Ordered my first brass loco...

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Espeenut, Jul 19, 2004.

  1. Espeenut

    Espeenut Member

    ...ok, ok, I know my handle is Espeenut, but I also have a few other favorite roads, and the SP&S is one of them. I just placed my order for an upcoming release from Sunset Limited, the Northern Pacific class A-3, a 4-8-4 in SP&S markings numbered and painted as #700, which still operates and is the stable mate of the SP 4449 in the roundhouse at Portland's old SP yard. This will be my first brass locomotive, I do have some MOW equipment that is brass. I've always balked and shied away at the price asked for a lot of brass but the price on this model is less than that being asked for some of the premium plastic steamers on the market right now, its going for $550 bucks which I think is a bargain. This price was offered only at the show to SP&S freaks as far as I know, as the normal asking price is $599.95. It will come sound equipped and ready to receive a DCC decoder.
    ...so this brings me to a question for those of you experienced in the world of brass, what is this thing going to be like in terms of operational ability? I run my locomotives, they do not reside in un-opened boxes as I'm not into 'collecting' brass. I want it because of it's historical significance, the NP Northerns were the loco's that gave 4-8-4's their monicker of "a Northern type", so it will have to earn its living hauling freight on our club layout from time to time, and I want to know if it will be up to the task. Anybody out there want to give me an idea of how it might perform?

    Thanks guys,

    Lorne Miller
  2. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Lorne, I don't own any recent release Sunset items, but I have an older Sunset NYC Pacific, it runs very nicely but needed some tweaking. Pilots sometimes touch rails and short, vertical problems with your trackwork you didn't know existed you'll discover. Likewise, if the model has brass brake hangers, you may get an occassional short when it touches a driver on the side where the drivers are insulated from the frame. Just a matter of moving it away from the driver and tightening the screw. But the drive ought to be good, and if tractive effort isn't what you'd like, stick a pencil between the 2nd and 3rd drivers and see if the loco tilts one way or the other. Add weight (or even remove it if needed) to make the loco balance. This will keep all drivers in contact with the rails and improve tractive effort. Balance is more important than total weight. Enjoy!

  3. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    It ain't gonna be nothing like what was released in the 60s and 70s as far as operational abilities. Nowadays, serious attention is paid to the drive train and its ability to run smoothly straight from the box. I'd be really surprized if you had to do anything more than unpack it to get it to run right. Now my early 1970s PFM/United C&S 2-6-0 Mogul on the otherhand :mad: :mad: but...it sure looks perty sitting in the yard :thumb: :thumb: Congratulations, everybody should have at least one in their roundhouse.
  4. petey

    petey Member


    My guess is that it will run well. You are correct, in that many of the problems described, in earlier brass, have been eliminated. Also, is this a new loco? If it is, you may see somewhat less in the way of detailing.
    I went for many months, trying to idenitfy the prototype, for my Varney cast brass Northern. Turns out it is generic, but does resemble, NP's original 4-8-4.
    Also, I found that it will not operate on less than 22"R, probably not less than 24"R. I have experienced that newer brass will operate on smaller radii.
  5. trainworm

    trainworm Member

    i had a sunset 2-10-2 and that thing ran like a swiss watch. no problems whatsoever and it was really quiet. I dont know when it was made but it looked like a fairly recent model when i bought it on ebay about 3 years ago.

    and the detail was plain awesome :D
  6. Espeenut

    Espeenut Member

    ...hey Denis, thanks for the heads up on operating radius. I'll most likely be ok as I believe the sharpest curves on our club layout are around 33". As for detail fidelity on the Sunset models, I've seen the pictures already and they're exact replicas of the A3, A4, and A5 class Northerns used by Northern Pacific. The SP&S versions were called E1's and the only visible difference was the tender, as these burned oil instead of coal. The A5's were a bit bigger and had all weather vestibule cabs with solid pilots, other than that they all looked quite similar to each other. I've been waiting for someone to do a really good Northern class in plastic for quite a while, by that I mean much better than the old Bachmann units, so far nothing has materialized and the prices for new plastic steamers is steadily rising with each new release, so when I was at the Seattle Show and saw these brass NP A3 Northerns being offered at $550.00 I pounced on one of them, the fact I also model the SP&S which used the same locos as NP and GN, is a definite bonus.
    ...in further reading I am finding that the newer brass seems to be catering more to operators than before, the fact they come with sound and are ready for decoders should be a good indication of that.

    Thanks everyone,

    Lorne Miller
  7. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I'm a little curious about the statement that they come with sound and are ready for decoder installation. If they don't have a decoder how do they have sound? I tend to believe what is meant is that there is a cam mounted to one of the drivers to sync the chuff from a decoder you will add to the driver rotation, and a tender with predrilled holes for the speaker. When you get your model please let us know what was included and what wasn't.
  8. Espeenut

    Espeenut Member

    ...hi Gary, what I'll do is quote from the full color ad I picked up at the Seattle Show from the Sunset booth. It says as follows:

    "Sunset Models is proud to announce a new line of exciting, fully detailed, limited edition 100% lifetime scale models for HO. The 20th Century Limited Edition models are built for operators as well as collectors. Featuring a brand new, all digital sound system called "Sunset Sound". Synchronized to the motion of the drivers, the chuffing sounds will signal a new standard for HO sound and compatibility. Each model will come with a free button box to operate the whistle and bell and can be used with any existing DC transformer. Or install your favorite DCC decoder to have full control of the features of your new high tech masterpiece. Enjoy Full Range of operation. These models have a 12v operating range, from 3v to 15v on the track. Other sound equipped models won't move until they reach 9v on the track, giving on 1/2 of the operating range of a 20th Century Limited Edition."

    ...that's what it says, we'll have to all wait and see how well it works when the loco's arrive, which won't be until later in the year or the beginning of next year. That will give me some time to save for all the other upcoming new releases on top of this one. I was looking at pictures of the real #700, and they have really done a great job of capturing the look of these loco's, it will be a very nice addition to the fleet.

    Lorne Miller
  9. Benny

    Benny Member

    Plastic is nice, but there is nothing like the "real" thing! hehehe...I am a mantua nut, Though I have to repower them...I like the weight, that is why I have them...plastic is simply light...There is really nothing quite like the weight of a Mantua Heavy Mikado...

    I have a Brass pacific that came in a Junk parts box...I have to put it back together...need to learn soldering...and then, Airbrushing!
  10. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Lorne, That's interesting. QSI has been supplying all the sound systems for the various companies offering locos with sound and they of course work on DC but the same package includes the DCC decoder, which operates either way upon detecting a DCC signal or not. What I read above is significantly different in that you get sound on DC and can add a decoder of your choice for DCC use. I'll be interested in hearing how they perform. I wonder who is making the electronics package? Anyway, $550 for a painted brass steamer with sound is a great price! In fact, unbelievable. I'm not sure if I should hope they offer a similar deal on a NYC loco. MY heart says yes, my pocket says maybe not. Enjoy it!

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