Early Mantua Locomotives

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Dave Harris, Sep 7, 2008.

  1. Dave Harris

    Dave Harris Member

    Have any of you ever taken an Early Mantua Steam Loco apart?
    They ARE BUILT!
    I bought one on E bay a while ago , a Mikado, I knew it was somewhat old, still not sure how old. The Hanger for the crosshead guide was broken off on one side, so I got it for a comparative song. I fabricated a new hanger from brass & decided to test it , would not run, really did not expect it would. Took the boiler off & shortly had the motor cleaned up enough to run. Next problem , the connector to the transmission slipped ,got that fixed & then the transmission began to slip , figuring a loose gear or worse yet stripped gear I decided to take a bit deeper look. Now this engine has a big rectangular box that the gears reside in, my surprise came when I tried to open it up!
    This Locos frame consists of a sandwich of about 3 layers , nothing like any Mantua I had ever seen EVERY part of the loco is metal , cab included & it is NOT cast as part of the boiler, screws on, the pilot is metal ,2 pieces , screws together & then to the frame . Cross heads are metal with metal piston shafts. The only plastic in the whole thing is the gears, nylon I suppose.
    I am quite impressed with the thing, never knew Mantua had that much quality & engineering .
    Any one got a clue as to what time frame this loco could have been made in?
  2. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    I have a 4-6-2 my ol' man bought back in late 40's or very early 50's....They were built to last. This one has the gear driving the axle directly...no gear box. I have another that was given to the ol' man in the early 60's, that does have a "transmission" box...
  3. CNJ999

    CNJ999 Member

    The diecast Mantua Mikado first appeared in 1949 and for a few years (up through the mid 50's?) had an enclosed gearbox in the drivetrain, which is what I think you've described. The Mikado was followed by the Pacific in 1952 and later by a host of other engines.

    Of course, these were by no means the really early Mantuas, those of the Master Model Builder Series, which was initiated well before the war with the introduction of their now very rare 2-8-0 Consolidation (circa 1937). There were about half a dozen different models in the series, which did not close out until the mid 1950's...two were actually of OO scale!

  4. Dave Harris

    Dave Harris Member

    Thanks, thats kind of what I was thinking ,late 40s or early fifties. For being that old this one is in good shape , other than the broken off crosshead guide hanger. I fixed that by fabricating a new hanger from brass angle , soldering a 1/16 dia. round bar to it & CA-ing it in a hole drilled in the frame. Works fine now.
    It sure was built with a lot more care than the later stuff & for sure better than when TYCO took over.
  5. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    The Tyco engines were trash.....I bought one in the mid-80's, and despite hundreds (I exagerate...) of hours of fine-tuning, I could never get it to run right. Noisier than a pack of wild dogs and very rough running. It's the only engine I ever got rid of....
  6. CNJ999

    CNJ999 Member

    Dave, at the time of its introduction the Mikado, with its big Pittman DC70 motor and enclosed gearbox, was regarded as just about the best mass produced HO model on the market. However, its exact heritage has always been in question, variously being associated with the LV, NYC and RDG. The famed grearbox was dropped to reduce costs in the 50's, as competition from John English, et al. increased.

    Mantua locomotives were always good and could pull down walls, especially if you were willing to tinker with them a little. Tyco (Tyler Company) was good too, until the company changed hands and production went overseas and was horribly cheapened. These later engines were the source of all the negative stories one hears.

  7. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Now that you (CNJ999) mention it, a few days back I came across a Mike selling on eBay, it was labeled as "Tyco", but didn't appear to be the Tyco I am familiar with. The box was even an "ol' timer" box, and it does mention the Tyler company. Here, check it out...


    P.D. - I'm not invlved in any way with this sale. Just posting it for you guy's info....
  8. Dave Harris

    Dave Harris Member

    I had seen that one on E bay before, the pictures are so poor its hard to tell much. However the apparent side rod style , with the appearence of a joint in them & the way the handrails curve at the point they connect with the pilot,make it look like it could be the same as the mike I have. However mine has Mantua cast in it several places. Of course Tyco could have left the Mantua logo in the dies so-------?
  9. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Here's a bit of HISTORY on Tyco/Mantua.

  10. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Wayne, very enlightening.....Thanks for the link...:thumb:
  11. CNJ999

    CNJ999 Member

    Just as Doc Wayne's link indicates, Mantua and Tyco were the same family operation for many years. As I personally recall the situation, from shortly after its appearance Tyco acted largely as the RTR arm of Mantua. Although Mantua did offer its engines RTR, they were more regarded as the supplier of locomotives kits aimed at the hobby's craftsmen, while Tyco was aimed more toward the less accomplished hobbyists. And while Mantua's quality did no waver, Tyco products eventually cheapened. This was very evident in the steadily declining quality of the Tyco rollingstock, which particularly after the buy out by General Foods, really became products for the juvenile toy train market.

    A full and detailed history of Mantua (pronounced "Man-chew-a" by the company's employees) is truly fascinating and worth reading. Several reasonably authorative accounts can be found on-line.

  12. Dave Harris

    Dave Harris Member

    Wayne --- thanks for the link. It was very interesting . Makes one respect some of the Tyco stuff a bit more.

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