frank bongiovanni <bongiovanni12001@...>
First answer I got on the NYC group:
When they first came out, several people at our HO club purchased a J-1e from them. They sound pretty good to the couple of former NYC employees who had first-hand experience with them, but they ran poorly, and their driving wheels fell off. Yeah, I know that sounds preposterous, but that’s what happened to one of them. The other wheels lost square (i.e. became eccentric on their axels) and walked drunkenly along the track.
Also they were fitted with QSI decoders that were mildly incompatible with our NCE system. They worked, but were a pain to deal with if they needed any programming adjustments.
Finally, for me whose J-1e is a Mizuno (Japanese brass), they were almost toy-like in their infidelity to the prototype. They were so poor, in my opinion, that for a long time I wouldn’t countenance a plastic steamer in my roster.
Because I have not seen one of their more recent J-1e models, I can’t make a head-to-head comparison.
There are a few BLI engines at our club, and I own one of their Mikados. It’s lettered for Lehigh Valley, but it’s not really a model of a Lehigh Valley Mikado which looked very different from this model. Alas, so few today really pay attention to having a faithful model that BLI and others make generic models lettered for everything they think they can sell. And, when you look at the investment necessary to bring a model to market, it does make financial sense to do that.
Hope this helps a little,