We received our first N scale ScaleTrains Tier 4 GEVO locomotive this week in BNSF swoosh paint scheme and promptly ordered two more. Shane and the crew at ScaleTrains already set the bar high with their Union Pacific Turbine units and this latest offering doesn’t disappoint. Next to ScaleTrains own Turbine units, these are the most detailed N scale diesel units ever produced.
GEVO is an abbreviation for General Electric Evolution series diesel locomotive. Originally introduced in 2003 as a means to meet more stringent Tier 2 emission standards in 2005, the GEVO is largely a replacement for the GE Dash 9 series and dimensionally similar. Ever stringent diesel emissions have evolved to the Tier 4 level (highest thus far) and left EMD and GE scrambling to try and meet these strict emissions. This required after-exhaust treatment and a variety of additional equipment which meant the Tier 4 version of the GEVO grew 16 inches in overall length and the long-hood portion of the body behind the cab has a number of visual differences most notably the “hump” just in front of the rear radiator and a larger radiator cross section at the back. All in, General Electric’s Evolution Series has gone on to be one of the best selling locomotives ever produced.
ScaleTrains N scale model of the Tier 4 GEVO is an impressive piece that really sets the bar in N scale locomotives. Cramming this much detail into something this small is not easy. Manufacturers have a difficult task in trying to balance the cost to produce something this complex with the ability of people to actually assemble a model with so much fine, hand installed detail. If you take a look at our gallery of photos, you’ll notice hand installed grab irons, cab shades above the windows, rear-view mirrors, separately applied etched radiator covers, tread plates, tons of pad printed warning labels, functional ditch lights and the most detailed undercarriage we’ve seen yet.
Features in the ScaleTrains N scale GEVO include roadname and road number specific details including three different engine cab rooflines, high and low headlight variants, multiple versions of antennas and PTC antenna farm arrays, two different types of trucks, and much more. On top of that, this model is also offered in DC, DCC and DCC with LokSound versions. Versions like the Norfolk Southern unit include functional ditch lights front *and* rear. Number boards are separately lit from the headlamps and ditch lights – and the list goes on and on.
On our under construction layout, the ScaleTrain N scale Tier 4 GEVO ran flawlessly with pulling power similar to Kato units which are typically the gold standard of mechanisms. The motor runs silent with no growling and low speed performance is good. Our unit has the LokSound DCC decoder which features ESU’s typically outstanding motor control and sound functions. ESU has made great strides in constantly updating their sound files (which means they are very busy recording locomotives all over the country) and currently offer two different Tier 4 GEVO sound files. The speaker on the ScaleTrains version is a sugar cube type located in the fuel tank and firing downward. Sound volume levels are more than adequate. If there was any nit, it is in the prime mover sound being a little too subdued, which we chalk up to the factory sound volume which can be adjusted via CV’s. We have two different BNSF units and they run identical in terms of performance and consist together with no adjustments necessary to speed match them which is a good sign that the motors in these units are well matched. Here is a quick video of them running:
Overall we are impressed with this model. You could make the argument that some details are tad chunky, but that would just be picking on what is otherwise a bar raising model. Strides in N scale don’t come along very often. We’ve just recently seen factory sound finally making its way into these tiny models and now ScaleTrains has gone to the next level on prototypical details. For one of their first major N scale efforts, this sets expectations high and we expect to see more great things from ScaleTrains. Meanwhile, we’ve ordered a couple more to add to our collection.