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Fox Valley Models' N-scale GE ES44AC locomotive

By Cody Grivno
Published: April 14, 2010
Fox Valley Models' N-scale GE ES44AC locomotive
Product: A General Electric ES44AC is the debut locomotive from Des Plaines, Ill.-based Fox Valley Models. The DC-powered, ready-to-run N-scale model, based on GE’s Evolution Series locomotive, uses a split-frame mechanism and features numerous railroad-specific details. A package of modeler-installed etched-metal and wire details is also included. Other roadnames available include Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, Canadian Pacific, CSX, Ferromex, Iowa Interstate, and Kansas City Southern.

Performance: The model uses an injection-molded plastic shell with a separate cab, walkways and radiator housing. The air-to-air dual-fan heat exchanger is particularly well executed, with the fan blades visible under the grille.

Fox Valley is offering the locomotive in several railroad-specific configurations; our model features an accurate BNSF window arrangement. The little details are nice, too: the side windows are trimmed in flat aluminum, and the ridges around the front windows are flat black to simulate rubber gaskets.

The pilots have separately applied uncoupling levers and m.u. hoses; the m.u. receptacles and spare knuckle holders are molded. A snowplow is attached to the front pilot; it’s slightly oversized compared to the prototype.

The one-piece fuel tank press fits to the bottom of the chassis. It features molded air tanks and pipes, emergency fuel shutoff switch boxes, fuel sight gauges and a bell. A separate plastic piece, which fits over the mechanism, has molded traction motor cable detail.

The Heritage II paint adorning the unit is evenly applied. The yellow stripes and lettering are opaque, but there are a few missed spots where the stripes pass over body louvers.

The livery has a few other issues, which are correctable with paint and decals: the top black stripe is missing from the yellow band above the BNSF lettering; the bottom of the sand box is painted orange but should be solid green as per the prototype. Also, the pie-shaped wedges on the rear BNSF herald should be yellow, not orange.

I removed the shell by gently pressing up on the front and rear pilots. Under the hood is a die-cast split-frame mechanism, housing a 5-pole skew-wound motor with dual brass flywheels.

A printed-circuit board is attached to the top of the frame. Golden-white light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are soldered to each end of the PC board. Clear plastic tubes carry the light from the LEDs to the directional headlights and ditch lights.

Low-speed running is great on this locomotive. In testing, it crawled along at 1.3 scale mph. The locomotive accelerated to 128 scale mph, which is more than 50 mph faster than the prototype’s top speed. Converting the locomotive to DCC would make it easier to control the speed range.

Marketing: With the number of roadnames and different model configurations offered, this locomotive will have good regional appeal. Plus, it represents the most modern motive power running on real railroads today.

The locomotive can be converted to Digital Command Control with either the Digitrax DZ125IN or Train Control Systems EUN651 decoders.

Traction tires or an application of Bullfrog Snot will also increase the number of cars it can pull, so recommend them.

Fox Valley Models is off to a good start in the N-scale locomotive market. Look for its ES44DC diesel locomotives this summer.

Product: GE ES44AC locomotive
Maker: Fox Valley Models
Scale: N
Stock Nos.: Multiple roadnames with multiple numbers available
MSRP: $119.95
Availability: Various model railroad distributors

Ultramodern suject
Railroad-specific details
Has a few paint issues
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