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I've been in an and out of different scales over the last few years. Built an O high-rail layout (tore down), then toyed with both HO and 1:32 One for a while.  I don't like the smallness of HO or N and O is too big for inside running.  All the scales have gotten crazy expensive.  I've always felt like S was the "right" size but I've been concerned about the viability of it - given lack of manufacturers.  What's the current take? My interest is ATSF - late 30s steam through F7s.  I'm a locomotive guy.

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S scale continues to gain interest due to it's size.

Check out the following:

National Association of S Gaugers at www.nasg.org

S Scale SIG at www.sscale.org

American Models at americanmodels.com

S scale layouts at www.railserve.com

The railserve site lists all of the above and more.

The American Models model of the Santa Fe 2900 class 4-8-4 is a clean machine indeed!

Hope this beginning will be of some help.

Joe

If one has the patience for it, S is certainly an option.

Here's some Santa Fe that's been available.

MTH (ex SHS) F3's, S-Helper F7's (unfortunately not currently available,) AM SF Budd cars in the background.

MTH F3 AT&SF 040217 009

American Models GP9's (still available) w/details added.

KGB 010113 05

American Models 2900 class 4-8-4's (Left, dolled up a little.  Right, straight from the box.  (Still available with scale wheels.)

AM 29XX 061111 01

Plus AM has a Baldwin S12 in zebra stripe and E8's available.  Both S-Helper and MTH offered EMD switchers in Santa Fe

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Last edited by Rusty Traque
@Jacobpaul81 posted:

..........O is too big for inside running.

All the scales have gotten crazy expensive.

If that's really true (probably not as you can make any scale as expensive as you choose...) then it's not a factor in deciding what scale to pursue.

I've always felt like S was the "right" size but I've been concerned about the viability of it - given lack of manufacturers.

Then you make what you want while scouring the planet for what's been made.....same as in any other scale....and have fun doing it.

If one has the patience for it, S is certainly an option.

Here's some Santa Fe that's been available.

MTH (ex SHS) F3's, S-Helper F7's (unfortunately not currently available,) AM SF Budd cars in the background.

MTH F3 AT&SF 040217 009

American Models GP9's (still available) w/details added.

KGB 010113 05

American Models 2900 class 4-8-4's (Left, dolled up a little.  Right, straight from the box.  (Still available with scale wheels.)

AM 29XX 061111 01

Plus AM has a Baldwin S12 in zebra stripe and E8's available.  Both S-Helper and MTH offered EMD switchers in Santa Fe

Rusty - I've been looking at pictures of your layout for 6 years!  It's too bad I didn't just start in S then.

Those Baldwin Northerns are inspiring.  There's nothing in large scale steam approaching accurate for ATSF and the only HO company manufacturing them (BLI) does not inspire much confidence in me - based on the comments from even their most devoted fan base.   

I know MTH is closing.  Has there been any hints at someone picking up the S Helper Line?

S scale continues to gain interest due to it's size.

Check out the following:

National Association of S Gaugers at www.nasg.org

S Scale SIG at www.sscale.org

American Models at americanmodels.com

S scale layouts at www.railserve.com

The railserve site lists all of the above and more.

The American Models model of the Santa Fe 2900 class 4-8-4 is a clean machine indeed!

Hope this beginning will be of some help.

Joe

Thank you for these links.  Looks like for ATSF - there are three steam models:

S-Helper :  2-8-0
American models: 4-8-4
River Raisin: 2-8-4

And the S-Helper F7 / F3 / GP9s for my period.  That's way better than 1:32! 

AmFlyer: Great shots of a N&W Y on ATSF.  Lots of foreign power migrated across North America for many reasons such as leased or out right purchased from other railroads from time to time over the years.  Beginning in the 1960s run through power became popular: Frisco F units on the Santa Fe in California, Seaboard Coast Line power on Southern Pacific, also seen the Golden State; the list continues to even Great Northern and Northern Pacific all the way to Texas on the Ft. Worth & Denver.

Sure gives modelers reasons to run off line power of their favorite railroads on ones layout w/o having to make up any excuses.  Then there's the Burlington Northern "Rainbow Era" and early Amtrak, and and and...

@AmFlyer posted:

There is always Lionel, this is the Y-3. It was made in two different road numbers, this 1797 and also 1795.

