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Earle Baldwin

Arlas N Scale Conrail C630 Diesel Locomotive

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The Century 630 is a six axle 3000 horsepower road switcher built by American Locomotive Company between 1965 and 1967. It was erected concurrently with the 2800 horsepower C628; however, the C630 was able to generate an additional 200 horsepower due to its enhanced alternating current traction alternator. The C630 also sported after cooler radiators which improved the performance of the locomotive while operating under heavy load. In addition, the unit featured an improved cab which provided more space for the engine crew. A total of 77 C630’s were constructed. Montreal Locomotive Works built Canadian variants of the C630 under license from ALCo.

 

When Conrail was created by the combination of six bankrupt northeastern railroads on April 1, 1976, it inherited 27 C630’s from the rosters of Penn Central and Reading. Conrail was quick to assign its six axle Centuries including the C630’s to heavy tonnage service out of Mingo Junction, OH. Even though the locomotives spent the majority of their time in this service, they still managed to visit other parts of the system on a fairly regular basis. Many Centuries were never repainted in Conrail’s blue and white “wheels on rails” scheme. Those which did not receive the new image continued to serve in the colors of their previous owners with white “CR” stencils and road numbers replacing nomenclature of the predecessor roads. All Conrail C630’s were removed from active service by the early 80’s. One unit, the 6761, was preserved and is now in the collection of the Reading Company Technical and Historical Society. It has been restored to its original glory as the Reading 5308.

 

The C630 I purchased carries road number 6770 representing the former Penn Central 6320 and is decorated in the full Conrail scheme. The paint is smooth and appears to be an exact match for Conrail blue. This is refreshing since some manufacturers have found it a challenge to reproduce the actual shade of blue used by Conrail. All lettering and numbers are expertly applied. The number boards are accurately decorated with white numerals on a black background. The handrails are correctly painted with white safety trim applied in the appropriate places. The end railings are packaged separately and must be applied by the modeler. With careful handling, this process takes only a few minutes; however, caution must be exercised when doing so. The railings are finely scaled and do not stand up well to robust jostling. The locomotive is equipped with Accumate knuckle couplers. Rapido style couplers are included in the box for modelers wishing to swap them. N scale models of North American prototypes look SO much better when equipped with knuckle couplers

 

Operationally, the C630 is silky smooth. The unit is equipped with Atlas’ slow speed motor designed to better replicate scale speed operation. During testing it was immediately responsive to changes in throttle setting. Lighting is directional and provides an appropriate level of illumination. I purchased the DCC ready version although a decoder equipped model is available as well. Their list prices are $104.95 and $134.95, respectively. Photographs of the Conrail C630 and other locomotives and rolling stock can be found in the extensive listings of Atlas production at http://www.atlasrr.com.

 

If you like Conrail and N scale, this locomotive is a winner.

 

Happy Railroading,

 

Earle

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