Josh, a younger member of our team, likes the BLI Sound Cars and decided to write about them!
Broadway Ltd HO Scale Stock Cars with Sound
Most of us can remember a time not too long ago when HO gauge sound meant walking around the layout with a large square wooden whistle in hand, ready to sound junction calls and greet fellow chunk-of-wood-wielding enthusiasts with a friendly blast.
Command control introduced an entirely new regime of sound options, which typically came from a tow-behind sound car. While this seemed like the be-all and end-all of technological model railroad niftiness, by today’s standards it was little more than a meek evolutionary challenge to intelligent design.
With the advent of digital command control, HO technology suddenly got smaller — much smaller. As a result, sound possibilities got much larger. We could now fit our sound decoders and (gasp!) even speakers, into out very locomotives. For a while, life seemed complete in the world of model railroad sound. Everyone had sound in their locomotive’s, often times even specific to the prototype.
Inevitably some techno-nerd became bored even in this Brave New World of realism, and thought something like: “jeez—all this loco sound makes everything else on the layout seem, like, — too quiet. We need, like, some ambient railroad noise.”
Once again, Broadway Ltd. has come to the rescue.
The new Broadway Ltd. Stock cars feature, as you may suspect, stock sound. They come ready to run right out of the box with a couple of minimal volume adjustments achievable with the included magnetic volume wand. Stock cars offering sounds of mooing cattle or squealing pigs are available. They sound surprisingly good given the fact that (like the tow behind cars of old) they achieve much of their resonance from their speaker enclosure—which resides in the otherwise hollow stock car shell. The cars are motion activated and have a simple one-function mute (function 8). When muted, the car’s volume gradually decreases to nothing; when un-muted the volume gradually returns to its previous setting. If the default is not loud enough, holding the supplied small magnetic wand just behind the air compressor on the side of the car will increase the volume incrementally each time it is moved close to the car, and then moved away. The only problem I had with the system is that the magnet itself seemed a little on the weak side. When tested with a stronger magnet, the volume jumped up substantially faster. (Just be careful not to yank the car off the track!)
These cars are also very well constructed, they feature bronze core, nickel plated wheels and absolutely brilliant pickup (one wiper per wheel set) which prevents crackles and sputters due to loss of power. Broadway was also nice enough to equip them with Kadee style couplers which prevents you from having to do a conversion prior to operation.
All in all, with a MSRP of $99.99, I think they’re an extremely neat next-step addition to just about any sound-equipped railroad.