Steam Engine Rosters

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Kanawha, Dec 5, 2007.

  1. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    Those of you who model in the steam era. Did you consciously build a roster to have a diverse variety of locomotives, to represent a cross section of the railroad you model, or just buy ones that looked cool and were available at the time? :mrgreen:

    I ask because, as you know, its difficult for steam modelers to get specific types of locos even if you go the brass route. :confused: Whereas diesel modelers have a much wider variety available at any given time. Its gotten better in recent years with BLI, the Proto Heritage Series, and others, but still no where close.
  2. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    I buy what appeals to me and looks cool as my little short line is free-lanced, however, I have a certain criteria for the steam I do buy. Will it negotiate a 22" radius curve I have? Would it look "right" on a short line of under 100 miles? How easy is it to detail (ie; does it have a bunch of cast on detail, or could I easily add my own)? What kind of service would that particular engine be used for? Passenger? Freight? Is it "modern enough"? (My shortline is set in Summer of 1962 in Northern California's "Napa Valley"). How does this particular model run? And lastly, do I have room and can I USE another steamer?
  3. Trainiac77

    Trainiac77 Member

    I agree with CCT70, I buy what I like not prototype. I have several big steam engines; Rivarossi Big Boy and Brass B&O EM1 and many others. My layout is a freelanced, eclectic New England scenery style running Santa Fe equipment. So all my big steam has been or is in the process of being renamed to Santa Fe. For the most part I purchased the engines and then built the layout to accommodate them.
    Some modelers might call it blasphemous, but I call it Fun!!!
  4. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The thing to remember with any locomotive is "Why would the railroad buy that unit?" If you are running a small branch line with light rail, you shouldn't put a Big Boy on it. A railroad built in the prairie probably doesn't need large steam power, while a railroad running in the mountains probably won't be running 4-4-0's and 2-6-2's, unless you are modeling the 1890's or earlier when a 2-8-0 was big power.
  5. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

    I don't have a steam roster yet, but if I do, it would probably consist of 2-8-0's, 2-6-2's, the occasional 4-6-2, and maybe even a modernized 4-4-0
  6. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    I wish someone made more Chesapeake and Ohio steamers, like a 4-4-2, and 4-6-2. The only commercially available passenger power for C&O is the Spectrum 4-8-2.
  7. riverotter

    riverotter Midwest Alliance Rail Sys

    Any time I see the words "should" and "shouldn't" in any discussion of "hobby" it raises my hackles. Yes, if you're modeling a strict prototype, it's probably more realistic to be consistent with the prototype, and I know that being strictly prototype is the "in" thing to do these days in model railroading, but not everyone wants to recreate Hackensack, NJ exactly the was it was on March 12th, 1953 right down to the rusty bolts on the garbage truck and the dog poop in the yard. ;-)
  8. CNJ999

    CNJ999 Member

    I do operate a steam-era layout (circa 1941) and, while it is a free-lance road, I have chosen the motive power in a logical fashion to represent what such a railroad could have rostered in the real world.

    Admittedly, this has required sometimes modifying of off-the-shelf engines (especially since my main motive power are camelbacks) but that's part of the fun of model railroading. My engines include: 4-4-0c, 2-6-0c, both 2-8-0c and regular, rear cab, consolidations, plus heavy 4-6-2c and 2-8-2c class locomotives.

  9. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Just for fun I thought about my C&HV being set in the steam era..
    I would use.
    0-8-0s for all freight yard work.
    0-10-0s coal marshaling yard work/hump work.
    2-6-6-2s for mine runs
    2-8-0s local
    2-8-2s general service
    2-8-8-2s heavy drags and helper service
    2-8-4s High speed freight.
    4-6-0 Branch line passenger/mixed train.
    4-6-2s Passenger service.

    All locomotives would have vanderbilt tenders.
  10. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I have two main era's of building my roster:
    As a little kid collecting "cool" locomotives and cars with a major emphasis on getting classics: NYC J-3a, SP GS-4, N&W J...