4D6C0D9F-3CFC-4A9F-99AB-2B7A09DA4A14

It's nice to know Lionel's investing in this scale.

I assume those were produced for the N&W and Virginian modelers - ATSF being a by-product.  I think lifelike did the same in HO. It's an odd choice for Santa Fe.  I guess if you're modelling raton circa 43-47, you'd have to have them.

Gilbert S gauge is scale size but the level of detail varies. It would not be considered true scale detail level. Current Lionel varies but many of the engines are well detailed. All require at least .138 rail, they will not run on code 100. The AM and SHS/MTH are well detailed and available with scale wheels. True scale detailed engines are made by River Raisin but these start at $2.500, DCC not included.

@Jacobpaul81 posted:

Are the AF and S-Helper all pretty week scale or is the AF more toy-like high rail.  I have zero knowledge here.

Here is a comparison of a Postwar Flyer boxcar with an SHS double sheathed boxcar:

crop AF v SHS

It takes a little work to convert a Flyer car to scale, but it does add a little variety.  Here's some conversions I did way back in the 80's when I entered S.  I'll admit nowadays I probably wouldn't bother converting Traditional Postwar-Style Flyer to scale:

rKGB 020710 01rKGB 020710 02rKGB 020710 03rKGB 020710 04rKGB 020710 05

Are they perfect?  No, but once the 5 foot rule is activated, they fit in just fine.

Rusty

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Last edited by Rusty Traque

Here is a comparison of a Postwar Flyer boxcar with an SHS double sheathed boxcar:

It takes a little work to convert a Flyer car to scale, but it does add a little variety.  Here's some conversions I did way back in the 80's when I entered S.  I'll admit nowadays I probably wouldn't bother converting Traditional Postwar-Style Flyer to scale:

Are they perfect?  No, but once the 5 foot rule is activated, they fit in just fine.

Rusty

Thanks for the photos Rusty!  That's very helpful.  I assume the American Models freight / passenger cars are in line with the SHS?    For scale operation, what kind of minimum radius am I looking at? 

The older AM freight cars tooled up in the 80's have slightly less detail than SHS, but are fine.  It doesn't take much to upgrade them.  Most of the boxcars in the previous photo backgrounds are AM's.

The practical minimum for scale operation I would place at 27" radius.  That's about equivalent to 18" radius in HO.

I was using 33" and 29" radius on my old layout.  It still allowed me to operate AM's 85' scale passenger cars with body mounted couplers.

I also has a 27" radius on a siding for testing purposes.

Rusty

The older AM freight cars tooled up in the 80's have slightly less detail than SHS, but are fine.  It doesn't take much to upgrade them.  Most of the boxcars in the previous photo backgrounds are AM's.

The practical minimum for scale operation I would place at 27" radius.  That's about equivalent to 18" radius in HO.

I was using 33" and 29" radius on my old layout.  It still allowed me to operate AM's 85' scale passenger cars with body mounted couplers.

I also has a 27" radius on a siding for testing purposes.

Rusty

You say "old layout".  What's your current minimum radius?  It's sounding like over 33" is best.  I have the room (I've got a 20 x 24 space I'm looking at developing out. 

If you can, I would suggest 36"R minimum.  There were some things that I couldn't run with 33"R.

My current minimum radius is zero.  I'm between layouts right now because I moved.

However, the Great Plywood Glacier was more or less 12'x18'.

KGB trackplan

It came tumbling down in March of this year .

KGBD 032720 [1)KGBD 033020 [1)

30 years a WIP, 3 days to destroy.

Rusty

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Last edited by Rusty Traque

That was sad news when Rusty had to dismantle the Great Plywood Glacier. We enjoyed seeing the pictures taken on that layout.

20'x24' is a generous size room for an around the walls layout. Mine is 17'x21', I chose 30" as the minimum radius but I am not using body mounted couplers or running large River Raisin engines. If I had a 20'x24' space I would have used a 36" minimum radius exactly as Rusty advises. All my mainline turnouts are #6 or #8. Only freight sidings and the freight yard use #5 turnouts.

Here are some thoughts/opinions on things you asked about as well as others:

- Continuation of MTH's S scale line - There are recent rumors that a group of employees will be buying out MTH, but I have nearly zero hope that even if they do that they will continue S scale products.

