Stewart Hobbies HO Baldwin VO-1000
The Balwin Locomotive Works produced the VO-1000 series as an diesel-powered switcher that would be more economical to operate in the yards. Powered by an eight cylinder 1,000 horsepower engine, over 500 of these engines were produced between 1939 and 1946.
Quite a few railroads operated the VO-1000, including Alaska Railroad, Santa Fe, Southern Pacific, New York Central, SOO Line, Pennsylvania Railroad, Northern Pacific, Norfolk & Western, and the Great Northern, just to name a few.
I first saw this model on display in Stewart Hobbies' booth last October at the Chicago Hobby Show. Despite its diminutive size, the details on the shell are quite nice and there are several options to set your VO-1000 in the proper prototypical configuration.
I couldn't wait to get my hands on one, so I ordered one of the undecorated models. Kit #4700 is the VO-1000 with step guards, and #4702 (the one reviewed here) is without the step guards. Other releases from Stewart will feature prototypical paint schemes for a variety of rail lines. If the railroad you model isn't offered, or you want to do a paint scheme not available from Stewart, then the undecorated version is just what you'll need.
The shell is broken down into logical sections - hood, cab, and walkways. Handrails and grab irons are applied separately (not molded on!) This will make painting much easier. The cab comes with a pre-painted interior that has some nice details inside.
Other great details include pilot handrails, coupler lift bars, Accumate couplers, and your choice of three exhaust stack configurations.
Electronically, the engine is DCC-ready, with all of the wiring set up to a circuit card that has an NMRA standard socket. All you'll need to do is remove the dummy plug and plug in the decoder of your choice. The engine features directional lighting provided by LEDs. As you can see in the photos, the circuit card has a pair of copper pick-ups at each end which contact the LED leads inside the cab and hood ends. This saves on the complexity of wiring, though solder pads are provided should you choose to install wiring to your lights at a later date.
Mechanically, the engine is powered by a can motor spinning a pair of brass flywheels. The drive is not Athearn. All four axles are powered. The only glitch I see is some tendency for the trucks to bind due to the molded on brake details brushing against the metal chassis. You may need to file the offending details down to assure smooth operations.
You'll be seeing this engine again in the near future on Interner Modeler. I'll cover the engine break-in, DCC decoder installation, painting, detailing and operation of this neat machine. From what I've seen so far, it will no-doubt run as smoothly as it appears out of the box! Nice job Stewart Hobbies!
This version of the VO-1000, as well as some of the initial releases of the pre-painted engines, should be available at your favorite hobby dealer by the time you read this.