    And the High School/rest of life stage. I decided that having a large roster of interesting engines didn't make enough sense to me. Why have nicely detailed models which didn't make any sense being together...short of the Louisiana Eastern/Ohio Central model (a collector with a railroad). So I shifted to focusing on my favorite railroads...NKP power, Colorado & Southern equipment, DSP&P equipment, and completing the trains that I did have.

    Now I follow a simple set of rule: if it doesn't help me accomplish my model railroading goals, it is only impairing my ability to get there. The best lesson for me on this was when I purchased a Grandt Line 25t HOn3 diesel. Yes, it was fun to build, but it didn't look like it belonged with me HOn3 cars. Further, it delayed my purchase of the MDC 2-8-0 that I really wanted as power. Something has to be a real deal for me to purchase it if it isn't specific to my goals...and even if it is, it can't break the bank for the coming time.

    I want my motive power to make sense. I won't spend money on DSP&P power that didn't make it to the road until after the 1885 renumbering. I also don't want to spend money on "sort of's" if I plan to eventually get the real thing. In HS, my brother picked up an IHC 4-6-2 lettered for NKP. I didn't like it at the time, and I don't like that engine now. It isn't a very good model of a USRA pacific, and the NKP never had any USRA pacifics. I was not about to drop $70 for an IHC hudson which doesn't look much like any real hudsons...especially the NKP...when I could just wait and then get a real NKP hudson...which I did. Had I wasted the money on the IHC engine, it would have looked horribly out of place once the real NKP hudson arrived on the line. That IHC pacific looks terrible next to the brass hudson as it is distinctly does not have NKP style (or much detail).

    Further, while Spectrum's 2-6-6-2s are appropriate for the post-1949 NKP after acquiring the W&LE...they never set foot on the chunks of the railroad that I'm interested in, so none will be gracing my rails for a very long time. It is my goal to recreate the NKP in 1948 in northern Ohio and the DSP&P in 1884 at the continental divide...I don't want to include elements that didn't belong there. I would not add a C&S #74 to a model of the Clear Creek or the 1910 Alpine tunnel line as while it did exist at those times, and the paint scheme is correct, that engine never polished those rails so it disrupts that illusion.

    Of course, the C&O 1600's test run was on the NKP's line from Lima to St. Marys, it does fit selective compression for the NKP to justify, eventually, a 2-6-6-6. :)

    Edit: I also have a strong preference for Lima built locomotives. Growing up less than 10 miles from the LLW, having been raised around the 765 (that's me in the firebox on my avatar picture), and having played in the LLW as a little kid, I strongly prefer Lima power to ALCO and especially to Baldwin. Further, Baldwin was the volume builder while Lima was more of the boutique builder...hence why the NYC came to Lima to improve their 2-8-2s, and Lima made the engineering innovations necessary to make modern steam possible (4-8-8-4s, 4-8-4s, 2-8-4s, etc). My NKP hudsons are all Lima built will be nearly all of my NKP locomotives...sorry ALCO.
  11. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    Its true, Lima's were always considered the Cadillacs of steam engines.
  12. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Being in HOn3, I really don't have a choice because there aint much available. And since I am not modeling the d&rgw, that makes even less available because I don't want my roster to have anything characteristically rio grande. That basically leaves the MDC models, and generic brass locos.

    However, a realizstic roster is something I do think about. My railroad would likely not have a very large roster, so it is possible to model everything they likely would have. I try to think of reasons why the railroad would have purchased certain engines. For example, I see 2-8-0s as the primary mainline engine, for both freight and passenger service. For switching the mines and smelter, I have a pair of grandt boxcabs, but a Porter would be more appropriate for my time period. I also roster a shay, thinking this is for heavy lugging of ore trains.