- Freight & passenger cars

  • In S there are only three manufacturers making ready-to-run non-brass rolling stock, Lionel-American Flyer (LAF), American Models (AM) and S Scale America (SSA sold by Des Plaines Hobbies http://www.desplaineshobbies.c...22/Railroad-S-Scale/).  MTH still has some leftovers and they are supposed to make the S stuff from their last catalogue before closing shop. But there is also lots of rolling stock available on ebay and elsewhere from out-of-business companies like SHS, Pacific Rail Shops (PRS), and Downs.
  • For freight, SHS, MTH and SSA are all excellent. The AM stuff is great and they have a huge selection for our little S scale market, but slightly less detailed than the three aforementioned.  The LAF stuff, except for the cylindrical hoppers which do not match your modeling era, is all hi-rail with trucks, wheels and couplers that bear no resemblance to reality.  With some customization and some specialty products you can change the trucks and couplers.
  • As for passenger cars in non-brass, your only choice for something decent is AM and some of the old SHS passenger cars which are harder to find.  AM has streamlined Budd cars and heavyweights.  Their web page has good pictures of these http://www.americanmodels.com/.
  • Couplers is another decision you’ll need to make.  Kadee 802/808 are the most common.  You can also use Kadee HO #5’s which are compatible with the 802/808’s as are the San Juan ON30 Evolution couplers which are very realistic but a little big looking for some modelers. I use the Kadee 802/808’s and the San Juan Evolutions.

- Track

  • There is scale only track and then there is track that accommodates both scale and hi-rail.
  • If you are seeking true prototypical scale track, then the options are limited and most true scale folks actually hand lay the rail and ties themselves. If you want scale flex track, then http://www.tomalcotrack.net/ or https://www.custmtrax.com/index.html are probably your best bets. Both of them sell turnouts too.  I don’t know if either of have much inventory.
  • However, my strong recommendation is that you go with code 138 rail which will accommodate hi-rail and scale.  There is a much greater supply of flex track in this size and they are interchangeable.  Products are readily available from Fox Valley Models (FVM), MTH and the former S Helper Service (SHS).  Furthermore you can get good scale turnouts from FVM and they have plenty in stock.  They also make hi-rail turnouts which can be modified to accommodate both types of wheels but they are currently out of stock and being manufactured. When I eventually do my layout expansion it will be all code 138 flex track with 33" radii curves to accommodate brass steamers with scale wheels and FVM hi-rail turnouts that I will modify to accommodate both types of wheels.
  • Curve radius - This really is a matter of what you want to run.  I agree with Rusty though that if you do 36" you should be able to run just about anything ever made in S with the possible exception of some of the largest brass steamers from the likes of Overland and Sunset.

S scale in general

  • I love S scale.  The product selection is FAR, FAR less than HO or 3-rail O, and there is nearly zero new stuff coming out in S.  But the size is fantastic.  I initially wanted to do O, but having space to do an interesting layout drove me to look at S.  I knew I didn’t want to do HO because it is too small for me to do the repairs, customizations and kit construction that I want to do.
  • And regarding the selection, while much smaller than the popular scales, I have spent $thousands, and yet there is still plenty out there in the first or second-hand markets that I like but don’t own, particularly in brass.  So I am not that worried about it.  I suspect in 20 years there will be no new S scale coming out other than from some of the small kit makers, but I will still be having fun with working on what I have and probably buying from the second hand market, especially (and sadly) as estate sales of train collections seem to be coming more frequent.


- The reference to a Cabin Fever Auction above - Don't bother.  There are less than 5 items that would be of interest to a scale modeler and all of them are modern L-AF diesels that don't match the era you are modeling.

I am in the process of choosing flex track right now. I chose Fox Valley Models #5 switch for all turnouts. I am going the scale route, so my choices are American Models, still some SHS freight cars and mth has plenty to choose from. I have decided to buy a legacy berkshire, I plan to put scale wheels on the tender, forward and trailing trucks. I think I found a way to "scale" the drivers, I need to ask a question to see if it's possible. I am only going to run DCC, keep trains short, choose five different diesels and five different steam engines. Layout size is 5x16, I keep asking questions on here and the return information is the best I could ever ask for. 

@Chuck K posted:

  • As for passenger cars in non-brass, your only choice for something decent is AM and some of the old SHS passenger cars which are harder to find.  AM has streamlined Budd cars and heavyweights.  Their web page has good pictures of these http://www.americanmodels.com/.

