Fox Valley Models (China) Milwaukee Road Class A 4-4-2 Atlantic

Introduced: 2011

This locomotive (FVM's first N scale steamer) was initially only available as part of any entire Hiawatha train set (engine and six cars). However, in 2012 FVM started selling them separately.

The locomotive chassis is all-metal, split-frame and basically entirely enclosed -

The motor is an open-sided / skew-wound five-poler. The driveshaft is equipped with a large flywheel and a brass worm. Only the forward driver pair is geared (said forward drivers are also equipped with traction tires). Apart from the worm, all of the gearing is plastic. Pickup is provided by the four drivers, the right two wheels on the rear tender truck and two of the three left-side wheels on the forward tender truck. All the rest of the wheels are electrically neutral. Unfortunately, the tender pickup comes by way of axle wipers. The pilot truck is sprung. A PC board on the rear of the engine chassis controls the directional headlight. There is no backup light in the tender (as per the prototype). A wiring harness is soldered to the engine PC board and plugs into a socket on the tender PC board. The tender coupler is a body-mounted Micro-Trains (there is no coupler on the pilot). Wheels are low-profile, so no problems on Code-55 rails.

This model is fully DCC-ready, coming with an 8-pin NMRA-style socket in the tender (as well as a place to mount a speaker) -

These are all terrific looking models with extremely fine paint and detailing. Locomotive performance is equally impressive. Mine runs exceptionally smoothly and quietly (to the point of being nearly soundless). Slow speed creep is outstanding, allowing it to crawl along almost slower than the eye can detect. The top end speed seems a little excessive, but not crazily so. Despite the axle-wipers on the tender (ugh), pickup is flawless. I can creep mine through insulated-frog turnouts with nary a stutter or stall. Pulling power is strong - allowing the engine to haul the six-car train up a curving 2% grade with ease. No problems with any of the wheels derailing and no problems on sharp curves (right down to 9.75" radius). Overall just a really superb locomotive and definitely another home-run for Fox Valley.

Here's what Fox Valley has to say about the set -

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, Fox Valley Models is proud to announce the 1935 Milwaukee Road Hiawatha Project. When introduced, the Hiawatha was led by the sleek and powerful Class A 4-4-2. In tow were America's first Tap-Cafe car, three Coaches, a Parlor car, and Milwaukee's unique Beaver Tail Observation car.

All models employ state-of-the-art injection molding and include numerous add-on details. The locomotive features a smooth and powerful DCC-ready drive. Cars feature metal wheelsets, wire grab irons, knuckle couplers and interior details. The first run set includes Locomotive #1 (in its original paint scheme), Tap-Cafe car, Coaches #4419, #4428 and #4439, Parlor Car Minnewawa and Observation Car Wenonah. Two Additional coaches (#4401 and #4437) are also available.

To remove the engine shell, first pop open the small round dome on top. This will reveal a small screw which, once removed, will allow the shell to pull up and off. To remove the tender shell, insert toothpicks (or whatever) between the shell and the underframe to free the four plastic clips that hold the shell to the chassis.

Grade: A

(Thanks for the photos Peteski, et al)

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