S scale Cowboy era

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by Frederick, Jul 30, 2005.

  1. Frederick

    Frederick New Member

    I have been looking over these forum and see lots of experts - just what I need, 'cos I have lots of questions - all leading to one - what shall I build?

    I had a 4' x 12' HO layout based on British steam a few years back and now want to build something bigger - S scale, preferably. I want a fair degree of scale accuracy - not toy trains, but I don't want to spend $thousands on each locomotive, either.

    Also, I specially want to model the cowboy era of Texas - 1880s-1890s. That means those beautifully proportioned Baldwin/American 4-4-0s, 2-4-0s, 2-6-0s. And lots of different western-clad figures, including ladies in crinoline, horses, buggies, and lots and lots of different cows/steers. Maybe even a buffalo herd.

    I have visions of an imaginary line from Galveston through Houston, Spring and Abeline. That will allow me a Porter or two on a dock scene in Galveston, a riverboat or two on Buffalo Bayou in Houston, the old town buildings of Spring, and the great depot at Abeline, and prairie between.

    It's an ambitious project and right now is early days. My problem is, for all the searching I have done on the web, I cannot find American style locos in anything but HO and G.

    What's a fellow to do? Any ideas?
  2. txbonds

    txbonds New Member

    Why not check out some of the bachmann On30 models. I think they make some of the models you mention like a 2-8-0, also a 0-4-0, a 0-4-2, a 2-6-0 in addition to a two truck shay and two truck climax.

    I think there may be a 2-4-0 on the way also, but I'm not entirely sure. On30 would have the bennefit of larger pieces, but tighter HO track.
  3. hminky

    hminky Member

    You can alway model the 1870's in OO/HO. Most of the old time equipment is OO scale. The 15% increase in size from 3.5mm to 4mm/ft makes modeling easier. I have a web article discussing OO/HO for the 1870's at:



    An IHC "HO" 4-4-0 with OO scale figures on the Pacific Coast Air Line Railway.

    Thank you if you visit
  4. Frederick

    Frederick New Member

    A very impressive layout and article, Harold. In fact, you nearly had me convinced. I mean, what's the difference between 1/87, 1/76 and 1/64? Not much, really. Until I remembered that I had debated whether 1/64 (S scale) was too small and did I really want O (1/48) -- except I cannot stand that third rail!

    So, maybe your idea, Tex, about On30, will be better for me. The only Bachmann On30 I can find immediately is way over scale for this period, I think. I saw it described as being 19+" long - a scale 76' -77' at ¼"/ft. for the locomotive, whereas a book I have of old locomotives put this era's engines in the 40'-50' range, inlcuding the tender! I suspect the Bachmann is a much later loco - 1920s possibly - also considering the advanced piston gear.

    Has anyone any idea how much it would cost to get a custom modeller to build what I want, and where would I find such a person to ask?
  5. txbonds

    txbonds New Member

    19+ inch bachmann has to be "large scale" and not On30. I have a two truck shay and two truck climax sitting right here in the box, and without opening them I'd guess they were maybe 6" long. Heck, the box isn't even 19" long.

    Bachmann makes some of the same locos in large scale "G scale", so maybe that is what you saw.

    Check their website at (www dot bachmanntrains dot com) for more info.
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Frederick: O does not have to have a third rail. The Toronto club converted to 2 rail in the late 60s.
    Check for the website of Aberfoyle Junction -- very large private (4+ guys) O scale.
    For S, there's a large probability that you'd have to scratch build.
    Check RMC -- I think they have a whole page of S ads every month.
  7. Frederick

    Frederick New Member

    I guess that 19+" was a larger scale, then - can't find it now. Some of these manufacturers' pages aren't always as clear as they might be as to scale and very few state the actual model size. And as they don't always state the approx. year of the prototype either, a similar looking engine from a later era can be much larger than needed. That worries me a bit for mail ordering.

