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Rapido Trains HO scale New Haven 8600 series coaches

Read this bonus online product review from the Model Railroader staff
Rapido Trains HO scale New Haven 8600-series coach
The model features realistic simulated stainless steel sides.
The interior features individually painted seats and overhead lighting.
Weather or no, go Rapido. With its highly detailed New York, New Haven & Hartford RR 8600-series coaches, it seems the Canadian manufacturer has adopted the popular New England railroad. Now, the company that brought you the New Haven’s unique Electro-Motive Division FL9 offers postwar rolling stock for them to pull.

Although the New Haven was a small railroad by Class 1 standards, it had a significant passenger business. Connecting Boston and New York City, with connections to Washington, D.C., the railroad traveled through some of the most-densely populated areas of the United States.

To serve this clientele, the railroad ordered new cars from Pullman-Standard in 1945, including 103 coaches. The cars were built at Pullman’s Worcester, Mass., plant, and delivered in 1947 and 1948.
The design was based on the New Haven’s Osgood-Bradley cars of the 1930s, but with an applied stainless steel side and other updates. The coaches were outfitted with 64 seats and a 14-seat smoking lounge.
All of the coaches except three that were wrecked and one that was converted to a commuter club car became Penn Central property in 1968 with the merger, and of 74 of those 99 eventually found their way to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) where they served Boston commuters until 1984.

Rapido’s new cars continue a pattern of excellent detail. Pipes, conduits, tanks, and generators festoon the bottom of the cars, and are readily visible on the de-skirted models. Especially well-done are the compressors, which show a spoked drive wheel behind protective screening.

The interiors also get lots of attention, with see-through armrests on the seats, mirrors on the end bulkheads, and ashtray stands in the smoking section.
All dimensions on the models are exact or within scale inches of drawings in The Official Pullman-Standard Library, Vol. 10, by W. David Randall (1991, Railway Production Classics). The interior layout matches drawings in the book as well.

The cars are painted in a distinctive metallic finish that Rapido says is the correct color temperature for New Haven cars. Color separations were all sharp, and lettering was clear and easy to read.

The instruction sheet says the cars will operate on 22” radius curves out of the box. I laid out a semicircle of Atlas 22” radius Snap-Track on the floor, and confirmed the models had no trouble negotiating the curve.
However, when coupled together in a straight line, there’s a 1-foot gap between the sprung diaphragm buffers. Rapido includes a pair of long-shank Macdonald-Cartier couplers for operation on 18” radius curves.
The models looked much better, of course, on broader radius curves. Being pulled by a Rapido FL9 (reviewed in the February 2016 Model Railroader), the cars had no trouble negotiating the no. 5 and no. 6 turnouts at Bay Junction on the Model Railroader staff’s Milwaukee, Racine & Troy model railroad.

The constant lighting circuit kept the interiors bright on direct-current and Digital Command Control. The lights came on under DC testing once there was about 5V in the track.

Accessing the interiors was pleasingly simple: I slipped a thumbnail between the body shell and floor, and pulled on the trucks to gain access. No scary twisting and turning, and no searching for hidden screws.

The New Haven Railroad Historical and Technical Association is working with Rapido to bring out parlor cars that match the 8600-series coaches. I’m looking forward to seeing another excellent addition to the Northeastern passenger fleet.
Price: $99.00
Rapido Trains Inc.
500 Alden Road, Unit 21
Markham, Ontario
L3R 5H5
Roadnames: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), without skirts; New Haven, delivery scheme with skirts; New Haven, McGinnis with skirts; New Haven, McGinnis without skirts; Penn Central, without skirts; painted, unlettered
Era: 1947 to 1984, depending on paint scheme
  • All-new 41-BNO-11 outside swinghanger trucks with blackened metal wheelsets, in gauge
  • Operating diaphragms with end gates
  • Separate grab irons, factory-installed
  • Macdonald-Cartier metal magnetic knuckle couplers at correct height
  • Ten car numbers plus un-numbered available per paint scheme
  • Weight: 7 ounces, matches National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice 20.1

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