Just a reminder:  There is no real difference between AM and SHS heavyweight passenger cars.  S-Helper Service helped finance (hence their name) these cars, and they got first crack at selling them.  (As SHS did with some other AM projects like the RS3's FA/FB2's and GP35's.)

AM did however make some changes by adding lighting, silhouettes and extra weight to the 70' cars.  The cars are the same otherwise.

Rusty

If you can, I would suggest 36"R minimum.  There were some things that I couldn't run with 33"R.

My current minimum radius is zero.  I'm between layouts right now because I moved.

However, the Great Plywood Glacier was more or less 12'x18'.

KGB trackplan

It came tumbling down in March of this year .

30 years a WIP, 3 days to destroy.

Rusty

I know the feeling.  I spent 2 years on my O-scale layout - it was around the walls in a MASSIVE basement -  my wife lost her job - and we flipped that house.  I was more than half done at that point. It was an L-girder monster - and no way I could save it.  I will want this next layout to be modular so I can move it - if I ever have to again - and also so I can move and tweak it if I want.

Thank you for the tips on the 36" radius.  That's good to know.  Eventually,  I'll be wanting that RR Berk way down the line - if one ever comes available - which I'm sure I will need that radius to operate.  To start, I'll track down a Northern (or 2).

I bet those 3ft tables were a bear to reach across.  I learned that lesson in round one.  Also learned I need to get it all up much higher.  Round 1 was 42" high.  This time will be higher - like 52". 

@Chuck K posted:

Here are some thoughts/opinions on things you asked about as well as others:

- Continuation of MTH's S scale line - There are recent rumors that a group of employees will be buying out MTH, but I have nearly zero hope that even if they do that they will continue S scale products.

- Freight & passenger cars

  • In S there are only three manufacturers making ready-to-run non-brass rolling stock, Lionel-American Flyer (LAF), American Models (AM) and S Scale America (SSA sold by Des Plaines Hobbies http://www.desplaineshobbies.c...22/Railroad-S-Scale/).  MTH still has some leftovers and they are supposed to make the S stuff from their last catalogue before closing shop. But there is also lots of rolling stock available on ebay and elsewhere from out-of-business companies like SHS, Pacific Rail Shops (PRS), and Downs.
  • For freight, SHS, MTH and SSA are all excellent. The AM stuff is great and they have a huge selection for our little S scale market, but slightly less detailed than the three aforementioned.  The LAF stuff, except for the cylindrical hoppers which do not match your modeling era, is all hi-rail with trucks, wheels and couplers that bear no resemblance to reality.  With some customization and some specialty products you can change the trucks and couplers.
  • As for passenger cars in non-brass, your only choice for something decent is AM and some of the old SHS passenger cars which are harder to find.  AM has streamlined Budd cars and heavyweights.  Their web page has good pictures of these http://www.americanmodels.com/.
  • Couplers is another decision you’ll need to make.  Kadee 802/808 are the most common.  You can also use Kadee HO #5’s which are compatible with the 802/808’s as are the San Juan ON30 Evolution couplers which are very realistic but a little big looking for some modelers. I use the Kadee 802/808’s and the San Juan Evolutions.

- Track

  • There is scale only track and then there is track that accommodates both scale and hi-rail.
  • If you are seeking true prototypical scale track, then the options are limited and most true scale folks actually hand lay the rail and ties themselves. If you want scale flex track, then http://www.tomalcotrack.net/ or https://www.custmtrax.com/index.html are probably your best bets. Both of them sell turnouts too.  I don’t know if either of have much inventory.
  • However, my strong recommendation is that you go with code 138 rail which will accommodate hi-rail and scale.  There is a much greater supply of flex track in this size and they are interchangeable.  Products are readily available from Fox Valley Models (FVM), MTH and the former S Helper Service (SHS).  Furthermore you can get good scale turnouts from FVM and they have plenty in stock.  They also make hi-rail turnouts which can be modified to accommodate both types of wheels but they are currently out of stock and being manufactured. When I eventually do my layout expansion it will be all code 138 flex track with 33" radii curves to accommodate brass steamers with scale wheels and FVM hi-rail turnouts that I will modify to accommodate both types of wheels.
  • Curve radius - This really is a matter of what you want to run.  I agree with Rusty though that if you do 36" you should be able to run just about anything ever made in S with the possible exception of some of the largest brass steamers from the likes of Overland and Sunset.

