Canadian Pacific FB-2 4469 has been beautifully restored at the Canadian Rail Transportation Museum at Cranbrook, British Columbia. Photo courtesy Dave Love.
Rapido Trains Inc. is proud to be able to add the much requested freight FB-2 and dual-service FPB-2 locomotives to its range of museum quality Alco/MLW cab units. Now you can partner your first run A-units with matching Bs to the same high standard. Yes, what manufacturer is crazy enough to bring out not one B-unit on its own, but two? Rapido, that's who! And technically there are four! (GMD F7B and F9B, Alco/MLW FB-2 and FPB-2). And we're not just making paint schemes to match our first run locomotives, we're offering those to match our second run too!
The Gulf Mobile & Ohio and New Haven railroads were the only companies to purchase FB-2 locomotives without accompanying A-units. Two of the New Haven fleet were repainted in the classic McGinnis scheme and most lasted right into the Penn Central era. Photo courtesy Collectibles by Bob's Photos
[/caption] Alco/MLW built around 230 B-units which were mostly ordered with A-units in matched sets, usually in fours (A+B+B+A) or in threes (A+B+A). However there were a few notable examples of FB-2s that were constructed to supplement existing fleets of FA-1 cabs. The New Haven was the most famous railroad to only buy FB-2s, and we've added the whole fleet of five units to our range, in two paint schemes! The fortunes of the FB-2 and FPB-2s mostly mirrored the lives of the A-units and most lasted well into the 1960s, with a few notable examples keeping theirs right to the end of Alco/MLW cab unit operation. This included a sizable fleet of New York Central and New Haven Bs that were still operational into the first years of the Penn Central. One FB-2 was even repainted PC black, which we're offering as a special PC 50th anniversary release. In Canada the Bs lasted even longer with Canadian Pacific's fleet eventually being retired in 1977.
A typical scene from the late 1960s on the Louisville & Nashville at Decoursey, Kentucky. Although most commonly associated with coal traffic, this pair of Bs is sandwiched between an Alco FA-2 and RS-3 atop a piggyback train! Several L&N B-units survived well into the 1970s rebuilt as "robot" cars for radio control operation of mid-train helpers. Note the lack of dynamic brakes on the L&N fleet. Photo courtesy Dan Dover Collection.
It's a common misconception that B units always ran with the same A unit. However, by the end of the 1950s, the Alco/MLW B-units were mixed and matched, and regularly operated not only with other A units but with totally mismatched hood units as well. So even if you didn't buy our Alco/MLW cabs, you can still buy an FB-2 and amaze your friends and relations!
Unlike their A-units the Pennsylvania Railroad's fleet of FB-2s did not have the PRR inductive trainphone antennas. However, for the first time in HO scale, our PRR model does include the correct Phase Ia FB-2 feature set, including vertical battery box louvers and etched metal wire mesh side grilles. If you look closely you can even see the unique PRR red marker lights at the top corners of the ends.
The B-units are mechanically identical to their FA-2 and FPA-2 cousins, except that they did not have a cab for the locomotive engineer. They were controlled by MUing (MU = Multiple Unit) to the lead locomotive. The FPB-2 differs from the FB-2 in that it has a steam generator for providing steam heat to passenger cars. The most obvious spotting differences are the larger combined underbody fuel and water tank and the exhaust panel on the roof.
Canadian Pacific FPB-2 showing the Phase II configuration of etched metal Farr side grilles and horizontal battery box louvers. Note also the unique CP winterization hatches (factory installed in various configurations to suit the prototype), dynamic brakes, steam generator panel on the roof and the large CP combined fuel/water tank.
Because B-units don't usually get any respect from manufacturers, our Alco/MLW Bs feature the same amazing level of detail as our A units. They are doing just as much work and should look and sound just as good. That's why you need a Rapido FB-2 or FPB-2. Like their cab unit partners, the FB-2 and FPB-2 had an Alco 244 prime mover (diesel engine). Today it is very, very difficult to find one of these operating and in good condition. We actually found one in Australia and a good friend of ours was able to record it under load! And the FPB-2 even has the recording of a steam generator on the decoder. So your FB-2 and FPB-2 will sound as good as they look.
Here's a rendering of the CP B-unit from the underside with that neat fuel and water tank combination. The FPB-2 has never been produced before as an HO scale mass produced model. The Rapido dual-service B even has separate brake chains, steam blowdown valves and steam piping?
And just like the FA-2, there were substantial variations of the FB-2 or FPB-2 locomotives from railroad to railroad, and we’re covering all of the major ones. Rapido’s model will include:
- Correct water/fuel tank combination for the FPB-2 available in two styles
- Alco or MLW small fuel tank for FB-2
- With or without dynamic brakes
- Vertical or horizontal battery box louvers
- Etched metal wire mesh or Farr side grilles
- With or without back-up light
- Accurate underbody piping and conduit
- Canadian or American cast Type B trucks
The Rapido B-units will be available in the following paint schemes. Alco and MLW sold about three real B-units for every A-unit that rolled off the production line. If we manage that compared to our first run of As then we'll be very happy! However, unlike Alco it's not possible for us to make as few as a couple of units so many of our paint schemes are conditional on us reaching our factory minimum quantities, otherwise they will not be produced.
The model is in tooling now and we expect to have samples later in the summer.
Our HO Scale Alco/MLW FB-2/FPB-2 features:
- Many roadname-specific details
- Operating back-up light where appropriate
- Separate grab irons and handrails installed at the factory
- Incredible underframe detail including piping and a ridiculous number of separately-applied parts
- Heavy, die-cast chassis
- Rapido’s proven 5-pole skew-wound motor with dual flywheels and silky-smooth drive
- DC/Silent (21-pin DCC Ready) or DC/DCC/Sound (ESU LokSound) options
- Accurate sounds recorded from a real Alco 244 prime mover
- Factory-installed Macdonald-Cartier couplers mounted at the correct height
The MSRP is $299.95 DC/DCC/Sound and $199.95 DC/Silent in the US. In Canada the MSRP is $335 DC/DCC/Sound and $225 DC/Silent. As usual, these engines will be made to order.
They have come and gone! We hope to do a new run soon!
Rapido's FA and FB units are the only Alco cabs ever produced in HO scale to feature this level of underbody and end detail.