Best online source for HO scale steam engine?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by keqwow, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. keqwow

    keqwow New Member

    Looking for a few particular models and just trying to get some ideas where would be the best place to order from with the largest selection. I've noticed that the American style 4-4-0 early steam engines are pretty tough to find unless you want a Bachmann. Anyone got any suggestions for a good online source for a nice selection of engines in general, as well as a source (other than Bachmann) for nicely detailed early style 4-4-0 steam engines (not necessarily brass, as that is probably above my budget).
  2. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    The 4-4-0 question has long plagued modelers. There have been a few offers that run on HO track, but not all are HO scale...
    -Bachmann's 4-4-0s
    -AHM/Rivarossi/IHC's 4-4-0s
    -AHM/Rivarossi's 2-4-0
    -Mantua's 4-6-0s
    -Tyco/Mantua's 4-4-0s
    -While not standard gauge, HOn3 4-4-0s are offered by Precision Scale/MMI and in brass

    The IHC/Rivarossi/AHM 4-4-0s and 2-4-0s are beautiful, but they are NOT HO scale. Your LPP won't look right next to them. They are OO scale...1:76...the OO trains/HO track is popular in the UK. Mantua's 4-6-0 has the same problem.

    For true HO scale, Mantua's General, Bachmann's 4-4-0s, and brass have been the traditional locomotives of choice. You can get the General off of's out of production for now. It is a model of the General as she appeared in the 1870s (quite different from during her Civil War fame).

    There is currently a V&T Inyo on ebay at $161...with 1 day perhaps they can be had for under $250.

    The other option is to upgrade a Bachmann 4-4-0 with new detail parts/drive train.
  3. keqwow

    keqwow New Member

    Why the heck would they make something so close to HO, but NOT HO scale? I'm sick of all of this OO, On30, On3 junk!!! It is too confusing. Maybe I am old school, but I like my HO and I would just like to find some nice HO scale engines.....
  4. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    It's actually an old school problem. OO/HO was compromise on motors. Early in the hobby, smaller locomotives were too small for the available motors. I feel really sorry for our British brethren whom have to deal with it being the primary scale.

    True OO scale runs on On3 track. The true OO-scale model group in the US is a small group. On3 is also an old school scale...and it has the least compromise of any scale/gauge out there (it's my scale of choice)...but it suffers from other limitations. Like HOn3 & Sn3, it is dominated by 40's & 50's D&RGW models. It has almost no overlap with HO. There are no concessions that an On3 modeler has to make other than that which their budget & space require. IMO, the level of modeling achieved on the average On3 layout is by far the highest (aside from Sn2, Sn3, and On2) of any scale out there... Here's one of my favorites: Lex Parker's D&RGW Railroad

    On30 has existed for a while as well, primarily for people whom wanted narrow gauge but didn't want to have to hand lay track or modify mechanisms. It's received a huge boast from Bachmann in the past decade with their line. From a prototype stand point, it makes the least sense of any scale/gauge in the hobby. 30" gauge railroads were very rare in the US. While a very logical choice for latin american modelers and a few other groups throughout the world, there were no widely popular 30" gauge railroads in the US. It's primary market is people whom don't mind the 4" or historical discrepancy, for the sake of the ease of getting started. To a degree, it has a backlash element against Colorado On3 modelers. Yet, some On30 people have created layouts...specifically thinking of Shamus here...that any modeler would be quite proud of.
  5. scubadude

    scubadude Member

  6. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    if you plan on modeling pre ~1890, be prepared to kitbash, scratchbuild, or deal with a very limited supply of RTR items of questionable quality. I have heard the mantua generals run okay, and you can pick them up at swap meets or from ebay. If you decide to model between ~1890-1910, be prepared to do a bunch of backdating. Many of smaller steamers are approprate for that time period, but current models have modernized details more appropriate for the 1920s-1930s.

    If you are trying to figure out all the different scales and gauges - yikes. Understanding the difference between "scale" and "gauge" is half the battle, and recognizing that stuff is mislabeled is the other half.

  7. keqwow

    keqwow New Member the heck is anyone supposed to know that a model being sold for HO gauge is actually to scale? With the knowledge about early steamers above, now I question how accurately to scale many of the later steam engines are (i.e. Big Boy, Hudson, Challenger etc.)? How does anyone know?
  8. keqwow

    keqwow New Member

    ....and why would anyone want to model in a scale in which it is so difficult to find kits for? Personally, the reason I like HO is because it probably has the larger number of available kits/models....of course, now I question just how "to scale" any of it actually is.......
  9. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    1) You can get out a scale ruler and compare to published plans. Finding published plans would be prohibitive or tedious.

    2) Reviews of the model in magazines or online

    3) Word of mouth from places like here

    4) Just trust that newer releases of american prototypes are in HO scale. Most newer releases are to scale, but be careful of things being produced from old tooling. There is really no way to be sure unless you have knowledge of what has been released in the past.

    5) Don't worry too much about it and run what looks good.

  10. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    For me, I figured out that there was something wrong with my Mantua 4-6-0 when, as an elementary school kid, I could tell that it looked kind of large. I noticed the same thing with my athearn passenger cars in junior pictures, the NKP PA-1s were noticeably shorter than the passenger cars...but on my layout they were the same length.

    One of the biggest problems with out of scale items isn't that they don't look's that they don't look good with the stuff around them when you either A) check a picture or B) set it next to an accurate model.

