Broadway Limited C-16 in On30
Reviewed by Chris Lane/Model photos by the author
Narrow gauge enthusiasts everywhere will instantly recognize the designation "C-16." Owned by the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad these C-class 2-8-0 Consolidations, with 16,000 lbs. of tractive effort, formed the backbone of the railroad’s fleet from the 1880s until the arrival of the K-class Mikados in 1903 (K-27s), 1923 (K-28s) and 1925-26 (K-36s). Bumped to secondary service, they continued to serve in reduced numbers until nearly the end of narrow gauge operations. The last C-16 dropped its fire in 1955.
C-16s were sold to the Rio Grande Southern; Silverton Railroad; Nevada County Narrow Gauge; New Mexico Lumber Co.; and Montezuma Lumber Co. Similar Baldwins worked for the Rio Grande Southern; East Broad Top; ET&WNC (Tweetsie); Silverton, Gladstone & Northerly; Nevada-California-Oregon; Denver, South Park & Pacific; and others.
Broadway Limited, Inc., is a relatively new company that has made some noise (literally) in the HO world. This is their first offering in On30, and indeed is the first major manufacturer besides Bachmann to produce locomotive in On30. It is a smooth runner boasting nice proportions and an innovative sound system.
The D&RGW owned four C-16s in 1940; they were numbered 223, 268, 271 and 278. They were all that remained of the 85 locomotives the railroad had purchased from Grant and Baldwin in five orders from 1877 to 1882. The arrival of the larger K-class Mikados and the use of the larger and newer C-17, C-18, C-19, C-21 and C-25 class locomotives for branchline service caused massive scrapping and sale of C-16s during the 1920s and 30s.
C-16 271 was the first of the remaining four to leave the roster. It replaced 268 as was sold to the nearby Montezuma Lumber Co. in the 1941, where it worked until an inattentive crew burned the crown sheet in 1947. It was scrapped and replaced by C-19 346, which is now preserved at the Colorado Railroad Museum.
The Grant-built 223 was assigned to the former Colorado & Southern branches out of Gunnison until 1941. It was then leased to Salt Lake City for display. After years of neglect, the locomotive was moved in 1992 to Ogden, where it is slowly undergoing restoration. The restorers report finding very few traces of the locomotive’s Grant ancestry. It seems the D&RG swapped castings and parts (including boilers) between locomotives frequently.
This left 268 and 278 as the only active C-16s. They were the only locomotives light enough to used on the old, weak bridges on the Baldwin, Kubler and Castleton coal mine branches out of Gunnison. They served the area until their retirement — 278 in 1953 and 268 in 1955. No. 278 is preserved on a trestle at Cimarron, CO, and 268 is at the Pioneer Museum in Gunnison, CO.
BLI’s new On30 C-16 represents a change in direction for On30. While Bachmann’s first On30 locomotive was a C&S Mogul, all of their subsequent efforts have been logging, mining or industrial prototypes. Broadway Limited has replicated a well-known Colorado prototype and by in large done a very credible job. The model has a few minor weak points, but its positive features more than make up for them.
The locomotive and tender both have die-cast frames and plastic bodies. The “heft” of both is impressive and pulling the bodies revealed clean, well-engineered components. The locomotive is powered by a can motor and has a flywheel. It has a scale The tender is stuffed with the decoder and speakers for the sound system and has a metal (YES!) Kadee®-compatible coupler mounted at On30 (HO) height. I know someone is going to ask, so yes, this locomotive can be converted to On3, and no I haven’t tried it yet. It appears to be trickier than any of the Bachmann conversions so far, so watch the various narrow gauge magazines and web groups for tips how in the months to come.
The model comes in a number of paint schemes including the 271 of our sample. The prototype for the model is clearly 278. By the 1940s the remaining C-16s had become very individualized and none more so than 278. It featured an extended sand dome, an unusual smokebox front and the largest tender of all the C-16s. The tender was so large that many modelers and historians mistakenly believed it came from a K-27. The paint and finish of this model is excellent, but there are two small inaccuracies. When the D&RGW went from the “Scenic Herald” (or "toilet-seat" herald) seen on the model of 271 to the “flying” Rio Grande herald in 1940, they made the cab and tender numbers larger. Our sample has the larger post-1940 number size on the cab with the pre-1940 tender lettering style. Also, the Rio Grande lettered their steam locomotives with “D&RGW” on the left side of the cab, with the class designation on the right under the engine number. The model is correct on the fireman’s side but reversed on the engineer’s. These are minor errors, but I thought I’d point them out, as these errors could be easily corrected on future runs.
I gave my new digital calipers a work out on the locomotive and tender, and I’m pleased to report that I could find no dimension that varied from my D&RGW folio sheets or published drawings. I’d assumed that Broadway would have to shave some inches to reduce the prototype 36" gauge loco to the model’s 30", but if they did, it isn’t apparent. I give the model very high marks on prototype fidelity.