S scale in general

  • I love S scale.  The product selection is FAR, FAR less than HO or 3-rail O, and there is nearly zero new stuff coming out in S.  But the size is fantastic.  I initially wanted to do O, but having space to do an interesting layout drove me to look at S.  I knew I didn’t want to do HO because it is too small for me to do the repairs, customizations and kit construction that I want to do.
  • And regarding the selection, while much smaller than the popular scales, I have spent $thousands, and yet there is still plenty out there in the first or second-hand markets that I like but don’t own, particularly in brass.  So I am not that worried about it.  I suspect in 20 years there will be no new S scale coming out other than from some of the small kit makers, but I will still be having fun with working on what I have and probably buying from the second hand market, especially (and sadly) as estate sales of train collections seem to be coming more frequent.


- The reference to a Cabin Fever Auction above - Don't bother.  There are less than 5 items that would be of interest to a scale modeler and all of them are modern L-AF diesels that don't match the era you are modeling.

All very good info!  Thank you Chuck!  Much appreciated. 

Seems like S is a lot like 1:29 - in that it's a small select group of modelers and a small number of suppliers - all producing a limited number of variations on the gauge.  On the bright side, there's more railroad specific options (and some for ATSF! of which there are none of in 1:29).   I'll keep the code 138 in mind!  I live near Micro Engineering who have 100 and 125 - but doesn't look like they produce 138.  

@Jacobpaul81 posted:


Thank you for the tips on the 36" radius.  That's good to know.  Eventually,  I'll be wanting that RR Berk way down the line - if one ever comes available - which I'm sure I will need that radius to operate.  To start, I'll track down a Northern (or 2).


I had the opportunity to "babysit" some River Raisin Berkshires for a time.  An NKP Berk from 2001 and the more recent Santa Fe and Illinois Central Berks.

The NKP Berk would make it all the way around my 33"R curves, although there was a small kink by the Cherryvale depot that it would bump on.  The more recent Santa Fe and IC Berks would derail at the kink, however.  They did manage the outside mainline curve at Iola behind the turntable OK.

My AM Northerns were unphased the kink.  My River Raisin SP MT-4 (4-8-2) didn't like the 33"R, period.

Rusty

I had the opportunity to "babysit" some River Raisin Berkshires for a time.  An NKP Berk from 2001 and the more recent Santa Fe and Illinois Central Berks.

The NKP Berk would make it all the way around my 33"R curves, although there was a small kink by the Cherryvale depot that it would bump on.  The more recent Santa Fe and IC Berks would derail at the kink, however.  They did manage the outside mainline curve at Iola behind the turntable OK.

My AM Northerns were unphased the kink.  My River Raisin SP MT-4 (4-8-2) didn't like the 33"R, period.

Rusty

Iola?  Buster Keaton's birthplace?   

Though I got my start in toy trains with Marx wind-ups, graduated to Lionel O27, converted to HO, and currently am an armchair model railroader due to health issues, I have always maintained an interest in S gauge.

S scale continues to grow at a steady pace and to prove my point there is an excellent online publication to keep one informed.  It is the S Scale Resource magazine at www.sscaleresource.com  The current issue is dated December (2020)/January 2021 which is Volume 7, No. 2.  Back issues are also available and can be read on the site as well.  Their sister publication, The O Scale Resource magazine, also online and free to read (including back issues), is as equally entertaining and informative too.

Joe

Last edited by Trinity River Bottoms Boomer

S scale continues to grow at a steady pace

As much as I wish this were true it just isn't the case. Let's not embellish. That doesn't do anyone any good.

OP: Can a model RR be built in S? Of course! It depends on what you want though. Based off of your criteria of the 30's Santa Fe and being a locomotive guy, I'm gonna stop you right there... S is the perfect size, but you are not going to find much Santa Fe specific equipment, let alone steam in S. I am not aware of any S scale brass steam ever being done. Brasstrains does not list a single SF specific model. If you are ok with Hi-rail then you could get the Lionel AF Y-3 2-8-8-2 in SF paint as well as the American models 4-8-4 Northern (also available in scale wheels). Other than that I can't think of any more.

