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March 15, 2023 - M.T.H. Electric Trains will be releasing Premier O Scale 3-Truck and 4-Truck Shay steam locomotives in 14 different livery configurations this Fall. Many of the liveries will be complemented with separately sold 6-car Skeleton Log Car sets. Each of these offerings is expected to begin shipping to M.T.H. Authorized Retailers in November 2023. This new production of the Shay will include the steaming quillable whistle feature for the first time.

Check out each of these offerings HERE.

These items are available to order from your local M.T.H. Authorized Retailer.


Like many innovations, the Shay locomotive was invented by an entrepreneur trying to get a jump on the competition. When Civil War veteran and ex-schoolteacher Ephraim Shay opened a sawmill in Michigan in the 1870s, logging was largely a winter operation. Roads made of ice and snow enabled lumberjacks to bring timber to mills with horse-drawn sleds.

Shay reasoned - correctly, as it turned out - that laying rails through the woods would allow him to supply his mill year-round and undercut his competitors' lumber prices. Horses, Shay's original motive power, proved problematic as they tended to get run over by log cars on downgrades. Shay experimented with a small steam engine but the pounding of the side rods was too much for his light temporary track. The lightbulb moment came when he noticed that his flatcars, however, were not tough on the track, and he decided to power a flatcar with a steam engine and a belt drive to one axle. It was several years later in 1880 that machinist John Carnes at the Lima Machine Works while modifying a locomotive for Ephraim Shay, came up with the idea of powering all trucks with a drive shaft and beveled gears. Within a few decades, the re-named Lima Locomotive Works was one of America's Big Three steam locomotive builders.

Of the 2,770 Shays that Lima produced, only six were built after 1930. By 1944, when the Western Maryland ordered a massive 3-truck Shay to serve a Maryland coal mine, few Lima employees remembered how to build one. Shop crews preferred working on more familiar engines for the war effort, and it took a year to construct WM No. 6. What turned out to be the last and nearly the largest Shay ever built worked just four years before the mine closed and she was retired. Fortunately, one of the nation's first railroad museums opened nearby just a few years later, and No. 6 became the WM's contribution to the B&O Transportation Museum in Baltimore. Even more, fortunately, No. 6 was later traded to the Cass Scenic Railroad in Cass, West Virginia, where she steams in tourist service today.

Check out each of these offerings HERE.

M.T.H. Electric Trains will be releasing several limited-edition Lighted Billboards beginning this Fall in three unique schemes. Each of these offerings is expected to begin shipping to M.T.H. Authorized Retailers in September 2023.

Check out each of these offerings HERE.

These items are available to order from your local M.T.H. Authorized Retailer.

M.T.H. Electric Trains will be releasing a slew of limited-edition Christmas releases beginning this Fall including an ES44 Diesel locomotive and matching caboose, Bump-n-Go Trolleys, Operating Hand Car, several complementing box cars, Gondolas with Lighted Snowmen, an ALL-NEW Flat Car with Lighted Christmas Trees that feature a Lighted Star, a Flat Car with a Lighted Nativity Scene and a lighted Country Passenger Station. Many of these offerings will be available in Christmas themes and in North Pole themes and all are a great way to add to your own holiday collection of past cars, sets, and buildings. Each of these offerings is expected to begin shipping to M.T.H. Authorized Retailers in October 2023.

Check out each of these offerings HERE.

These items are available to order from your local M.T.H. Authorized Retailer.

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@H1000 posted:

Now the big question, do these really need O-72 curves? The first run production back in 1997 would run on O-42.

Owning a few shays myself, sort of a loaded question (not intentionally). Since the drive shaft runs down one side, depending on if that is inside the curve or outside of the curve (which direction the engine is facing) determines if the driveshaft shorten or lengthen in the telescoping portion as it rounds the curve. As such, there are limits on how far they can compress or expand before the shaft just pops out or binds. While a designer or manufacturer could modify the design and the universals and where and how these telescoping shafts are and max length and collapsed length, they I would think you stray from being scale.

Now imagine your track plan - either a simple oval, or something that invokes curves in both directions or S curves.

That radically changes what might get by and what flat out doesn't work. Depending on engine direction to allow you to user a smaller than "recommended" diameter works one way, but not the other.

Again, say you moved the pivot points of the trucks further down the engine making longer shafts and thus longer telescoping section- OK, but then that changes the details and "scale".

Picture from that topic by @VALE40

Bottom line- like so many trains, specifying a larger "required" curve to cover all scenarios to handle those "what if" situations VS, telling the customer a minimum diameter it will run on, but then that only applies one direction to a simple oval and the instant you stray and add curves in the other direction (or turn the engine around forcing drive shaft inside the loop/curve VS outside) it won't work.

Ultimately, this is why a Heisler or a Climax with a driveshaft down the center changes this entire aspect of what works and doesn't, compared to a Shay with the driveshaft down one side.

Last edited by Vernon Barry

So digging around the forum I found a few posts related to the min curve rating. Seems like O42 was unrealistic, but O54 seems to work fine. It also seems to depended on S-curves and the coupled rolling stock. My layout has an O60 minimum and I only use the skeleton cars I have. Although Barry in the posts/threads I’m linking below has run some more typical cars behind his shays on O54. Any way, after reading that folks seem to be ok them depending on rolling stock, I’m going to get one.

here are a couple of the posts I found:

Are we going to see the WM Shay 6 model's front number plates and headlights corrected from the last (PS2) run of WM Shay 6's? The headlight and number plate used on those were rather far from accurate, it'd be nice to see these new models a bit closer to the real 'Big 6'. It'd go a long way to making the models stand out and really 'feel' like Big 6. Especially since many of us have seen it many times in real life, deviations from the prototype are more easily noticed on 6 I think.

No fireball would be great, too, since the fireball was only ever worn for a railfan event one time, and I think was a magnet, not actually painted on 6.

Last edited by MissingME&WV

Any dealers gotten their stock on these yet?

MTH had it on the arrivals for the 15th, and has since updated the news webpage (seems to be twice a month) for the 30th arrivals.

"Middle of November"

From Mr. Muffin News letter on Nov 19th:  "MTH says Shays are delayed - boat arrives 12/07".

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