Model Railroader

Broadway Limited Imports N scale RSD15


While most alligators can be found in freshwater, this one can make its home on your N scale layout. From hauling manifest freights across the desert to ore service in the Upper Midwest, the Alco RSD15 was a workhorse. Broadway Limited Imports has faithfully represente­d this locomotive in N scale.

Alco began production of the six-axle RSD15 in 1956, and three of the 15 units on order were low short hood units for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. As opposed to the high-short hood units that the Pennsylvan­ia RR and Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range had ordered, these low-short hood units provided improved visibility from the cab, setting an industry trend. Santa Fe eventually ended up ordering a total of 50 units, the rest of which were produced in 1960. The six-axle RSD15 was powered by Alco’s Model 251 diesel engine and was rated at 2,400hp The locomotive was built from Alco’s previous RSD-7 in response to the Fairbanks-Morse Train Master.

By 1975 these units were being retired. The locomotive­s would go to live second lives at railroads such as the Bessemer & Lake Erie and Lake Superior & Ishpeming. Many of these RSD15s operated until the late 1980s, with the LS&I replacing its units in 1988.

Our model is painted in Lake Superior & Ishpeming’s eye-catching red and yellow paint scheme and numbered 2402. The prototype locomotive was originally built as Santa Fe No. 941 in 1959. It was sold to the LS&I in 1975. The 2402 is currently on display at the Illinois Railway Museum as Green Bay & Western No. 2407, though it retains its LS&I paint scheme.

The red paint is evenly applied on the plastic body, and the yellow and white stripes are all crisp. Most of the builder plate is legible under magnificat­ion. The Automatic Car Identifica­tion (ACI) placards affixed to the sill above the fuel tank were omitted. These would be easy to add with styrene strip and one of the various ACI decals available.

Other details such as the sill stripes, bottom step faces, and yellow uncoupling levers match prototype photos. The body captures the unique shape of the RSD15, and the dimensions are consistent with data in the 1956 Locomotive Cyclopedia of American Practice (SimmonsBoa­rdman Publishing Corp.)

Out of the box, the locomotive ran smooth and consistent. All of Broadway Limited’s N scale RSD-15s in this run feature the company’s Paragon4 sound decoder. This decoder is dual-mode and will operate on both direct-current and Digital Command Control systems. While using DC control, the engine began to make sound and move at 9V. At its maximum voltage, the locomotive reached a speed of 89 scale mph.

As always I had more control of the locomotive’s speed, sound, and lighting functions with DCC. Without adjusting any CVs, the locomotive crept along at 4.3 scale mph at speed step 1. At speed step 28, the RSD15 reached 90 scale mph, about 10 mph above the prototype’s top speed.

The model rides on two six-axle trucks that are nicely detailed. All of the metal wheels are electrical pick-ups and all are powered. Some of the wheels are slightly narrower than National Model Railroad Associatio­n S-4.1 wheel standards. The Micro-Trains compatible couplers are both mounted at the appropriat­e height.

Whether you’re hauling iron ore unit trains or need power for a short line, the BLI N scale RSD15 will serve you well. A few alligators can still be found in service today at museums. – Bryson Sleppy, associate editor

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