Like their earlier CB&Q Pioneer Zephyr model, Con-Cor's Union Pacific M-10000 is an absolutely amazing achievement in N scale modeling. It boasts stunningly exquisite looks as well as performance so sublime that an "A" rating scarcely seems adequate. Hell, even the box is impressive!
The base set consists of a locomotive (termed an "A" car), a coach ("B" car) and a coach buffet ("C" car). Con-Cor also offers additional Pullman cars for this set ("Overland Trail" and "Oregon Trail"). These slot in in front of the end car.
Shipping everything connected up would likely result in damage to the electronic plugs. So, the three cars are separated from one another in the box (requiring that you connect them up yourself prior to operation). So, although not quite "ready to run" when you open the box, putting it all together is not that big of a deal. All you need to do is pop the lids off the various cars (very easy to do) and then connect the wiring harness plugs to the corresponding PC boards (be sure match up the white paint on the plug with the white paint on the socket) -
Like Con-Cor's AeroTrain (and unlike their Zephyr), cars are connected to each other by magnets on the diaphragms. An innovative system, but one that I find a little annoying when it comes to removing shells and putting them back on (the magnets tending to interfere with the whole process). Interestingly enough, said diaphragms are actually made of supple rubber -
The engine chassis is metal (albeit fairly minimalistic). The motor is an open-sided 5-poler with dual flywheels. All wheels on all the cars provide pick-up (no traction tires). Wires transfer current from the trucks to PC boards in each car. And as mentioned above, current is then shared between the various lightboards by a system of plugs and wiring harnesses between each car. All 8 engine wheels are geared (with all gearing being plastic). A directional headlight (along with green marker lights) are mounted to the front of the locomotive's PC board.
This train is fully DCC-Ready, with an 8-pin NMRA socket in the "B" car -
In the picture below, you can see where I've plugged in a Digitrax decoder. All this involves is taking a small screwdriver and prying the cover off the NMRA socket. Next, lift the PC board up off its little post (to provide a little wiggle room) and plug your decoder into the socket -
Unfortunately, Con-Cor didn't build in any sort of mechanism for controlling the interior lighting with one's decoder. And as long as we're quibbling, I'm not real happy that my decoder is clearly visible through the windows either -
As alluded to above, performance is absolutely flawless. Throttle response is smooth and responsive at all levels. Pickup is bullet-proof, and slow speed creep is exceptional. Better still, it runs so quietly that the sound of the wheels clacking over the joints in my sectional track is deafening by contrast.
Curve-wise, this train has no problems handling 11"-radius (although it looks a little strange doing so). Anything sharper than that though, and it will derail. I think 19"-radius curves or broader are best (at least looks-wise).
Paint and detailing are similarly outstanding. I love the bright interior lighting as well as the green and red exterior marker lights. Frankly, if you're not running this train with DCC (where the lighting is bright and constant), I think you're really missing out on something special -
And from the "above and beyond the call of duty" department, how 'bout them engineers in the cab! Woohoo!
So, to sum it up - definitely one of the all-time great N scale models. From looks to performance to sheer "fun" factor, this baby has it all. Kudos to Con-Cor!
To remove any of the various shells, simply insert a skinny tool between the shell and chassis and pry the sides apart a bit. It should pop off readily at that point.