What N-scale 2-8-4 Berkshire's are available?

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by JasonRP, Nov 3, 2005.

  1. JasonRP

    JasonRP New Member

    I'm looking to find a nice WW-II era Berkshire 2-8-4.. Anyone know if these have been (or are currently) made? If so, by who, and are they any good? :)

  2. skipgear

    skipgear Member

    The only current production Berkshires are from Life Like. They were/are limited production run but there are a lot of them out there hanging around shops still. Walthers has examples of all of the second production run still available with a few of the first run also. I just picked a C&O version off of Ebay for $100 from ModelTrains in Canada. They relisted more but this time at $119 starting bid, $100 was under cost. I was about ready to order one through the shop I work at until I saw their listing. I think I also saw a good deal on them at BLW.

    Concor/Rivarossi and MRC both made Berkshires but they rarely show up for sale.

    The LifeLike is supposed to be an excellent runner with top notch detail but a little light on the pull. We will find out when my loco arrives. They are based on the C&O version of the engine and are offered in C&O and Pere Marquete and I think one more road name from the second run.
  3. JasonRP

    JasonRP New Member

    Cool, good to hear that they are (should be) available from Life Like. Who is "BLW"? I think if they have some I'll buy one. Is there any difference between first run and second run? Is this status only for collectors, as in, the first printing of a book is always more valuable than a later printing? Or, did they make suttle improvements after the first run?

  4. skipgear

    skipgear Member

    I don't know of any major changes between the first and second runs. The second run was because they sold out of the first run. The second run road numbers are different, that is really all that I know that changed.

    BLW - Brooklyn Locomotive Works - N Scale hobby shop in NY that has an online outlet.


  5. siderod

    siderod Member

    SKip is right....the VanSweringen Berk made by LL is the best bet, though the did have a small gauge issue with the front pilot and some weight issues. Not sure how the pick-up is, but i think the tender is live (the Mallet was) so hard-wiring or modification might help that.

  6. ross31r

    ross31r Member

    there has been a review of them in Model Railroader that says their pulling capacity is only about 16 cars or so - vastly inferior to the real thing!
  7. skipgear

    skipgear Member

    Got mine today, finally. Unbelievable detail, the pictures don't do it justice. I haven't had a chance to check pulling strength but I don't expect it to be outstanding. It seems like it could be heavier. The engine runs silky smooth, incredibly low starting speed. Quiet as can be.

    The only thing at all I was disapointed in was the tender pickups. The rear truck on the tender is wired, both rails, but the front truck, even though it is the same style doesn't have the pickups included. It looks like all it would take is the two metal pickup strips applied, a shame they just didn't include them to begin with.

    After I get a chance to break in the Berkshire I will have a better idea what it can really pull. The break in track has been busy with a ConCor/Rivarossi 2-8-8-2 that I picked up last week. It is a first run loco that was new old stock from a hobby shop. It has taken a bit of work and runtime to get the 30 year old dried up grease out of it. About 3 hours of break in, it has started smoothing out.
  8. brokemoto

    brokemoto New Member

    Walthers is supposed to be issuing a second run of these with a traction tyre and all tender wheels live. This should help pulling power. I never had stalling problems with only half the wheels live and the locomotive live, but truthfully, N scale steam needs a tender with all wheels live. This is one of the downfalls of the MP steam.

    The RR/Rowa berkshires vary wildly piece-to-piece in performance. I have two that will creep nicely and one that is good only at passenger speeds. The C&O did have their Van Sweringens equipped with steam lines and signalling devices so that they could use them on passenger trains in Kentucky, but I do not know if the other users of the Van Sweringens ever did this. The RRs, at least (I do not know about the Rowas) pull well.

    At some point I am going to get rid of my three RRs; superpowers really do not interest me.
  9. skipgear

    skipgear Member

    I got a little runtime in with mine finally. Pulling power is OK, not really up to what the loco could do in the real world but it should be OK with about 15-20 cars. It pulled 13 old, atlas boxes that are not in top condition and need the trucks replaced without slipping.

    I did however experience the problem with it wanting to pick up the front driver and derail. It never caused the train to stop and soon as it was back on the straight, it popped back onto track. I was using an EZ track test loop and traced the problem down to one piece of track that was out of gauge. Replaced the bad track and no more issues. I can see that if you get this loco to pull a good load, the drawbar mounting could cause problems in tighter corners. I see a place where you can relocate the drawbar to right behind the rear driver but it may require modifying some of the under cab details to allow it to clear on bends. It will also require rewiring one or both of the tender pickups on the drawbar.

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