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Earle Baldwin

Wooden Railway™ NJ Transit - F40PH Locomotive

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As many of us are aware, an excellent way to encourage a youngster's interest in trains is the vast selection of Thomas and Friends wooden railway products produced and marketed by Learning Curve. The catalog offers a complete line of character locomotives, cars, track and accessories. As wonderful as the Thomas product line is, children will appreciate the introduction of more realistic pieces as they grow older, particularly if they are taken trackside to watch real trains.

 

A company named Whittle Shortline Railroad has answered the call for realistically detailed wooden trains which are totally compatible with beginner systems such as Brio and Thomas. The trains are manufactured from reforested birch hardwood and are assembled in the United States. Paints used are completely lead free. Contained in the catalog are a variety of locomotive models inspired by North American protoypes including an EMD four axle low nose road switcher, F40PH, GE Genesis and ABB ALP44. Rolling stock includes a number of different freight and passenger car types. Also offered are some rapid transit items including equipment licensed by the MTA. I have seen a TA R32 model for sale at the Transit Museum Store in Grand Central Terminal.

 

The subject of this review is a model of the NJ Transit 4114, one of seventeen F40PH-2's numbered 4113-4129 which were delivered to NJT during the early 1980's. The body of the model is correctly contoured and effectively captures the profile of the F40. A wealth of details are painted on the locomotive's body. These include roof mounted features such as horns, strobe lights, fans and turbocharger stack. Above the windshield are number boards, marker lights and an emergency flasher. The nose features the correctly placed headlight. Details at the rear of the unit are a headlight, marker lights and access door complete with port hole window. The cab features an accurate side window arrangement as well as steps and access door. Appropriate grill work has been applied in the correct locations along the length of the locomotive's body.

 

The model's paint scheme is expertly applied. NJ Transit's multi-colored "disco" striping is positioned properly. Black lettering and numerals are in the correct font. Showing particular attention to detail, Whittle has gone so far as to include the high voltage overhead warnings signs which have been placed on the prototype units to warn employees of such hazards when climbing on the equipment. Another accurate detail which has been included on the model is the characteristic reflective stripe which has been applied along the base of NJT's locomotive fleet to increase night time visibility at grade crossings. Completing the package are a pair of two axle trucks equipped with plastic wheels and universal magnetic couplers. A nicely molded fuel tank has been included on the underside of the engine.

 

Wooden railway items, particularly those in the Brio and Thomas catalogs, are of course marketed to young children; however, Whittle makes no pretenses about its trains being suitable as collectibles for adult hobbyists as well. In fact, the proprietor of Railroad Warehouse in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ where I purchased the NJT F40PH told me he probably sells more of these to adults for themselves as opposed to children using them on wooden railway systems. As I sit here looking at the shiny engine in its attractive package consisting of a clear plastic bubble backed by tasteful red and beige carboard highlighted by black Whittle Shortline Railroad lettering, I can understand the appeal of these pieces. In fact, I bought the engine as a display piece for my train room as my son has since graduated from wooden railways to electric trains anyway.

 

As mentioned above, Whittle offers an additional NJ Transit locomotive: the ALP44 electric. Also, a number of MTA licensed items are offered for sale in the Transit Museum Store at GCT. These include a Metro-North Genesis, Metro-North coaches and the aforementioned New York City Transit Authority R32 subway car. Amtrak fans have not been neglected as Whittle offers the Genesis, F40PH and a variety of passenger cars for your pleasure. These models feature the same attention to detail as featured on the NJ Transit F40PH.

 

The Whittle Shortline Railroad F40PH is priced at $22.49. The website is http://www.woodentrain.com. An image of the NJ Transit unit can be viewed at the following link:

 

http://www.woodentrain.com/categories.aspx?pid=120&cname=mass%20transit&catid=54&pname=new%20jersey%20t

 

Whittle Shortline Railroad and its wooden models of North American prototypes represent a somewhat untapped source of potentially interesting additions to collections. Check them out the next time you visit the museum store in GCT.

 

Best regards,

 

Earle

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