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Williams™ EF-4 New Haven


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Entering the 1950's, Virginian Railway (VGN) Management was aware new locomotives were required to supplement and/or replace its existing roster of electric motive power. It subsequently contracted with General Electric to build twelve new electric "motors."

 

The new locomotives received the designtion EL-C. They were built in the increasingly popular configuration of the hood type road switcher. Rated at 3,300 horsepower, the locomotives featured a C-C wheel arrangement and were equipped with ignitron cooling tubes. Delivering approximately 98,000 pounds of tractive effort, the new motors proved highly efficient and VGN relied heavily upon them until the railroad's acquisition by Norfolk and Western (N&W) in 1959. The EL-C's remained in service until 1962 when N&W discontinued electric operations. Only one locomotive received full N&W paint prior to the shutdown.

 

Due to rapidly aging infrastructure, New Haven (NH) had discontinued its own electric freight operations; however, when the EL-C's were made available at the bargain price of approximately $20,000 each, NH elected to purchase the locomotives and resume electric freight service between Bay Ridge Yard in Brooklyn and Cedar Hill Yard north of New Haven, CT. Eleven of the twelve locomotives were rebuilt at New Haven with GE's assistance between 1963 and 1965 with one retained as a source for parts. Numbered 300-310 and designated EF-4 per NH's standard practice of electric locomotive classification, the former VGN EL-C's entered freight service and performed admirably for NH until the railroad's acquisition by Penn Central (PC) in 1969. The locomotives were given PC class designation E33 to blend them in with PC's existing fleet of former Pennsylvania Railroad E44's. The E33's continued to serve PC until its absorption into Conrail (CR) in 1976. They remained in operation until CR suspended its electric freight operations during the early 1980's. The EL-C/EF-4/E33 locomotives hold the unique distinction of having received no less than three separate classifications while serving five Class 1 railroads! Two of the original class of twelve locomotives remain in existence. One is in the collection of the Railroad Museum of New England and the other resides at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

 

Williams Electric Trains, now referred to as "Williams by Bachmann" following the retirement sale of the company to Bachmann, offers a nicely executed model of the EL-C/EF-4/E33. Since the company's origins during the 1970's, Williams established a reputation for delivering solidly built reproductions of classic Lionel equipment as well as products of its own designs such as the rectifier and E60 electrics at very affordable prices. Interested in keeping cost to a minimum, Williams practiced certain economies of production such as sharing of parts and components between a maxiumum number of items. As a result, locomotives produced may feature certain inconsistencies with the prototype being represented; nonethless, they certainly project the feel of their big brothers.

 

The Williams EL-C/EF-4/E33 is a very well built model. It features two vertical can motors, interior illumination, electronic reversing and a number of different sound packages. The EF-4 I am reviewing produces only an electronic horn; however, Williams has offered its locomotives with full sound and just horn and bell as well. The sturdy shell features a satisfying degree of cast on detail. Equipped with a metal frame, the locomotive's weight is impressive. Combined with its twin motor configuration, I'm certain the locomotive will prove quite capable of emptying the largest of O gauge freight yards. A nicely detailed metal pantograph is mounted atop the locomotive's cab and the engine is resplendent in New Haven's classic combination of orange, yellow, white and black.

 

As mentioned above, in order to keep prices at the most affordable level possible, locomotives often share parts, sometimes at the expense of maximum accuracy. Such is the case with the rectifier electric. The trucks, fuel tank, and frame are also used for Williams' GE U33C and Dash 9 models resulting in some cosmetic inaccuracies. MTH offers a more accurate rendition of the EL-C/EF-4/E33 but at a much higher price. Many hobbyists find the compromise between price and detail quite acceptable. While I tend to be more of a stickler for accuracy and, in fact, have an MTH EF-4 in my own permanent collection, the Williams locomotive is a very acceptable model and a credible representation of its prototype. In fact, I have this particular locomotive to review since I am giving it to my cousin who is an avid Williams fan as this year's Christmas present.

 

The list price of the Williams by Bachmann EL-C/EF-4/E33 is $249.95; however, Williams locomotives can be easily located at prices far below retail listings. In fact, I have purchased a number of them for less than $100. These locomotives represent tremendous value and I recommend them highly to hobbyists looking for reasonably accurate models at very attractive prices.

 

Happy railroading,

 

Earle

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