The detail parts are more of a mixed bag. They range from excellent (Handlan marker lights, coal load, driver centers), to good (air pumps, headlight and headlight base, domes, tender trucks), and passable (dynamo, air tanks) down to not-too-spiffy (bell, whistle). These are easily replaced with castings if you so desire. The only area of appearance I feel is a little lacking is the cast-on piping. In fairness, these are “Powerhouse” models as opposed to Broadway’s “Paragon” series (think Athearn Ready-to-Roll model vs. Genesis or Life-Like Proto 1000 vs. their Heritage steam) so Broadway isn’t trying to pass these off as detailed to the nth degree. In fact, the molded-on sanders and boiler check valves don’t bother me very much. However, the piping associated with the air pumps, including a globe valve molded onto the boiler is distracting and detracts from the appearance of an otherwise excellent looking model. In the future, I’d like to see them go to separate piping, or at a minimum, leave off the air pump piping all together.
The locomotive and tender weigh 26.5 oz. Based on our formula, that would pull 63 HO free-rolling cars on straight, level track. On30 cars are usually a bit heavier and not quite as free rolling as your average HO car. The locomotive starts and runs very smoothly. Starting voltage appears rather high, but that is because 3.5 volts goes to running the sound system and lights. The locomotive has a good speed range from creeping to a lively clip. I tested the C-16 in our top-secret testing facility... A 4' x 8' layout where many HO diesels fear to tread that consists of 18" and 22" radius curves, several S-curves with the barest of tangents between them, #4 turnouts and 1% grades. Broadway’s offering performed flawlessly even at high speed. I also ran it in reverse pushing a string of cars. The running characteristics of this locomotive are some of the best I’ve tested.
Broadway Limited Imports, LLC
9A East Tower Circle
Ormond Beach, FL 32174
900 - D&RGW C-16 268 (round domes), black D&RGW scheme: $269.99
901 - D&RGW C-16 278 (fluted domes), black D&RGW scheme: $269.99
902 - D&RGW C-16 271, black D&RGW w/Scenic Herald: $269.99
903 -- D&RGW C-16 268 (round domes), yellow Bumble Bee scheme: $279.99
904 - RGS 40: $269.99
905 - PRR 9654: $269.99
906 - Nevada County Narrow Gauge #8: $269.99
907 - Milwaukee Road #4: $269.99
908 - D&RGW C-16 268 (round domes), painted, unlettered: $269.99
909 - D&RGW C-16 278 (fluted domes), painted, unlettered: $269.99
The final piece of this locomotive is its sound system and decoder. Larry Puckett will be giving a detailed review in his DCC Update column so I confine my remarks to the sound system in straight DC. The sound system is made by QSI. Once track voltage reaches about 3.5 volts, you hear the dynamo spin up. This is followed by the air pumps running up. As the locomotive idles, you hear random water, steam and air pump sounds. Once the locomotive begins to move, you hear exhaust chuffs tied to the wheel rotation. Broadway makes no mention of a sound cam, but I purposefully slowed down the locomotive by pressing down on it, and the chuffs slowed down in time with the wheels. If you back off on the throttle, you hear the brakes being applied, and once you’ve stopped, you get the random idle sounds again. Activating the bell and whistle takes a bit of getting used to. It’s done by toggling the reverse switch of your throttle back and forth. Doing so quickly starts/stops the bell. Slower movement sounds the whistle, which will blow until the reverse switch is returned to the original position. The whistle fades out nicely when you do this. Broadway Limited sent along their Sidekick DC whistle and bell controller. Wired between your throttle and layout, it makes activating the sounds a bit easier, although the bell function did stick in the “on” position occasionally with it. To actually reverse the locomotive, you must lower the voltage until the sound system drops out, and then throw the reverse switch. Under DCC, reversing works normally, and you gain much more control over the activation of sounds, but I give QSI credit for building a DCC sound system and letting regular DC users join the fun.
The Quantum sound system features: chuff, whistle, bell, brake squeal, Doppler effect, air let off (while idling), air pumps (while idling), sound of power (change in chuff sounds with differing loads), water & steam sounds (blow down, pop off & injector),blower hiss, headlight (dim head light while idling), and slave (mutes whistle and bell for double heading). Sound is rather subjective. I’ve spent a lot of time around narrow gauge steam locomotives, and I found the sound to be very believable. It greatly increased my enjoyment of the engine. In the end, I was impressed with the fidelity and performance of this engine. A new manufacturer, going into a new scale is almost guaranteed to stub their toe, but Broadway Limited has a winner on their hands. I think the On30 modeler, especially those with a Colorado narrow gauge bent, will be very pleased with this locomotive.
"History of C-16 #278 & #268" by Jerry Day, The Prospector, Vol. 2, #1 and #3
Rio Grande Modeling & Historical Society
Restoration of #223
Special thanks go to Charlie Mutschler for additional prototype information.
This review originally appeared in the March 2004 Model Railroading.