Well, crap… I was feeling bad about wasting money on an O Scale train set, especially considering some of the S Scale companies are having problems. I decided maybe it’s time to “get while the gettin’s good” and since I don’t have a large pile of money just sitting around waiting to be spent I made a list of the 3 things I just couldn’t live without (as far as S Scale trains go). I decided on 3 things from American Models: a Southern Pacific Budd passenger car set with the extra coach, a 4-8-4 Northern painted for Santa Fe, and a Fairbanks Morse Trainmaster painted in the factory demo scheme. The Northern wasn’t a problem – Hoquat Hobbies had one at a discounted price of $369.95 and they even threw in free shipping. No Budd passenger sets or Trainmasters though so I tried to order directly from American Models. The Budd passenger cars were in stock (thankfully) but no Trainmasters in the demo paint scheme to be had… DANG!!! I’m kicking myself because I almost ordered one of these last summer but I couldn’t make up my mind between scale or hi-rail wheels. IDIOT!!! I guess I could buy one in a different road name and have it repainted in the FM demo scheme but that would add about $200 to the cost. I’m still kicking myself. The take away from this is to order things when you want them. If you wait, they might not be available when you get around to it – especially in S Scale.
I’ve been looking for a 343 locomotive for awhile and I finally found one on eBay. I’ve had mixed results buying American Flyer electric trains on eBay – a lot of times the seller will rate the item a grade or 2 higher than it actually is, and a lot of flaws don’t show up in the photos. So… it was against my better judgment to bid on this 343. I’m glad I did – this locomotive turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The seller rated it accurately at C-7 (excellent) and it was priced fairly according to Greenberg’s. I’m really happy with it – I’ve been looking for a nice 343 for over a year now and I finally have one.
Got another Billboard Reefer for my beer train. This one is painted for Edelweiss Beer and is another reefer from S Helper Service. It’s a nice looking paint scheme but I was disappointed with the quality of the paint job. It’s not as bad as some but it’s also definitely not up to S Helper’s usually very high standards. It looks like a manufacturing issue and not a problem from the eBay vendor. Since I want one and it’s out of production I’m keeping it for now, but I hope I can find a better one someday. Of course, maybe the entire run of this particular car had bad paint… anyway I now have 7 Billboard Reefers for my beer train and about 4 more to get. I think they’ll look great behind my River Raisin MT-5. Now I just need to find room for a layout to run it on…
Toy trains and Christmas go together like peas and carrots. In fact, a Christmas tree doesn’t seem complete without a circle of track under it. Getting a train set for Christmas is also a rich tradition in the US. If you’re into S Scale trains, your options are kind of limited. American Models and S Helper Service offer S Scale train sets, but selection is limited and seems to be dwindling. The only other choice is American Flyer, and American Flyer trains are long out of production. Fortunately, you can still get American Flyer trains on
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who reads this. This year I am most of all thankful for my family and the fact that all of them are in good health. I’m thankful that my parents get to spend so much time with us in Reno, especially as they get older. I’m thankful that both of my children are Christian (and I continue to pray that my wife will come to faith). I’m thankful that my wife and I still both have our jobs. I’m thankful that I live in the USA and I’m thankful for our military.
As far as S Scale trains go, I have a lot of stuff to be thankful for as well. I was able to get a few brass locomotives this year, including a pair of SP MT-4’s painted in Daylight colors from River Raisin models and a P-B-L model of Southern Pacific’s #8 narrow gauge locomotive.
This Model Power DDT Plymouth Diesel switch engine would make a great Sn42 critter. It was sold as an HO locomotive, but it scales out too big in HO and really looks a lot better as an S Scale narrow gauge locomotive. In fact, I put it next to one of my SP steam locos (Sn3) and the proportions are just about perfect. The coupler height also matches the Sn3 locomotive. This would be perfect for a 4×8 layout in Sn42, maybe the Gorre & Daphetid. All you’d really need to do is replace the couplers, replace the headlight and exhaust with something a little bigger, and paint it. If that’s not quite fancy enough for you, super-detail it. These are out of production but easy to find on eBay. I
Lately there have been some really good deals on S Scale brass locomotives coming up on EBay. A couple of weeks ago I picked up a P-B-L model of Southern Pacific #8 (narrow gauge) for less than $500 including shipping and this week I picked up a PFM C-16 (also in Sn3) for only $368 including shipping. To put this in perspective, Sn3 steam locomotive kits start at around $500. Both of the models I just got were brass (as opposed to plastic or cast zinc) and were fully assembled and test run. In the case of SP #8, also professionally painted. Both locomotives are in perfect brand new condition. In the past 30 days there have been 6 Sn3 brass locomotives sold on EBay for less than $400, and 2 of those went for less than $300. At these prices it almost doesn’t make sense to model in Sn42 unless your modeling an actual 42″ gauge prototype
Sometimes I think it’s good to get back to basics. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with a good model railroad track plan for a 4 x 8 Sn42 layout. I want kind of a western theme with some mountains (or at least hills), a tunnel or trestle (or both), and good operation and scenery potential. It turns out the right layout was in front of me all the time – John Allen’s Gorre & Daphetid. The Gorre & Daphetid is a compact model railroad that fits into my space and has all the visual and operational elements that I want. There were actually 2 versions of the original track plan published – the “original” original had an engine terminal inside the loop of track, while the “as built” original moved the engine terminal outside the loop and replaced it with an industrial siding. This modification makes the Gorre & Daphetid take up more than 4 feet in width, so I’m still working on trying to decide whether to put the engine terminal inside the loop or just leave it off all together.
The Gorre & Daphetid is considered a small model railroad by HO scale standards, so how will it work when building to 1:64 scale? I think it will work out fine. I’m modeling in Sn42, not S standard guage. My Sn42 locomotives are built on small HO scale mechanisms that can easily go around a 15 inch radius curve. All my cars are the equivelent of HO scale 40 footers or shorter. The original Gorre & Daphetid fit onto a table that was only 3’7″ wide by 6’8″ long. My table is 4 x 8 so I can use the extra space to stretch things out a bit. I’ll use the extra 5″ of width to add my main line across the front of the layout. In this scheme, the G&D will be a mining branch off of the main line, served by one of my Sn42 “critters.” The main line (for now at least) will be a place for me to display some of my larger Sn42 projects like a Roundhouse 2-8-0 I just got. The extra length will be used to spread things out a little so the 1:64 scenery and buildings don’t look so jammed together. I’ve got 11 days off over Christmas break so hopefully I can get a train table built and start laying track.
My railroad won’t be called the Gorre & Daphetid, of course. I’m naming it the Owens River Valley Railroad. That was the name of a real narrow guage railroad that was to be built between Bishop and Laws, CA to interchange with Southern Pacific’s Slim Princess narrow guage railroad.