Broadway Limited Imports rolled out an HO scale version of the legendary New York Central 4-6-4 Commodore Vanderbilt Hudson! Choose from the BLI 2840 or the BLI 2841.
In honor of this exciting release, here are 7 interesting facts about the real-life New York Central 4-6-4 “Hudson” locomotive and its unique history:
But first: What makes the 4-6-4 Commodore Vanderbilt Hudson so special?
The famed New York Central 4-6-4 Hudson wasn’t just another steam locomotive: it lives on in history as a master chameleon. The Hudson J-1 No. 5344 – the last J-1e – became America’s first streamlined steam locomotive in 1934.
Coined the Commodore Vanderbilt, on December 27, 1934, the Hudson 5344 was fitted with a streamlined shroud courtesy of the NYC Equipment Engineering Department’s Carl F. Kantola, who had constructed a cowling for one of the NYC road’s J-1 4-6-4s.
The streamlined design was inspired by the diesel Zephyr streamliner. Unsurprisingly, the striking streamlined locomotives appeared prominently in NYC-related advertising at the time.
Again in 1939, the #5344 underwent yet another transformation, when it was reinvented into a standout streamlined concept inspired by the infamous Henry Dreyfuss. This design was intended to match the final ten J-3a Super Hudson locomotives, numbered 5445-5454. It was the only J-1 to be streamlined.
7 Fast Facts About the NYC 4-6-4 Hudson Locomotives
- The 4-6-4’s were built for the New York Central Railroad by ALCO & the Lima Locomotive Works from 1927-1938, in three classes: the J-1, J-2, and J-3.
- NYCR President at the time Patrick E. Crowley dubbed the 4-6-4’s “Hudson” types, after New York’s Hudson River. Crowley had been with the Railroad since he was just 25.
- The “Commodore Vanderbilt” name of the notorious Hudson 4-6-4’s was after Cornelius “the Commodore” Vanderbilt, then a business tycoon and former owner of the NYC Railroad.
- Only one other engine was ever streamlined twice – the B&O #5304, in 1937 and again a decade later. The 5344 had the honor of being first though – in 1934, then in 1939.
- Streamlining wasn’t just for looks: it was functional too. Two key benefits were better airflow and improved insulation. But those perks were overshadowed by the burden of extra weight – and greater required maintenance.
- By the time it was sent for scrap, the once-dashing 5344 had been stripped of its streamlining. See it sitting out in a scrapyard circa 1954 here, in this powerful photo that speaks to the times.
- The classic Hudson 4-6-4 locomotives live on – if only in miniature form: Lionel issued the first Hudson model in 1937, numbered #5344. MTH and Bachmann Trains, amongst other manufacturers, have also released Hudson models over the years.
Wait…did we forget someone?!
Meet the Broadway Limited Commodore Vanderbilt Hudson #5344
Drumroll, please…in 2023, Broadway Limited Imports rolled out two outstanding quality HO scale models with excellent detail and industry leading features:
- 2840 NYC Commodore Vanderbilt Hudson, #5344, Spoked Drivers
- 2841 NYC Commodore Vanderbilt Hudson, #5344, Disk Drivers
The 2840 represents the beloved Vandy Hudson as she originally appeared with spoked drivers; the 2841 models the later appearance, featuring roller-bearing siderods and disc drivers.
Did you know? These Broadway Limited Vanderbilt Hudson #5344 models are delivered ready to run on 18″ curves. To make this happen, two small pieces of shrouding were removed at the front; the locomotives also have a modified rear trailing truck. Both small shroud pieces, plus a prototypically accurate trailing truck are included for optional installation.
Key features of Broadway Ltd’s HO Scale Version of the NYC Vanderbilt Hudson:
- Legendary Paragon4 Sound & Control System
- Synchronized, variable puffing smoke with chuff sound
- Integral DCC Decoder with Back EMF that delivers impressive slow speed operation in DC and DCC
- Precision Drive Mechanism designed for continuous heavy load towing & smooth slow speed operation
- 5-Pole Can Motor with Skew Wound Armature
- Heavy die cast boiler, tender body & chassis, to deliver greater tractive effort
- Factory-installed realistic engineer & fireman figures (always a favorite with the grandkids)
What ever happened to the real-life Hudson locomotives?
These once sleek, speedy powerhouses of the railroad vanished almost without a trace:
As diesel took over the railways around the mid-20th century, all Hudsons were eventually scrapped by 1957. None were preserved, save for a converted tender from J-1d 5313. It can be seen at the Scranton, PA Steamtown National Historic Site.
See what other popular HO scale steam locomotives Nightwatch Trains has in stock & ready to ship to you today.