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4-6-4 Hudson Steam Locomotives

Lionel Hudson

Thanks to Lionel, who produced millions of models of it, the New York Central (NYC) Hudson is probably one of the most recognizable of all steam locomotives.  The Hudsons were the backbone of the great steel fleet that plied the iron between New York and Chicago.  It was capable of pulling a large passenger train at more than 100 miles per hour, and headed most of the New York Central's premier trains, such as the 20th Century Limited.  The 4-6-4 Hudson evolved from the 4-6-2 Pacific through "superpowering" by adding a larger firebox, and the extra trailing truck axle that was required as a result, much at the 2-8-2 Mikado evolved to the 2-8-4 Berkshire.  The scale model above is by Lionel, and includes a full sound, smoke, and remote control package.  That's an MTH BNSF husky stack and scale Chessie caboose on the next track over. The elevated loop of the layout is in the background.   The photos below show the MTH Premier model of the NYC Hudson with the streamlining designed by Henry Dreyfuss (prototype photos appear further down the page).  This is a full scale replica, and is superb!

MTH Model Dreyfuss

MTH Dreyfuss running gear

MTH Model Dreyfuss

In early 2002, MTH released a version of the J1e Hudson in gray enamel, to accompany a limited edition club set with reproductions of prewar tinplate passenger cars.  It included a tinplate tender, and the set itself was a reproduction of a Lionel set released in 1939.  As you can see from the following photos, things have come a long way!

MTH Scale Hudson

MTH Scale Hudson

The photos below show the prototypes in all their glory.

NYC Hudson

NYC Hudson

NYC Hudson

NYC Hudson (Commodore Vanderbilt)

This is NYC #5344, the streamlined Hudson knows as the "Commodore Vanderbilt," named after the founder of the NYC.  It was streamlined in 1939; the streamlining was removed some years later, restoring the locomotive to its original appearance.  #5344 has the distinction of being the prototype model for generations of Lionel Hudson-class steamers, both with and without shrouding.

NYC Hudson (Empire State Express)

This is another streamlined NYC Hudson, with shrouding designed by Henry Dreyfuss.  It was manufactured in 1941, and was used as motive power on NYC's Empire State Limited.  It's the prototype of the model shown above.

NYC Hudson (20th Century Limited)

NYC Hudson (20th Century Limited)

Above are a couple of shots of the streamlined Hudson designed to pull what is arguably the most famous train of the New York Central, the Twentieth Century Limited, that ran from New York to Chicago in 20 hours.

Not all Hudsons were rostered by the NYC -- many other roads had them.  Here's one from the CB&Q.

CB&Q Hudson

Here's another from the Santa Fe.

In the fall of 2004, MTH brought out an exquisite model of just such a Santa Fe Hudson.  It came out in both 2-rail and 3-rail versions and employed a new feature called Protoscale to enable either one to run on either track system.  I had the pleasure of trying out the 2-rail version and the photos are shown below. The first shows the locomotive and tender broadside,

The next shows the locomotive itself.

Next is detail in the upper cab and boiler top area.

The fourth and fifth photos show the stack area with the stack lowered --

-- and raised!

The next shot shows the detailing around the builder's plate.

The seventh photo shows the detail in the lower cab area.

Next is the cab itself with the engineer ready to pull out.

Next is the driver and valve gear detail. Other than two Philips screws, it sure looks real!

Here's the pilot truck and front-end detail.

Here's the obligatory "face" shot -- nice looking face too!

Here's a shot of the tender.

On the tender top amidships are two opening hatches. The one on the right holds the 2-rail/3-rail switch and the one on the left hold the DC polarity switch.

Toward the rear of the tender are more hatches. To the right, the upper has the smoke on/off/volume pot and the lower has the sound on/off/volume pot. To the left, the lower hatch has the charging jack. The upper hatch opens, but is the only one not concealing a control.

The parting shot is of the 2-rail Hudson running on my 3-rail layout, chuffing away!

Last updated: 22 Jan 2020

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