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Sneak peek and video: Broadway Limited Imports Paragon3 N scale USRA heavy 2-8-2 Mikado

Check out this first look review and video of a preproduction sample of the Broadway Limited Imports Paragon3 N scale USRA heavy Mikado 2-8-2 steam locomotive
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Broadway Limited Imports Paragon3 USRA heavy Mikado 2-8-2
Recently I had the opportunity to review and run a preproduction sample of an N scale United States Railroad Administration Heavy 2-8-2 Mikado type from Broadway Limited Imports. Part of the firm’s Paragon3 series, the model features a dual-mode decoder that provides excellent sound on both Digital Command Control and direct-current railroads.

Read the sneak peek review below and click on the link above to watch a quick video demo!
Broadway Limited Imports Paragon3 N scale USRA heavy 2-8-2 Mikado left side
Broadway Limited Imports Paragon3 N scale USRA heavy 2-8-2 Mikado right side
Broadway Limited Imports Paragon3 N scale USRA heavy 2-8-2 Mikado top
Broadway Limited Imports Paragon3 N scale USRA heavy 2-8-2 Mikado front
Broadway Limited Imports Paragon3 N scale USRA heavy 2-8-2 Mikado rear
The prototype and model. The BLI model matches dimensions of a prototype drawing of an as-built USRA heavy Mikado in the Model Railroader Cyclopedia Vol. 1, Steam Locomotives (Kalmbach Media). Our review sample is decorated as Milwaukee Road no. 300. Originally numbered 8605, the locomotive was one of 100 USRA heavy Mikados built by Alco and delivered to the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific RR in 1918. These locomotives were classed L3 (or L3a or L3b depending upon steam pressure and auxiliary equipment installed). They were renumbered 300 to 399 in 1938.

The Milwaukee Road also had some earlier 2-8-2s (class L1) and some built later (L2) Mikados. Many of the 300 class locomotives served until the end of steam on the Milwaukee Road in the mid 1950s.

The model’s die-cast metal boiler and plastic tender feature well-defined molded detail, including boiler bands and rivet seams. Separate parts include the whistle, bell, and safety valves. Handrails and piping are also separately applied. Our review sample also includes the original USRA style trailing truck. Some of the Milwaukee Road USRA Mikados eventually received Delta and booster equipped trailing trucks, including no. 300.

All paint is smoothly applied, and all lettering is clearly printed, including the road number and L3a classification on the cab sides. The red and white heralds on the sides of the tender are also properly placed. The model also features a light-emitting diode (LED) headlight correctly mounted on the smokebox door.

Pulling power. The locomotive by itself weighs 2.4 ounces, 3.4 ounces with the tender. It picks up track power from six drivers and all eight tender wheels. The rear two drivers have traction tires.

In addition to a die-cast metal body, the locomotive has a die-cast metal chassis that houses the Precision Drive Motor. During a drawbar test with our workshop force meter is generated 1.3 ounces of tractive effort, which is equivalent to 31 free-rolling N scale freight cars on straight and level track.

Running on DCC. I ran the preproduction sample on our DCC test track using an NCE PowerCab system. The Mikado accelerated smoothly from 2 scale mph in speed step 1 to 100 scale mph in speed step 28. This is a bit fast for a heavy 2-8-2 but the top speed is easily lowered by adjusting configuration variable (CV) 5. The exhaust chuffs are synchronized to match the motion of the drivers at the correct four chuffs per wheel revolution.

The model’s user-triggered sound effects include a melodious steam whistle (CV2) and a hand-wrung bell (CV1). When starting the locomotive, I could increase the intensity of the chuffs by pressing F5. When drifting downgrade or running light, I could decrease the intensity by pressing F6. There’s also a button controlled brake/brake release, coupler crash, and grade-crossing signals. There are also other various crew, radio, and background sounds that I found less useful. All the functions are included on the printed instruction sheet.

The Mikado also includes the ability to record and play back what BLI refers to as macros. By pressing F27, I can record a sound effect/operating sequence, and then play it back by pressing F26. This would allow you to have a train running on “auto pilot” while you’re actively switching with another locomotive.

Like other BLI Paragon3 locomotives, the USRA heavy Mikado supports the BLI Rolling Thunder system, which using a subwoofer to capture the deep bass tones of a powerful locomotive.

I also ran the model on our Canadian Canyons project layout using a Digitrax DCC system, and the model performed without any issues. The Mikado has a minimum radius of 9.75”, so it easily maneuvered the 13” radius curves and Peco medium radius turnouts.

DC performance. In DC, the model required 9V to start moving at 3 scale mph. It accelerated smoothly to 40 scale mph at 12V and 50 scale mph at 14V, our DC power pack’s maximum voltage. To access user-triggered sound effects and to program some configuration variables (CVs) in DC mode, BLI sells the DC Master analog sound controller for $49.99.

Heavy and light versions available.
In addition to Milwaukee Road, the heavy Mikado is also available decorated for Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry.; Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Erie; Great Northern; and New York Central (Pittsburgh & Lake Erie). Broadway Limited Imports is also producing a Paragon3 N scale USRA Light Mikado available decorated for Baltimore & Ohio, Canadian National, New York Central (Indiana Harbor Belt), Pennsylvania RR, Southern Ry., and Union Pacific. All road names are available in two road numbers each. Paint but unlettered versions of both the heavy and light 2-8-2s are also available.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the locomotives is $329.99. For more information, see the product listings at

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Two great beginner layouts.

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