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Author Previous Topic: BLI N&W J review with pictures Topic Next Topic: New Locomotive Announcement for Amherst, MA Show!  

Chuck Walsh

Posted - 2005 May 28 :  05:24:55 AM  Show Profile
Another opinion from another forum.

I stopped by my local hobby shop this morning to talk with the owner as he's a good friend and he had four of the new Broadway Limited N&W Class J's in stock. We set one up on the layout in the store to see how she ran and sounded. IMHO the engine looks pretty good and operates well. The steam sounds and bell are typical (OK) but the whistle... sorry to say it just doesn't match the J's sound unless youíre at least 8 to 10 feet away and then itís a poor substitute. Now I realize we're talking about an HO scale model and the sound isn't going to be what an O Scale size speaker would deliver but this engine's whistle sounded more like a slightly sick single note horn on an older Baldwin diesel. I should add that my only background for knowing what the whistle should sound like it the fact I worked for N&W, not to mention I grew up less than a block from Lambert's Point Terminal which is (was) the eastern terminus for the N&W. Forgot to mention that while BLI says this engine should be used on 22" or larger curves the one we tested operated on 18" curves with no trouble.

Country: USA | Posts: 680

Curt Mc

Posted - 2005 May 28 :  10:49:09 AM  Show Profile
With all of the available recordings of N&W "J" #611 in excursion service, how in the world did BLI get the sound/whistle wrong on their new "J" model? Too cheap (or not enough cash flow available) to have the correct sound chip done by QSI? They could have easily done it (but likely at a higher price to BLI than a "generic" steamer sound chip).

- Curt Mc

Country: USA | Posts: 5293 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2005 May 28 :  12:02:36 PM  Show Profile
It could be that the sound just isn't adjusted right out of the box. The Lionel Challenger sounds much more accurate if you play with the sound settings a little. A lot of other recent sound offerings nead tweaking to sound right as well.

Chris Johnson

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Posted - 2005 May 28 :  2:36:13 PM  Show Profile
Okay. Overall it is beautiful to a 'J' lover. I got 613 and it is a real smooth black satin finish. The silver trim around the number boards is not perfect but better than the one on the website. One day when I am feeling real steady I may try to touch it up a hair. It is a minute thing, but I went over this thing with 3.00 diopter glasses under a spotlight. Running normally I don't think it is a bit noticeable.
The red isn't quite right. I knew when I saw that "explanation" on BLI's site it wasn't going to be. I have plenty of Kodaks and when I take one of those outside and place the model in the sun, the BLI red is just a little too dark. (Lead ain't got squat to do with getting any color you want, but it does affect cured paint hardness.) This is almost funny. About halfway between the last Spectrum Red and BLI's version would be right on. Testor's dark red right out of the bottle is closer than any manufacturer seems to be able to get for trying. It is NOT glaringly off, and goes well with the Rivarossi or Bachmann cars from a while back. The rivet detail is a hair too pronounced on the boiler jacketing, but you have to look hard in good light to notice, and the ends of the axles need painting.
It runs superbly, at least mine does. Haven't had to tweak a thing and running on the close hole connection on the drawbar. Smooth as glass forward and back at all speeds. Bangs thru two #6 double crossovers at speed without a whimper. Rods and all the running gear look great. Mine pulls very well. I haven't even installed the traction tires, and I am a traction tire believer.
For some reason they have a little metal brace under the loco to tender board and hence mine wouldn't lie flat. Took me 45 minutes to figure out how to remove that little worthless gizmo gently. Too much engineering probably. If it was supposed to press gently so the board stays down they got it backwards. Real easy to remove actually.
Sound. Everything but the whistle is fantastic to my ears. I say that because of me, not the whistle sound. On the subject of the whistle I feel I possibly should eliminate myself from further discussion, because between last night and this afternoon mine sounds totally and completlely different. Maybe I ate something. Yesterday is was a very clear tone that was as correct as I thought they could get from those itty bitty components, but it completely lacked the steam overhiss. At a distance it was fine. Now, it sounds exactly like a 'J' at fifty yards, except the whistle tone is maybe a teeny bit to high in pitch. Very heavy steam overhiss like the real thing. Almost a perfect match to a pacing video I have at 50 MPH. Yes, I did play with the settings, but this is like a different whistle (maybe I better read the instructions). The start of the whistle is a hair too abrupt to me, but the ending is perfect. The doppler is also pretty good.
Overall I'd give it an A. I am very pleased. Oh, mine was at least partially lubed out of the box. Rods etc. nicely lubed without oil all over. It looks as good as my brass 'J' sitting on the layout, and they even correctly have one bell.
PS- my "circuit breaker" actuates at 13.6 volts (engine stops and the whistle blows) instead of twenty something plus like the manual says. But, it's plenty fast anyway, I was just testing everything out.

What could have happened... did.

Edited by - Virginian on 2005 May 28 10:09:57 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 577 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2005 May 28 :  6:14:15 PM  Show Profile

Thanks for the review. Maybe the sound does vary with some of the CV's.

The running qualities seem to be great overall and it does look good. I hope they do the Y6 in the future.

I noticed they have the extra tender for the A also even though it was availble in brass and plastic from at least four companies.

