-Trains 1015's. As delivered, there are no traction tires. However, two ala carte TT-equipped driversets are included in the box should you want to trade pickup for more pulling power. The wheels are low-profile, so no problems on Atlas Code-55. The wheels are also blackened, although just on the sides (the parts that actually touch the rails are nice and shiny). These models can actually handle curves as sharp as 9.75"-radius, but they look really horrible while doing so (what with the shell swinging way out away from the end trucks). I'd say something in the 15-16"-radius range would be a more realistic minimum.
Performance on these models is outstanding in every way. They run smoothly and quietly at all throttle levels (well, quietly when the sound is turn offed that is). Pickup is flawless (not surprising, given the fact that sixteen of the wheels are collecting current). They can creep along one-tie-at-a-time at the low of the throttle, whereas the top-end speed is quite realistic (actually, people who like speed demons might find the top-end speed of ~60 SMPH to be a bit pokey). Pulling power is very respectable, with my single unit able to haul 18-19 assorted 85' passenger cars through curves on level track (any more than that though, and the wheels are slipping). I didn't have any problems keeping the wheels on the rails (even the ones on the floppy outer trucks). The sound is robust and nicely rendered.
The only real problem I encountered with mine is that the wheel gauging on all of the drivers was a bit tight (a common malady with these models, or so I've read). This didn't cause any issues on my Kato Unitrack, but it did lead to stalling on my Atlas Code-80 turnouts (the locomotive would stall and then restart every time it tried to squeeze through an insulated frog). I'm told that the problem is even more pronounced on Atlas Code-55 turnouts (where the wheels will actually derail). Fortunately, spending a few minutes using a small screwdriver to wedge the wheels a little further out on their axles took care of all the problems for me.
Baldwin produced their famous "Centipede" diesel locomotives during 1945-48, and sold them to three railroads (SAL, NdM and PRR). The Centipedes were very large, 91 feet long for single units as operated on SAL and NdM, and 183 feet long for semi-permanently-coupled A-A pairs as operated on the PRR! Each unit contained two 1500 horsepower diesel motors, so a pair contained four motors and totaled 6000 horsepower. Centipedes were very heavy, totaling 1,200,000 pounds for a pair, with more than 800,000 of those pounds carried by the 16 drivers.
Locomotive Features -
- Paragon2 Sound & Operation System with Authentic Sounds and Prototypical Operation in both DC and DCC environments
- Constant Intensity Directional Lighting with Prototypical Headlight
- All-Wheel Drive and All-Wheel Electrical Pick-Up
- Equipped with Traction Tires
- Locomotive Composition: ABS with Die Cast Chassis
- Couplers: (2) Operating MicroTrains #1015 or Compatible
- Compatible Tracks: Code 55, 70, 83, & 100 Rail
- Minimum Operating Radius: 9.75 in
DCC Sound Features -
- Operates in DC & DCC (use DCMaster for DC Sound)
- Record & Play Operation - Records and plays back sounds and movements once or repeatedly for automatic operation
- 16-bit Sample Rate for exceptional high frequency sound clarity
- Playback Whistle for multiple whistle lengths and patterns
- Choice of 3 selectable Whistles / Horns
- Alternate Whistle / Horn where applicable for locomotive with air horn and steam whistle - both the main whistle and alternate can be easily played
- Adjustable bell ringing interval for faster or slower bell
- Numerous user-mappable functions with available keys
- Johnson Bar Sound at Direction Change (Steam Only)
- Passenger Station Ambient Sounds - Controlled with Function Key
- Freight Yard Ambient Sounds- Controlled with Function Key
- Lumber Yard Ambient Sounds- Controlled with Function Key
- Farm Ambient Sounds - Controlled with Function Key
- Crew Radio Communications- Controlled with Function Key
- Maintenance Yard Ambient Sounds - Controlled with Function Key
- Demo Mode for display and demonstrations
- Grade Crossing Automatic Signal
- 8 Diesel Motor Revs (Diesel Only)
- Simple Programming with Integral DCC Decoder
- Automatic Forward / Reverse Signal - When activated, stopping triggers and stop whistle toot. When moving forward from a stopped position, toots twice. When moving in reverse. toots three times.
- Engine sound intensity varies with load
- Individually adjustable sound volumes for each effect
The shell is held to the chassis by six clips (three on each side). To remove the shell, simply use a flat screwdriver (or toothpicks or whatever) to free each clip from the chassis. Small indentations in the sides of the chassis indicate where the clips are (four just inboard of each door and two in the center).