Brass Loco's

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Shay2, Apr 7, 2001.

  1. Shay2

    Shay2 Member

    I'm curious as to how everyone feels about Brass Engine's?
    Is brass really worth the money?
    If you want a runner, is brass a
    good idea?


    Rush Run River Logging Co.

    [This message has been edited by Shay2 (edited 04-06-2001).]
  2. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Rich,
    How's your Goose coming on.
    Regarding Brass, as George stated they are cursed with inferior mechanisms. I personally love to see a Brass loco on display without a paint job. But, paint it and put it on the track, it looks just like any other good quality plastic loco but will not run as well.
    The only thing in a Brass loco's favour is the fact that they don't lose value when wanting to swap or sell it.
  3. George

    George Member


    I have to agree with Shamus about the value of brass locomotives. The value never goes down. I think the best thing I can do with mine is get a piece of Truscale track for them and plexiglass display cases. It doesn't do any good keeping it in the box.

    What it really is good for is adding to subject matter to a photograph. You can't tell from a still photo that it runs like crap! [​IMG]

    Now here's a catch 22. What do you do if the only way you can procure your favourite all time locomotive is by purchasing a brass one, as it's unavailable in plastic? Gee, er, um, I suppose you will bite your cheek until you taste blood and make the purchase with passion. Nothing wrong with that, just don't expect it to outperform your Kato drives!

    I mentioned rolling stock. If you get some brass passenger cars or freight cars that are professionally painted, you can't beat their appearance. The detailing is top notch and not as prone to breaking as the high end Proto series plastic freight car details are, if mishandled.

    I have some brass passenger cars I have yet to have time to paint, but I have a wide vision caboose and an 85' auto parts car a friend gave me because it was too big for his layout. When offered monetary compensation, he told me not to worry, as he scored it used at a show for US$20!

    Despite the prices you see, you can find some great values. Forget the locomotives, but don't rule out brass rolling stock! [​IMG]

  4. Shay2

    Shay2 Member

    I appreciate your comments.
    I do own 2 PFM Shays and a Brass kit Forney. I'm looking at purchasing a brass Climax. I won't disagree with how they run. I've upgraded both Shay motors and am pleased with the results, but they still are not comparable to plastic.

    I don't have a Kato, but have heard they are top notch. I do own 3 Proto's. Excellent detail and very smooth running at a crawl. Unfortunately, they are Diesel and I guess that's my main concern. I keep them in a box because they are the wrong vintage for the layout I ended up with.

    The only way I am able to increase my loco inventory and keep within the 1860-1930 Logging era is to go with brass or kitbash.

    Maybe I need to look at building another module with some modern day equipment. (I wonder if this bedroom wall supports anything?)


    PS, Shamus, I just received the NWSL catalog so now I can order my spoked wheels. That's my only holdup to completing the Goose.

    Rush Run River Logging Co.</font>

    [This message has been edited by Shay2 (edited 04-10-2001).]
  5. George

    George Member

    Hello Shay2!

    I've mentioned my sentiments in other threads and I'll say it again for your benefit.....

    Unless you have a sizeable "Disposable Income", I tend to think investing in brass is a major waste.

    Though made out of metal and highly detailed, these occasional masterpieces are usually flawed by being cursed with inferior mechanisms. They always require major adjustment or refitting the entire motor, and this work should be left to a versed craftsman. If you're a novice and make a mistake, the value goes down the drain.

    Also, grounding problems are common. Locomotives such as 4-8-4 steamers cannot be run on tight curves of say under 24". I have a brass Niagara that had a problem with a handrail on the tender touching the handrail on the cab on a 22" curve and the monster died when it was shorted out! It's also equipped with a can motor I'd like to throw at the manufacturer.

    It looks impressive but it's performance is embarrassing at best, and I would have to say this about all my brass pieces with the exception of rolling stock.

    The dealer's attitude is "So? Put a new motor in it!" I'm sorry guys, but when I dump US$350 on a locomotive, it should run as good as any Stewart or Atlas plastic!

    Invest in high end plastic. The detailing is comparable, and the performance is superior for far less money.

  6. Virginian

    Virginian Member

    Hi Shay2

    You gave me a good laugh with your ? about your bedroom wall...If we Do buy this little house, I'm already mentally planning the addition!!! I sure wish my wife would go for my idea for the 'family' room... after all, it's just the two (three , if ya count Sweetie th' Malamute [​IMG] )
    As far as Brass..I've seen some nice ones, but haven't really seen 'em run. If an N&W ClassA shows up in brass, I might sell my Chevy to buy it!!! [​IMG]

    [This message has been edited by Virginian (edited 04-11-2001).]
  7. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Rich
    When you get around to it, send me the item #'s for the spoked wheels, and small gearbox, might just send off for some when I get around to making my other Goose (BUS)

  8. fastmail98

    fastmail98 New Member

    Good Morning, Rich...
    Brass steam locomotives have historically been plagued with running problems. I was in a dealer's showroom one time looking at a new
    On3 $1500.00 model. I was told that it was a replacement for a previous order. What was the problem with the first one? It didn't track properly on the test run out of the box! The lead truck wheels just wouldn't stay on the rails! Yet I've also met modelers who are quite happy with their brass steam locos. I have two brass diesels, some passenger cars, milk cars, and a caboose in brass because there are no other models are available. I bought most of them used, did the painting and lettering myself, and they're great. Like anything else, ya gotta pick 'n choose. Good luck!
  9. George

    George Member

    Hello Fellows!

