As pictured above, these models are available in either low or a high hood variants. A "PRR" version (with differently located bell and horn) is also available. BLI also makes so called RSD-7 and RSD-17 models (basically RSD-15's with RSD-7 and RSD-17 paint schemes). All come equipped with factory-installed DCC Sound decoders (Paragon4). They are designed to run equally well on analog and DCC layouts (although analog users will need one of BLI's "DC Master" control boxes in order to take advantage of all the sound features). Support is provided for BLI's "Rolling Thunder" external sound system.
These are very nice looking models, with crisp paint and fine detailing -
The internal design of these models is quite similar to BLI's other diesels of similar vintage. The chassis is one big hunk of metal (IE not split-frame). The motor is an open-sided 5-poler with skew-winding. Each motorshaft is equipped with a smallish flywheel. The plastic driveshafts have hex ends on the flywheel side and plastic ball-with-pin / notched-cup U-joints on the wormshaft side. The brass worms mount inside of small plastic boxes that clip to the tops of the truck towers. I'm assuming the large black wire is the radio antenna for the Rolling Thunder system.
All six axles are geared and all gearing is plastic. As delivered, the gearing is very lightly lubricated. The wheels are blackened and low-profile (no problems on Atlas C55 track). A single speaker is provided for DCC-Sound (mounted inside the fuel tank). The couplers are chassis-mounted MTL clones (similar to 1015's). There are no traction tires.
All twelve wheels provide pickup. The axle ends insert into holes (as opposed to dimples) in the axle wipers. Wires soldered to ears on top of the wipers transfer current to the decoder board. I'm not exactly sure how one would go about removing the trucks, but I'm assuming it would involve completely disassembling them (yuck).
The decoder board is screwed to a black metal bracket that is in turn screwed to the top of the chassis. Wiring harnesses for track power, lighting control, motor control, and speaker control plug into sockets on either end of the board. LED boards for the headlight, reverse light, numberboard lights and cab interior light are mounted fore and aft of the decoder board. A small button on the decoder board allows you to reset the decoder to factory defaults (for situations where writing CV8 doesn't fix your locomotive's problems or you don't have the ability to write CV's at all).
F0 controls the LEDS for the headlight, backup light and numberboards. Once turned on, standard behavior is for all seven LEDs to be lit when the locomotive is parked. Once you start the locomotive moving, the headlight and backup light become directional (IE, move forward and the backup light turns off). The cab interior light stays on until speed step 3, at which point it turns off (if you don't want a cab interior light at all, set CV208 to 0). All lighting is white and very bright. When the locomotive is put on the rails, all sounds are off. However, once you start it moving, sound comes on and stays on until you either mute it with F8 or pull the locomotive off the rails.
Note that The "MTL-esque" couplers can be problematic. For example, the rear coupler on my sample was assembled such that it pitched up at a weird angle (and with random uncouplings being the end result). Swapping the rear coupler with the (good) front coupler took care of that, but I would definitely replace both of them with actual MTL's if I were interested in running one of these things.
These models perform admirably about 99% of the time. Smooth, whisper quiet, nice slow speed creep, prototypical top-end speed and strong pulling power (40+ assorted 40 foot freight cars through curves on level track). The DCC-Sound feature is fine (if you're into that sort of thing). Unfortunately, they seem to have a mind of their own when it comes to continuous running. About every 15 minutes or so, mine will gradually slow to a stop, sit there for a moment, and then resume its journey. The sound and lights never cut out, so it's not an out-and-out stall, but it definitely feels like finicky pickup behavior since it happens much more frequently if I'm not constantly cleaning the wheels and the track. So, ultimately not an operable model in my book.
The Alco RSD-15 was built between 1956 and 1960 in Schenectady, New York. The RSD-15 was powered by an Alco 251 16-cylinder V-type engine. Rated at 2,400 horsepower, these versatile locomotives were suited for mainline freight and passenger service. The locomotive rode on 3-axle trucks with all axles powered by GE model 752 traction motors. The trucks have asymmetrical axle spacing because of the position of the traction motors. The six-motor design allowed for higher tractive effort at lower speeds than a similar four-motor design. The RSD-15's could be ordered with either a high or low short hood, and the low hood versions quickly earned the nickname "alligators" due to their unusually long noses.
Locomotive Features -
- Paragon Sound & Operation System Featuring "Rolling Thunder" with Authentic Sounds and Prototypical Operation in both DC and DCC environments
- Integral DCC Decoder with Back EMF for Industry Best Slow Speed Operation in DC and DCC
- Precision Drive Mechanism engineered for continuous heavy load towing and smooth slow speed operation
- All-wheel electrical pick-up
- ABS Body with Die Cast chassis for Maximum Tractive Effort
- Premium Caliber Painting with Authentic Paint Schemes
- Prototypical Light Operation with Golden White LED Headlight
- Many separately applied details such as handrails, grab irons, horns, bell, and antenna
- Prototypically accurate sounds for the Alco RSD-15 diesel locomotive
- Microtrains-compatible couplers
- Will Operate on Code 55, 70, and 80 Rail
- Recommended Minimum Radius: 9 inches
DCC-Sound Features -
- Operates in DC & DCC (use DCMaster for DC Sound)
- Built-In extra capacitance to navigate imperfect track
- Pro Lighting Mode offers individual control of all lights on model
- Switcher Mode for precise low speed control
- Record & Play Operation - Records and plays back sounds and movements once or repeatedly for automatic operation
- High Resolution Audio
- Quillable Horn for various whistle lengths and patterns
- Choice of 3 selectable 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
- Multiple realistic passenger and crew sounds play on command
- Grade Crossing Automatic Signal
- Automatic Forward / Reverse Signal
- Prime Mover sound intensity varies with load
- Individually adjustable sound volumes for each effect
- EZ Reset Button for quick return to factory default settings
Shell Removal -
To remove the shell, first unscrew and remove the couplers. Next, insert a small screwdriver between the sidesill and chassis and pry upwards. This will free up the two plastic clips on either end of the shell and allow you to pull it up and off (you may need to slide it backwards a bit instead of just pulling straight up).