Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Review: Eureka Models CPH Railmotor

It's been a month since I purchased a sound equipped CPH/CTH railmotor set for my own layout. So all the tootling and horn blowing aside, what do I make of Eureka Models' HO scale New South Wales Railways offering?

The model comes securely packaged but is easily removed from the box.

The non-sound versions of the CPH/CTH railmotor sets were originally released in 2009, while the sound equipped versions followed later in 2011. So it was surprising to discover that 5 years later, a sound equipped green and cream coloured timber paneled CPH/CTH set was still available to purchase. I'd never given the model much thought before. However, with the relatively short run that I currently have on my bookshelf layout, I thought the CPH would make a worthy addition to my small layout. The model lifted easily out of the box thanks to the cleverly inserted blue ribbons. Nothing broke removing it from the box, and nothing was missing. So far it was a 100% scorecard compared to my previous 4 purchases from other Australian manufacturers.

The foam spacers are for the trailer bogies, while the coupler bars come in two different lengths.

The trailer car is exactly that, a trailer car. There was little or no detail on the underside of the car or to the bogies on the prototype. So the model came with foam spacers between the wheel sets to protect it in storage. The antiquated coupler bars on the CPH sets are replicated in the form of plastic clip-on draw bars that are provided in two lengths, depending on what radius curvature you have on your layout. This simple yet realistic device removes the need for a chunky 8 pin connector to control the lights. Instead, a limited function decoder allows the interior lights to work in unison with the railmotor, while also providing directional red and white marker lights that can be isolated easily enough using the on/off switch beneath the trailer car. In a word; brilliant.

Both the railmotor and trailer car have isolating directional light switches underneath the body.

The first of the CPH railmotors date back to 1923, and by 1945 a program was underway to replace the original petrol engines to GM diesel engines. It was about this time that multiple unit and drivers cab controls were fitted to the number 2 end of the trailer cars. While Eureka released the CPH/CTH sets in a number of different, often short lived liveries, I was surprised to learn that only 5 trailer cars were ever produced. So weighing up whether to get a set with crown lights and timber paneling, (as I purchased above), or smooth sided masonite sheeting with the upper window panels blanked over in combinations of either tuscan, green and cream, silver and blue or even khaki, becomes a bit of a headache-inducing exercise in railmotor history.

The short spacer bar offers close coupling as shown above.

Initially wanting a green and cream set to resemble the preserved Rail Motor Society sets still in use today, I soon discovered that there are no preserved CTH trailer cars that I am aware of still in active use. I would have liked to see Eureka also make these models available as single railmotors or double railmotor packs. Just so that we modelers could have a pair running as are preserved on our railways today. So, when either the timber paneling with crown lights, or the masonite sided version with the crown lights blanked over would both be technically incorrect for what I am modelling on account of the trailer anyway, I simply went with the green and cream liveried version that I thought looked better. For the record, I learned that CTH trailer number 54 is preserved non-operational at Dorrigo, while CPH railmotor number 6 is preserved operational, albeit painted in tuscan with smooth masonite siding, at the Cooma Monaro Railway. I just hope it isn't one of those trivial decisions that comes back to haunt me at future model train shows when someone points out, "isn't that supposed to be....?"

The trailer car also has a fully lit interior.

The fully lit interior on the trailer car is a treat. The lettering on the side of each carriage is crisp, clear and a perfect copy of what was once found on the side of New South Wales Railways passenger carriages.

The subtle factory weathering really makes this model stand out.

The interior of the railmotor, though also fitted with lighting, does a good enough job of overcoming the hurdles of where do you stick a motor, wiring and a sound equipped decoder. Though some areas are blacked-out, there is enough area illuminated to look convincing. After all, inside is a QSI DC/DCC sound equipped decoder that has the unique advantage of a magnetic wand to control the sound volume. You simply wave it over the roof area when the unit is idle on the track, and the sound will decrease to almost zero before increasing again until it is at maximum.

The front is so realistic, you'll want to wave to the little guy in the driver's seat!

Eureka Models CPH railmotor set is fitted with a DC/DCC decoder. The decoder chip simply recognizes the track voltage when it is placed on the rails, and adjusts its function accordingly. Being an old-school modeler still operating in DC mode with a power pack almost as old as I am, the ability to run a sound equipped model in DC mode is what convinced me to purchase Eureka's CPH railmotor in the first place. Even then, the instructions that come inside the box take some time to master once you begin playing around with the start-up, idle and finally acceleration noises whilst sounding the horn functions. In DC mode, it requires a quick back-and-forth flick of the forward and reverse control. Do it too slowly, and the sound will revert back to start-up mode. Even now, I still haven't quite perfected it every time. The model runs smoothly in DC sound mode, and the built-in inertia gives a whole new dimension to operating a passenger train back-and-forth on a small bookshelf layout such as mine.

Even at night, the fully lit interior doesn't show through the body of the model.

There's a lot to like about my first Eureka Models purchase. While the retail price of $440 for the non-sound version at first seems a little daunting, the days of Australian passenger train sets such as this being available for under $500 are almost over. As for the extra $99 I spent ordering the sound equipped model, it was by far the cheaper option to purchasing both a DCC sound decoder chip and buying a new DCC controller pack to operate it. The subtle factory weathering is something I would highly recommend if, like me, you are intimidated by the thought of butchering an expensive model. The extra $25 spent was well worth the good night's sleep from not worrying whether I had done it right. Best of all, I like that everything just works, and works exceptionally well!

Review Card: Eureka Models CPH/CTH Railmotor and Trailer Set


Final Thoughts: What's not to like about this model? Sound, interior lighting and factory weathering. It's a 5 star model in every sense, even if it is a little pricey for a pint sized train.

1 comment:

  1. Phil, you can buy from the USA a MRC black box, which you just plug in and it will operate any DCC without any programming on your DC layout. It also has up to 28 functions in DCC. Cost is around $120. The only thing it doesn't operate is DC.


Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil