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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.

Last edited by Jacobpaul81
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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 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?   

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

After a few weeks investigations - I think I'm going to start in the 50s and focus on finding the SHS ATSF F7 sets.  I'm thinking DCC with the ESU control system.

Strongly considering modeling Lawrence, KS - I spent a lot of time at the depot there as a kid.  That MCM depot went up in '56 - replacing the old depot which was damaged int he '51 flood.  I've got Sanborn maps as late as 1921 showing quite a few industries - and many of those buildings are still there.  Being in-between Topeka and Argentine, all rolling stock and locomotives would be fair game.  Route out towards Lecompton / Tecumseh is very scenic with the railroad sandwiched between the bluffs and the Kaw river.  Would make for a nice rural loop track element.

Thanks for sharing Joe!   I'm way too young for steam and F-units -  my dad worked yard in Topeka and Lawrence when I was a kid - first loco he drove was a F7. He came on board in '71.   I mostly saw him drive GPs in Topeka and Lawrence.  He hated the CF7s - hot boxes.  Air conditioning never worked - if they had it.  He switched to pool work in the second half of his career - running Argentine to Wellington, and later Oklahoma City.  His favorites were the GE built 9s.  Grandpa worked Argentine - FTs, F7s, GP9s.  I don't know if he ever ran steam - he got his start following the war.  I spent a lot of time as a kid in the depots at Topeka and Lawrence.

I will 100% share - I'll start my own thread on it when I get started.   Plan would be to start slow.  I tackled way too much when I tried to start my O empire 4 years or so ago - life got in the way - https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/.../first-layout?page=1  - but I know a lot now that I didn't know then about construction techniques.  This time everything will be built modularly, one unit at a time. I want to be able to tear it down and set it back up.  I'll use a blend of 2x4 and 1 x4 structure over the 1x4 and 1x2 L-Girder structure I used before.  I've learned a ton of scenic techniques watching Norm Charbonneau develop his most recent layout - and I plan to adopt some of the approach employed on Gary Schrader's O-Scale 2-Rail layout - particularly the high Scenery to railroad ratios.  I'm not a big fan of huge railyards - but lots of scenery and movement.  Lawrence will be interesting because of the congested yard along the Kaw - Bowersock Mill, Lawrence Paper, Power and Light, Lawrence Elevator, etc were all sandwiched in a narrow area along the Kaw.

  ku-sanborn_3012_JPG

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Last edited by Jacobpaul81

Jacob, you got a great start and I'm looking forward to follow your upcoming thread when it gets going.

The CF7s were a pain to switch with too.  It was wierd to see them working in Florida, so far from Santa Fe country, way out of place and out of sight as well.

Wonder how many are still in service today?

You mention the Kaw River.  A good read is The Long Summer of George Adams by Weldon Hill.  A 1961 published fictional that takes place on the Kaw & Wash- ita RR in a mid-50s small Oklahoma town.  The K&W is based on a Santa Fe line that served oil country.  Check Abe Books for a copy.  You'll like it.  George is an engine watchman where the Kaw has it's last two working steam locomotives and when the Diesels arrive George will be without a job.

Joe

I'd wager a CF7 was still easier to switch with than an F7.

BTW: The Long Summer of George Adams was made into a TV movie in 1982 starring James Garner.  The Texas State Railroad was used for the railroad scenes.

Rusty

@Jacobpaul81 posted:

After a few weeks investigations - I think I'm going to start in the 50s and focus on finding the SHS ATSF F7 sets.  I'm thinking DCC with the ESU control system.

The MTH F3 is excellent and it already has a modern DCC decoder in it that works very well.  Sidetracks has an A unit for sale for a great price: Sidetracks - MTH 20019-1 - F-3 A Unit Diesel with Proto-Sound 3.0 *Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe (ATSF) 18

Last edited by Chuck K

I keep wavering on era.  I think with some add ons, the AM Pacific wouldn't look too bad. The Omnicon Mike could be reworked (though not for $700).  I'll keep thinking on it some more.

Lawrence presents some interesting modeling opportunities - the 6th street crossing was dangerous.  Many people died there at 6th and Vermont.   In 1918, the primary businesses served by this  were Boehner Cigar factory, an Ice House, Bowersock Iron Works, and a Lumber yard.  The Ironworks was pictured in the bottom left of my last post.

download [13) CIGAR-FACTORY


download [12)

There was a small engine house south of the depot with a kinda unique reverse entry.  The Theo Poehler Mercantile building was restored a few years ago.  You can see it serviced below: 

download [14) 204CC468-B697-4F93-9A71-A23A690C84D8

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Rusty, indeed, CF7s were in fact much easier to switch with than F7s.  I held dual senority (switchman/brakeman) and would catch an F7 once in awhile though we didn't have to ride on the steps to pass signals since we had walkie-talkies.  Still were a pain when they were in the consist.

The TV movie Long Summer... was a disappointment.  I know movies don't always follow the book but they could have done a much better job of making the flick.  Read the book and you'll see what I mean.

Joe

@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.

There's been a lot of helpful info in this thread and I've been absorbing and researching.

It's sounding like (looking like) I should accept hi-rail over fighting the scale rail issue.  I was considering laying my own track  and using micro-engineering - code 100 or 125 - since it's made here locally - but the 138 Fox track and switches might be a better option for guaranteed success. 

I was hoping to go all scale - but given a better understanding of what's available, I might have to go hi-rail but otherwise scale appearance.   I'm primarily interested in steam era - which it appears my primary options for ATSF are AM Northerns, SHS Consolidation, and anything else in the future will probably be Lionel Flyer with hi-rail wheels - like the Pacific just announced.

So here's a question -  since some of these come in both AC and DC versions - am I better off just going with all AC power Hi-rail versions and not dealing with the DC / DCC issue?   What is the general consensus?     I'd really wanted to go with DCC and try the new esu system http://www.esu.eu/en/products/...-control/cabcontrol/  but it's sounding like in the future, any new locomotives will likely have to come from Lionel - making TMCC  / Legacy the route I should take.   

@Jacobpaul81 posted:



So here's a question -  since some of these come in both AC and DC versions - am I better off just going with all AC power Hi-rail versions and not dealing with the DC / DCC issue?   What is the general consensus?     I'd really wanted to go with DCC and try the new esu system http://www.esu.eu/en/products/...-control/cabcontrol/  but it's sounding like in the future, any new locomotives will likely have to come from Lionel - making TMCC  / Legacy the route I should take.   

Stick with DCC.  Any American Flyer Legacy locomotives made since 2012 are DCC compatible.  The DCC basically controls the Legacy electronics.

While it's not a full blown DCC package with dozens of CV's to play with, you will get fairly good basic operation on DCC systems without setting any switches or plugs.

Rusty

Stick with DCC.  Any American Flyer Legacy locomotives made since 2012 are DCC compatible.  The DCC basically controls the Legacy electronics.

While it's not a full blown DCC package with dozens of CV's to play with, you will get fairly good basic operation on DCC systems without setting any switches or plugs.

Rusty

Do you think I should look at the AC Hi-Rail, DC Hi-Rail, or DC Scale Northerns? 

@Jacobpaul81 posted:

Do you think I should look at the AC Hi-Rail, DC Hi-Rail, or DC Scale Northerns?

Honestly, the best selection of easily available equipment is with HiRail.  The common understanding is S consists of 85% Flyer/HiRail and 15% scale.  This hasn't appeared to vary much in my 35 years in S and I'm in the 15%.

Most S Scale America (Des Plaines Hobbies) comes with HiRail wheels installed.  Some don't include scale wheels.  The former S Helper Service defaulted with HiRail wheels but had scale wheels in the box, except for the 2-8-0's.  Undoubtedly, more of MTH's version of SHS were ordered with HiRail wheels.

And of course, AM can be ordered either way...  However, right now the only Northern's in stock at AM are DC with scale wheels, so the secondary market is where one would have to look for a DC or AC HiRail version.  The only difference between the AC and DC versions is the electronics in the tender.  The AC versions have an electronic e-unit (and maybe a sound board of dubious effectiveness.)  The DC versions have simply a pair of wires.

Rusty

I faced the same choice a long time ago and decided to use high-rail track and switches and simple DC power. High-rail allowed me to run my first American Flyer set from 1952 as well as almost every release of S scale product with the exception of more expensive brass items. Had I chosen scale track, I would not have been able to run Legacy steam and diesel locomotives without extra or extravagant costs. My track is American Models flex track, code 148; but if Fox Valley were available then, I would have chosen their smaller 138 track. All couplers except those on the old AF models are scale Kadee 802/808 versions.  Track is not the problem with either scale or high-rail wheels; it's the switches. There are some workarounds with Fox Valley switches to allow both types of wheels to pass, but I have not experimented with them.

As for power, straight DC works with all models except some older American Flyer TMCC/Legacy models such as the U33Cs, Mikado, Pacific, and Challenger. The Y-3 and modern diesels work with DC. I can switch in Legacy AC power to run the older AF models and the newer Legacy equipment with all the features available if I like, but I find myself more often running most everything but the TMCC locomotives on DC because it's simpler and at 4-10 volts applied to the track instead of 14-18, a bit more comfortable.

Although I like DCC and its open architecture, converting to it would be an expensive and time-consuming project. Lionel has done a very good job with Legacy features and sound; and in my calculations, Legacy gave me the most desirable features of DCC at less expense--but with the limitations of a proprietary operating system.

DCC does allow you to add sound and better control to the simple DC American Models locomotives, and Legacy equipment such as the newly revealed American Flyer Pacific in "fantasy" AT&SF livery will work with DCC. On the other hand, Carl Tuveson offers a way to add Lionel's electronics to American Models locomotives so that the Santa Fe Northern can run on a Legacy system. Now that American Models and Lionel are the major suppliers of 1/64-scale equipment, high-rail wheels/scale couplers is a powerful attraction unless highly accurate modeling is an important criterion. A decision at this stage as to the type of wheels and power source will keep your initial investment costs lower, but S does offer a lot of flexibility if you change your mind at a later time and are willing to invest more.

Honestly, the best selection of easily available equipment is with HiRail.  The common understanding is S consists of 85% Flyer/HiRail and 15% scale.  This hasn't appeared to vary much in my 35 years in S and I'm in the 15%.

Most S Scale America (Des Plaines Hobbies) comes with HiRail wheels installed.  Some don't include scale wheels.  The former S Helper Service defaulted with HiRail wheels but had scale wheels in the box, except for the 2-8-0's.  Undoubtedly, more of MTH's version of SHS were ordered with HiRail wheels.

And of course, AM can be ordered either way...  However, right now the only Northern's in stock at AM are DC with scale wheels, so the secondary market is where one would have to look for a DC or AC HiRail version.  The only difference between the AC and DC versions is the electronics in the tender.  The AC versions have an electronic e-unit (and maybe a sound board of dubious effectiveness.)  The DC versions have simply a pair of wires.

Rusty

All good tips.  I will be patient and keep an eye out for some cheap used Northerns and Consol with hi-rail wheels and plan to gut it for DCC.

We thinking the new Legacy Pacific is the old molds but updated electronics?  If so, I might keep my eyes out for an old one.  Ain't too hard to gut down to base wires, install a board and repaint.  I'd have to detail the new ones anyway!  Might even convert to oil.

Plus going DCC would allow easy addition of MTH F3s - or anything that might show up down the road if someone buys MTH.

Last edited by Jacobpaul81
@TOKELLY posted:

I faced the same choice a long time ago and decided to use high-rail track and switches and simple DC power. High-rail allowed me to run my first American Flyer set from 1952 as well as almost every release of S scale product with the exception of more expensive brass items. Had I chosen scale track, I would not have been able to run Legacy steam and diesel locomotives without extra or extravagant costs. My track is American Models flex track, code 148; but if Fox Valley were available then, I would have chosen their smaller 138 track. All couplers except those on the old AF models are scale Kadee 802/808 versions.  Track is not the problem with either scale or high-rail wheels; it's the switches. There are some workarounds with Fox Valley switches to allow both types of wheels to pass, but I have not experimented with them.

As for power, straight DC works with all models except some older American Flyer TMCC/Legacy models such as the U33Cs, Mikado, Pacific, and Challenger. The Y-3 and modern diesels work with DC. I can switch in Legacy AC power to run the older AF models and the newer Legacy equipment with all the features available if I like, but I find myself more often running most everything but the TMCC locomotives on DC because it's simpler and at 4-10 volts applied to the track instead of 14-18, a bit more comfortable.

Although I like DCC and its open architecture, converting to it would be an expensive and time-consuming project. Lionel has done a very good job with Legacy features and sound; and in my calculations, Legacy gave me the most desirable features of DCC at less expense--but with the limitations of a proprietary operating system.

DCC does allow you to add sound and better control to the simple DC American Models locomotives, and Legacy equipment such as the newly revealed American Flyer Pacific in "fantasy" AT&SF livery will work with DCC. On the other hand, Carl Tuveson offers a way to add Lionel's electronics to American Models locomotives so that the Santa Fe Northern can run on a Legacy system. Now that American Models and Lionel are the major suppliers of 1/64-scale equipment, high-rail wheels/scale couplers is a powerful attraction unless highly accurate modeling is an important criterion. A decision at this stage as to the type of wheels and power source will keep your initial investment costs lower, but S does offer a lot of flexibility if you change your mind at a later time and are willing to invest more.

All good information!  Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

@Jacobpaul81 posted:

Do you think I should look at the AC Hi-Rail, DC Hi-Rail, or DC Scale Northerns?

Since you would be throwing away the circuitry in the AC version in order to install DCC, get the DC version to save a few bucks.  My AM Northern has hi-rail wheels, but I have an AM Pacific with scale wheels.  This loco does pretty well on code 138 track, including some tight radius curves.  I can accommodate hi-rail and scale wheels on my layout, but scale are my first choice so that I have the freedom to run my stuff on scale rail layouts such as our local club's.   

@Chuck K posted:

Since you would be throwing away the circuitry in the AC version in order to install DCC, get the DC version to save a few bucks.  My AM Northern has hi-rail wheels, but I have an AM Pacific with scale wheels.  This loco does pretty well on code 138 track, including some tight radius curves.  I can accommodate hi-rail and scale wheels on my layout, but scale are my first choice so that I have the freedom to run my stuff on scale rail layouts such as our local club's.   

I'll keep that in mind.  I would prefer scale wheels.

@Chuck K posted:

Since you would be throwing away the circuitry in the AC version in order to install DCC, get the DC version to save a few bucks.  My AM Northern has hi-rail wheels, but I have an AM Pacific with scale wheels.  This loco does pretty well on code 138 track, including some tight radius curves.  I can accommodate hi-rail and scale wheels on my layout, but scale are my first choice so that I have the freedom to run my stuff on scale rail layouts such as our local club's.   

To clarify, the scale locos just do ok on the 138 track?  If I go full scale, I won't be concerned about accomodating hirail.   Would I be better off with a lower rail height for operation?

The scale wheels do not care how tall the rail is as long as the profile of the rail head is correct. All the .138 rail made today works with scale wheels. The concern is the turnouts. Chuck uses Lionel FasTrack turnouts successfully, I use handlaid #5,6&8 turnouts made with MTH rail. The turnouts were made using the jigs from FastTracks. Fox Valley also make scale .138 rail #5 turnouts.

Code 100 rail might be easier if you are willing to never run a high rail engine or car. There are more off the shelf track components with Code 100. I chose .138 rail because there are so many nice Lionel S gauge items without a scale wheel option that I wanted to run on the layout.

@Jacobpaul81 posted:

To clarify, the scale locos just do ok on the 138 track?  If I go full scale, I won't be concerned about accomodating hirail.   Would I be better off with a lower rail height for operation?

Rail height has nothing to do with it.  It's the turnouts where the issues lie.  When I was with the CASG modular group, we used AM's code 148 rail and could run scale wheeled stuff on the outside loop because it had no trunouts.  The inside loop had one turnout and was limited to HiRail or Flyer.

There is a mod for Fox Valley's HiRail turnouts I've attached below from the S Scale Facebook site that will allow both Scale and Hirail operation.

I haven't tried it, but reports are the mod works well.

Rusty

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Rail height has nothing to do with it.  It's the turnouts where the issues lie.  When I was with the CASG modular group, we used AM's code 148 rail and could run scale wheeled stuff on the outside loop because it had no trunouts.  The inside loop had one turnout and was limited to HiRail or Flyer.

There is a mod for Fox Valley's HiRail turnouts I've attached below from the S Scale Facebook site that will allow both Scale and Hirail operation.

I haven't tried it, but reports are the mod works well.

Rusty

Sure looks familiar...

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

TT ssecond gen

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Rail height has nothing to do with it.  It's the turnouts where the issues lie.  When I was with the CASG modular group, we used AM's code 148 rail and could run scale wheeled stuff on the outside loop because it had no trunouts.  The inside loop had one turnout and was limited to HiRail or Flyer.

There is a mod for Fox Valley's HiRail turnouts I've attached below from the S Scale Facebook site that will allow both Scale and Hirail operation.

I haven't tried it, but reports are the mod works well.

Rusty

I have the instructions and photos in a Word document that I am happy to email to anyone who wants it. I also have videos of some of my tests. The problem at present though is that FVM is sold out of hi-rail turnouts and the new run that was due in November have still not arrived and it is not known when they will.

Last edited by Chuck K
@Jacobpaul81 posted:

I figured this all was the case.  Couldn't figure how rail height would be an issue with scale wheels other than maybe tipping issues.   I'm gonna investigate Micro Engineering code 100 rail (it's made here in STL) and Tomalco turnouts which are also made with ME 100 rail.

My former railroad was code 100.

SL 071006 01

KGB 011517 004

I used Shinohora flex and turnouts along with Old Pullman turnouts.  Both companies are gone now.

Rusty

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@Jacobpaul81 posted:

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.

Locally, at my large train shop it is dying......

Locally, at my large train shop it is dying......

I can't make a case that it is growing, but I can say with confidence that it can't be measured on the basis of sales performance at brick & mortar shops.  I am aware of some enthusiasts who have spent $10's of thousands on S scale motive power and rolling stock over the last 5 years and not a penny of it was spent at a hobby/train shop. 

@AmFlyer posted:

Chuck, I could be one of those S people you are talking about. The one store I did buy a lot from is Des Plaines Hobbies, but all by telephone/mail.

That's a good point Tom.  My comment was not allowing for purchases from hobby/train stores that have an online store.  Like you my online purchases have certainly included Des Plaines as well as Charles Ro, Nicholas Smith and a couple of others.

Last edited by Chuck K

They're just posed for photo's on the layout.  Much nicer that way.

Rusty

Rusty - I saw it posted on an O-27 post from a few years ago that some Lionel O-27 double doors scale out to S nearly exactly (like the Industrial Rail caboose).   Can you clarify for me that it's these Lionel cars?

https://images.app.goo.gl/Toq3t3SWguzZFbLS8

My local used shop sells them for like 5-10 bucks if this is the correct car.

Last edited by Jacobpaul81
@Jacobpaul81 posted:

Rusty - I saw it posted on an O-27 post from a few years ago that some Lionel O-27 double doors scale out to S nearly exactly (like the Industrial Rail caboose).   Can you clarify for me that it's these Lionel cars?

https://images.app.goo.gl/Toq3t3SWguzZFbLS8

My local used shop sells them for like 5-10 bucks if this is the correct car.

Yep, that's the one.  It's a continuation of the Lionel Scout boxcar from the 1950's

I have converted one to scale. The green unlettered body came from the "Black Cave Express" set.

The underfame is from Downs Models (no longer available)  added some American Models parts and modified the side sill.  I just put Styrene strips where the rivets would be because rivet decals weren't available in the late 1980's.  It's not a "fine scale" model by any means, but it does provide some variety:

Scout Conv 040616 001 [2)

When the 3-foot rule is applied, it pretty much blends in with other cars.

KGB 020710 06

Rusty

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Last edited by Rusty Traque

Yep, that's the one.  It's a continuation of the Lionel Scout boxcar from the 1950's

I have converted one to scale. The green unlettered body came from the "Black Cave Express" set.

The underfame is from Downs Models (no longer available)  added some American Models parts and modified the side sill.  I just put Styrene strips where the rivets would be because rivet decals weren't available in the late 1980's.  It's not a "fine scale" model by any means, but it does provide some variety:

Scout Conv 040616 001 [2)

When the 3-foot rule is applied, it pretty much blends in with other cars.

KGB 020710 06

Rusty

Unfortunate the underframe on the original is just a flat sheet of metal - however, I could live with that for a cheap yard filler. Maybe find some underframes from some broken PRS kits.   I found the Lionel car # 6004.  I think it looks pretty darn good.  Add some rivets, ladders, repaint, and decal it up. 

There's plenty of value priced 027 equipment which can be converted to S gauge for model railroaders not into rivet counting who just enjoys the pleasure of running trains.  

This brings up the Lionel Hi-Cube box car.  Are they suitable for S gauge?  They look too small to be true O scale to me.  The original releases had attractive color schemes.  There was even a yellow Frisco which was only available in a set as I recall.  I've thought about this for several years but have never posted the question on any forum before.

A list of 027 equipment from all manufactures that will work well with S gauge trains would be nice, perhaps even for the NASG?

Joe

There's plenty of value priced 027 equipment which can be converted to S gauge for model railroaders not into rivet counting who just enjoys the pleasure of running trains.  

This brings up the Lionel Hi-Cube box car.  Are they suitable for S gauge?  They look too small to be true O scale to me.  The original releases had attractive color schemes.  There was even a yellow Frisco which was only available in a set as I recall.  I've thought about this for several years but have never posted the question on any forum before.

A list of 027 equipment from all manufactures that will work well with S gauge trains would be nice, perhaps even for the NASG?

Joe

Don't know if the old MPC Hi-Cube would work.  Never tried it, never will.  Probably would be way too tall, though.

I can hardly be called a rivet counter, but proportion is very important to me.  Lionel's attempts at rebranding some traditional O27 for Flyer look awkward to my eyes unless heavily modified.  As I've probably mentioned before, the old Lionel "Scout" double door boxcar is almost perfect in proportion as is for S.  Jerry's conversion shows that, although the graphics are a little off, IMO.

Cars like these from the low end Lionel Junction sets have wonderful graphics that would really fit right in after a conversion:

Rusty

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@Tom Stoltz posted:

The roof detail is way over-sized.  I've looked at grinding off the roof walk but the roof contours are too challenging for me.  Too much work for a mediocre piece of rolling stock.

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

Yeah, the roofwalk is a little wide, its grab irons are clunky and of course it's molded on.  I just shaved off the grab irons off and called it a day.  There weren't a lot of options back around 1986.

Never said it would be a fine scale model, but the bulkiness can be mitigated with a nondescript paint job.  (Save the lime green and orange for another project...)

Rusty

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Yeah, the roofwalk is a little wide, its grab irons are clunky and of course it's molded on.  I just shaved off the grab irons off and called it a day.  There weren't a lot of options back around 1986.

Never said it would be a fine scale model, but the bulkiness can be mitigated with a nondescript paint job.  (Save the lime green and orange for another project...)

Rusty

I think it looks good in the photos.  Cars were different.  When every element is the exact same from car to car, it starts looking fake.   Harder to get that 2-3 inch variation at 3/16 to a foot - so a bit of over-exageration isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

I don't know if anyone saw my question about kinsman kits.  Worth it?

@poniaj posted:

I've run a long train on my club's layout with this car in the consist and nobody caught it.  Even our resident rivet counters...   When pointed out, they laughed.

Sorry, no experience with Kinsman kits.

It's 100% convincing.   I feel the same way about Weaver cars in O.  Anyone who says they notice the low detail in a moving train -  are full of it.   It's when they are sitting that it "might" be noticable.

Don't know if the old MPC Hi-Cube would work.  Never tried it, never will.  Probably would be way too tall, though.

I can hardly be called a rivet counter, but proportion is very important to me.  Lionel's attempts at rebranding some traditional O27 for Flyer look awkward to my eyes unless heavily modified.  As I've probably mentioned before, the old Lionel "Scout" double door boxcar is almost perfect in proportion as is for S.  Jerry's conversion shows that, although the graphics are a little off, IMO.

Cars like these from the low end Lionel Junction sets have wonderful graphics that would really fit right in after a conversion:

Rusty

They even have some undercarriage details - sorta.  semi.  Passes the most layouts are above eye level test.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Lione...8:g:eQsAAOSwq7pfNzI1

Most of my stuff on my former railroad that took up residence  were Pacific Rail Shops, S Helper and American Models with the occasional DPH/SSA, Flyer conversion and cars of unknown parentage.

I like to model the typical.  Once you get a sea of boxcar red, it all tends to blend together...

frt 051014 10

Indeed, when the last train pulled out in March of 2020, it was with a mixed bag of cars with varying levels of detail.

KGB 032220 [1) crop

Rusty

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Most of my stuff on my former railroad that took up residence  were Pacific Rail Shops, S Helper and American Models with the occasional DPH/SSA, Flyer conversion and cars of unknown parentage.

I like to model the typical.  Once you get a sea of boxcar red, it all tends to blend together...

frt 051014 10

Indeed, when the last train pulled out in March of 2020, it was with a mixed bag of cars with varying levels of detail.

KGB 032220 [1) crop

Rusty

Nothing wrong with that.  All the funny bright color schemes came in after your timeframe anyway.   I love steam and wood cars but I do have an affinity for early tofc too.  I've always loved images of cigar band F7s with a line of 20' trailers.

@Jacobpaul81 posted:

Nothing wrong with that.  All the funny bright color schemes came in after your timeframe anyway.   I love steam and wood cars but I do have an affinity for early tofc too.  I've always loved images of cigar band F7s with a line of 20' trailers.

I've got my share of "shiny things..."  They just usually weren't "permanent fixtures" on my railroad.  The BAR State of Maine and New Haven McGinnis cars came into being in the mid-50's.  Who doesn't have a State of Maine boxcar lurking in their collection somewhere?  Particularly as I have an elastic timeframe: generally mid-late 50's to mid-60's.

Oddly enough, the old Gilbert catalogs are quick references for when some of the colorful cars came into being as they tried to keep up with some of the latest prototype freight car paint schemes.

Rusty

@Jacobpaul81 posted:

Talking O-27 conversion - I'd wondered about the K-line semi-scale offerings and came across this.

The old Atlas O "Industrial Rail" 4-4-2 from what I've read is 1:64 or darn close to it.  Even a "scaler" or two have converted one.

As far as the K-Line ex-Marx freight cars go, they are more or less 1:64.  IMO they fall into "eye of the beholder" territory.  I had considered trying to covert some to scale, but I found the detail too crude (cruder than the Lionel "Scout" boxcar) to make the effort.

K-Line was going to produce some freight sets using a modified ex-Marx 333 Pacific, but K-Line went under before that could happen.  They would have been interesting.

Several S-Fest cars were produced using the K-Line cars.

Rusty

Last edited by Rusty Traque

The old Atlas O "Industrial Rail" 4-4-2 from what I've read is 1:64 or darn close to it.  Even a "scaler" or two have converted one.

As far as the K-Line ex-Marx freight cars go, they are more or less 1:64.  IMO they fall into "eye of the beholder" territory.  I had considered trying to covert some to scale, but I found the detail too crude (cruder than the Lionel "Scout" boxcar) to make the effort.

K-Line was going to produce some freight sets using a modified ex-Marx 333 Pacific, but K-Line went under before that could happen.  They would have been interesting.

Several S-Fest cars were produced using the K-Line cars.

Rusty

Yea, I went investigating the scale of the semi-scale locomotives thinking some of the boilers might be conversion worthy - they produced several good models in O-27 and O scale - the were just underpowered.  The semi-scale ones tend to sell for cheap cause few people want semi-scale locos...  But even though they are small for O-27, they are still too large.   I was mainly investigating the long-term posibility of somehow building a Baldwin mountain (knowing even if a Mountain were to ever be released, it'd be a Mohawk).   ATSF and SLSF both had quite a few Mountains.   

The Atlas loco looks a little 1:29 ish to me.  Fine with the cars - but out of scale with the track.

Last edited by Jacobpaul81

My 2 cents, regarding the OP's question.

"Yes", if you are willing to accept the pretty limited options.

Like most everyone, I feel 1/64 is the "perfect" size, so I dabble.

I've been able to collect some vintage "scale" rolling stock, and since my Flyer 300 and 310 run SO well, I picked up some spare tenders and converted them to Kadee couplers, so I can run these together.

310:

310

300:

300

Here's the 300 coupled to a Mid Gage boxcar:

S...

Not overly interesting, I know, but I have fun doing stuff like this... 

Mark in Oregon

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"All Santa Fe high-speed transcontinental lines have been designated as 131-132-pound rail territory. That means that much of that mileage and all new rail laid in that territory is 131-132-pound rail except in . yards and other localities where lighter rail is preferable. The new standard 115-pound section will shortly replace the present 112-pound. Other rail weights in use by the Santa Fe are 60, 75, · 90, 110 and 112-pound. The three last-mentioned sections were standard on Santa Fe main lines for many years and considerable presentday Santa Fe rail mileage consists of those weights of rail. All Santa Fe rails are steel and have been for many years. Beginning with 1936 all rails have been control cooled by the manufacturers to eliminate as far as possible interior defects in the head of the rail."  - Santa Fe Today, #5.  pg. 22

https://www.railsandtrails.com...Today%20No.%205r.pdf

So 155# isn't too far off for ATSF mainline as they upgraded their 75#, 90# and 112# mains to 132# or 115#.  I'm guessing Argentine to Topeka (IE: Lawrence) was probably upgraded to 132# as it was on the Chief route - so that's not a huge disparity.

@AmFlyer posted:

Tom, I am not clear how to convert the dimensions on that drawing. It says the scale of the rail cross section is 10:1. If I divide the dimensions, I assume these are inches, that makes the rail height .345", clearly not correct. What am I missing?

The dimensions are metric.  That's why I posted the drawing I made in another thread.  Here is is again...

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

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The MTH and Fox Valley rail scales to a prototype section height of 8.83". Modern 115# rail is 6-5/8" high, 132# rail is 7-1/8" high. Then 115# rail scales to Code 100 in S scale. Problem is no high rail equipment will run on Code 100 rail, nor Code 125. For high rail wheels the MTH and Fox Valley are the smallest rails that work. I have some Code 125 rail on my layout for the TT pit rails and all the guard/guide rails on the bridges. It is so close to the  .138 rail it looks the same on the layout. The most noticeable thing about the Code 125 rail is the railhead width is wider than the .138 MTH rail.

I have no issue with the appearance of the MTH rail on my layout, I know it is too tall for modern track but set in the scenery with the ballast detailing it looks close enough to scale.

This was the first item I ever bought as a kid that cost more than a candy bar.  It never ran well--it was only $18 at the time anyway--but I could not bear to part with it. So I dressed it up with a new motor conversion kit from Doug Peck at Portlines Hobbies and some decoration. It's slow and noisy but reliable and earns its keep.

Terry Baldwin

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@Strummer posted:

Those are all very nice; how did you manage to get a Kadee into the K5 pilot!?! 

Mark in Oregon

Hi Mark, first let me ask you, where in Maine is your brother?  Turns out there are several Mainers on this list, Gunny comes to mind.

Then to the K5. IIRC I bought a repo pilot from Doug Peck so I wouldn’t destroy the original.  I started out drilling the K5 coupler pocket out along with the cast fake coupler.  Then enlarged the opening by filing until I could insert a Kadee #5 draft gear box from the outside.  The lip on the box acts as a stop on the outside of the pilot.  Again, IIRC, I made a pad with JB Weld to seat the draft gear box on the inside.  I can’t tell now because our very own Jerry Poniatowski did a custom PRR repaint for me and he painted the underside of the pilot.  In hindsight, I don’t know why I just didn’t use a slab of styrene, I’m sure that would have worked just as well.  In the pix from the outside you can see the hole I drilled and tapped for a 4-40 screw to mount the coupler.

The underside pix shows the coupler mounted.  I did some filing of the box so the pilot truck wheels would clear while negotiating Flyer radii.  I believe I used a medium overset shank, # 42, in the #5 family but it cold be the #49 long, overset shank.  I did this in 2001, so please forgive my lack of recollection.

I did a similar conversion to the Flyonel Mikado.  It was a little more work, but not bad.

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

IMG_1238IMG_1249

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@Strummer posted:

Tom

1. My brother lives in Alna. 30 degrees and currently snowing.  He has zero interest in model trains.

2. So you used an HO scale #5 on that pilot: I suppose an Scale Kadee would have been a bit too large.

3. That is a beautiful paint job; noticed it straight away.

Mark in (currently 43 degrees) Oregon

Alna???  He’s our next-door neighbor!  Not to hi-jack this thread, my email address is in my profile.

Yes, I only use #5s and family.  I have many complaints against the, what is it, the 802?  The lack of close coupling is one, probably the cost is my biggest.  Also by comparison, it is complex to assemble.  The #5 family has various shank lengths and coupler placement, on the shank, options.  When it comes to Flyer conversions, I have used many of the variations.  As far as I know, there is only one shank with the 802s.

And speaking of cheap, check out my explorations for delayed magnetic uncoupling

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...magnets-and-kadee-5s

Tom Stoltz

in Dresden/Wiscasset, Maine

@Tom Stoltz posted:

Yes, I only use #5s and family.  I have many complaints against the, what is it, the 802?  The lack of close coupling is one, probably the cost is my biggest.  Also by comparison, it is complex to assemble.  The #5 family has various shank lengths and coupler placement, on the shank, options.  When it comes to Flyer conversions, I have used many of the variations.  As far as I know, there is only one shank with the 802s.

Tom Stoltz

in Dresden/Wiscasset, Maine

Your use of the #5 family certainly makes a lot of sense. Plus, there's not that much difference between the S coupler and the HO size.

Kadee was smart to offer early on such a wide range of couplers (for almost any application) in HO. I think that, as much as anything, had a lot to do with HO becoming "the" main scale. As 'bob2" would say..."opinion". 

Mark in (wet) Oregon

I've only used the Kadee HO couplers where I needed them a special application, like an offset shank on my SouthWind 2-8-0's:

and on any "vintage" cars I bought that already had them installed.  Otherwise, the HO couplers look too small to my eyes.

The distance between freight cars using 802's is about 3 scale feet, which is about what it is on the prototype, so I really don't see an issue there, but to each his own.

