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Hello folks,

My name is Holden and I'm new to the forum.

A project I am looking to start work on is acquiring or assembling an NdeM 4-8-4 Niagra to run and operate. As far as I know, no model of the Niagra exists so I will either have to repaint an existing locomotive or kitbash from multiple locos.

I run post war and semi scale trains so whatever I end up doing, it doesn't have to be scale. What's important to me is getting a model that has the same lines as the prototype and is recognizable. The biggest locomotive I own is an MTH Imperial GS4. I'd like for this locomotive to be smaller than the Daylight if possible to reflect reality (the Niagras were small for 4-8-4s) but that isn't essential.

One option I am considering for this project is acquiring a K-Line K-3238 Lackawanna 4-6-4 and mating the shell with an 8 wheel chassis and motor. Does anyone here have experience kit bashing like this? Are there potential issues I need to be aware of? Where can I look for and browse for the chassis?

Before I get set on the kit bashing route, does anyone have any recommendations for other models that I could look at that wouldn't require transplanting an engine shell? I'm looking for something conventional; Command control and other advanced features aren't needed.

Thanks for your help and for sharing your knowledge.

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@Norton posted:

It would be a great help if you could post a picture of the engine you want to model.

Most all 4-8-4 engines were referred to as Northerns. Only the New York Central called their 4-8-4 a Niagara and there are many models of that engine already out there.

Pete

NYC Niagara, WM Potomac, C&O Greenbrier, SP Golden State, GN Empire Builder, RF&P Governor and General, NC&StL Dixie, CofG Big Apple, UP 800, ATSF Big Mountains, LV Wyoming: all 4-8-4's.

36 railroads in total rostered 4-8-4's.

Rusty

I did a little bit of research and found that the NdeM Niagara, and the nyc Niagra where in fact not the same machine, but similar in design.  The NdeM looks like a scaled down version of the NYC monsters, with a more conventional tender arrangement and no elephant ear smoke deflectors.  Apparently the NdeM folks were at Lima when the NYC machines were under construction and were impressed with them so they placed an order for something similar.  That's all I know folks.

@jhz563 posted:

I did a little bit of research and found that the NdeM Niagara, and the nyc Niagra where in fact not the same machine, but similar in design.  The NdeM looks like a scaled down version of the NYC monsters, with a more conventional tender arrangement and no elephant ear smoke deflectors.  Apparently the NdeM folks were at Lima when the NYC machines were under construction and were impressed with them so they placed an order for something similar.  That's all I know folks.

According to Steam Locomotive.com NdeM's 4-8-4's were all built by Alco and Baldwin.

Rusty

Hey guys,

Sorry that I didn't include pictures in my last post. I'll fix that now. I don't think that I can post pictures because of copyright so I will link them.

Front View

Rear View

Side View. Marty Bernard from U.S.A., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

File:NdeM 4-8-4 Niagra 3039 pulling a freigh north out of Valle de Mexico yards, Tlalnepantla, Mexico on September 10, 1966 [34313982245).jpg

And here is a video of someone walking around an engine in the museum. Video

Here is the K-Line K 3238. The resemblance is pretty good in my view. K-Line Lackawanna 4-6-4

And just some information about the real locomotives. They were the only steam locomotives that NdeM bought new. Their name is spelled Niagra to reflect the Spanish pronunciation. They were small for 4-8-4s in order to handle lighter built track on parts of the NdeM system.

NdeM Niagaras were the second lightest 4-8-4s produced.  Why NdeM decided on that name is anyone's guess, but they are very interesting locomotives and unlike their NYC counterpart had long successful careers.

I am very happy to see more people take an interest in what I consider to be the most interesting railroad on the North American continent.  I would model it if I wasn't invested in other roads of the southwest already.  The RK ATSF Northern may be a good starting point!

@GG1 4877 posted:

NdeM Niagaras were the second lightest 4-8-4s produced.  Why NdeM decided on that name is anyone's guess, but they are very interesting locomotives and unlike their NYC counterpart had long successful careers.

I am very happy to see more people take an interest in what I consider to be the most interesting railroad on the North American continent.  I would model it if I wasn't invested in other roads of the southwest already.  The RK ATSF Northern may be a good starting point!

No - not "anyones guess" - the reps of the NdeM were visiting Schenectady about the time that the NYC Niagara were being built and liked the name. They were there regarding their own 4-8-4 order.

The NdeM "Niagra" (note correct NdeM spelling - it's not "Niagara") was essentially a copy of the Nashville, Chattanooga and St Louls 4-8-4's, which were called "Dixies" (as they should have been) by that railroad. There is one Dixie surviving, in Nashville, and there is hope of a restoration. Unfortumately it is in the less-stream-styled end-of-career form. Better than scrapped, though.

The later Dixies (there was an earlier 4-8-4),  NC&StL class "J-3", were stream-styled and extremely sleek (I wish that a skyline casing had been added, also). There were 2 orders of later 4-8-4's, the first nicknamed "Yellow Jackets" because of the broad yellow stripe on the running board skirting, and the second were called "Stripes", as the running boards had no skirts.

I have long had plans to model a Dixie, but I have never been able to decide on the correct donor engine. There are possibilities. Some think of the Dixies (and the NdeM Niagra) as "small". Smaller than a Santa Fe 2900 or even a NYC "Niagara", yes - but that's like saying "small elephant".

Except for the two missing drivers, a huge issue, at least to me!

