MTH Premier 20-3045-1
New York Central System
J-3a Dreyfuss Hudson
Until the MTH scale model of the Dreyfuss Hudson was delivered in
December of 2000, O scale Dreyfuss Hudsons were made of brass. MTH's
model is diecast, which is more sturdy than brass and what the O gauge
hobby is used to.
The catalog depictions announcing the production of the Dreyfuss
Hudson showed the model as having black cylinder heads and a black logo
shield on the front skirt. This would not have been accurate. The
production model has polished cylinder heads and blue NYC logo on the
skirt. This is correct.
Overall, the MTH Dreyfuss Hudson looks good. It has a lot of applied
details and is a solid, sturdy piece. Some have wondered if the shade of gray
isn't too light. This is a difficult argument because the real Dreyfuss
Hudsons had been repainted over the years during their service from 1938
to the late 1940s. The handrails are painted gray as well. Every picture
I have seen suggests the handrails were not painted.
The MTH model has Boxpok drivers. Some of the Dreyfuss Hudsons were
built with these type, and the others had Scullen Disc drivers. The
striking inaccuracy concerning the drivers is that the tires are
blackened. What happened is that MTH, in an effort to make the hi-rail
steam locomotives look more realistic, directed their supplier to
blacken the tires of the drivers. Black drivers with shiny nickel
tires looked too toyish. What the supplier did not know was to leave the
Dreyfuss tires alone, so the reverse effect happened. MTH dulls their drive
rods so they look a bit weathered.
Like MTH's Empire State Express Hudson made five years before, the
drivers of this Hudson are illuminated. Whether or not this is accurate
is uncertain. But they do look good, particularly with the house lights
There is also the headlight, tender back-up light, cab interior
light, and firebox glow.
The tender decoration has two problems. First, the stripes are
supposed to wrap around the front corners of the shroud. On the MTH
model, they stop at the handrails. Second, the New York Central
lettering is not evenly spaced. The letters "A" and
"L" of Central are placed further from the other letters.
The pilot has a scale coupler that swings out from behind the
streamlined panel. The drawbar has two holes for mounting to the tender.
For display, the second hole is supposed to be used. For operation, use
the first hole. This
is tricky to attach and MTH issued a recall to fix the problem. At the
top of the steps near the boiler front, there is supposed to be open
space. On MTH's model this area is filled in. On the Lionel model, the
area is open.
MTH produced seven matching passenger cars for the Dreyfuss. Both a five-car set and a two-car add-on set were
released at the same
time. The stripes all match between the cars and the tender.
Unfortunately, the cars do not have the skirting along the bottom. You
can see in the picture above where the tender has skirting. On the
prototype, this continued for the entire consist. MTH has
matching passenger cars, and Lionel has not produced any yet.
This is one of the first locomotives equipped with MTH's forth-coming
DCS control system. The instructions note that DCS functions will be
covered in the operation manual that will be included with the system.
The instructions that come with the locomotive detail conventional
Unfortunately, without the availability of the DCS system at the time
of writing, it is not possible to run the locomotive to its full
operating potential. But it does run very well in conventional mode.
When you throttle up, the locomotive starts out slowly and smoothly gets up
to speed. Nice and easy. This is more desirable than the way the Lionel model
starts out in conventional mode.
The smoke unit produces a lot more smoke than the Lionel version. In
neutral, the smoke pours out as MTH locomotives normally do. In
operation, the smoke pours out in large puffs synched with the
One of MTH's best sounds was the whistle for the Southern Pacific
Daylight GS-4. It was crisp, it had power, it sounded realistic. The
sound quality of the whistle for their New York Central Dreyfuss is just as good. Clearly,
the announcement of ProtoSounds 2.0 was made, this is the kind of new and improved
sounds they were talking about. When DCS comes out, a "Doppler
effect" can be activated for the whistle. The Doppler effect is the
instant change in audio pitch of an object as it passes you. You hear
it on things like planes and train whistles. The chugging is also much
deeper than previous MTH locomotives. It definately competes with
The station announcement sounds and other features are primed differently than
locomotives with the first ProtoSounds. Originally, with the locomotive in neutral, you used to have to
set the power low, hold down the bell button until you heard a
"whoosh" sound (like air brakes releasing) or a whistle, and then the
station sounds were primed. Now, you do not have to be in neutral. Both
the whistle and bell buttons are used to prime various effects. For
instance, for the station announcements, you tap the bell button once
and the whistle button twice. Now this feature is primed.
New York Central System
J-3a Dreyfuss Hudson
The Lionel Smithsonian Collection model of the Dreyfuss Hudson is
still one of the most detailed O scale locomotives ever produced. It was
made of brass, and many Lionel collectors who purchased one were not
prepared for the delicate model they received. Many of these models
up with dents and small details broken off.