Distance PRS

I can see where cost can be an issue, but as I usually buy a package of 802's when I buy a locomotive or car, that difference is blunted somewhat.  Plus every "scale" locomotive I've bought directly from AM, they've thrown in a package of 802's.  They even installed them on my last purchase: UP E8's...

KGB 110818 008

The irony is I'll have to de-install them for body mounting and fill the pilot gaps with a modified insert, a project currently on a very crowded back burner.

Rusty

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I've only used the Kadee HO couplers where I needed them a special application, like an offset shank on my SouthWind 2-8-0's:



and on any "vintage" cars I bought that already had them installed.  Otherwise, the HO couplers look too small to my eyes.

The distance between freight cars using 802's is about 3 scale feet, which is about what it is on the prototype, so I really don't see an issue there, but to each his own.

Distance PRS

I can see where cost can be an issue, but as I usually buy a package of 802's when I buy a locomotive or car, that difference is blunted somewhat.  Plus every "scale" locomotive I've bought directly from AM, they've thrown in a package of 802's.  They even installed them on my last purchase: UP E8's...



The irony is I'll have to de-install them for body mounting and fill the pilot gaps with a modified insert, a project currently on a very crowded back burner.

Rusty

This is an old topic that I thought had come to an end.  The #5 is about as undersized (IIRC, undersized by one scale inch vertically) as the 802 is oversized.  I believe the #5 is closer to S scale than the 802, if you care.  To get close coupling with the 802 requires modification while mounting the coupler – no question about it.  Without the modification, there is no close coupling.

The #5 will be less forgiving for uneven track work and have a smaller grab area than the 802.  Also requires a different set of magnets if you don’t modify the coupler pin.  The link for that was previously provided.

I don’t care what coupler you choose, but you should be aware of the pro & cons of each before choosing.  The #5 and 802 do play well together.



My response from 11/30/13:

Finally got around to trying to photo the 802 and the #5s. IPhone camera is not too good, but I think you will be able to see the difference in coupling distance comparing the 802 and the #5.

The 802 is spring loaded, which is why it has the rectangular shape for a mounting hole.  When sitting still the spring will draw the cars together as in Rusty’s photo.  When the train is in motion (and depending on the drag of the rolling stock) the spring will compress and the space between the cars will increase.  This accounts for the large distance I mentioned with the AM 85’ streamliners.  They are heavy so they put a lot of compression on the springs.  Longer trains will also tend to stretch out the car spacing.

By centering the 802 on the line for the photo, I gave it the benefit on the doubt.  The spring can actually compress more (allowing of an even larger space between cars).  The line with the couplers centered is my attempt to show the difference between the 802 and the #5 if you would get using the mounting hole as the car comes form the factory.

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

802 vs #5

It's been 3.5 months, I've not been able to find a single piece of ATSF rolling stock - scale or hi-rail.  When they've popped up, they sell before I have a chance at them.  When they sit, it's cause someones asking twice market - and they will get it given the lack of availablity.  I guess that while there aren't enough bodies out there for the companies to justify building stuff, there are a ton of scavengers picking at the carcass.  Back to the drawing board for me.

And 72' ATSF heavyweight passenger 5 car set is 9% off.  They also have the 4 car Santa Fe Budd sets.  Plenty of engines, also... 4-8-4, S-12, E-8, EP-7, GP-9, GE U25B.

Doug Peck as both AM and SHS Santa Fe flats cars.

Tom Stoltz

in Maine

Last edited by Tom Stoltz
@Jacobpaul81 posted:

It's been 3.5 months, I've not been able to find a single piece of ATSF rolling stock - scale or hi-rail.  When they've popped up, they sell before I have a chance at them.  When they sit, it's cause someones asking twice market - and they will get it given the lack of availablity.  I guess that while there aren't enough bodies out there for the companies to justify building stuff, there are a ton of scavengers picking at the carcass.  Back to the drawing board for me.

Are you looking for a particular brand of product, era or car type? As Tom and Rusty note, plenty available direct from AM and Port Lines. Plus Pikesville Models, the other S-only online retailer, has quite a few.

@Chuck K posted:

Are you looking for a particular brand of product, era or car type? As Tom and Rusty note, plenty available direct from AM and Port Lines. Plus Pikesville Models, the other S-only online retailer, has quite a few.

Seems most of what I'd be into was manufactured by PRS or S-Helper with some exceptions. Given the lack of availability - I just don't think S is the right fit for me - despite me really liking the scale of it.  Anything I'd want is simply too long out of production.

jacobpaul81:

Sadly, I understand firsthand what you're up against.

I too, loved the size. I tried my best to be satisfied in S scale in view of the state of the scale. The SHS quality was excellent, AM's quality was good, as were many of the products I was able to find.

Unfortunately, the lack of availability (took me a couple years or so to find only one OMI S-2, I had originally allowed for more than one), the lack of variety (missing key engine types I was wanting to model) and the demand in the secondary market (prices) were what put me back into HO.

Though S is a wonderful size, I was not the type that could deal with the shortcomings in view of my layout and theme goals. Alas, after moving to HO I've never looked back and thoroughly enjoy what I'm doing in HO scale.

Andre

@laming posted:

jacobpaul81:

Sadly, I understand firsthand what you're up against.

I too, loved the size. I tried my best to be satisfied in S scale in view of the state of the scale. The SHS quality was excellent, AM's quality was good, as were many of the products I was able to find.

Unfortunately, the lack of availability (took me a couple years or so to find only one OMI S-2, I had originally allowed for more than one), the lack of variety (missing key engine types I was wanting to model) and the demand in the secondary market (prices) were what put me back into HO.

Though S is a wonderful size, I was not the type that could deal with the shortcomings in view of my layout and theme goals. Alas, after moving to HO I've never looked back and thoroughly enjoy what I'm doing in HO scale.

Andre

100% my feeling.  I'm sure it's made worse right now due to a lack of non-internet market - but it's just bad.  I'll probably go up rather than down a scale and go with O and go back to dealing with the extra rail.  There's at least 3 x 3rd Rail locos I could see running and the Pecos Hudson.  Boxcars and Reefers are cheap and plentiful.  Such is life. 

