What era draws your attention the most?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by nkp174, Oct 25, 2008.


What era catches your attention when other people model it?

  1. early-mid 19th century

    1 vote(s)
  2. late 19th century

    9 vote(s)
  3. early 20th century...pre-USRA

    6 vote(s)
  4. WW1-WW2

    30 vote(s)
  5. transition Era

    37 vote(s)
  6. later 20th century

    16 vote(s)
  7. modern

    26 vote(s)
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  1. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Diesels are powerful, efficient and anonymous in their clone-like similarity, but they have no "soul".

    Steams engines live and "breathe", like some giant steel beast poised to do the bidding of Man.
  2. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Exactly -- I know what you mean! :mrgreen:
  3. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    There are more pre-WW2 modellers showing up than I expected.

    Something I've come to notice (though this poll doesn't support it): In North American model railroading, time periods before the 1940s don't seem well represented. In Britain and Germany (other countries with large fan and modelling bases - I can't say for Japan), earlier eras are popular. At least traditionally, the most popular era in British modelling was the 20s and 30s. For Germany, it was 1900-25 Bavarian modelling.

    The thing is, with the increasing average age of modellers, a large number of transition-era modellers had actually seen that era firsthand. Maybe that's going down by now...? The difference between this and the British and German modellers is more fundamental than that, though. There's a difference between a 60-year-old in 2000 modelling 1950 and a 60-year-old in 1970 modelling 1920. Railfanning, as far as I can see, only began in the 1930s, in both the US and Britain. So, why is modelling the pre-railfan era so much more popular in Britain and Germany than here?
  4. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Good questions! I don't have the answers, although I could mull them over. Look forward to what others say.
  5. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Because a lot of their old stuff is still running? :confused:
  6. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Because of the major functional changes and technological developments.

    The Pre-grouping and pre-nationalization railroads in Britain are a huge draw. Sure, they still retained some character, but not as much as before. A LBSC terrier is an extremely cool (and popular) locomotive. Each "livery" was a step down from the last. The white and grey A4s are cooler than the blue and way cooler than the green. In some respects, modeling the 1920s is like their transition era.

    Another aspect in European vs. American practice. The Super Power era didn't really hit Europe like it did here. There were no big, super power articulateds. There were few large mallets. To a degree, you could say that major changes (such as 2-8-0 to 2-8-8-4) did not occur. I picked 1884 vs. 1883 primarily because it allows Cooke 2-6-0s and Penninsular freight cars to be on my pike. No new power appears on the South Park for 15 years following except for a few 2nd hand 2-8-0s from the UN. Also, the locomotive paint and lettering schemes become far less attractive.
  7. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    One word: nostalgia.

    I've never seen anybody get nostalgic over a diesel. The older locos had noise, excitement, romance and even an element of mystery. A diesel is like a city transport bus, all pretty much the same, quiet, efficient, dependable and just about as exciting as a case of the flu.

    As a lot of people get older, they long for more exciting and less technical times.
  8. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    This is actually a tough question for me to answer........

    At first I would say "modern", but with each year I spend in this hobby, my appreciation for other eras is increasing. I would have never thought of buying anything steam driven, but now, some of those transition era steamers look pretty great and might find a home on my layout. There is a brute strength to the steam era that is unmistakable. And I think when modeling the steam era, there's a Norman Rockwell feeling that comes with it. Fedoras, suits, skirts, big metal cars, and everything built like a tank (at least it looked that way). A simpler time, not quite as fast paced...but I'm sure everyone that lived in that time would refute that observation. With the advance of the diesel transition era, there's a clear nod to technology but with an elegant flair. The modern era, which I mostly model, is more utilitarian. I agree that there's very little difference between the design of most modern diesels. Variations on a theme, but no real major design differences. Fortunately, there's more variation in passenger diesel design than anywhere else, but it's not easy to incorporate either the high speed rail and lower speed passenger service offered today on a typical home layout in Nscale.
  9. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Keen observations. Your comment regarding the variety of passenger diesels jumped out to me. The variations in passenger power do seem greater (in appearance) to me now than at any point in the diesel era. Early on it was dominated by EMD E units (and F units) and ALCO PA-1s. To a non-railfan, these were all identical (although PA-1s had more character). There were other locomotives as well, such as RSs and such, but today does appear (to me) to have a greater visual variety than I can recall.

    I also agree with your assessment that seems more laid back to me, but probably wasn't that different in speed...with correspondency frequently consuming wealthy people's time...and massive lists of house chores for the working class.
  10. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Remember this is a poll of Gauge members - and only those members who read the "General" forum (I didn't until a couple of months ago) and respond to polls (in general, I don't).

    I think you will find many of the younger Gauge members not even reading this section, and these are the ones IMHO who would tend to choose modern.

    One of the things I like about the Gauge is that I am not the lone, cranky, wolf who models earlier eras - there are several more. And yet, there is real interest in eras we choose not to model.

    Unlike some of you, in the beginning I could have cared less about the prototype. Toy trains in and of themselves were my interest. Later, I became more interested in particular eras. Size available for my layouts, and growing interest in the 19th Century history drove me to where I am today. Time constraints on my learning and research hobby, rather than lack of interest, have forced me to not bother with learning beyond 1st and 2nd gen diesels and railroads. And that's OK.

