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HO New Haven Class I5

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  • Member since
    July, 2011
  • 30 posts
HO New Haven Class I5
Posted by newhavenroad on Sunday, August 28, 2011 11:18 PM

Hi all, I model the New Haven in HO and I would really love to get a loco that at least somewhat resembles the NH's Class I5 Hudson. I've found IHC's model at a reasonable price on ebay and will go ahead and buy it if i can find some things out. First, does it run well or is it a real clunker? Second, does it have a DCC decoder installed, is it DCC ready, or is it fairly easy to install a decoder the old fashioned way? Third and fourth, does anyone know of a better model for around the same price and/or is willing to sell a similar model to me for equal to or less than $150 (US) ?

  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 300,865 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, August 28, 2011 11:30 PM

IHC locos have the reputation of being simple in detail, but smooth runners, that also pull a lot. They usually are not fitted with a DCC decoder, nor are they DCC ready or friendly. A price tag of $ 150 seems to be way too high.

  • Member since
    March, 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 9,452 posts
Posted by dknelson on Monday, August 29, 2011 8:30 AM

Isn't this the locomotive that Broadway Limited brought out in a couple of different versions and price ranges?  I doubt if you'll get one cheap but they are out there.

Do you get the NMRA magazine?  Some months ago Phil Bonzon had a series of articles about how he built his prize winning B&O Pacific.  His general ideas are summarized here

I mention this because the general lines of this streamlined steam locomotive are not unlike the New Haven 4-6-4 and i think there are some ideas in Bonzon's article that you could use to "semi-scratch/kit mingle" a steamlined engine that would come close to an I5 in outline and general heft.

Depending on your ability to live with "somewhat resembles/close enough for me" -- if capturing the general lines of the I5 class would satisfy you, I'd almost be tempted to see if a Mantua Hudson (a modification of their time tested metal Pacific) chassis could be wedded to a cut down Bachmann N&W boiler, with a new smokebox front.  The cab might need modifying too but sometimes shim brass or pastic can be overlayed to the desires steamlined shape.  The Bonzon article would be of great help here. 

 Actually the metal shield in front of the pumps below the smokebox front is almost like the old stock Mantua part that came with the Pacific.  I have no idea how easy or difficult it is to make the old Mantua chassis DCC compatible.   The old Mantua tender, if you can find a plastic one rather than the zinc alloy cast metal ones that I have, could likely be cut down and modified to resemble -- again that is as close as you are going to come, a resemblance -- the New Haven prototype.   Again what Bonzon did with his B&O engine would probably prove quite helpful as a guide.

Dave Nelson


  • Member since
    May, 2002
  • From: Massachusetts
  • 2,520 posts
Posted by Paul3 on Monday, August 29, 2011 10:21 AM

As a long-time NH fan, I can tell you that while there have been several I-5's (don't forget the hyphen) made in HO scale, none of them can be had for under $300 these days (unless you really luck out).  The least expensive "real" I-5 is one of the best ones; namely, the Broadway Limited version that retails at $450 but I've seen for $360 or less:

The BLI is simply a great model.  I love mine.  It weighs 2 lbs., and I've hauled 14 passenger cars up a 1.5% grade with it.  They really nailed the sound of the "steam boat" whistle these locos had (compare to the NH WWII film, "A Great Railroad At Work").  And even with the sound off, the engine runs smooth and quiet.  Best of all, it's really, really accurate.  No one has said a single bad thing about it that I've ever heard.

The other I-5's have all been in brass by NJ/Custom Brass (~$400), W&R (~$800), BLI ($1500), and PSC ($1500). 

The IHC model you mention is not actually a NH I-5, just some kind of Hudson with "NEW HAVEN" on the tender...and the "NEW HAVEN" on the tender is in a totally bogus font.  The tender should have two silver stripes on it, not one, and that wide stripe should be on the bottom of the tender sides, not 1/3rd of the way up it (the other, smaller, stripe shoud be along the top edge of the tender).  The "S" strip under the cab should continue under the cab, not stop under the window.  The drivers on the model are spoked when they should be "streamlined"...not to mention that they should also be painted with silver center discs and wheel rims and tires.  The bullet nose on the model should encompass the entire smokebox front, and there should be a "skyline" casing hiding the stack plus the steam and sand domes.  About the only thing they got right was the number of wheels and the 1400 number.

So if you want to start with this model and create a NH I-5, it's going to require a lot of work.  It's not impossible, as there are many parts available, but it'll still be some serious work.  I do not know anything about how this model runs, for I don't think I've seen one in person.

Personally, I always thought that the best starting point to create your own NH I-5 would be to start with the ATSF "Blue Goose":

Microscale makes the decals, and at least the Blue Goose is streamlined with the skyline casing like the NH I-5.  A little reworking of the nose cone and front, some black paint, and the decals, and you'd have a much closer stand-in for a NH I-5 than that IHC model (which is soooo wrong).  Even better, the Rivarossi Blue Goose has been out for decades, and so should be available for cheap money on eBay or at a train show.

BTW, I don't know if you know about the New Haven Railroad Historical & Technical Association.  We have an excellent New Haven website at, not to mention that if you join, you get our "Shoreliner" full-color magazine and our full-color "Speed Witch" newsletter.  If you're in the Southern New England area, we go to around 15 train shows during the fall/winter/spring seasons selling NH items including books, magazines, videos, and models.

Paul A. Cutler III

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