    For freelancing a railroad, I think the best idea is to figure out what type of engine is appropriate for the railroad, and fine a suitabble model and purchase several of them. Details can always be changed, but should be kept the same from engine to engine in order to make the engines look like they are all from the same class, and are maintenanced by the same shop.

  13. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I have said before, there are no hard and fast rules in this hobby, except to the individual.
    However, if you are working within a certain time period, let's say you are modeling the transition, you most likely would shatter the illusion if you used a wide body AC.
    My steam roster will probably never be graced by a big articulated, as they never saw rail inside Michigan's lower peninsula.
    I stick with Consolidation's (2-8-0), Mikado (light and Heavy), pacifics, and perhaps a decapod or 2.
  14. rekline

    rekline Member

    As you can guess from my avatar, I have a distinctive Pennsy look for the steamers, I have 2 K4's - 1 MTH and 1 Spectrum, I also have a couple of small steamers, bachman 0-6-0. I love the look of the spectrum loco steamers but the Pennsy thing with the Bel-paire boiler always stops me from getting an undecorated one and fixing it up. I have tried to find pics to ease my mind of some older engines pre 1900 that didn't incorporate it.
    Having said that I'll run steamers next to a GP40 without any question, (That would drive some people nuts here). Just wanna play and I always remember the first rule, Have fun with it.
  15. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    Which one do you like better, the MTH or the Spectrum? I can't believe BLI makes one too, thats 3 different companies making a K4 at the same time and no one can produce a C&O Hudson? :cry: Thats discrimination. lol
  16. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    They go after the most popular engines...especially ones which have run in

    NKP Berks...2 of which have run...and a third is being restored (763)...made by Life Like, Bachmann, and Rivarossi
    N&W J...Bachmann (and BLI?)...since 611 ran quite a bit
    UP FEF...since 844 is been all over the place
    UP 4-6-6-4s...same reason as it has common parts to the...
    UP 4-8-8-4s...neither the biggest nor the most powerful by any measure...but had a lot of wheels, was a promotional tool, and 8 survive...How many manufacturers have made them? Athearn, Rivarossi, Trix, Bowser, etc...?
    SP GS-4s...because of the 4449.
    Reading T-1s are only available because of their use in tourist service...far from popular at the end of steam
    As well as the K-4s (also produced by Bowser as well) and the NYC hudsons.

    Then locomotives which fit a variety of prototypes also have a huge market...anything USRA, Baldwin catalog 4-4-0s, 2-6-0s, and 2-8-0s, Russian Decapods, Van Swerigan berks (NKP berks), shays.

    I think one of the biggest factors hindering C&O passenger power is that: #1 they always had multiple classes that were confined to geographic areas so that a Cincinnati area modeler has no use for the power used through the New River Gorge.
    #2 they are more famous for freight power
    #3 which class of hudsons? Which class of 4-8-4s? Which class of 4-6-2s? They were each quite unique in appearance. At least someone FINALLY decided to offer a beautiful C&O T-1...the finest looking 2-10-4s of all (imho).

    Further, since so many modelers model the transition era, the C&O didn't have their steam engines on the point of passenger power at the bitter end (The NKP regularly used 4-6-4s into 1958...but they've only been offered in brass 1.5 most prefer to use the PA-1s which were the primary motive power in the popular setting of the 1950's).

    I feel really sorry for modelers of the southern railways, north eastern railways, and the northern transcontinental railways as they don't have much of any equipment to run...aside from USRA stuff. At least the Pocahontas roads, midwestern roads, and western roads are popular so that we can get characteristic power. I actually feel quite bad for NYC fans...because while they have many choices for 4-6-4s and Bachmann's Niagra...they don't have any of the NYC's characteristic freight it isn't really easy to model...and railroads had 10x more freight power than passenger power. The easiest roads to model with 100% steam rosters are the Pennsy, the Santa Fe, and the Harriman Roads (SP & UP...the IC not as much)....oh, and the narrow gauge D&RGW of the 1950s & 60's. (every single engine is available...including multiple versions for certain road numbers and engine specific rivet well as all of the freight cars, cabooses, passenger cars, and some of the MoW equipment).