    As some of you already know, my original intention when I started "serious" model railroading in the '70s (and my 20s) was to start my layout in the 1870s and advance it year for year until I got to about 1925. I had no clue about the scope of change in real railroading during those 50 years. I didn't know about the universality of truss rod underframes, followed by their extinction. Model Railroader and its peers weren't much help - most everything in that half century period was simply labeled "Old Time". Roundhouse picked up on that theme and its Old Timer series was pushed as suitable for 1870s and 1880s when really they were based on prototypes from about 1905-1910.

    As for being a simpler time, I think we're looking back through rose-colored glasses. The last third of the 19th Century was a tough time for most. Financial panics and meltdowns similar to the scale we are seeing now happened every 6 or 7 years. The only practical overland mode of transportation for freight was by railroad - and the owners took advantage of their expensive monopoly. Labor was relatively cheap and expendable. And if you didn't put enough fuel to heat through the winter or food to eat, there was very little recourse.

    rant over
  11. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    The Mallet was conceived as a tank engine for narrow gauge and branchlines, and in many places, that's where it stayed. The mainline tender Mallet didn't catch on in a lot of countries. It speaks volumes that the British steam hunters (active after 1968 ) chased Garratts in many countries, but the only places they found tender Mallets were Java and Brazil. And these were compound 2-6-6-0s, 2-8-8-0s and 2-6-6-2s. The US evolution to simple not-really-Mallets and then to superpower, and the Alco development of a hinge for the front drivers that allowed stability at speed, didn't occur anywhere else.
    And yes, steam didn't grow as large in Europe because trains stayed shorter. There were other concerns. For example, 2-10-0s, obsolete in the US, dominated freight in Germany to the end of steam. Why? Lower axle loads in Europe. Heavy 2-10-0s like PRR I1s are intrinsically less stable than lighter ones.

    From where I'm looking, it seems a lot of fans get nostalgic about first-generation diesels.
  12. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    When we first switched servers and we could choose which forums we wanted to read by setting the preferences for all the posts posted in the forums since our last visit in the "new posts" tab, The General Talk Forum wasnt included in my forums i wished to read the new topics for either. But i soon saw some quite interesting threads in the General Talk Forum so i decided that i would now include the forum in the list of forums i would like to see the active posts in. Mostly i screen out the forums that dont have to do with the Gauge and Model Railroading, personally card modeling and the other stuff has no interest to me so i choose not to read those threads. There are a few forums in the Gauge that i still dont read, just because im not interested at the time with the topic.... Polls are hit and miss with me, it all just depends what the topic of the poll is :thumb:

    For me, i do fall into those younger Gauge members, i do activly read the General Talk Forum but i dont always reply to alot of the topics listed in it as i do in the other forums, mostly HO scale, N scale, and Photography and Scenery forums. Like i said above, if the tittle of the thread catches my eye and is something im interested in or think i could provide some advise or help, ill click on it and read the thread and reply if i can. Polls are also the same way for me..... but ive found myself voteing and contributing in more and more these days lol
  13. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Some of the comments on this thread have caused me to think that we just might be living in a "golden age of trains" and not realize it, simply because it's so easy for us to take things for granted and not fully appreciate the trains that we see every day.

    We could very well be living in a golden age of big diesels. Just look at the huge amount of freight train traffic, often hauled by 2, 3 and even 4 to 6 large diesels. Just some thoughts!

  14. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    I can attest to that! :thumb:
  15. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Interesting comment, and quite true. The very definition of "nostalgia" might well be "a longing for the good things of times past."

    Modelers who choose the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's are quite guilty of this, ignoring the harsh historical realities of the Depression, a major World War, the Korean War and the massive onset of the Cold War and the Nuclear Age in favor of all those classy locomotives and the beginnings of diesel power.

    The1800's were some of the worst times in America, full of the Civil War, the rape of an entire continent by robber barons, railroad tycoons and mining conglomerates, the betrayal and slaughter of the Indian nations and as host of other tawdry historical occurrences; however, modeling isn't about that - it's about selecting the good things we want to preserve for ourselves and focusing on those.
  16. Werner Smuts

    Werner Smuts Member

    WW 2 delivered such an great bunch of planes. It was always a battle for Air supremacy.... if you had control of the air you had control over many facets of the war.... ROCK ON WW 2 AIRCRAFT!!!!
  17. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    IMHO...History is interesting simply because there are so many facets you could concentrate on. Looking at the rail industry is complicated because it touched every facet of everyone's life in the past - and still does today for that matter. You can't seperate major events in a nation's history from rail service (no matter what the era) because that very rail service was critical to that point in history. More so than aircraft or trucking, it could be argued that rail service "ties" almost every significant event in a nation's (industrialized) history together.
  18. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I have no illusions about the 19th century being simpler. I'm a South Park fan...my railroad's construction was halted for 4 years due to one of the panics which occurred every 20 years. I've read enough about the development of vacuum & air brakes to know how awful it was. Nearly every railroad book I have includes a photo where a union blew up a building and killed innocent people. It is amazing to study for you see what people can endure and accomplish.

    Sure, many retired railroad men's lives were simple...they'd sit in a box a lower crossing gates for the rest of their lives...as they'd been too maimed in accidents involving L&P couplers or hand brakes. Those were brave, hardy people...and with the long hours they worked under dangerous conditions...they deserve to be modeled.
  19. Packers#1

    Packers#1 Ultimate Packers Fan

    Modern, but the wild west days and the transition era are also favorites of mine.
  20. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Only my opinion, but buildings, bridges and other structures seemed more interesting "way back when". By contrast, everything today is severely functional and unadorned, kind of "Industrial Bauhaus".
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