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The Pennsylvania Rail Road GG1 4-6-6-4

 Trix model 22811

Review by Neil Wood

 

 

The GG1 was designed by the Pennsylvania Railroad based on the requirement for a locomotive that could pull more than 12 to 14 passenger coaches. The first GG1 went into service in 1935 and the last was taken out in 1983 almost half a century later. The GG1 outlasted the railway that built it and its successors, Conrail and Amtrak. PRR thought it had designed the perfect electric passenger locomotive, the P-5a, but these needed double heading on many trains.

 

 

The streamlined body and centre crew cab were an outcome of concern for crew safety. As a result of a grade crossing accident involving a truck, better crew protection was required. After the accident, a hold was put on further manufacture of the box cab P-5a and the locomotive was redesigned to include a centre crew cab.

 

Cab interior, looking forward.

The view looking out

 

The GG1 was given a sculptured body with contoured hoods that were tapered to increase driver visibility. The result was a very aesthetically pleasing art deco design. Raymond Loewy, the famous industrial designer, reviewed the prototype and recommended welding the shell rather than riveting. He also suggested adding the famous pin stripes, making the design of the GG1 the visual classic it now is.

 

 

In terms of how robust it is; on January 14th 1953 a GG1 lost its brakes and pulled the Federal Express right into Washington Union Station, The train crashed through the wall, smashing through the stationmaster's office, it then demolished the main news stand and was sliding across the concourse toward the waiting room when the floor gave way and the GG1 and two of its coaches fell through the floor into the basement baggage room.  It was cut up into three sections to enable removal from the basement, shipped back to Altoona for reassembly. It was rebuilt, painted Tuscan red and returned to service. Number 4876 was among the very last GG1s in service.

 

 

Between 1934 and 1943 139 units were built, many of them at the Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, PA. The price was $250,000 each for the first production order. Built by GE/PRR, and Westinghouse at Baldwin Locomotive Works.


Air intakes.

Close up of running gear

 

This streamlined locomotive, designed for bidirectional operation was mainly used for passenger trains, but a few were regeared for freight service. The 230+ ton GG1 was built on an articulated frame which permitted its 2-C+C-2 (4-6-6-4) wheel arrangement to negotiate tight curves even in congested areas. Power was picked up from an overhead 11,000 Volt AC catenary wire by a pantograph and the voltage stepped-down through an on board transformer to feed the 12 single phase 25 cycle traction motors. Each of these motors developed 385 HP giving the GG1 a total of 4620 HP and allowed speeds up to 100 mph.

On the 10th February 1935, PRR began operation of its electrified route between Washington and New York. Thanks to its power reserves, the GG-1 shortened travel times significantly. As a result, the PRR expanded its electrified routes westward. In total the PRR had more than 40 percent of the total electrified network of the USA. The GG-1’s pulled more than 900 trains a day, including the prestigious express trains between New York and Washington. After regearing, the GG-1 had a second career pulling freight trains.

Of the 139 units built, only 16 survive today. Some have been restored superficially. It is not likely that any of these survivors will ever run again because of the prohibitive cost to rebuild or replace the electrical components.  

 

Wheel Arrangement

2-C+C-2 (4-6-6-4)

Length

79'-6"

Width

10'-6"

Height

15'-0" (with pantograph down)

Drivers

57" dia.

Truck Wheels

36" dia.

Weight

Total: 475,000 lbs

Transformer

4,800 KVA (weighed 30,300 lbs)

Traction Motors

12 @ 385 HP, double-ended, single phase

Total HP

4,620 HP

Drawbar HP

10,000 HP

Traction Effort

65,500 lbs with 24 : 77 gearing (100 mph)
72,800 lbs with 22 : 79 gearing (90 mph)

Acceleration

0 to 100 mph in 65 seconds with 24 : 77 gearing

Boiler

4,500 lbs of steam per hour at 200 psi (weighed 14,200 lbs)

Boiler Water

2,761 gallons

Boiler Oil

424 gallons

 

 

The Trix PRR GG1 model 22811 and 22810         Price: €449 or ₤310 or $549 US

Released: August 2005

Model Specification: Length: 280mm/11” ; Type: GG1; Livery: Pennsylvania Rail Road; Period: 1935- 1983; Features: Metal frame and body; DCC decoder with sound generator; The headlights, cab lights, acceleration and braking delay, and operating sounds can be controlled digitally; Articulated running gear; Authentic large US style pantographs; RP25 wheels; Kadee style couplers; Headlights with high beam and  lights in both cabs; Motor: Can motor with bell shaped armature; 4 powered axles in the two power trucks; 4 traction tyres ; several separately applied details.    