Not trying to be a downer, but this is where many of us live... Love the size and wish it were more popular, but it isn't. And it isn't growing. MTH buying S-Helper Service and now going out of business is a big hit. Lionel will likely keep dribbling out new products here and there, but realize that the scale Berkshires that just came out were being discussed 6-8 years ago. That's how long product cycles take in S.

I think you should decide if you want S for it's size and change your prototype, or model SF steam in a different scale.

Just my 2 cents...

@jonnyspeed posted:

As much as I wish this were true it just isn't the case. Let's not embellish. That doesn't do anyone any good.

OP: Can a model RR be built in S? Of course! It depends on what you want though. Based off of your criteria of the 30's Santa Fe and being a locomotive guy, I'm gonna stop you right there... S is the perfect size, but you are not going to find much Santa Fe specific equipment, let alone steam in S. I am not aware of any S scale brass steam ever being done. Brasstrains does not list a single SF specific model. If you are ok with Hi-rail then you could get the Lionel AF Y-3 2-8-8-2 in SF paint as well as the American models 4-8-4 Northern (also available in scale wheels). Other than that I can't think of any more.

Not trying to be a downer, but this is where many of us live... Love the size and wish it were more popular, but it isn't. And it isn't growing. MTH buying S-Helper Service and now going out of business is a big hit. Lionel will likely keep dribbling out new products here and there, but realize that the scale Berkshires that just came out were being discussed 6-8 years ago. That's how long product cycles take in S.

I think you should decide if you want S for it's size and change your prototype, or model SF steam in a different scale.

Just my 2 cents...

While not Santa Fe specific, River Raisin did offer a model of the ex-B&M Berkshires that Santa Fe bought to ease a power shortage.  (Too bad RR didn't offer the one that was "Santa Fe-ized"...) Plus the old SHS 2-8-0 is a "close enough" stand in for the ex-NYC 2-8-0's Santa Fe acquired with the Kansas City, New Mexico & Orient purchase.

Rusty

@jonnyspeed posted:

As much as I wish this were true it just isn't the case. Let's not embellish. That doesn't do anyone any good.

OP: Can a model RR be built in S? Of course! It depends on what you want though. Based off of your criteria of the 30's Santa Fe and being a locomotive guy, I'm gonna stop you right there... S is the perfect size, but you are not going to find much Santa Fe specific equipment, let alone steam in S. I am not aware of any S scale brass steam ever being done. Brasstrains does not list a single SF specific model. If you are ok with Hi-rail then you could get the Lionel AF Y-3 2-8-8-2 in SF paint as well as the American models 4-8-4 Northern (also available in scale wheels). Other than that I can't think of any more.

Not trying to be a downer, but this is where many of us live... Love the size and wish it were more popular, but it isn't. And it isn't growing. MTH buying S-Helper Service and now going out of business is a big hit. Lionel will likely keep dribbling out new products here and there, but realize that the scale Berkshires that just came out were being discussed 6-8 years ago. That's how long product cycles take in S.

I think you should decide if you want S for it's size and change your prototype, or model SF steam in a different scale.

Just my 2 cents...

I'm from Topeka and my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all ATSF engineers.   Prototype isn't an option. 

Despite the ATSF having the most trackage in the US, it tends to be No. 5 on the steam popularity list behind Southern Pacific, Pennsylvania, Union Pacific, and New York Central.   ATSF was the most progressive railroad in a sense - it shifted to oil burning earlier - and to diesel earlier - so it's popularity is more tied to the Warbonnet diesels like the E8, F3, and F7 -  I'd venture to guess more ATSF F3s have been sold across scales than any other locomotive.

Other than O - which ATSF gets pretty fair steam treatment from via MTH / Sunset - there's not much out there in other scales either.  There's zero 1:32 / 1:29 accurate steam options - it's all SP / UP for the most part.  HO is just seeing some plastic ATSF specific steamers from BLI - Northern and Mikado - though reviews of them are mixed - electronics issues.  Most HO options are 40 year old brass or USRA generic models (of which the ATSF had none).    

Based on what I've seen - there's basically 4 accurate steam models:
American Models Northern - ATSF was the base. 2 road numbers (but one can always add more).
S-Helper Consolidation -  Baldwin base model - acceptable for ATSF
River Raisin B&M Berkshire - ATSF bought 7 in 1943.
Lionel Y-3: ATSF bought in 1945 and sold in 1947

@Jacobpaul81 posted:

I'm from Topeka and my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all ATSF engineers.   Prototype isn't an option.