A visit to the National Association of S Gaugers website (www.nasg.org) shows how much is availabe in S scale today.  The layout section proves just how many modelers are active in S scale as well.  If one models Union Pacific or Southern Pacific in 1:64 scale it doesn't require Big Boys and Cab Fowards to be included on the locomotive roster by any means.  Diesels too!  Space will determine if four unit sets of EMD F units or Alco FAs in the classic A-B-B-A formation can be used to haul freight and/or A-B-A sets of E units will be able to operate on passenger trains.

If a modeler is still determined to operate a set of Diesel "covered wagons" in the classic A-B-B-A  formation MU'ed together on a compact layout, they can always be deadheading light to a distant terminal to pick up a freight, or perhaps as a caboose hop also enroute to the same terminal to perform the same duty as well.  Ditto with Big Boys and Cab Forwards too for that matter!

Diesel locomotive models that the railroad didn't roster but a modeler still finds facinating can be found demonstrating on the line in demonstarter colors too.  The possibilities are endless.  Not to forget structures.  I can even vision using the Menards Cripple Creek engine house and Lionel's Rico depot in S scale as well as excellent models offered by Ragg's...to Riches?, which continue to offer S scale kits in their product line.  Not to forget American Model Builders, B.T.S. (Bill's Train Shop), and many others listed in the NASG product section.  People, vehicles (in correct 1/64 scale!), track, the works in other words, including Railmaster Exports in New Zealand!

Item: I recall a modeler in France who won a compact N scale layout contest offered by Model Railroader with his small industrial complex using only a Union Pacific Diesel switcher for power, and there wasn't a single Big Boy in sight, not even a caboose for that matter!  It's a matter of space and interest.  That N scale pike would work quite well in S scale too in 4X8 easy enough and still provide plenty of Fun, which is what model railroading is all about in the first place, or should be!

In other words: Do it YOUR way, period!

ALL ABOARD

Hi Joe:

You are correct that if one models a concept with a small scope, S scale can fill the bill.

Yes, there was a lot of product made over the decades.

If one can accept the limitations imposed by the state of S scale: One's S scale boat can sail merrily off into the sunset.

The caveats for me were:

* Though a lot of product was made over the decades, the trick was trying to find it, obtaining it, and if you do obtain it, then often you had to get it up to one's personal goals in looks and performance. Those aren't easy tasks for many modelers. The only products that performed in a manner I was used to (HO Kato-type performance) were the engine products of SHS. All the others had to be fiddled with and often re-powered, or worse.

* Plus, no matter how you slice it, the variety just isn't there for diesel-freaks like myself that like a wide spectrum of engine makes, models, variations, etc. The main downfall point for me was switcher selection. (At the time I was going to attempt an urban KC industrial switching district.) Aside from white metal kits for an EMD and an Alco S, or a limited run resin flat-kit for an FM, your only two options in easily worked plastic were SHS EMD's and AM's Baldwin S-12. Unfortunately, the AM S-12 has road trucks under it which really needs to be replaced with the correct type trucks for the engine to ever truly look like it should. Guess what trucks it needs? Yup, SHS trucks that SHS used under their EMD switchers. Those are long gone as single purchases, so now the only way would be purchase an SHS EMD and take the trucks off it. When finished adapting the trucks to the AM frame, you finally have a Baldwin S-12 that has accurate trucks... and a high $$ SHS EMD that doesn't.

Then there's the ubiquitous GP7 in S scale: None. You have to purchase the AM GP9, then find/purchase the GP7 long hood kit and bash/modify to get a GP7. The railroads I was trying to model had scads of GP7's... but only a few GP9's.

I truly gave it the old "Gung-ho!" attempt to model in S:

12thStYd_South

Now, IF I had been able to accept the following:

* Go with high rail wheels.

* Go with a track system available for same.

* Accept what could be found and obtained, and accept that additions to the S scale offerings were going to be a long time coming, or never.

...then maybe it could have turned out different.

However, I couldn't accept the above then, and doubt that I could now. I still seem to enjoy small profile rail and product variety way too much. (Besides, IF I was going to up-size, it would be because of dexterity and eyesight issues, and then it would be traditional 3-rail, with a heavy Lionel PW presence, and enjoy model trains until I can't.)

Thus I wasn't able to "do it my way" in S, so I made like a rat and abandoned ship.

Andre "Fleeing Rat" Ming

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@laming posted:


Thus I wasn't able to "do it my way" in S, so I made like a rat and abandoned ship.

Andre "Fleeing Rat" Ming

Don't be so hard on yourself, Andre.  Your feelings about S are nothing I haven't heard in some form or another over the past 30 some-odd years.  With what the likes of Athearn, Scale Trains, Rapido, Walthers and others are putting out in HO, it's a siren song that is almost impossible to resist.  In fact, some of Rapido's announcements have made me weak in the knees.

I was fortunate by getting into S back in 1985 as the scale grew in the same direction I was interested in.  That doesn't mean I don't recognize it's shortcomings.  I was always uncomfortable telling folks when displaying with my modular group at train shows that you really can't find this stuff in most hobby shops (even though the local Des Plaines Hobbies is pretty well stocked) and they would either have to special order or scour the internet for S.

It takes a certain fortitude to be in S, even during the "glory years" of mid-1990's-early 2000's.

Rusty

I could live with the limited motive power options - which is why I considered testing the S waters  - but I can't live with the inability to locate even one piece of period rolling stock for my road - which isn't exactly some off-the-beaten path railroad.  It was only the largest railroad in the US.   Not that the climate in O is any better - the Atlas / MTH announcement does not appear to include steam era equipment.  At least in O, there's plenty of Atlas / Weaver floating around to purchase.  HO would certainly be the better long term choice - but it lacks heft.   

Every scale has it's problems.