Oh I definitely agree that the missing driver is big aspect missing. I was thinking of potentially acquiring the K3238 shell and mating it with an 8 wheel chassis.

Doing a quick measurement of a similar K Line 4-6-4 from the same production time at my train club it looks like there is a little more than 4 inches of space between the pistons and the firebox on the engine. Does anyone know if the pistons are part of the shell or if they’re part of the chassis? If not does anyone know of an 8 wheel chassis with 1 inch drivers? Where can I look for one?

There may be some detail in Kalmbach's Fantastic 4-8-4's; I have a copy and will check for you.  That's the only reference to the NdeM Niagra's I've seen, but do remember that they were the smallest of the species.  They look to be about the boiler size of a heavy Mikado, with 4-wheel trucks.

Thanks so much. Any information would be a great help.



@Jerry Nolan posted:

Since scale proportion is not an issue my first thought was a Lionel 736 Berkshire or the Williams equivalent. A four-wheel pilot truck (part# 8100-520) is a quick screwdriver replacement on a Berk and there's your 4-8-4. How much NdeM-specific detailing you want to apply is up to you.  

I have definitely considered this. A Berk would be a pretty easy base to paint and detail and like you said the pilot truck swap would be simple. I worry that the boiler may be too wide though. Perhaps replacing the headlight with a larger one would help. Are the cowcatchers on berks easily removed? I have one so I suppose I could go and see.

Sorry I haven't been active. I've been busy with University but I'm gonna be visiting home in a few days so trains are on my mind again. As I was [s]procrastinating an essay[/s] looking around I came across a pre-war American Flyer 4-8-4 that runs on 3 rail! The locos appear to have been numbered 572 and 571 though other numbered locos may have existed too. Can anyone provide me with any additional information? How rare are these models? How much do they tend to sell for?

Thanks,

Holden

@HCF posted:

Sorry I haven't been active. I've been busy with University but I'm gonna be visiting home in a few days so trains are on my mind again. As I was [s]procrastinating an essay[/s] looking around I came across a pre-war American Flyer 4-8-4 that runs on 3 rail! The locos appear to have been numbered 572 and 571 though other numbered locos may have existed too. Can anyone provide me with any additional information? How rare are these models? How much do they tend to sell for?

Thanks,

Holden

Like Rusty noted, the prewar Flyer 3/16ths O gauge Flyer 4-8-4 is S scale sized (the boiler is a little chubby for full S scale) - it would look small compared to traditionally sized O and 0-27 cars. The engines aren't cheap - they were subject to zinc pest (especially the tender, whose shell, frame and sideframes are frequently disintegrated, the engine is prone to pilot and trailing truck wheels being rotted, the shells not as much), and you have to be careful when buying one so you don't end up with a pile of pest-ridden metal parts. There are intact models out there, but it's best to look one over in person before making a purchase - they're also not cheap, expect to pay $275+ for an intact/VG model. They do look super pulling Marx tin lithographed 3/16ths O gauge cars.

@MTN posted:

Like Rusty noted, the prewar Flyer 3/16ths O gauge Flyer 4-8-4 is S scale sized (the boiler is a little chubby for full S scale) - it would look small compared to traditionally sized O and 0-27 cars. The engines aren't cheap - they were subject to zinc pest (especially the tender, whose shell, frame and sideframes are frequently disintegrated, the engine is prone to pilot and trailing truck wheels being rotted, the shells not as much), and you have to be careful when buying one so you don't end up with a pile of pest-ridden metal parts. There are intact models out there, but it's best to look one over in person before making a purchase - they're also not cheap, expect to pay $275+ for an intact/VG model. They do look super pulling Marx tin lithographed 3/16ths O gauge cars.

Thanks for the comprehensive info! My take away then is that it is not a super common piece and should I come across one I'm not gonna want to modify it and detail it to represent a different engine. If I found one of these in good condition I wouldn't want to then ruin it by detailing it or painting it differently.

What I need to find really is an inexpensive 4-8-4 that hopefully has side walkways and such that are to my liking. Alternatively I need to find a good 8 drive wheel chassis and separately find an engine shell that is to my liking that mates with the chassis.

I'm considering a Berkshire or an MPC era Northern but the boiler is a bit wide. Ideally the donor engine boiler will be a bit more narrow but long, or it will appear long due to it's narrowness. The wheels will also have to be bokpok style so the donor engine ideally will have those or it will have to be relatively easy to switch out spoke wheels with bokpok wheels. I'm going to keep searching.

Thanks for your continued help everyone and I welcome any suggestions and advice.

Edit: The rail king Santa Fe 4-8-4 looks like a good potential base for a donor locomotive. Someone earlier in the thread recommended this loco as a potential donor and the more I look at it the better I think it looks.

Some modifications that will likely need to be made will be the removal of those tubes on the top of Santa Fe 4-8-4 that connect to the steam dome. I will also have to mask the numbers on the sand dome some how. The collapsible smoke stack is distinctive to Santa Fe so removing that I think is a must.

This may seem nit picky but on the NdeM Niagra the side walkways are straight and level from the steps on the pilot all the way to the cab. On the Santa Fe model the side walkways go up and down to different levels and the left and right walkways are not the same height with each other. Does anyone know how difficult it is to remove and replace side walkways and pilot steps on an MTH engine?

Oh also the marker lights on the Santa Fe are mounted on the smoke box face while on the Niagra the marker lights tend to have been mounted above the smokebox face. Can marker lights be easily removed or are they molded into the face of the smoke box?

Last edited by HCF

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