Model reviews

NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at
Fri Jan 30 12:54:27 EST 2015

I want to make a comment regarding the accuracy of MR reviews. The current review of the VGN AG 2-6-6-6 is a case in point. While the review pointed out the most glaring problem with the sand domes there are other detail problems with the model. First, the VGN lettering was not yellow but gold. VGN also would paint over the gold with varnish which gave the lettering a bronze tint.  The lettering on the tender is placed too high. The large "VIRGINIAN" was not original to the AG class as delivered from Lima.  The original lettering was the then standard smaller lettering found on all VGN steam locomotives until the arrival of the BA class 2-8-4's in 1946.  The larger lettering on the AG came after the first shopping of the class and was placed in the center of the tender side both from a length and height perspective.  The cab window frames on VGN steam locomotives were painted red not yellow.  The small "Virginian" on the sand dome is on the rear dome on
 the model.  It belongs on the forward dome. Any builders photo would have displayed this location.   C&O tenders on modern locomotives, such as the H-8, had the stocker motor in a compartment with an access door  on the fireman's side. The VGN AG had the stocker motor  in the usual place under the cab on the firemen's side. Looking at the photos of the model I can not see a defined stocker motor under the cab. An AG would be a very difficult locomotive to hand fire.  The review makes the following statement regarding the whistle on the AG; "The whistle has the deep steamboat quality of the prototype". Anyone who has read H. Reid's book on the Virginian Railway would know that the AG's did not have a deep steamboat whistle. The whistle on the Ag's was a sharp single tone high pitched scream.  Reid noted in his book that the whistle did not fit the locomotive. I can attest to the scream sound it made as I lived near the VGN track in Norfolk and heard the
 AG's whistle many time in my youth.  And last, MR made this statement; "On the Virginian, the Blue Ridge engines worked the relatively flat (0.20 percent grade) route from Roanoke to Sewall's Point, VA.  A single locomotive could haul 4,500 tons or 165 cars over this route." There are several mistakes in this statement.  The ruling grade eastbound was 0.20 percent but the westbound grade was 0.60 percent.  The tonnage for the AG eastbound out of Roanoke was 13,000 tons. From Victoria to Norfolk the tonnage was 14,500 tons. Westbound with empties the tonnage from Victoria to Roanoke was 4500 tons. If, as implied by the MR review, an AG could only handle 4500 tons up a 0.20 percent grade it would have been a very sorry locomotive.  Another item to remember regarding the VGN operating  practice was that VGN would not run a train longer than its major passing sidings. To do so would jam up the entire subdivision. The AG's could have pulled more tonnage,
 especially between Victoria and Norfolk, but the length of time on duty for the crew and for the crews it encountered would have greater.   Over all for the model all I can say is- I like the tender. Harold Davenport       

On Friday, January 30, 2015 10:19 AM, NW Modeling List via NW-Modeling-List <nw-modeling-list at> wrote:


Personally I would like to see some type of review inside the N&WHS. Many of us don't live near a hobby shop and many of us are out of N&W territory so a local shop probably wouldn't purchase anything N&W/VGN we would be wanting. The review could either save us from purchasing something not really worth having or prompt us to get moving and make that purchase before it's gone. Everyone has different ideas on what qualifies as "acceptable' so this would be a great way to get ideas and facts flowing about an item. 

I would like to volunteer to do reviews for the Society if the items could be presented to me. Like I said I'm pretty far from N&W Territory and about 75 miles from a sub-standard hobby shop that only "speaks" UP and BNSF.

I would caution members from accepting any MR reviews as accurate. In the past couple years I have seen glaring errors in their reviews. The one that comes right to the forefront of memory is their Blackstone HOn3 D&RGW C-19 2-8-0. It's a very accurate and lovely model. The reviewer stated FACTS about it being a great model of RGS #20. What? RGS #20 is a 4-6-0 and other than gauge is nothing like the C-19. Several other "accuracy checks" the reviewer made were so far off base he may as well compare it to THE J. Unfortunately, like many things in MR, they write enough to fill out pages and columns to make a pretty magazine and promote their advertisers. 

I think having "our folks" (N&WHS members) review would give us a better review and be more help to us all.

My 2¢,
Roger Huber
Deer Creek Locomotive Works
Huntsville, AR

On Thu, 1/29/15, NW Modeling List <nw-modeling-list at> wrote:

Subject: Model reviews
To: "NW Modeling List" <nw-modeling-list at>
Date: Thursday, January 29, 2015, 4:19 PM

As we've
stated recently, we are planning on putting some model
reviews in either the eTaf, or this list, or in the Arrow. 
We plan to review either models we have purchased for
ourselves, or, subject to the requirement of undergoing an
objective review, any N&W or VGN model provided to us by
manufacturers or importers.  The details are still being
worked out.  Some of you expressed an interest in this, and
some of us would like to do it in our "spare"
Meanwhile, the Model Railroader that arrived
today has a fairly comprehensive review of the Rivarossi VGN
AG 2-6-6-6, the model that triggered this discussion a few
months ago.  I strongly recommend this review as it points
out the model's good points and its flaws.  The
reviewer spelled out the things that bother me: the domes
and the rear engine swiveling, and the traction tires (the
review did not say if there are optional drivers without
traction tires--which some of the manufacturers and
importers have provided).  The running characteristics are
noted as quite good, and they measure the pulling ability. 
Each of us potential purchasers has to balance the
price/good stuff/bad stuff for him/her self.  
In any event, it's out there. 
Frank Bongiovanni
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