    But I am now seeing some locomotives of the style I want, now that I'm looking at On30. Progress! Another question that has been answered on your webpages - that narrow gauge was not only used by mining camps and logging companies. Some main lines were narrow gauge, too. I was thinking that a long stretch as I envision for Galveston to Abeline would look wrong in narrow gauge. Apparently, it will be quite feasible - would you agree?

    David - I had heard of 2-rail O but none of the hobby shops I have tried had heard of such a thing. Still, it looks like scratch building all the way, and I'm not into that for locos and rolling stock. I'll make my own buildings and scenery, though. Another strike against S.

    Yep - it's beginning to look like On30 is going to be the scale I must go for. Am I correct in believing that the HO track used for On30 is actually true 1/48 scale?
  8. txbonds

    txbonds New Member

    I agree that a long stretch of narrow gauge will look fine. Many rail roads used narrow gauge exclusively for a time. It was eventually taken over by standard gauge, but for a stretch of a few decades, I think narrow gauge was pretty prominent.

    Not sure, but you could possibly even do something with the sugar industry if you are doing that area. Have short trains taking raw materials between the ship channel and sugarland area. I'm not sure when that industry began in that area, but I bet it was a long while back. May be worth investigating.

    There used to be a train store in Spring Texas. I haven't lived there in years, but the owners name was Ray I believe. He was pretty knowlegable and could possibly help you out with some info and some of the locos. He carried a very good assortment of stuff. May have been called the Spring Depot, or something like that.

    Good luck.
  9. Frederick

    Frederick New Member

    Spent a good part of today surfing, trying to find other manufacturers of On30 locomotives running 1880-1890, besides Bachmann. All I could find was--

    On30 Narrow Gauge C-16 2-8-0 Steam Locomotive model made by Broadway Limited, appears much larger than the Baldwin 2-4-0s and 4-4-0s of an earlier era.

    BACHMANN SPECTRUM® On30 Narrow Gauge 2-6-0 Steam Locomotive & Tender, still seems large, judging from the pictured height of the cab.

    Bachmann also have a Baldwin Outside Frame 2-8-0 Consolidation, but no picture on their website - maybe it's new, but not what I need.

    Bachmann also have two Porters, a Shay and a Climax, which I can use later but don't need right now.

    None of this is what I want, being American 4-4-0 or 2-4-0, with diamond stack, large cow-catcher and square lamp. These appear to have been quite diminutive engines 30'-40' long.

    So while I seemed to have been making some headway - for which I thank you folk - I seem to have found another hurdle. Can anyone point me to other model makers besides Bachmann?
  10. DanRaitz

    DanRaitz Member


    Don't throw out S scale with the bathwater. Have you looked into S narrow gauge? Railmaster Exports ( www.railmaster.co.nz ) makes the locomotives that you are looking for in Sn3. You can get them either as kits or built-up.
    To see what can be done in S scale (cicra 1890's) you need not look any further then Paul Scoles and his Pelican Bay Railway & Navigation Co. http://www.pinecanyonscalemodels.com/paulscoles.htm

  11. hminky

    hminky Member

    That is why I went to OO/HO. There are no suitable locomotives or rolling stock in any other scale for trains earlier than 1890. I was originally in On30.

    Just a thought
  12. Frederick

    Frederick New Member

    Dan, Paul Scoles layout is great, isn't it! You can see it here - www.theinsidegateway.com/PaulScolesPelicanBay1.htm

    I didn't make much headway with the Railmaster site because while they appear to have what I want, they only have very meagre descriptions and no pictures. When spending upwards of $500 for a kit, and no indication of what a completed model would cost, I would like to see what I'm buying. Maybe I'm odd like that!

    I understand what you're saying Harold, but OO/HO is just too small for these ancient eyes!

    So far my leaning is towards On30 and hope that Bachmann or someone else comes out with a 2-4-0 and a 4-4-0 of that era by the time I am ready.

