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Over the years, I have seen several used ones pass through local hobby shops fairly quickly at reasonable prices for painted O scale.  If they didn't run, they would not be good "shelf queens" because they lack a lot of detail.  I still have an A5 and a B6 in unpainted kit form, but the kits are more like the old "shake-the-box" kits that don't require a lot of assembly.  Still, I need to find the energy to get them done some day.


I have an F3c and B6sb.    I bought the F3 new and I thought it came assembled.    The gem was  used when I got it and it was assembled.    The F3 has a pittman can motor.    It is a decent runner in my opinion.    The B6 had an open frame motor.   I replaced the motor because the armature connections seemed to be hitting the brushes causing a constant clicking noise.   It is a good runner I think.  

I have heard that in the 50s-70s or so, the tariff structure we had made it much more expensive to import a completely assembly locomotive.    Max Grey and USHobbies and others imported "kits" that were really just a few screws to put together the sub-assemblies.      The USH ones I got new in the box (old new) also required you to install the motor with screws and solder 2 wires.    The loco for example came with the chassis completely assembled but with out lead or trailing trucks as I remember.   The superstructure was totally assembled except in many cases for the ashpans and the weights.     So they met the requirement to be a kit but were really very easy to put together.    In my opinion, don't let the word kit scare you off.  

You simply screwed the weight into the boiler.   Screwed the motor to mounts if it was separate.    Then turned the boiler over in a cradle.    solder the wires to the motor.    Then fit the mechanism down into the boiler.   One large screw goes up through the cylinder saddle at the front, and 2 screws go through the back of the cab to attach the structue to the frame.     then use the included screws to mount the lead truck and traiiing if any.   Tender assembly was similar without the motor or weight.

It may be that some came through already wired too.    I think they liked to ship with the weight and the motor packed separately to avoid damage.

I have the Reading 0-4-0, and had the B6sb, but traded it even for the more robust Williams.  The Reading had loose drivers, and I suspect it’s gearbox is good for an hour or so.  I prefer the Gem cab on the B6, but for everything else I prefer the Williams ( which may be closer to 17/64 Scale).  The Williams will run forever.

Edit - that did not answer the question.  I consider Gem to be about halfway between IMP (flimsoid) and Max Gray (well built). I would put them just under Pecos River for sturdiness.  Opinion, of course.

Last edited by bob2

Well I might have screwed that up then.  I went ahead and bought an F3 mogul before seeing all these posts. The price was reasonable and it had a Samhongsa label under the tender.  We'll see how works out. It's totally out of era for my layout planning, but the thought of a little Mogul next to a K4 seemed like a good idea at the time today. 

I truly appreciate the feedback!  I'll report back as to my findings. 

I have had my mogul for over 35 years and it has run on 2 O scale layouts and a 3 rail layout I had with Gargraves track.    It is still running just fine.     I did have a loose driver once I think and simple put some epoxy on the axle end and it has been fine.   And that was over 30 years ago.   My layout have all been for operation, so there was a lot of back and forth work.    I'm sure mine has seen many more than one hours operation and is still going strong.   If you like the looks of it, a little TLC might be needed and it will serve just fine.    It is not a museum piece by any means but still OK in my opinion.   I modernized mine by removing the box headlight and putttin on  generator and electric "ash can" headlight.    At first glance it looks like a consolidation.    I did find out some years ago that it runs the same as my Sunset H8 so I can double head them.

As for the B6, I have never had part come off that I remember.   Mine sees a lot of use during an operating session.   Usually the switchers run the whole 3 hours hustling back and forth in the yard making and breaking trains.    I also have Williams version.    They are models of different prototypes.    I think the Williams represents some of the last ones built and has the small cab because they were built with power reverse and did not need the space for the big Johnson bar.     In addition to the cab, the cylinders are canted at the opposite angle to the ones on the Gem.    It is veyr noticable when they are side by side.   The gem cylinders lean with tops/valve in and the Williams lean out.    As for size, mine are often side by side, and they seem to be the same to me.

Of course these are opinions.

@GG1 4877 posted:

Well I might have screwed that up then.  I went ahead and bought an F3 mogul before seeing all these posts. The price was reasonable and it had a Samhongsa label under the tender.  We'll see how works out. It's totally out of era for my layout planning, but the thought of a little Mogul next to a K4 seemed like a good idea at the time today.

I truly appreciate the feedback!  I'll report back as to my findings.

Nah.  I've never had any problems with my F3c moguls.  Yes, it's probably out of era for most folks as these did not last into the time frames that most model.  Both B6's that I have (CVRR had 2) are like rocks.  I've had far more trouble with my H6.

Yes, please do report back.

Johnathan,   Was the F3 recently purchased on ebay, like yesterday? If so, I was looking at the photos of the model. The fireman's side crosshead guide needs attention before you put power to it. Top guide needs bent down into position. Make sure the crosshead rides the guides properly or a jam will occure.

We have had A5s, B6s of several types by five manufacturers/importers, 0-8-0s in seeming abundance, the F1 by Gem, H-series in relative abundance, and the G5 by at least four suppliers.  Even the 4-4-0 has been done at least once.  

I submit that PRR has been covered in O scale at least as well as many other RRs, and way better than, say, NYC, SP, UP, GN, etc.

Well it depends on the meaning of "small".

