Models of the Pennsylvania RR's powerful class I1sa Decapod-type locomotives have just been introduced by Broadway Limited Imports. They're offered in a number of versions that capture the look and feel of PRR's standard motive power design. The models include automatic dual-mode sound decoders that operate on Digital Command Control (DCC) or DC layouts, or as DC-only locomotives.
Standard power. In the early 20th century, the PRR developed a large stable of standardized motive power. The 2-10-0 I1s Decapod was one of five types that also included the E6 4-4-2 Atlantic, K4 4-6-2 Pacific, L1 2-8-2 Mikado, and the M1 4-8-2 Mountain. Once the PRR had a design it liked, the company built or bought its locomotives by the hundreds, often over an extended period of time.
The first I1s Decapod came along just before World War I. (The "s" designated that the locomotives were superheater equipped.) The company's Juniata Shop built 122 Decapods in 1918 and 1919. They were followed by orders for 475 more built by Baldwin in 1922 and 1923. In the 1930s, the majority were rebuilt for improved tractive effort to become class I1sa engines.
The Pennsy's Decapods were among the largest of their type, weighing in at 386,100 pounds. With their 96,000-pound tractive effort, each I1sa was the equivalent of two class H8 2-8-0s on heavy drags. Their huge boilers and massive siderods soon earned the locomotives the nickname "Hippos."
These hard-riding engines weren't built for speed, but the pulling power of double- or triple-headed "Hippos" was well known.
Construction. The model closely matches prototype drawings of an I1s published in The Model Railroader Cyclopedia: Vol. I Steam Locomotives, (Kalmbach Publishing Co.). The drivers are the correct scale 62" diameter, but the driving wheelbase is stretched a scale 3" for clearance between the flanges.
Only the middle driver set is blind. This is contrary to the PRR prototype, which had flanges only on the end drivers. However, the flanges and sideplay in the inner drivers keeps the model's wheels on the rails so it can operate on curves as sharp as an amazing 18" radius. Of course, the model looks far more realistic on wider radius curves.
A pair of exploded isometric drawings are included and show how the engine and tender are assembled. The boiler is attached to the frame with a single screw hidden under the cylinders and two smaller screws beneath the cab.
The model follows the established design Broadway Limited used on its earlier PRR steam locomotives. It has a plastic boiler and tender body and both have numerous separately-applied details. The long class 210-F-82B tender and modernized front end details mark our sample as a late version. Other earlier versions are also offered as is the original small class 90-F-82 tender.
A can motor with a flywheel drives the third pair of drivers through a worm and worm gear. Cast metal rods transfer the motion to the remaining drivers. The cast-metal boiler weight and metal frame provide heft for traction.
Electronics. A QSI Quantum control and sound system is hidden in the tender. This system operates on conventional DC and on Digital Command Control (DCC) systems. The sound system's manual volume control is under the tender water hatch on the fireman's side, and the twin downward-facing speakers are mounted on the die-cast metal tender frame.
Our sample locomotive and tender were smoothly painted in PRR's Dark Locomotive Green Enamel, which appears almost black. The gold lettering is sharp and legible. The tender deck is painted PRR's Freight Car Color, and the locomotive's smokebox and firebox are a dark graphite color. The running gear is painted black, and the rods and wheel treads are chemically blackened metal.
A McHenry scale magnetic knuckle coupler is mounted on the pilot, and there's a Kadee no. 5 coupler on the tender. Both are mounted at the proper height.
Performance. We tested our sample I1sa with traction tires on the rear drivers (a set of plain drivers are also included). On DC, the sound started at about 5 volts, but it took 9 volts to get the locomotive moving at a scale 1.4 mph. At 12 volts, it reached 51.9 mph, and developed a drawbar pull equivalent to 68 free-rolling cars on straight and level track.
This model's QSI dual-mode control system offers numerous programming adjustments that will change its operating characteristics and sounds. A 53-page instruction manual and two addenda explain these adjustments in detail.
If you want to return to the factory settings, there's a reset jumper wire on the right side of the circuit board. To get into the tender, use a small screwdriver to gently pry the tender shell off the frame. With the power off, disconnect the black jumper wire, apply power for at least 10 seconds, and the system will reset and provide an audio confirmation. Then plug in the jumper and it's ready to go.
Whichever tender is used, this well-done Decapod will fit right into any layout representing the Pennsy's steam-to-diesel transition era. Some of these rugged freight haulers served until the end of PRR steam in 1957.
HO scale PRRI1sa 2-10-0
Price: $399.99 with QSI dualmode sound decoder; $299.99 DC only
Broadway Limited Imports, LLC & Precision Craft Model, Inc.
4 Signal Avenue
Ormond Beach, FL 32174
Versions Offered (all PRR)
-PRRI1sa, 2-10-0 Decapods are offered in six versions with the class 210-F-82A eight-axle large tender, modern headlight, and with or without the QSI Quantom dual mode sound decoder.
-PRRI1sa, 2-10-0 Decapods are also made in a dozen versions that include the original class 90-F-82 short tender, modern or original headlight, and with or without the QSI Quantom dual mode decoder and sound system.
HO PRRI1sa features
Dual-mode DCC sound decoder
Cab interior with backhead
Constant directional headlight and backup light
Drawbar pull: 4.9 ounces (with traction tires)
Engine and tender weight: 25 ounces, engine alone is 15 ounces
Five-pole can motor with turned brass flywheel
Length with long tender, 14¼"
Lighted number boards
Magnetic knuckle couplers (at correct height)
Minimum radius: 18"
RP-25 contour wheels (in gauge)