Few railroads had the luxury of electric switchers, as electrification in the United States was generally reserved for heavily-used main lines. The mighty Pennsylvania Railroad, of course, did things its own way. Between 1926 and 1935, the road's Altoona shops built 42 pint-sized six-wheel boxcab switchers for the Pennsy and the Pennsy-controlled Long Island Railroad. Originally operated in pairs and designated classes BB1, BB2, and BB3, the switchers were later split into single units as Pennsy class B1 and Long Island class B3.
As Al Stauffer wrote in his book Pennsy Power, "the diminutive B1 with its single pantograph fully extended has the appearance of stretching mightily to reach its trolley wire power supply far overhead." Stauffer goes on to describe the little engine as looking more like a toy train than the real thing. At just over 31' long, the B1s - affectionately called "rats" by railfans - were Pennsy's smallest but noisiest electrics. Like the New Haven's EP-5 electrics built decades later, the B1s were known for the din generated by the cooling blowers for their electrical gear. Providing 570 horsepower and 13,500 pounds of tractive effort from their three motors, the little switchers could only muster a top speed of 25 miles per hour. The Pennsy's fleet spent decades buzzing about the yards in New York, Philadelphia, and Harrisburg. Most B1s were scrapped by the late 1960s.
Continuing the M.T.H. tradition of modeling unusual engines from railroading history, the BB1 is sure to attract attention on your layout! Making its return to the Premier line for the first time in eight years, this fine scale replica was the sixth die-cast Pennsylvania electric prototype to appear in the M.T.H. line - representing a commitment unmatched by any other manufacturer - and is beautifully detailed to capture the look and sound of the real locomotive. Outfitted with the awesome sound and performance of Proto-Soundr3.0, the "rat" will be a favorite in your Pennsy collection for years to come.