Con-Cor (China) Rio Grande Southern Galloping Goose

Introduced: 2007

This is really quite an astounding piece of modeling. Everything about this thing is tiny, and yet performance is amazingly solid. The whole thing isn't much longer than a 40' boxcar, and the actual mechanism portion (the box trailer unit) is probably two-thirds the size of, say, Kato's NW2 yard switcher. The trucks are tiny, the wheels are tiny, the details are tiny, and, well, it's all tiny.

There are two different versions of this mechanism. The initial release was not DCC-Ready (zero provision for a decoder). A version with factory-installed dual-mode decoder was subsequently released in June of 2007. However, since there really isn't room for an NMRA-style socket (Con-Cor's normal approach to DCC), it is a hard-wired install.

The box trailer chassis is all metal. The motor is a closed-sided 3-poler. A small flywheel is attached to the rear driveshaft. All eight box trailer wheels provide pickup (no traction tires). The cab wheels are electrically neutral. Current is routed from the trucks to the decoder / PCB via wires. Propulsion is provided solely by the two axles on the forward box trailer truck. All gearing is metal (as opposed to plastic), which I have to assume was simply an attempt to add more weight. There are no couplers. The cab is mounted to the trailer on a swivel, allowing it to pivot around curves. There are a couple of wires running from the trailer to the cab to light the three tiny green lights on the cab (there is also a back-up light on the trailer). Wheels are low-profile, so no problems on Code-55 rails. A snowplow-equipped pilot is included in the box should you wish to go that route.

Mine is one of the DCC-equipped versions, and at first I thought it was going to live up to my expectations by being a pick-up lemon. Initially I couldn't get it to run around a loop of track more than a time or two without stuttering or stalling. However, this does seem to be a common malady these days, what with all the blackening junk that gets applied to the wheels at the factory. So, I gave it a chance to break in (running it around in either direction for a half hour or so). And sure enough, all of the balkiness went away in fairly short order. Now it runs absolutely smoothly and quietly, with nimble throttle response at all levels. Slow speed creep is excellent and (amazingly) it has no problems making it through turnouts at slow speeds.

On the nitpick front, the goose does have some minor noise issues when operated in DCC mode. Small, decoder-equipped locomotives tend to suffer from DCC "buzz/growl" syndrome at creep speeds, and the goose is no exception. In a 28 speed step setting, the goose emits a noticeable buzzing sound up until about speed step 9 (when it starts to really get moving). Oddly enough, the same goose will run dead silent at similar speeds when operating in DC mode. Just one of those things, I guess. I don't worry about it too much, but it does seem to matter to some people.

Another minor DCC issue I've noticed is that over time overall performance in DCC mode can suffer if the wheels and various contacts aren't kept absolutely spotless. Whereas mine will always run flawlessly in DC mode, performance in DCC mode can get a bit jittery if the wheels and wheelwipers are even the least bit dirty (resulting in a lot of stuttering and stalling).

One last minor gripe - a number of the detail parts are simply press-fit in place, and as such, have a tendancy to pop loose when you least expect it (especially the sidedrames on the forward box trailer truck and the cowcatcher on the cab). I'd recommend fixing them in place with a bit of white glue.

Ultimately, I don't know how practical this thing is as a model. But I absolutely love mine nonetheless (if for no other reason than the off-the-scale "gee whiz" factor). It's definitely a lot of fun to watch this thing run around the rails.

Note - the "Rio Grande Southern" version is the only one that is prototypically accurate (all the rest of Con-Cor's paint schemes being complete fantasies).

Here's what Con-Cor has to say about them -

The tooling for the N Goose turned out to be more complicated than we expected, due to the small size of the model. The circuit board will not include a DCC socket, as there is no room for the plug. Because of gear ratio, limited sales forecasts, and other cost constraints we have no plans to make it available in an Nn3 version.

Railbuses had their origins in the 1920's and 1930's, when mail and passengers had to be delivered to remote branch line areas. On "slow" business days (or in the off-season when business was light) they took the place of an expensive steam locomotive and crew. Many railroads had railbuses in one version or another. They were used on both the branch lines of the major railroads, as well as on the local smaller railroads and narrow gauge lines.

When Con-Cor decided to do research for a model of a railbus, we found that some of the most famous railbuses of them all, the Rio Grande Southern's "Galloping Geese", were still around (some even still running in tourist service). Our model of the Galloping Goose is a faithful representation of the original freight and passenger version of Goose #5, which first hit the rails in 1933. Number 5 was virtually identical to Geese #3 and #4, which were built a bit earlier. Goose #5 presently lives in Dolores, Colorado, and is in full operating condition. Other Geese can be found in Telluride, Colorado, at Knott's Berry Farm and at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden Colorado. Other Railbuses can be found in train museums around the U.S.A. (such as the one in St. Louis).

To remove the box trailer shell, simply spread the shell sides apart a bit. It should lift off readily at that point.

Grade: A

Reviewed: 03/07 Model Railroader ("This tiny DC motor car is made as an N standard gauge DC model even though its Rio Grande Southern prototype was narrow gauge... The good-looking model is only 3.5" long, and its box trailer is filled with the mechanism and directional lights. Our sample Goose runs smoothly at realistic slow speeds. RGS, AT&SF, D&RGW, GN, MoW, NYC, PRR, SP, UP, Undec. $179.98")

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