Shark Attack: The Broadway Limited Imports Baldwin BF16

Now available for the first time with Paragon3 DCC and Sound, we take a look at one of the most unique diesel locomotives to grace HO scale rails. 

The Prototype

The onset of the diesel era was not kind to the Baldwin Locomotive Works. During the 1940s, the legendary steam builder had seen little success with their diesel offerings; most had been plagued with mechanical problems and power shortfalls. The RF-16 and BF16 were developed with the goal of turning this trend around. Not only were these new models mechanically superior to their predecessors, they also received radical new styling inspired by the PRR T1 steam locomotive. Their sharp appearance and drastic lines were likened to those of a shark, earning them the nickname “sharknoses”.

Outperforming the popular EMD F3, the type quickly gained a reputation for being rugged, reliable locomotives. They were primarily assigned to long coal drags, although could occasionally be found in other roles. Initially ordered by the PRR, the type was also purchased by the B&O and New York Central. All three railroads retained their Sharks well into the 1960s, and once retired, several were sold to smaller roads. Most were eventually cut up and sold for scrap, however two examples were saved by the Delaware and Hudson in 1974. For the next four years, they would see both excursion and regular freight use, until being sold once again, entering preservation in 1979.

Suffering from mechanical issues, the surviving pair were retired from operation in the early 1980s. They were moved to a secure location on the Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad, where they remain preserved to this day.

The Model

Broadway Limited Imports is perhaps best known for their attention to detail and high build quality, and the 2019 release of the BF16 is a perfect demonstration of this.

Four railroads are features in this latest release, reflecting both the original owners, and the surviving former D&H examples. Each paint scheme has been meticulously applied, and accurate color tones, logos and lettering adorn all models.

Both A and B units are available for appropriate roads, and can be purchased individually, or in combined sets. Each example features an intricately molded ABS shell mounted on weighted diecast chassis, and all models are adorned with a range of smaller, separately applied details. These include finescale railings and rungs, painted cab figures, windshield wipers, scale MU hoses, and much more. Additionally, each model features road-specific details such as train phone antennas and variations in horn type and placement.

Powered by a quiet running motor, the BF16s operate smoothly from the moment you place them on the track. All wheel pickup allows for uninterrupted running, and the weight of the diecast chassis aids in providing appropriate traction for excellent pulling capability.

Constant voltage LED lights are featured on all units, including directional headlights, lighted number boards, and red marker lights on A units, and backup lights on both A and B units.

For the first time, these models come preinstalled with Broadway Limited’s latest Paragon3 DCC and sound system. While the realistic prime mover sequence is certainly the star of the show, the wealth of additional sounds cannot be undersold. Effects include crew and radio conversations, passenger announcements, and ambient sounds for both rural and industrial settings. Being Paragon3 models, these locomotives also come fully equipped for use with Broadway Limited’s Rolling Thunder system. This stand-alone supplemental sound system features a subwoofer for realistic engine rumble, which communicates wirelessly with the locomotive to ensure the correct level of rumble to correspond with it’s distance from the receiver.

Although this isn’t the first release of these locomotives, the addition of Rolling Thunder compatibility, combined with the sound improvements featured on the Paragon3 system, make this release a worthy successor to previous editions of these models. Explore the full range in our HO scale department!

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