    Like Kevin said, you can pretty much presume that anything in brass or coming from newer tooling (spectrum, Athearn Genesis, P2K, MTH, BLI, PCM) is fine. Most older models have something off (the Rivarossi berk models have 65" drivers instead of 69"...a compromise due to the original flanges being badly oversized). I have a brass 2-6-0 with several small issues and a brass business car that is 6" scale too tall...quite noticeable next to other On3 cars...because they were built to incorrect plans.

    I'll try to explain the scale/gauge issue...since many people are confused by it:

    The letter refers to the scale. Scale means that if you multiply the dimensions (length, width, & height) of a model by the "scale", you'll find the dimensions of the real thing. For instance, a real 90' turntable is 90' long, an HO 90' turntable is 12.4" long. I am 6'2" tall; in HO scale, I'd be 0.85" tall. A building in O scale is the same size...whether the layout is O 2-rail, O 3-rail, On2, On30, On3, Onwhatever.
    In north america:
    F 1:20.3 (Bachmann's large scale 4-4-0)
    G 1:22.5 (LGB's original trains)
    O 1:48
    S 1:64
    OO 1:76
    HO 1:87.1
    TT 1:120
    N 1:160
    Z 1:220

    Gauge is a reference only to the width of the track. Hence real railroads can be described as 56.5" gauge (standard gauge), 3' gauge, 2' gauge, or 18" gauge. Those 4 were the "common" gauges in the US in the 20th century. Most of the country used standard gauge...while 2' were most popular in Maine, 3' was most popular in Colorado, and 18" was more for industrial...especially mining.

    So, if you want to model 3' gauge railroads in O scale, you want to model On3. If you want to just model standard gauge, the std gauge is implied by saying O scale.

    I think we can break up the scale/gauge combination into two groups: natural and convenience. Natural means that if you want to model 64" gauge trains in S scale, it naturally makes sense to use 1" gauge track. Now if you start a company and begin producing 0-6-0s and track, someone might come along whom is a big fan of the Hecla & Torch Lake and say "Gee, that is pretty close to being correct for modeling 4'1" gauge trains in O scale!" That would be a scale of convenience. A wise person would come along and produce a some equipment that runs on your track. Suddenly many people are modeling On49 (4'1"=49")...the first people whom kitbashed equipment...and the later people whom at least started out by just buying RTR. What I've described is exactly the same situation as what happened with On30 (which is actually On32...just as the example actually scales out to On48)).
    Natural scales:
    HO, HOn3, On3, On2, Z, G, F, S, Sn3, Sn2, etc...
    Convenience scales:
    On30, HOn30, Nn3...and sort of O scale...which I'll cover in a bit...

    What I'm calling natural scales are where the track actually scales up to the real thing. A scale like F scales up...although the scale ratio...1:20.3...was derived to fit the existing track. Still, while 1:20.3 is not a natural choice for a scale, you would naturally use track that scales out to the right width.

    O scale standard gauge is a very odd animal. Both 2 and 3 rail people's track doesn't scale up to 56.5"...instead it scales to 5'. This means that the models must be built slightly too wide for the track...essentially O60 The buildings are still the correct scale...just the track isn't. A finescale movement exists called Proto:48 which uses slightly narrower track so that their trains due run on true O56.5. Additionally, they fix other scale issues such as wheel width...a similar movement exist in HO...and here's a wonderful example of the wheels on the Proto87 website.

    As far as the scale of the track:
    Certain parts of the track have certain dimensions...Spikes, tie plates, fishplates (real rail joiners), ties, ballast, and rail...with additional parts at turnouts. Commercial track does not include fishplates or ballast (on the good track)...and people don't really notice the spikes & tie the tie width and rail size are the most noticeable components. The rail is oversize on most layouts...and people don't really pay too much attention to the ties (especially when burried in ballast). So the track gauge remains the most important aspect. Hence, many people will find HO track to be a perfectly acceptable choice for a Gn15 layout.

    So British railfans...and IHC 4-4-0s...are OO scale trains running on HO standard gauge track for convenience. The downside is that the LPP and buildings look too small next to the trains. Interestingly, with my previous 4'1" gauge example earlier...HO track scales out to b 4'1" gauge track in OO scale.

    As far as modeling in a scale without alot of commercial On3 in my case (the structures are either very $$$ or unrealistic 3-rail buildings)...isn't about buying everything under the sun. Like earlier model railroads, much of the pleasure comes from building. It really isn't that difficult to build your own railroad cars...and even easier to build your own structures. The more you invest in something, the more you'll get out of it. Running my On3 trains on a simple oval of hand laid track is 100x more enjoyable for me than running trains on sectional track. The difference gets even greater when it is scratch built freight cars...and I see no difference between my models and the stuff in my books. It is sad to me that so many people haven't discovered some of the finer work in the hobby...they miss out on so much fun!

    EDIT: Additional confusion comes from people using slang such as N-gauge. While that is sort of in N scale standard causes confusion. For 3-rail is a nice much of the older 3-rail stuff was not to scale...or even pure fantasy. That's fine! Is my modeling of the DSP&P in 1884...with extra traffic...any less of fantasy? The downside to referring to it as O gauge is that it might be taken as talking down to...dismissively. I've seen some fantastic 3-rail layouts.
  11. keqwow

    keqwow New Member

    So where is the best place to order steam engines online? Who carries the largest number of manufacturers and has the biggest selection?
  12. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    That's because British O came first, and it uses 1/43.5 scale, so the gauge is correct.
  13. iis612

    iis612 Member

  14. jambo101

    jambo101 Member

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