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What is it about steam locomotive models that seduces you and me?

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  • Member since
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  • From: Ontario, Canada
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Posted by pwaka88 on Sunday, May 31, 2020 7:47 AM
Grew up watching Thomas in the 90s. Early train sets had both steam and diesel locomotives. Saw the real thing as a kid on several occasions. Always gravitated more towards steam but I still really enjoy diesels. Just find steam more interesting, unique and alive.
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Posted by CNCharlie on Sunday, May 31, 2020 1:31 PM

I was born in '47 and CN ran steam in my hometown of Winnipeg until 1959. My Grandfather was with CN Police and one of my earliest memories is going to the CN roundhouse in Transcona with him when I was about 4. 

It is the motion, noise and feeling that a steam engine is alive that does it for me. I spent many afternoons beside CN's mainline west out of Winnipeg in the late '50s when about 50% of the trains were steam. Most by then were oil burners so the smell wasn't quite the same. My parents rented a cottage at Victoria Beach, a beach town north of Winnipeg on Lake Winnipeg. It was only accesable by train until the mid-50s, the railway being CN. Every noon you could hear the daily passenger train whistle, usually a Pacific as it approached the station. As it was end of the line, they turned the whole train on a wye often with a few coaches loaded with kids, including me. 

I have a few diesels on my layout but it is mostly steam. 

CN Charlie

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Posted by Ulrich on Sunday, May 31, 2020 1:36 PM

I've seen the N&W 611 and the UP Challenger in person, along with the Mount Washington Cog Railway back in the 70s. The Cog Railway left the biggest impression on me.. not sure why. From a modelling standpoint, diesels look more realistic.. a big part of the allure of steam is the smoke and the sound.. in HO scale you have neither.. well.. maybe a few vapours from some models but nothing more.. thus steam is intrinsically less realistic than diesel.. lots of smoke not necessarily part of the modern diesel scene unless you're modelling badly tuned Alcos. And that goes double for electric locomotives.. in that case your model is electrically powered just like the real thing, and realism is therefore that much easier to come by.

 

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Posted by BATMAN on Sunday, May 31, 2020 1:48 PM

 

 

[/quote]

CNCharlie
one of my earliest memories is going to the CN roundhouse in Transcona with him when I was about 4.

Charlie, my Grandfather ran that RH and the stories he told of keeping those steamers going through the war were facinating to me as a child. In 1939 when Canada entered the war Winnipeg was a huge crossroads and entry point for lend, lease from the U.S.

You probably saw Gramps when you went to the RH for your visit. How is that for 6 degrees of separation?Laugh

Steam locomotives fascinate me more than any other man made thing. I am not sure I would be in this hobby if there were only diesels.

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Sunday, May 31, 2020 1:58 PM

 

The Mt. Washington Cog Railway turned out to be a major disappointment through nobody's fault. The weather didn't cooperate. I probably picked the worst day of the year. It was October and the remnants of a hurricane went through New England on the day I booked. The winds at the top were over 100 mph and they don't go to the top when it's that windy. It wouldn't have mattered if we did because the mountain was shrouded in fog and you could only see a couple hundred yards anyway. We got just above Jacob's Ladder before we stopped. Maybe someday I'll get back. Our guide told us about 7-10 days a year it is clear enough you can see five states, Canada, and the Atlantic Ocean. 

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Posted by Wolf359 on Sunday, May 31, 2020 2:05 PM

CNCharlie

It is the motion, noise and feeling that a steam engine is alive that does it for me.

The same applies to me as well. I like many diesels, but steam is special to me as it has a number of interesting qualities that diesel doesn't. Case in point would be an idling locomotive. On diesels you can hear the prime mover turning over, and not much else. But, an idle steam locomotive is so much different. You hear so many different sounds that you don't get with a diesel. You can hear the hiss of steam, the buzz of the dynamo, and the clanking of the air pump(s). It really does give the impression of a living, breathing thing. Plus, steam locomotives are a lot more interesting to see in action with so many of their moving parts visible, and the spent steam and smoke exhausting.

