Oriental Limited/Samhongsa (Korea) Brass 6-4-4-6 PRR S-1

Introduced: 1986

This is a very nice looking model of a very interesting prototype. And wow, are they ever rare. In ten years of monitoring eBay auctions, I don't suppose I've seen more than a handful of them show up for sale. It's also one of the very few brass models I've seen that has actually gone up in value over the years. Whereas the original list prices were $295 for an undecorated version and $345 for a painted version, expect to pay at least 2-3 times that for one now.

The engine chassis is all metal and fairly minimalistic (with most of the model's heft provided by the brass shell). The motor is a closed-sided can (made in Japan by Sagami). I don't know the internal specs, but my assumption is that it's a straight-wound 3-poler. Right-rail pickup comes from the four right-side drivers (there are no traction tires). Left-rail pickup comes from the eight left-side tender wheels (with current transferred from the tender to the motor via a stiff wire on the tender drawbar). The pilot and trailing trucks are electrically neutral. A multi-piece plastic driveshaft turns a worm inside the rear spring-mounted worm gear box. A secondary metal driveshaft then turns a worm inside the forward gear box (also sprung). Only the center pairs of drivers are geared (with the outer pairs being turned solely by the cranks). The gears aren't actually visible, so I don't know if they're plastic or metal (and unless you want to completely dismantle the model, forget about ever lubricating them). Wheels are low-profile, so no problems on Code-55 rails. There are no lights or couplers (although a coupler mounting screw does come preinstalled in the coupler pocket on the tender, so adding a Micro-Trains coupler looks to be a simple operation).

Performance-wise, this model is at least capable of running extremely well. Pulling power is strong, and given a nice stretch of straight track, it will glide along just as smoothly and quietly as can be. On the down side, the motor is not a particularly good one (by modern standards), so the starting speed is a bit high and the top-end speed is a bit excessive. Also, I'm not really sold on the "stiff wire" current conductivity scheme employed on the drawbar. Sometimes things hook up great and the loco will run around in circles for hours with nary a hiccup. And other times, the connection winds up being a bit more iffy - with the end result being a a bit of stuttering (particularly through curves, where you have the drawbar pivoting on the tender post). Now, if one were to replace (or augment) the drawbar wire with an actual insulated mini-wire (running from the tender to the motor), you'd have yourself a very reliable steamer indeed.

The minimum operating radius for these models seems to be right around 19" (and even that's pushing it). Somewhere in the 22" to 24" range is probably more realistic. The pilot truck is a bit finicky and will often cause derailments if it wasn't properly assembled and/or installed. If you find that the pilot truck is derailing, make sure that the top of the truck is flat and that the cylindars above the truck aren't sticking down too far. Also, make sure that the truck has plenty of play (both up and down and side to side). Flattening the arm that screws to the chassis and filing the tang on the end of the arm a bit thinner can help in this regard.

Overall, these are very nice looking models that can run very well - but with the caveat that they may require some tweaking first.

To remove the locomotive shell, first unscrew the two screws on the back of the cab. Next, unscrew the screw underneath the pilot truck. The shell should lift right off at that point.

Grade: B

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