Life-Like (China) Alco C-424

Introduced: 2002

The initial 2002 run of this model was produced by "Life-Like Canada". This release was limited to 180 units produced in each of 5 different Canadian paint schemes. In 2003, a more widespread release was issed by "normal" Life-Like. Atlas acquired the tooling for this model in 2019, so expect a re-issue from them at some point.

The mechanism sports most of the features one normally associates with "modern" diesel models - IE, split-frame / all-metal chassis, 5-pole / skew-wound "scale speed" motor with dual flywheels, low-friction drive, bi-directional LED lighting, all-wheel drive and pickup (no traction tires), blackened / low-profile wheels, shell-mounted couplers (Rapidos, though), all-plastic gearing, etc. Unfortunately, there is no support for DCC whatsoever (kind of disappointing for a model released in 2002).

Performance on these models is perfect in every way - smooth, quiet, flawless pickup and throttle response, great pulling power, etc. Oddly enough though, this model will not run without its shell. With the motor free to move around, it will spin itself out of contact with the chassis and lose power. Bizarre!

The main problem with this model is that it just plain looks weird (what with the locomotive chassis being clearly visible beneath the shell). Now, I'm told by those that know that this was an actual feature of the prototype. However, real C-424's also have framerails which conceal said large gap between the carbody and the trucks (a feature that this model sorely lacks).

Trivia - as of this writing (2012), an outfit called "Briggs Models" offers a C-425 resin shell kit designed to fit this mechanism -

Shell removal is pretty simple - just take hold of the fuel tank with one hand and the shell with the other and then just sort of wiggle the shell up and off.

Grade: B (mainly due to the inaccurate detailing)

Reviewed: 08/04 Model Railroader ("A good looking Alco C-424 with a smooth-running mechanism is a recent release from Life-Like. It neatly captures the clean lines and chunky look of the prototype. Life-Like's N scale C-424 features a well-detailed plastic shell and includes thin-profile acetal plastic handrails, separately applied air horn, and flush-fitting side windows with silver-painted frames. The model has the protruding rear number boards of a Phase I... The body shell has an extra scale 18" in the hood behind the cab, and the truck wheelbases are 4" too long... It's carbody appears to sit too high above the tracks, although the overall height is correct... The model runs well as it's fitted with a typical split-frame chassis... pulls 19 cars... The C-424 has no provision for DCC... The locomotive comes with body-mounted Rapido-style couplers... Our sample came neatly decorated... The model's dimensional flaws aren't obvious, so Life-Like's C-424 is a nice model that fills an important gap in the N scale Alco roster. BN, CNW, Conrail, EL, NYNHH, PC, PRR, SPS, Undec. $80")

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