    I want to thank all you chaps for the help and comments.
  13. zedob

    zedob Member

    What does HO scale track work out in S scale? Sn42 ? That could be a possibility, but you'd be in for alot of kitbashing, but the HO boilers might end up being just the right size, just add cab and details.

    IMHO, S scale is the perfect size. Not too big (well, ok,it's too big for my area)and not too small. Perfect for detailing. I always wanted to model Sn3, but the prices of the locos is still steep for my wallet.
  14. DanRaitz

    DanRaitz Member

  15. Frederick

    Frederick New Member

    Thanks, Dan - that gives me an idea of what they have.
  16. ross31r

    ross31r Member

  17. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    Frederick - I don't know if this will be of use, scenic wise, but it is WildWest buildings in 1/60th scale . I found it while looking for something else
    Shortliner(jack)away up here in the Highlands
  18. Frederick

    Frederick New Member

    Thanks, guys. Actually, my modelling interest lies in scratchbuilding structures and scenery, and not engines and rolling stock - which is why I am trying to zoom in on the scale in which I can buy the most r-t-r machinery. In fact, I don't really expect to run the trains overmuch. They will be part of the scenery - a moving part, mind, but not an operational issue. Thus, they have to be in scale, of the right era, and so on. It's an aesthetic thing!
  19. Frederick

    Frederick New Member

    I have been giving some thought to using an HO American 4-4-0 on a On30 layout having backdated the locomotive with S- or O-scale parts (stack, domes, cab.) From what I can make out, as the prototype engine design developed, they became bigger and bigger, and possibly because of standardizing parts in model manufacturing, the earlier type models are actually too big.

    For example, I have purchased a Bachmann HO American 4-4-0 painted as 'Jupiter' (one of the two locomotives that met at Promontory Point in 1869) and this scales at 47'0" approx. in HO, whereas a photograph I have of a Jupiter look-alike from the 1949 Chicago Railroad Fair, seems to show it to be no more than 35'0" long (loco and tender in both cases.) And seeing as the look-alike was actually a repainted 1888 locomotive, even that may have been bigger than the real 1860s Jupiter.

    At 6½" long, the HO model measures 35'0" in S-scale and 26'0" on O-scale.

    I wonder if anyone has considered this and modelled accordingly?

    Somewhat allied to this, has anyone put a smaller scale (HO on an On30 layout, for example) in an attempt to force perspective. My thought being that things close look large and things further away look smaller so a smaller scale train at the back of a layout should make the distance seem greater. Wouldn't it?

    Has anyone tried this, and to what effect?
  20. Frederick

    Frederick New Member

    Ok. Progress is being made. I purchased a Bachmann On30 2-6-0 Passenger train set (painted Colorado & Southern) and set it against the 4-4-0 HO 'Jupiter' locomotive to compare size. (A rather expensive way to decide what scale to model but there's been no other way.)

    On30 is my scale of choice. I think the idea of running the HO locomotive, suitably modified with S-scale stack, cab and cowcatcher, pulling S-scale coaches, will look fine running on a separate ring around the outside/back of the main layout. The mods will make it prototypically more correct and the smaller scale will force perspective nicely. It will be hidden for much of its run behind trees, buildings and the backdrop, so that the 'distant' locomotive will appear and disappear at irregular intervals.

    The main On30 layout uses HO track, of course, as does the outer ring HO locomotive, but what guage track does S use? Will I need Sn3 coaches to run on HO track?

    Next problem. The On30 2-6-0 is 12" long, loco+tender, being about 48 scale feet - disproportionately too large, I believe for 1880-1890. The coal-tender is really big, so if I can get (or have scratchbuilt) a small, close-coupled tender for a wood-burner, this would help reduce the size to make it more correctly to scale, even though the locomotive itself seems oversize.

    I still have to modify the 2-6-0 locomotive by adding the diamond stack and long cowcatcher of that period, so maybe that will make the rest of the engine look smaller. We shall have to wait and see.

    Is there anyone on this forum who models/modifies/scratchbuilds locomotives and rolling stock as a business?

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