Rapido Trains Inc. is proud to be able to add the much requested freight FB-2 and dual-service FPB-2 locomotives to its range of museum quality Alco/MLW cab units. Now you can partner your first run A-units with matching Bs to the same high standard. Yes, what manufacturer is crazy enough to bring out not one B-unit on its own, but two? Rapido, that's who! And technically there are four! (GMD F7B and F9B, Alco/MLW FB-2 and FPB-2). And we're not just making paint schemes to match our first run locomotives, we're offering those to match our second run too!
[/caption] Alco/MLW built around 230 B-units which were mostly ordered with A-units in matched sets, usually in fours (A+B+B+A) or in threes (A+B+A). However there were a few notable examples of FB-2s that were constructed to supplement existing fleets of FA-1 cabs. The New Haven was the most famous railroad to only buy FB-2s, and we've added the whole fleet of five units to our range, in two paint schemes! The fortunes of the FB-2 and FPB-2s mostly mirrored the lives of the A-units and most lasted well into the 1960s, with a few notable examples keeping theirs right to the end of Alco/MLW cab unit operation. This included a sizable fleet of New York Central and New Haven Bs that were still operational into the first years of the Penn Central. One FB-2 was even repainted PC black, which we're offering as a special PC 50th anniversary release. In Canada the Bs lasted even longer with Canadian Pacific's fleet eventually being retired in 1977.
It's a common misconception that B units always ran with the same A unit. However, by the end of the 1950s, the Alco/MLW B-units were mixed and matched, and regularly operated not only with other A units but with totally mismatched hood units as well. So even if you didn't buy our Alco/MLW cabs, you can still buy an FB-2 and amaze your friends and relations!
The B-units are mechanically identical to their FA-2 and FPA-2 cousins, except that they did not have a cab for the locomotive engineer. They were controlled by MUing (MU = Multiple Unit) to the lead locomotive. The FPB-2 differs from the FB-2 in that it has a steam generator for providing steam heat to passenger cars. The most obvious spotting differences are the larger combined underbody fuel and water tank and the exhaust panel on the roof.
Because B-units don't usually get any respect from manufacturers, our Alco/MLW Bs feature the same amazing level of detail as our A units. They are doing just as much work and should look and sound just as good. That's why you need a Rapido FB-2 or FPB-2. Like their cab unit partners, the FB-2 and FPB-2 had an Alco 244 prime mover (diesel engine). Today it is very, very difficult to find one of these operating and in good condition. We actually found one in Australia and a good friend of ours was able to record it under load! And the FPB-2 even has the recording of a steam generator on the decoder. So your FB-2 and FPB-2 will sound as good as they look.
And just like the FA-2, there were substantial variations of the FB-2 or FPB-2 locomotives from railroad to railroad, and we’re covering all of the major ones. Rapido’s model will include:
The Rapido B-units will be available in the following paint schemes. Alco and MLW sold about three real B-units for every A-unit that rolled off the production line. If we manage that compared to our first run of As then we'll be very happy! However, unlike Alco it's not possible for us to make as few as a couple of units so many of our paint schemes are conditional on us reaching our factory minimum quantities, otherwise they will not be produced.
The model is in tooling now and we expect to have samples later in the summer.
Our HO Scale Alco/MLW FB-2/FPB-2 features:
The MSRP is $299.95 DC/DCC/Sound and $199.95 DC/Silent in the US. In Canada the MSRP is $335 DC/DCC/Sound and $225 DC/Silent. As usual, these engines will be made to order.