Despite the ATSF having the most trackage in the US, it tends to be No. 5 on the steam popularity list behind Southern Pacific, Pennsylvania, Union Pacific, and New York Central.   ATSF was the most progressive railroad in a sense - it shifted to oil burning earlier - and to diesel earlier - so it's popularity is more tied to the Warbonnet diesels like the E8, F3, and F7 -  I'd venture to guess more ATSF F3s have been sold across scales than any other locomotive.

Other than O - which ATSF gets pretty fair steam treatment from via MTH / Sunset - there's not much out there in other scales either.  There's zero 1:32 / 1:29 accurate steam options - it's all SP / UP for the most part.  HO is just seeing some plastic ATSF specific steamers from BLI - Northern and Mikado - though reviews of them are mixed - electronics issues.  Most HO options are 40 year old brass or USRA generic models (of which the ATSF had none).    

Based on what I've seen - there's basically 4 accurate steam models:
American Models Northern - ATSF was the base. 2 road numbers (but one can always add more).
S-Helper Consolidation -  Baldwin base model - acceptable for ATSF
River Raisin B&M Berkshire - ATSF bought 7 in 1943.
Lionel Y-3: ATSF bought in 1945 and sold in 1947

Frustrating right? Try being an Erie steam fan like me ! ;-) 1 correct engine done in S and it is mediocre at best. The only Erie Berkshire done in the past 20 years was in O scale by Sunset about 8 years ago or so and good luck finding one. How about the beautiful K5 Pacific? Boo Rim built exquisite examples in HO a few years ago. Good luck in other scales though unless you go back to 50yr old Max Gray O scale models...

As I said, and I’m taking my own advice here, stay with S because you love the size or move to a scale that better covers your prototype.

Good luck!

@jonnyspeed posted:

Frustrating right? Try being an Erie steam fan like me ! ;-) 1 correct engine done in S and it is mediocre at best. The only Erie Berkshire done in the past 20 years was in O scale by Sunset about 8 years ago or so and good luck finding one. How about the beautiful K5 Pacific? Boo Rim built exquisite examples in HO a few years ago. Good luck in other scales though unless you go back to 50yr old Max Gray O scale models...

As I said, and I’m taking my own advice here, stay with S because you love the size or move to a scale that better covers your prototype.

Good luck!

You think Erie is bad, try being an DL&W fan. I was able to get the Pocono made in O scale by Weaver Models. There is nothing even remotely close to any DL&W steam, diesels have the F3, E8 and train masters.

Let's not forget that Santa Fe also purchased three L-1 Mikados from the Pennsylvania to become the 882 class.  They lasted two years however and no in service photos have been located to my knowledge.

Omnicon Models imported L-1s way back when.

Rusty

Good catch.  I'd never even thought to look for those. Like the Y3s - they were bought for war service and quickly dumped.  I believe the 7 B&Ms got alot more use. 

I didn't see any in the guide but any Baldwin Mountains or Mikados that could be modified to resemble ATSF?  They were the most common locos in freight service.

@Jacobpaul81 posted:

Good catch.  I'd never even thought to look for those. Like the Y3s - they were bought for war service and quickly dumped.  I believe the 7 B&Ms got alot more use.

I didn't see any in the guide but any Baldwin Mountains or Mikados that could be modified to resemble ATSF?  They were the most common locos in freight service.

The only 4-8-2's I recall being made were SP MT's (Lima) by River Raisin.  As for Mikados, not a lot of choices either.  Along with SP Mikes by River Raisin, Overland made a USRA light in the 80's, as did Lionel (HiRail) in the early 2000's.  All would require extensive modifications to represent a Santa Fe Mike.

In the cobwebs of my mind I seem to recall a trial balloon way back by someone for a 1950 class 2-8-0, but the balloon was made of lead.

In these kind of situations, I search for holes in numbering systems and plug in fictional locomotives using available products.  Example: Scenery Unlimited once offered AM FP7's custom painted in Illinois Central.  (This was long before AM offered IC E8's.)  As the units were unnumbered, I gave them available numbers just after IC's E8's.

I had started work on an AM Pacific for a fictional 3601 class Pacific, (even wrote a backstory) but it got sidelined and I don't know when I'll get back to it.

Rusty

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