Review by George Riley/photos by the author
In 1938 General Electric manufactured five four-wheel, 20 ton industrial box cab locomotives. These were the first examples of a very successfull and long lived class of light industrial machines and were built for standard gauge use. The following year a second set of 6, 23 ton, box cab locomotives locomotives were offered following the same formula. Of these six, two were built to 36” gauge with the rest being offered in standard gauge. Both production series utilized a Cummins 150 horse-power diesel engine powering a traction motor on the rear axle which in turn using a chain drive off of this axle powered the front wheel set. This diesel-electric drive system set these locomotives apart from their contemporaries of which most used an automotive style clutch and gear box or a penion and tapered flywheel to transfer power from their engines to the wheels on the ground.
In 1941 General Electric redesigned their basic 25 ton machine with an end cab, however, the drive train remained from the earlier models. This configuration would remain in production from 1941 until 1974 with only minor equipment and styling changes. While cataloged to be available gauged from 24” to standard gauge only a few were offered in 30”, 36” and 42” with the lion’s share being standard gauged. During the production life of the model 510 25 ton locomotives would be produced which is surprising since most orders were for single, or at most two units per customer.
The Piko model captures the angular lines of those locomotives produced during the early 1940s. These diminutive engines served the docks and metal production facilities in addition the mining and construction efforts during the Second World War. Not only are the boxy lines of these machines replicated in miniature, but the overall dimensions match the available drawings closely. The only deviation from these is the wheelbase which is short by 5/32” due to the compromise imposed by the use of a standard power brick. However, this does in no way impact the model’s overall appearance which is excellent due to the smooth and opaque painting and lettering application along with the flawless assembly. A horn and bell are included separately to finish out the details and just plug into the provided holes on the body.
The more or less standard European style underslung hook and loop couplers are factory installed on the model. For operators wishing to add Kadee knuckle couplers a post in included to easily install #831 or #909 couplers. Overall operation is smooth with exceptional slow speeds provided, even with a low power entry level power supply. The prototype was rated to handle six cars and had a top end of 20 miles per hour. The model weights in at 46 ounces and was able to replicate this with a group of six metal four wheel dump cars on straight level track. It will easily handle 24” radius curves although with a shorter consist. With all wheels electrically conductive plus the two track sliders it will easily run over insulated turnout frogs at the slowest speeds without stalling.
Overall, Piko’s General Electric 25 ton large scale model provides a combination of prototype fidelity and superb operating characteristics. The model is robust and reliable making it a great choice for an entry level locomotive for garden railroaders.
4610 Alvarado Canyon, Ste 5
San Diego, CA 92120
D&GRW GE 25-Ton Diesel Switcher Locomotive
Item # 38500
MSRP – $209.99
½” to the foot/45mm track gauge