 

The model is securely packaged as are all Trix models although this time in a moulded plastic casing which unfastens to allow the model to come out rather than in polystyrene.  Model 22811 has running number 4829 and model 22810 is 4935.  The model comes with a two year warranty, assembly diagram and instruction booklet.  The model itself is well detailed and a good representation of the prototype.  The decals and paintwork are crisp and clear.  Visually there is not much to take issue with.  The only thing I found and this was only with the help of magnified photography, was a join line on the body where pieces of body casting may have been joined together at the front of the loco.  I had not noticed this before with the naked eye.  This can be seen below.

 

 

On the tracks it runs smoothly and noiselessly.  The articulated running gear flex’s reasonably well. Unlike the Big Boy this has not been offered with European wheels instead of the RP25 to enable it to run more efficiently.  This is unfortunate as it does make it difficult to run on a European style layout.  RP25 wheels are fine with on big American layouts with three foot radius and greater curves but they are less capable on a European layout where a wide curve is often regarded as 360mm radius (about a foot and two inches). As this has been offered by a European manufacturer I would have thought the option would have been good.

 

 

The loco has thirteen digital effects including directional headlights, directional long distance headlights, cab lighting, low speed switching range and a comprehensive range of sound effects.  Unusually it does not have an override function for the starting and braking inertia which is normal on Trix digital trains.  This seems to have the low speed switching range instead.  As regards the two headlight settings, the initial one is low beam and then there is a high beam. There is a visible difference. I have shown pictures of the two for comparison.

 

High beam                                       Low beam    

 

The digital sound features are good and clear with a wide variety of effects, including operating sounds, bell, horn, pantograph, blower motor, switching relays, cab radio, sound of couplers and rail joints which are speed dependant.  The speaker is reasonably loud and the sounds are well co-ordinated with the motion of the loco.  No complaints there at all. 

 

The motor is good and can pull a substantial load.  I have used it with passenger coaches and freight and it looks equally at home with either.

 

 

As this is one of the most frequently modelled prototypes, it was anticipated that there would be a great deal of comparison between this model and many others.  The GG1 can be found in many scales from N through to a massive G scale model by LGB.  For the purpose of this review the only comparisons drawn will be with other HO models.  Probably the best of the competition is the BLI model.  It has sound and is well detailed.  It has the benefit of coming in sixteen different liveries where the Trix only comes in two.  The Trix has the benefit of having a metal shell and being more robust whereas the BLI has a plastic body and its weight concentrated in the base.  This may seem academic but there are benefits to having the weight lower in the frame.  It is more stable having a lower centre of gravity.   I have found that when my Trix GG1 has derailed it has often toppled on its side.  If the weight is concentrated in the chassis it may have simply derailed rather than fell over.  Obviously this hasn’t been scientifically determined but is something to consider.  The Trix definitely has the edge with sound.  The Loksound decoder is far better than the QSI, although if you do not have DCC then QSI is designed to work with regular analogue DC.

 

 

This is a fantastic locomotive and is a great addition to a US layout.  I find it versatile and it looks great.  There’s lots of fun to be had messing around with the sound effects and lights.  What I like about the sound effects is that they are mainly ones which the average person would know when it was appropriate to use.  Some manufacturers make the assumption that you are a train driver and know when to use all the appropriate running noises.  This loco thankfully automates most of them.  In terms of value for money however, the BLI wins on price as it retails for $279 US.  The Trix is twice that!  The level of detail is pretty even between the two.  So if you’re not bothered about a metal body, want a choice in colour and livery and can accept a Neolithic sound decoder which is completely out of sync with the loco with no starting and braking inertia then the BLI would be the one to go for.  The Trix is far better but it would be difficult to argue that the difference is worth $270.  I bought the Trix and I’m glad I did.  I would thoroughly recommend it but for those on a budget the BLI is an option to consider.

 

Address

Meaning

Setting

CV1

Loco address

3

CV2

Minimum speed

4

CV3

Acceleration time

8

CV4

Braking Time

6

CV5

Top Speed

63

CV6

Middle speed

25

CV8

Basic setting

-

CV 17/18

Expanded loco address

0

CV29

Configuration register

4

CV49

Expanded configuration

19

CV63

Volume

64

 Neil Wood - July 2006

 

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