    One other major pitfall I forgot about brass as I abandoned it some 14 years ago...

    You really have to be careful buying these things, as dealers like to sell you a used piece for the price as new, and then some! They will argue that it's a "NEW" piece, but they had it custom painted "So you wouldn't have to.." So, you pay US$450 for a nice paint job on a brass piece that's had it's mechanism run into the ground on somebody's layout. Only the decietful jerk and God knows how many times it was dropped at the club before the decision was made to sell it! [​IMG]

    Have you ever seen this done? I have, and not only at shows, but stores and mail order do it all the time!

    Buyer BEWARE! [​IMG]

  10. fastmail98

    fastmail98 New Member

    You're right...modelers have to be careful about buying other people's headaches. A solid approach is to buy from a reputable dealer that warrantees the model and has a return policy...there are many, many great dealers out there. I've bought from Diesel Consignment in MA and The Caboose in CT...both handle new and used, check each model for running condition, make needed repairs, etc. For me, there's no other way.
  11. LC

    LC Member

    As for me I'd much rather put the amount one would spend on brass into rolling stock, power units, structures etc.
    I agree brass is nice, it's simply something I have never had, and never saw the need for. Perhaps someday, but I have to agree with George, from what I hear from friends who have the stuff, there are often times problems with the prime movers and other power components.
    Then it's painted so no one can tell the difference.
    Oh well, to each his own.
  12. Shay2

    Shay2 Member

    Well I have to say it. I was looking for good info on brass an you guy's have provided it.
    My suspicions are verified as to purchasing any more brass loco's. I'm not gonna do it, period.
    The Brass Climax I was thinking about is no longer an option. I guess I'll just wait till the fall when time and funds are better and see if I can Kitbash another MDC/Spectrum 44 tonner.

    I buy trains to run not to sit on a shelf. If I'm not getting the enjoyment out of repair that I do in running why go to the expense...I think I had some bad advise several months ago on another form and figured brass was the best choice.

    Thanks for all the info...


    Rush Run River Logging Co.
  13. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Rich my friend, Wait until Bachmann brings out the Climax, Jungle Drums tell me it's in the pipeline.
  14. George

    George Member

    Shamus is right, Rich. I truly believe that it's just a matter of time before you can get just about everything in plastic, even if it's in limited runs.

    The vent detailing on the Stewart models is as good if not better than any brass detailing I've ever seen. That said, who needs brass and it's unwelcome price and headaches?

    Just be patient.

  15. Dave Harris

    Dave Harris Member

    Shay 2 There was an article in a model mag (M/R or RMC?) not long back about a conversion of a MDC 2 truck Shay to a Climax, the article ended saying that while not totally satisfactory it was a usable compromise. The main problem was that the flywheel turned the wrong direction & ran far too fast. He had set it up with a 2 to 1 STEP UP from drive shaft speed. I built one for a friend using a flea auxillary. transmission to power the flywheel & cyls,valve gear , turning it the proper direction & with a 15 to 1 REDUCTION from drive shaft speed. If you want I will send you a sketch of what to do to set one up that way, takes a bit of machining ,but not too difficult.

    L V Dave
  16. Shay2

    Shay2 Member

    Hello all...
    Dave, I've bashed a Bachmann 44 tonner into an MDC Climax shell without a hitch. The speed is a bit faster, however the drive assemble is about a jillion times more reliable than the MDC Roundhouse Climax kit and it runs soooo smooth!

    I think Shamus completed one of these also?

    As an amateur at kitbashing and only an
    observer in scratch, I'm progressing in baby steps. I don't want to burn myself out with the tuff projects. (Ok, I'm chicken)

    If Bachmann brings out a Climax I will be interested, but I will wait for some brave soul to report on it's performance...ahhh....Shamus, maybe ??


    Rush Run River Logging Co.
  17. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hey everybody!
    That's very interesting to hear of that Climax kitbash. Are there published articles on this?
    As for brass, I'll have to concur with the majority here. It has been a constant frustration for me locating HOn3 equipment. Oh, it's out there, but for the price, I'm thinking,"Man, for that much money, that thing ought to come with a couple of bedrooms & a bath!"
    Since the whole thing's been put on hold by a domestic situation, I'm thinking seriously of regrouping, & taking a harder look at the line of On30 by Bachman.

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