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I don't know how to tell which generation a Big Boy like mine is but I love it. The fact is that it probably only has an hour or two of running time as it just runs back & forth along a wall. The weight is too much for me to lug it up and down the stairs to put it on the layout but that's OK with me because I am happy that it is a shelf queen starting up and running to the end of the wall and then back again.

The Big Boy is my favorite locomotive and to have it at eye level where I can watch it slowly start to run seeing all the movements of its wheels etc. combined with the great Phoenix sound makes it all worthwhile to me.

Besides, I have no idea what I would do if I put it on the layout and somehow it fell and was damaged.

Jerry

PS I also have the MTH Big Boys (O & Gauge One) but the scale of the USA Big Boy overwhelms the others.
 

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My engine is from the first run, so I can’t comment on the current ones. First, we can always nit-pick a product, so I might as well too.

Mine arrived in good shape, but the sound didn’t work. When I finally got brave enough to take the shell off, it turned out to be wires not plugged in to the sound board. (At first, this thing was so big and heavy that taking the shell off intimidated me.) That turned out to be a blessing because later when I heard sounds like something needing oil, I knew those were in the sound system. Also, there is a hinged plate to cover the gap between the cab and tender. One screw was loose and the plate was hanging on by one hinge, but the screw was still in place. The cab comes off with the boiler top, and that gave access to put the screw in. Those were the only two negatives when mine came.

The most significant problem has been that a cylinder end came partially out. The rod was still supported and no further damage was done. I put a dab of CA on the part and put it back end. If it had come completely out maybe something would have gotten bent.

Continuing with the nits: the classification lights seem too bright compared to the headlight. The firebox light is really tiny and in no way captures the inferno that would have been going on in a real engine. The firebox doors are adjustable, and with them open the light should be much brighter. But with the tender in place, you can’t see much anyway. The ashpan glow is from different lights and is fine.

The hinged plate I mentioned above does not swing up high enough to allow the pin on the tender to get to the hole in the drawbar. Sometime when the tender is off the track, I might look at shortening the pin a few thousandths.

This post is getting long, so I’ll quit and cover more in different posts.
 

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In my earlier post I listed things I could find fault with. Now for some things I love, and I do LOVE this engine. It runs very smoothly. As others have said, it’s awesome just to look at. The finish is very nice, and the details are impressive. When my friend came over, he spent 45 minutes with a magnifying glass just studying it. The tender couples close to the engine . I’m running on about 17’ 9” curves and the corner of the tender comes under the cab roof. The model comes with a lubricator driven by a horizontal link, and yes it moves when the engine runs. It is connected to the valve linkage of the front drivers. At first I thought USAT had neglected to include one on the rear drivers, but the rear one is different. USA got it right. Also, there are two small hooks on the right side of the tender - both the model and the tender at Scranton have them. To sum up, I love the details.

My layout is in our basement and so curve size is constrained. Based on Ro saying the engine is designed for 16-foot curves, I built with Aristo 16.5 foot. The engine did OK on them and never derailed but several times a heard a clunk which I think was the pilot truck riding up then dropping back on the rail. I never saw it happen, but I think that’s what it was. Others have mentioned derailing as a problem, but the clunk is as close as mine came to leaving the rails. My track is on a plywood base about 12” above a concrete floor, so it is very level and stable. Maybe that’s why I have never had a problem. Since that time, a track has been added outside the original, about 17’ 9” curves, and I have never heard the clunk on this newer track. But I run the engine slow. I do NOT want to ever have the big jewel hit the concrete. Besides, I love the hear the drivers going in and out of sync. The Phoenix 2K2 that came installed is great. I enjoy watching all the rods and links at low speed more that at higher speed.

I never run smoke, so I have no comments on the smoke units.

I’ll have more to say in another post.
 

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Well, josephunh, you asked for comments. I wish I could tell you about the current issue engines, but I know nothing about them. I’ll finish up with final comments.

I love this engine.

The engine weighs about 45 pounds, and much is in the frame. I’m sure USAT built it really heavy to avoid any flexing that might stress the cast metal boiler and crack it. The casting is not heavy and easy to remove. When it comes off, the Phoenix computer interface cable limits how far the cast part can be moved. I disconnected mine. When I turn the engine upside down to lube it, I take the casting off and set it aside so I don’t worry about damaging any details or scratching the finish.

I love this engine.

There are spring contacts at the front for the classification lights. When I put the casting back on, I am careful to set it straight down to avoid possibly damaging them. Care is needed in getting the handrail ends to go in the little holes. Other than that, removing and replacing the boiler is no big deal, even though the thought of doing it intimidated me at first.

I love this engine.

When the engine and tender have been oiled and greased, I put them on the track and plug the tender into the engine. Then I couple them with the drawbar. Finally, I replace the boiler and cab.

The Phoenix web site has wiring diagrams which makes me think Phoenix was involved in working out the boards and circuitry. The Phoenix diagram shows one switch for lights, but mine has separate switches for the running lights and work lights. Also, my engine has a small circuit board that gets track power and outputs power to the sound card. I have no idea what this card does unless it is a regulator. It has two things that appear to be transistors and a bridge rectifier. The Phoenix diagrams do not show this board. These diagrams do not appear to have been updated since first drawn.

According to our bathroom scale, the tender weighs 20 pounds. Others say it is 15 pounds. In any case it is heavier that any other engine I own.
 

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Greg, that sounds like a real possibility, but I don't think thats what the hooks were for. A rod came with the engine as a loose part. I'm guessing it's about 15 to 18 feet long with a T at one end and a round loop at the other. Not knowing much about steam engines, I asked about it when I sent Ro a note telling him how much I loved the engine. He wrote back that the rod is a detail part added at the end of the design phase but he didn't tell me what the it was for. He did say it goes in the hooks, so that's where mine is but i still don't know what the rod is for. My guess is it was used in cleaning out the ashes and clinkers or for banking the fire if they weren't going to dump it. So the hooks could have been used for rerailers, but if that were the case I would expect one hook on each side. The tender only has hooks on the right side.
 

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Posted By Jerrys-RR on 24 May 2013 08:54 AM ...
PS I also have the MTH Big Boys (O & Gauge One) but the scale of the USA Big Boy overwhelms the others.
...though unfortunately built to the wrong gauge.
 

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aopagary says "...though unfortunately built to the wrong gauge."

I agree. The track is to the wrong gauge. The engine is right. He He He!!
 

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In glancing over this very, very long thread, I marvel at this engine without ever even seeing one. At 45 pounds, is that the engine only or engine AND tender. I know it would not be correct scale, etc., but can you imagine how big, long and heavy it would be if produced at 1:20.3. I think of my Shay as heavy, but it is nothing compared to this monster. I'm afraid it would be too much work to get it outside to run often unless one had continuous track from a garage or something.
 

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Well what a Great thread, Nick Savatgy has a way of starting threads that are the biggest and best informative online.
This has to be the biggest or one of the largest of interest on any large scale forum. so much for Shaddy.

Boo Boo
 

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Alter ego?
 
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