 

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Posted by CNCharlie on Sunday, May 31, 2020 2:07 PM

Brent,

Small world! My grandfather was with CN Police from the early '30s until he retired in '52, mostly in Transcona. He was a very popular guy so I expect he knew your grandfather.  

CN Charlie

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Posted by BATMAN on Sunday, May 31, 2020 2:14 PM

Wolf359
You hear so many different sounds that you don't get with a diesel. You can hear the hiss of steam, the buzz of the dynamo, and the clanking of the air pump(s). It really does give the impression of a living, breathing thing. Plus, steam locomotives are a lot more interesting to see in action with so many of their moving parts visible, and the spent steam and smoke exhausting.

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by Wolf359 on Sunday, May 31, 2020 5:36 PM

BATMAN

 

 
Wolf359
You hear so many different sounds that you don't get with a diesel. You can hear the hiss of steam, the buzz of the dynamo, and the clanking of the air pump(s). It really does give the impression of a living, breathing thing. Plus, steam locomotives are a lot more interesting to see in action with so many of their moving parts visible, and the spent steam and smoke exhausting.

 

 

Now that's a great example of steam and sound! That must have been a pretty cold day for the steam to billow out like that.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 11:22 AM

pwaka88
Early train sets had both steam and diesel locomotives.

I am not sure I ever received a Christmas train set with a steam locomotive. I know I had a couple of steamers when I was young, but not sure they came with train sets under the tree.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Medina1128 on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 12:11 PM

For me, it was the old movies that featured steam-powered locomotives pulling passenger trains. The sounds were incredible! I never got to see a live steam locomotive until I saw the Union Pacific no. 844 4-8-4 Northern pull in to Union Station in Kansas City.
As kids, our father built an oval with some sidings using a Märklin trainset. That was replaced by a couple of Lionel trainsets with F3s and a string of freight cars. The trains were replaced in high school with girls and cars. Finally, in my late 20s, I combined the two... cars when the weather was nice and my first HO model railroad layout.

I'm in my 60s now and once again, I've combined the two; an HO layout in the basement and a Mustang GT in the garage.

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Posted by pwaka88 on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 3:13 PM

In Canada Grocery chain Loblaws released train sets in the 1990s and early 2000s at Christmas under the President's Choice line featuring both steam and desiel once a year.

This link shows most of them:

http://www.theweebsite.com/trains/pctrain_s.html

Really wish they would bring this back. Featured some great Canadian trains. 

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Posted by pwaka88 on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 6:13 PM

SeeYou190

 

 
pwaka88
Early train sets had both steam and diesel locomotives.

 

I am not sure I ever received a Christmas train set with a steam locomotive. I know I had a couple of steamers when I was young, but not sure they came with train sets under the tree.

-Kevin

 

Edit-

Posted above. Forgot to quote the post and can't locate an edit button.

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, June 4, 2020 9:44 AM

I have yet to see a photo of a diesel engine that comes even close to imparting the sense of power that this image conveys,....

I love steam engine models,...they are so intricate.

(PS: Wish someone would produce this model in modern day hybrid plastics)

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Posted by wrench567 on Thursday, June 4, 2020 11:56 AM

railandsail

I have yet to see a photo of a diesel engine that comes even close to imparting the sense of power that this image conveys,....

I love steam engine models,...they are so intricate.

(PS: Wish someone would produce this model in modern day hybrid plastics)

 

so ugly only a mother can love. To me, the uglier the better. Pure utilitarianism. Built for a purpose and cosmetics be damned. I LOVE IT!!!

 Keep your fancy shrouds and the glossy paint and give me something that works for a living. Engine men were proud of their steamers. Diesel were seen one seen them all when they started arriving in mass.

   Pete

 

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Posted by Pantherphil on Thursday, June 4, 2020 5:46 PM

Too bad.  We went up on Columbus Day weekend with glorious foliage.  Started in mist but climbed out into golden sunlight and glorious views to the Atlantic with ghostly mists in the lower valleys.  Mist burned off on the downhill run.  Great day for a ramble.

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Posted by BATMAN on Thursday, June 4, 2020 7:36 PM

wrench567
Built for a purpose and cosmetics be damned.

That's what I keep telling my wife.Sigh

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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