Brass question

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by 65GASSER, Nov 23, 2006.

  1. 65GASSER

    65GASSER Member

    Whats the big deal with Brass Locos and cars? I'm sure they have good details and what not but I see them going for mega bucks on ebay. Painted or not. I just don't see it.
    Can anyone shed some light on this for me?
  2. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    They're usually models of equipment that won't be mass-produced and also collector's items.
  3. 65GASSER

    65GASSER Member

    I see. So not many people would have a complete layout of straight brass equipment. I couldn't see a brass caboose on the end of a plastic line up working very well either.
    I bet a brass loco with a really good motor would pull like a mule though.
    Thanks Brian, I never thought about collectors.
  4. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Yea, some of the more unusual prototypes or rolling stock are available only in brass, and then only in very limited runs.. These are also very labor-intensive to produce, and all these factors combine to make brass models quite expensive.

    Caveat emptor though.. Brass doesn't always mean it will run well. There are brass models that look great but run like tired dogs.. Then there are brass locos that run well.

    Also some have operating issues... For instance, I'm not sure if it was Overland, but I remember a few years ago one of the brass importers was offering an HO SD70ACe loco... It uses a drivetrain mounted in the hollow fuel tank, with driveshafts going out of the fuel tank ends to the trucks. This means the trucks don't swivel more than a couple of degrees, consequently the engine won't work on anything less than 42" radius curves! :rolleyes: I think I'll pass...

    It's a crapshoot..
  5. 65GASSER

    65GASSER Member

    Wow... shine on that. I can't justify paying hundreds of dollars for something I won't or can't use. Well... I have hundreds of dollars in race car parts that I'm not using but thats a diff story.
  6. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Oohhhhhh...but if one comes along at the right price, ya jus' gots to get one:D:thumb:

    In truth they don't have the same "mistique" of years back when I was a teenaged modeler---way too exclusive and overpriced. I remember drooling over those PFM ads in the back of MR for many moons, though and was pleased to be able to own one for the nostalgia.
  7. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    Hmmm.....didja say race car parts???

    Motorhead are ya?? :wave:

  8. 65GASSER

    65GASSER Member

    Yeah I see the Overland adds in MRR and the detail is awesome. I'd like to own one for display but I can't get past the price.
  9. 65GASSER

    65GASSER Member

    Yeah, but not as much as I used to be. Thats where the 65 gasser name comes in. I have a '65 Nova 2 door coupe that I am building a nostalgic gasser out of. Well... was. Its turned into more of a pro street deal. Have had a handfull of old cars and race cars. Its a very expensive hobby!!!
  10. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    This one fills my sweet tooth for circa '70s brass nicely. It's an HOn3 model of the Colorado and Southern 2-6-0 Mogul #27. Micro-Train markets a model similar to it in Nn3, as far as I know, the only "mass" marketed model of its type. I just love the beartrap spark arrestor and the air tank on the boiler. There's only two other HO brass locos I want, a model of the Erie or Virginian 4-8-8-8-4 triplexes---especially the Overland 3 motor issue from the early 80s---and Mich-Cal's shay #2---the smallest shay built and it served all 61 years of its life with one engineer, Tom Jinkerson. At roughly $1800 total, it's not likely I'll be getting them either :thumb:

    Attached Files:

    • c7s.jpg
      File size:
      58.6 KB
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Brass was a medium for doing relatively low volume production runs of locos that wouldn't sell above the low hundreds (or dozens). Usually hand assembled in the Orient, they had more detail on them than a cast Bowser or Mantua. As wages rose, production shifted from Japan to Korea to ??? I still don't understand brass cars -- they seem too heavy.
  12. liven_letdie

    liven_letdie Member

    The difference used to be that Athearn and the like would design (poorly) a locomotive based on one engine from one road and then just tag numbers and paintschemes from other roads onto that shell. This was fine if you werent really serious about things. With brass you generally get every rivet on the #27 from your favorite railroad. Everything about the #27 is there and there is no mistaking that that is the #27. Its all in the details, but yes they usually run like crap out of the box. The only train in brass I have seen was an all brass passenger train from Santa Fe/Amtrak years. Absolutely gorgeous. Other than that definately not practical for a whole layout.

  13. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The other problem with brass is that if you get an articulated they model it exactly like the prototype down to the way the locomotive articulates. The plastic manufacturers make the articulateds swivel in two places in the center of each set of drivers. The brass models swivel in one place between the two sets of drive and the smoke box hangs over the front because it is mounted solidly to the rear driver set. The result is that a 36 inch radius is too small to run a brass challenger or big boy on. You probably need a minimum radius of 50 inches for a double track main to keep the smoke box from hanging too wide on the curves. I don't own any brass because I think it is too much like drugs. If I bought one, I would convince myself that I needed to buy a bunch more!

    The other reason for the popularity of brass from a manufacturer's viewpoint as well as the modeler's has to do with cost. The expensive part of producing brass models is tedious hand soldering all of the details onto the model. With plastic the cost is the amount of money tied up in the original tooling. Once you have the tooling, you can pop the shells out very cheaply. Modeling differences for the different railroads, can cost a fortune if there are significant differences between railroad prototypes. That is why the majority of the plastic steam locos were USRA prototype. They had the widest range of railroad usage. Most other types of steam, were unique to each railroad that ran them. If you do the tooling for a locomotive that was run by just one railroad, you won't be able to sell enough models to pay for the tooling unless the model is a must have for a lot of modellers.

Share This Page