Pennsy engines do tend to be smaller for the same wheel arrangements as many western engines.    The Mikado and mountain are certainly not the biggest of the their types.   Western Maryland had a bigger decapod, but just a few.    

However the have been many smaller PRR engines done in 2 rail.

First MAX Grey imported the D16, E6, and G5.    I think this is the only time a D16 has been done in Brass.

USHobbies reran the E6 at least once.

Sunset has done B28 (usra 0-6-0) in a pennsy version, An E6 twice, a G5, an H8/9, and really nice H6sb.   I have 2 of the h6s and they are great detail and great runners.

Saginaw and then CLW made a kit for the H10.   The CLW kit has really nice lost wax detail castings.

Weaver imported G5 and H10.   These do tend to have some mods to also handle 3 rail curves and wheels.

MTH has done an H3 and I think an early D-class.    Not sure if these were done in both 2 and 4 rail or just 3 rail.   I have seen the H3 and it is a nice model.

and of course from this thread, GEM imported the F3 mogul and the B6sb 0-6-0

PSC I believe has also done a superdetailed B6.

I sort of think a 2-8-0 or smaller is a small loco, but even if you want turn of the century stuff there are still 3-4 out there.

The brass stuff shows up at O Scale shows quite regularly with the exception of the D16.   I think I have seen 3-4 at least of these models at nearly every show.   The D16 does not show up very often.   One was on Ebay earlier in the year and a forum member bought it.   

First a few observations about O scale Gem PRR models - over the years I've owned the models below.

A5s 0-4-0  - Made in Japan in early to mid 1970's.  Reasonably well made, open frame motor,  but dimensionally inaccurate in drivers, boiler diameter, and                              length.  Perhaps a phantasy  PRR A6s.   IMO the best PRR A5s to date is the one built by Samhongsa and imported by Weaver - well made, good                              runner, and for detail hounds a great starting point for upgrades details (e.g. tender foot boards), and corrections (pilot height).

B6sb 0-6-0 - Made in Japan in early to mid 1970's.  Reasonably well made, open frame motor,  dimensionally correct drivers, boiler diameter, and length.   

B6sb 0-6-0 - made in Korea in late 1970's early 80's.  Dimensions common with Japanese Gem B6sb, Pittman can motor, some improved castings, but spotty                             workmanship and low quality metric machine screws.  O scale 2 rail alternatives include the well built Williams/Samhongsa B6sb (late model                                  short cab, reverse slant cylinders.  As with the Weaver A5 a good candidate for up detailing.  Precision Scale Co.  imported B6sb's from Korea                                 in several versions.  They were finely detailed but note that the "long cab" version cab length was short of scale length - disappointing given the                             price of the model.  Frank Miller retrofitted the cab on my PSC  B6sb with one hand punched by Steve Grabowski's dad- many thanks..

F3c 2-6-0  - made in Korea close to the time of their Korean B6sb.   To the best of my knowledge this is the only model of a PRR Locomotive that predates the                          1920's standard era PRR front end look.   Assembly was cleaner than on the Korean Gem B6sb but can't comment on the running qualities as                                  I  only ran it on a test track.  I sold it soon there after as I focused my PRR layout and rolling stock roster on the 1950's.

Perhaps my favorite small PRR steam locomotive is the D16sb.  In addition to the 1223 preserved at The Pennsylvania State RR Museum (and operated under lease for many years by the Strasburg RR) , two D16sb's survived in lease service on the Delmarva peninsula Baltimore & Eastern RR branch line until 1950.  In the early 1960's Max Gray imported a model of the D16sb built in Japan by Toby.  The Fall 1964 MG Customer Service Bulletin had a photo of the model with a $139.50 price.  They may be among the hardest to find O scale model of a PRR prototype.  Earlier this year I was lucky to win a near mint MG D16 (less tender)  on-line at a surprisingly low price. The closest to prototype tender I could find was a body off a Gem F3c.  It will require re-detailing as the firing deck of the D16 was lower than the F3c. Thanks to CLW tender truck side frames from Lou Houlemarde and machining by Ed Bommer the tender now rides on proper trucks.  Other project list items include upgraded castings, turned down flanges, ball bearing NWSL gearbox, can motor, and DCC/sound.  The D16sb project will be several years down the line as priority I is to signal the railroad.  I'll be using the NMRA's Layout Command Control (LCC) bus architecture and logic boards from RR-CirKits) to drive more than 40 PRR position light block and interlocking signals - more on a later post.   Meanwhile I smile when passing the D16 in the display case.

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Last edited by Keystoned Ed

Thanks for sharing that image Ed.  I've always liked the turn of the century American Standards that lasted late into the steam era regardless of road.  My time on the Strasburg was behind 1223.  I was two and only remember because of the photo of me with family posing in front of it after a trip to Paradise.  Paradise indeed!

There is what appears to be a GEM B6sb on the bay too, but it was a little more than I was willing to risk on it for as many B6s that are on the market.


Machining out the rear frame and adding ash hoppers is an upgrade to consider.  Another is to turn a correct diameter stack.  (stacks on Samhongsa built Williams and Weaver PRR switchers were fat in order to accommodate Seuthe smoke generators). The model below was up-detailed by my late close friend and PRR modelling mentor Ray Jury some 20 years ago.  My recent upgrade was installing a Tsunami2 DCC sound decoder.



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