    Precision Scale is coming out with all three classes of C&O hudsons...the L-2's, L-2a's, and L-1' o-scale and they've previously offered them in HO...a few times I think...but they're commonly more expensive. United's older brass import C&O L-2s can probably be had for less $$$ than some of the newer RTR plastic/diecast stuff.

    As for the K-4's...I can't say which how they compare...but I recall that the MR review of the MTH one had a drawbar pull of 10lbs with its traction tire and was designed, oddly, for 18v instead of the usual 12v. That drawbar pull of 10lbs probably gives it the ability to haul a train 10x longer than a real K-4 could. I do know that there sound people are phenomenal about trying to get accurate, high quality whistles for their models...I don't know, though, how effective they are at utilizing that with their models.
  17. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    I definitely agree they are better known for their freight power, but the J-3a Greenbriers, L-2 Hudsons, J-2 Mountain, and even the A-12 Atlantics are gorgeous designs. The low set headlights gave them such a unique look. The Greenbriers especially were really graceful looking compared to some 4-8-4s.
  18. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I actually disagree. I strongly prefer the L-1s to the L-2s (with the orange paint). I also think that the first Greenbriers, as delivered with a center headlight and George Washington lettering, were the best looking of all 4-8-4's (except maybe the GS-4s and the first D&RGW 4-8-4s).

    For me, I regard the 4-6-4 as the ideal 20th century passenger locomotive...with the NKP 4-6-4's (with ears) being by far the best looking...and while I know that many NKP enthusiasts share this sentiment (including Doyle McCormick and Jerry Jacobson...two of the top 5 movers and shakers of mainline steam gurus)...but the majority of railfans would take the other hudsons...the ones whom's first number...#5200...was delivered one month before the #170...due to Schenectady pushing it through in a hurry while Brooks took their time with the #170 (which I have a link to in my sig).
  19. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    I'm not a fan of the orange either. But as far as the 4-8-4's go, having the large number plate in the center of the smokebox door looked really neat.
  20. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Actually, I meant to say that I prefer the L-1s (with the orange paint) to the L-2s :mrgreen: I am definitely in the minority on that, as most people seem to prefer the Yellow or the L-2s.
    Slightly off dad acquired...probably 9 years ago...a C&O bell in a horse trade. Some guy in Toledo had a bell hanging from each corner of his garage, and some friends of my dad traded/bought them from the guy. They donated the first bell...which was off of a C&O 2-8-2 (he had the paper work from the purchase) and the other...which they traded to my dad...was far more interesting. Bells always show signs of abrasions as they are exposed to the elements...except when they are hidden under streamlining shroud. This bell had no signs of abrasion...and happened to be the correct diameter (20" iirc) determine that it had to have come off of the 491, 492, or 493 (L-1s). It couldn't be from the 494 as it never received its shrouding. It also couldn't be from the 490 which sits in Baltimore. That also reminds of a story...probably around 5 years old...about another C&O bell. There was a collector browsing a flea market in Baltimore when he noticed something was a bell just like my fathers. Putting two and two together, he hurried back to the B&O Museum to announce that the 490's bell had been stolen. The manager at the museum laughed at him...and went to show him that the 490's bell was safe under the shroud...when they discovered that it had been stolen :eek:. They then went back to the flea market...and the dealer had no clue that what it was or that it was stolen.

    Okay, I'll finish my post to try to get this thread back on topic...and then it is back to the 20pg term paper of environmental catalysis and nutrients that I have to submit in 8hrs. :cry:

    I prefer to purchase locomotives with flanges that allow them to pass through code 83 turnouts...unlike my NYC 4-6-4 or my John Bull.

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