Lambert/Joe Works (Japan) Three-Truck Shay

Introduced: 1983

This model is actually based on a Joe Works HOn2.5 Shay (just with some of the detailing swapped out). And as such, it almost doesn't even belong in this encyclopedia. Still, they did market it as N scale so I guess I'm stuck. One glaring error right off the bat is the fact that it only has two cylindars (all three truck Shays had three cylindars). And as you can see, so oversized is the shell that it looks like it could eat my Atlas Shay for lunch and still have room left over for a Mogul -

The chassis is simply a flat piece of brass (with the shell providing most of the model's weight). The motor is a smallish open-sided 5-poler. Two wheels on the rear truck collect right-rail current and two wheels on the front truck collect left-rail current. The rest of the wheels are electrically neutral (including all of the tender wheels). Two of the wheels on the rear truck are equipped with traction tires. Current from the rear truck reaches the motor via a wire, whereas forward truck current flows directly through the brass chassis. The motor is mounted vertically and turns a worm that engages a driveshaft underneath the chassis. Said driveshaft is connected to both trucks, turning all four axles. The worm and worm gear are brass, whereas all the rest of the gearing is plastic. The sidewinder mechanism is actually turned by the wheels. Wheels are low-profile, so no problems on Code-55 rails. There is no lighting. There aren't any couplers either, although Micro-Trains friendly pockets are provided on the forward truck and the tender shell. A peg on the tender hooks to a short drawbar on the back of the engine.

Performance is pretty mediocre, although based on my extremely low expectations it actually runs better than I thought it would. Slow speed creep is good and the top-end speed is very reasonable. Pulling power is decent and it has no problems on sharp (9.75" radius) curves. Unfortunately, it's quite noisy (especially at the high end of the throttle where it screeches like a banshee). Also, given the one-rail-per-truck pickup scheme, it's a dead duck when faced with turnouts with non-powered frogs. Then you have the whole "grossly oversized shell" situation and, well, basically not much to get excited about here. I guess back when it was the only game in town it might have been acceptable. But in a world where we have the Atlas Shay, I can't see anybody bothering with these anymore.

Shell removal is blessedly simple. Simply remove the smokestack and the sticky-uppy bit of detailing back behind the cab (both of which function as screws) and the shell should lift right off.

Grade: D

Reviewed: 1/84 Model Railroader ("This model, built by Joe Works in Japan and imported by Lambert, is the first Shay to be offered in N scale. Many people I've shown this Shay to have said it looks too large. Western Maryland no. 6 was the largest Shay ever built, and since drawings of it appeared in the May 1971 MR, I compared the Joe Works Shay with it. The Joe Works Shay is just a shade larger in most dimensions, but not outlandish at all. Certainly Lima could have built one like this if someone had ordered it. Also, I think just painting the engine will make it look smaller. Joe Works developed the model, changing out some details on their HOn2.5 Shay, so that probably accounts for the locomotive's size. The cab must stand tall to accommodate the five-pole, open-frame motor which is mounted vertically. The locomotive does not actually drive through the cylinders and shaft, but rather is powered like an N scale diesel by a drive shaft under the center of the engine. The sidewinder mechanism does turn though, providing that monkey motion Shay fans love. The engine picks up current from only one side on each truck, making it rather stall prone... I found the locomotive's design and construction to be simple and straight-forward. It's an easy engine to take apart and would be easy to modify... The trucks are cleverly sprung and this engine should be able to follow the most uneven sort of track... This engine is a good performer with the sort of low speed numbers a Shay should have... Those N scalers who've longed for a Shay to handle their logging operations are now in business. Price: $179.50")

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