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Posted - 2005 May 28 :  10:06:22 PM  Show Profile
If someone wants to run an auxiliary tender as an excursion engine, I'd run the Spectrum one with the matching stripe like it was before they restored the A and converted it to all black. Looked nice. But, to be entirely accurate, the early Bachmann auxiliary with stripe was patterned after the real post 1981 excursion tender. The Spectrum tenders are nice replicas of the 1950's canteens for a real good price. Yes, you do need to clip one bulb lead or install a switch, but that's no big deal.

What could have happened... did.

Country: USA | Posts: 577 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2005 May 28 :  11:01:30 PM  Show Profile
Have to agree with Curt, with the number of recordings, videos, tapes etc. of the 611 and the sound is not correct....awww come on this cant be true!?


Santa Fe all the Way....Middle Division Emporia Sub Circa 1976 - 1986
Hoping someone someday will make a quality ACF 4600

Country: USA | Posts: 4500 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2005 May 28 :  11:43:18 PM  Show Profile
As far as those of you who do not believe the
J sound is correct, here is a quote from one of
NWHS members.
"Subject: BLI J - First Thoughts

OK, I just got mine (611 in regular service); here are first impressions.

I compared the BLI J's whistle to recordings on Kipp Teague's "Last Run of
the 611" web page, and to an O. Winston Link recording on the National
Public Radio web site. Put me in the "darned close" camp.

The whistle should sound a low minor chord. The BLI J emphasizes the
fundamental tone (a low A) a little too much (probably trying to compensate
for the small speakers and low amplifier power). That's a standard sound
recording and mixing trick, but they may have overdone it just a touch.
What their whistle *does* lack is the "airyness" of the real thing: you
should be able to hear the hiss of steam lightly superimposed on the
whistle. That's the part that isn't there. However, in fairness, at some
distance away from the locomotive you wouldn't hear that, just the
fundamental tones. So, what they have done is give you the sound of the
whistle as you would hear it echoing through the hills, not right beside

I'd love to hear the wave file they used through studio amplification and

The rest of the sounds seem to be right on. They all (especially the
whistle) benefit from turning down the volume levels from "16" to around

The Tuscan Red is a bit on the purple side, but it is probably within
"spec" for the color.

The drivers are unsprung, so you will see every bit of unevenness in your

Haven't put it on a scale, but it is quite heavy. There is a traction tire
equipped driver in the box which the owner can install, but it seems to
pull just fine without it.

Overall, I'm happy with it.

Now if they would just do a Z1b..."

Tom Black
Beavercreek, Ohio

Tom has answered most questions that J owners
will want to know! I believe the paint color
for the J is scale coat N&W Red. This color
is not the 50's red, and most society members
I know the person who advised scale coat on the
N&W red color, and believe he advised scale coat
in the wrong direction!


Country: | Posts: 803 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2005 May 29 :  1:01:02 PM  Show Profile
Interesting information.

Is the BLI N&W Class J heavier than the Bachmann Spectrum Class J?

My measurement of the Bachmann Class J is 605g.

Is it heavier than the BLI ATSF Northern 4-8-4?

There were several statements about pulling capabilities - can someone say how many cars?
Any car numbers on a grade?


Country: USA | Posts: 1898 Go to Top of Page

Chuck Walsh

Posted - 2005 May 29 :  2:04:55 PM  Show Profile
I think the Lionel Challenger whistle sound is almost if not the same as the
No doubt it's the same manufacturer.

Country: USA | Posts: 680 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2005 May 31 :  4:07:47 PM  Show Profile
Just got mine last week. At first I was a little disappointed at the color (too dark & too purple), but I'm getting used to it. Much better than the Spectrum pinkish-orange! THEN I got all twisted out of the frame over the fact that there were no VISIBLE numbers in the number boards. I got so upset I emailed BLI and told them about it! .....then I RAN the engine....S--T!! WHERE'D THOSE NUMBERS COME FROM? Anyway, the best I can tell, it's a GREAT locomotive!

M. Crafton

Country: USA | Posts: 14 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2005 May 31 :  4:24:25 PM  Show Profile
One other thing. Pay close attention to the nosecone/boiler dimension/skyline casing profile. This is the FIRST ho scale model I've seen that seems to have gotten it RIGHT. As far as the whistle goes, it sounds close enough to me. It's probably ver difficult to duplicate that whistle using two one and a half inch speakers!

M. Crafton

Country: USA | Posts: 14 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2005 June 01 :  02:47:17 AM  Show Profile

looks nice in the box,but its more
than the Sunset Brass one cost !!!!
but add in the Paint and Sound that the
Sunset didnt have,seems more reasonable
that way !!!
if they make a quiet one,it will be hard
to resist !!!!

Erie,America's 1st Trunk Line !!
Piermont N.Y. to Dunkirk N.Y.,1848 !!!
Waiting For Skip's Train To Pull Into Hillside Station !!

Country: USA | Posts: 5356 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 2005 June 17 :  10:53:22 PM  Show Profile
Originally posted by gopher

One other thing. Pay close attention to the nosecone/boiler dimension/skyline casing profile. This is the FIRST ho scale model I've seen that seems to have gotten it RIGHT. As far as the whistle goes, it sounds close enough to me. It's probably ver difficult to duplicate that whistle using two one and a half inch speakers!

It probably is hard to duplicate the J whistle sound using two one and half inch speakers, especially if you use a UP whistle recording.

Country: | Posts: 1265 Go to Top of Page
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