Vintage N Scale B&M Motive Power #4
Bev-Bel (Life-Like) F7A 7572 –
This is the final B&M locomotive I needed to complete the set of four released by Bev-Bel in N scale. I suspect that this was also the last B&M locomotive released by Bev-Bel as Life-Like released their F7 sometime in 1990 and this guy is merely a repaint of that model (1). Oddly, most examples of this locomotive seem to be “new-in-box” and sell for right around what they did new ($25~$35). I went ahead and paid $29 and shipping because I was so close and just wanted to get the collection complete.
As I suspected it would be, the locomotive I received does not appear to have been run and was in impeccable condition. An attempt to run it on my small layout proved to be derailment prone and then I remembered that for some reason Life-Like used a longer wheelbase on the F7 truck than its later plastic frame EMD offerings (2). I really acquired these Bev-Bel locomotives for my collection anyway so putting it on display isn’t going to break my heart.
I thought that it might be worthwhile to point out a couple quick things about this Bev-Bel repaint. The most obvious, even to the casual observer, is that Bev-Bel released this locomotive in a maroon “Minute Man” scheme that is similar to the actual scheme originally worn on B&M F-units, although there are some differences. In addition, the Life-Like F7A that Bev-Bev chose is notoriously out of scale in several respects (e.i. number board position and size, general contours, length, height) and not only does it have a steam generator, something B&M did not have installed in its F7As, but it also has an additional set of louvers just forward of the first porthole (a feature found on the later EMD F9 but not the F7). So, Bev-Bel could have chosen a better F-unit to work with but probably not within the price point they were targeting. Finally, although Bev-Bel used appropriate road numbers on its B&M RS3, GP38, and GP40, for some reason they just made up a number (7572) for this unit that not only wasn’t used by B&M on an F7A, it also wasn’t used on any B&M diesel locomotive that I could find. Odd thing that.
Long and short, if you want a complete early B&M collection, this locomotive is a must have. It is out of scale, it isn’t painted quite right, the number is completely made up, but it was the last B&M locomotive produced before Life-Like released its BL2 and kicked off the wonderful world of major brand produced, factory decorated, B&M locomotives in N scale (3).
B&M rostered 4 EMD (Electro Motive Division) F7A B-B locomotives numbered 4265-4268 (not 7572 as is the Bev-Bel model). The real B&M F7A units were also not equipped with steam generators but the Life-Like shell is, so there is another discrepancy for rivet counters.
(1) The Life-Like GP38-2 that Bev-Bel also did a B&M treatment on was first released in 1988.
(2) Actually all of the Life-Like EMD plastic frame locomotives from this time period used the same out of scale truck. Later, higher quality, plastic frame locomotives like the GP-18 used a much better, more to scale, rendition.
(3) Factory decorated B&M locomotives were released throughout the 1990s. The Life-Like BL2 was introduced in 1992 and was decorated in a more accurate Minute Man scheme. The Atlas GP7 was then released in 1995 in the Minute Man scheme. Next the Life-Like GP-18 was released in a low-nose variant in 1996 in the “Blue Bird” black, blue, and white scheme. Life-Like also released their E7A in the B&M Minute Man scheme in 1997. That started the tidal wave of B&M locomotives that are now commonly released in first runs by many manufacturers, N scale B&M fans are no longer left out in the cold.