Lionel announced in their latest catalog from August that they were
producing a diecast Dreyfuss Hudson. It was delivered at the end of
October. Lionel already had a production sample of it in July, and they used the
Smithsonian version to model certain aspects of it.
The Lionel model looks a lot like the Smithsonian model. The Scullen
Disc drivers look good, but because they are secured to the axles with
black screws, they each look like they have a hole in the center. Lionel
also dulls their drivers, but they're not dirty-looking like on the MTH model.
The valve turn keys are all painted red, as we
have seen on other Lionel scale models of late. The Lionel model has one
less separately-applied pipe detail than the MTH model. Lionel merely
cast this pipe in with the boiler. The decoration looks
good, and is accurate in the areas where I mentioned MTH's version fell short.
However, in all of the pictures I have seen of the Dreyfuss, I do not
believe the cab numbers were outlined in black. They are on Lionel's
Like the MTH model, the Lionel model has illuminated drivers. Lionel
calls them worklights, and it is reasonable to assume that the
locomotives had lights for crews to service the engines in darkness. My
question is whether or not NYC ran the locomotives with
them on. I have never heard recollections that they did. The streamlined
Pacifics used for Mercury service did have illuminated drivers. I am
skeptical as to whether the streamlined Hudsons did. There are six worklights on the Lionel model, whereas the MTH model has
four. Like the
MTH model, the Lionel model looks good with the drivers illuminated.
There is a switch under the locomotive to turn the worklights off.
The cab of the Lionel model is very detailed, just a bit more so
than the MTH version. In addition to the cab interior light and the six
worklights, there is also the firebox glow, headlight, and tender
The valve gear is not quite as detailed as the older 700E
baker valve gear. The linkage on the 700E valve gear is a separately
applied-detail. On the new Dreyfuss it is a diecast molded part. One
nice detail on the boiler casting is the side-view mirrors next to the
Ordinarily, Lionel Hudsons over the past ten years have come with
both a scale pilot and the factory-installed 773-type pilot. This model
only has a semi-scale pilot but it has extra braking detail on it.
Speaking of factory-installed, the Dreyfuss comes with a scale pilot
coupler attached to the front. A big tinplate coupler is included and a
streamlined panel covering. Most people will probably take off the scale
coupler and replace it with the streamlined panel. The streamlined panel
has two secure bolts detail where the MTH version does not.
Lionel has a molded coal load in the tender where MTH, as always, has
a real coal load. Both models have hinged covers over the coal. The tender truck journals are marked for SKF bearings.
The MTH model does not have any markings on the journals.
The top sides of the two models have some subtle differences. The MTH
model has a lip extending up at the end of the cab roof. Pictures of the
various real Dreyfuss Hudsons indicate that both are correct. The vents
of the two access panels just before the roof are more pronounced on the
It seems that this locomotive is really designed to run in a TrainMaster Command
environment. It is equipped with the Odyssey system which takes a little
getting used to, even if you have mastered running trains with the Cab-1
remote. The acceleration of the locomotive is not as gradual as you
would expect. You must slowly throttle up with the controller. Once you
are running, you may experience a very noticeable change in speed at
the slightest turn of the throttle.
The Odyssey system is an electronic "cruise control"
feature designed to automatically power up or down a locomotive where
necessary to maintain a constant speed. This really comes into play when
going up or down grades and around curves.
To get the full impact of the locomotive's operating potential, it is
recommended that you set the stall feature. This is easy to do, and it
enables you to smoothly creep the engine. Without setting stall, you may
notice some uneven performance from the locomotive at slow speeds.
As mentioned in the
instructions, throttling up too fast will cause the locomotive to fly
off the starting mark, so-to-speak. The instructions suggest that you
throttle up just enough to hear a single chuff, then increase power as
Smoke comes out in modest puffs. It reminded me of Lionel Postwar
steam locomotives because smoke rings hovered in the air. The smoke unit
does not appear to be the fan-type. Nevertheless, there is an on/off
switch for it under the cab.
The RailSounds of this locomotive are as good as ever. The most
important aspect of a sound system - the whistle - sounds great.
Occasionally, after you release the whistle button, you'll hear a little
"toot toot" of the whistle. The TowerCom provides only one
line: "New York Central 5452, you are cleared out-bound."
One feature of modern RailSounds I never cared for is CrewTalk.
CrewTalk is an undecipherable playback of what is supposedly a crew
member on the radio. I can't see where having a clear recording of a
crewman would take up any more memory on the Liontech chip than
the garbled recording does. So why exactly can't the engineer of a train
be allowed to understand what is being said over the radio? Is the guy
saying "have a nice day" or "derailment up ahead"?
Both the Lionel and the MTH model has a prototypical chuffing rate
per driver revolution. For a sample of either the MTH or Lionel sounds,
click on the appropriate buttons below. Both were recorded with the same equipment, in the same area,
under the same conditions.