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First look at a pre-production Broadway Ltd BlueLine SD40-2. Preliminary test 3-28-07.

Please note: We only summarize some of the features of the BlueLine SD40-2.

Broadway Ltd has done it again. One would have to say that their original bold move to enter the HO locomotive market with DC/DCC sound equipped locomotives ushered in the age of factory equipped sound for HO/N model railroaders. Broadway Ltd was the first and now almost all of the other loco
manufacturers have done the same. This has resulted in an ever increasing number of options for model railroaders to select a DC/DCC sound locomotive to suit their tastes.

In a living example of US capitalism Broadway Ltd has done it again with the release of the BlueLine series. The BlueLines have most of the features of the currently offered locos with DC/DCC sound but are about 30-40% lower cost. Here is why:


1) It appears that they will be using the same tooling as prior BLI releases as all their announcements so far, the SD40-2, AC6000 and PRR M1s were released for the BLI Paragon Series.

2) Completely new electronics that feature a DC/DCC sound only decoder reducing factory cost. DCC users can simply plug in a DCC decoder to get the motor drive they want. According to BLI, the sound only decoder is their own in-house design which has firmware downloading capability through the loco or a connector. This is additional savings because they do not have to pay any licensing fees.

3) Limited production runs, essentially "made to order" based on building to firm preorders.This way all units built are sold and carrying inventory costs are eliminated. This trend, currently now used by many manufacturers will soon be the norm. If you do not preorder you may not get it.


Preliminary Testing

Configuration:

The SD40 we received is a pre-production unit but appears to be the finalized design. The casting detail is nice and there are hand applied detail parts. The loco is hefty and weighs in at 1lb 2oz. The configuration is a motor center, dual fly wheel dual gear box design with all wheel pick-up and all wheel drive. The dynamic brake fairing is a pop off hatch that provides easy access to the NMRA 8 pin DCC socket. There is enough space for many different decoder options that have the NMRA 8 pin plug. The shell is easy to remove ... minor friction slip ... once the coupler boxes are off.

Directional lighting is included.

Overall the unit is well made, user friendly and runs smoothly.

What about how it sounds!

As you probably guessed the first thing we actually did was not read the instructions but promptly put the SD40-2 on out test layout and listened to the sounds.

Naturally the horn is very important, that was first, and was impressive. We look for clarity, lack of distortion, volume and realism. The horn was crisp and clear and good volume and comparable to or better than the competition.

Most stunning is the unique playable horn effect that allows you to play a long note and then a short note ... right on top of of it ... while the long note is fading off!

In all there are 10 active function controlled sounds we tried them and the results were comparable to other sound equipped locomotives. Many of the active sounds have programmable options. There are also 8 random popular background sound effects with user programmable intervals. The prime mover sounds were ok, they are realistic start-up, shut down and idle sounds.

The prime mover sounds under power and acceleration were noticeable but maybe a little flat. BLI told me they are working to improve this in the production units.

DC users should be aware of the fact that there are no user controlled sound options on DC without using the "DC Master" control box.

How Does the Loco Pull and Run?

Mechanically the construction is comparable to the higher quality locomotives offered by other manufacturers. The SD40-2 ran smoothly at low speed both on DC and DCC. On DC the loco sound fired up at about 5 VDC and started low speed at 8 VDC. It negotiated 18" radius curves and yard ladders on our test layout with no problems. We took the equivalent of 30-40 cars up a 4% grade. The max draw was about 3/4 Amp.

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