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Sources for 19th century locomotives and rolling stock?

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Sources for 19th century locomotives and rolling stock?
Posted by MAikey on Thursday, May 4, 2023 10:38 AM

I am new to the hobby and have decided to model upstate New York in the late 19th century to about 1920. The roads of particular interest are the Northern Central Railway and the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad.  Both served Canandaigua, NY and Ontario County, NY in that period.  Quickly I found out that finding locomotives and particularly rolling stock for those eras is at best, challenging.  Searching the web, I noticed that every few years someone asks a similar question - "are there any sources for 19th century locomotives and rolling stock".  A handful of replies pop up, but it seems that a number of those sources are no longer in business.  So, here is the 2023 edition of the question - are there any sources for 19th and early 20th century locomotives and rolling stock?  My apologies if anyone has recently asked this question and I didn't see it.  Thank you.

Tags: 19th Century
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Posted by tstage on Thursday, May 4, 2023 7:55 PM

MAikey,

You didn't indicate but are you modeling in HO?  If not, ignore the rest of my reply...

Locomotives -> USRA 0-6-0s, 0-8-0, and 2-8-2 Mikes would address the latter end of your chosen era and 2-8-0s & 4-4-0s the earlier-to-mid areas.  Here's a quick list of those how produce them

  • 0-6-0 - Proto 2000 (Life-Like or Walthers)
  • 0-8-0 - Proto 2000 (Life-Like or Walthers)
  • 2-8-2 - BLI & Bachmann
  • 2-8-0 - BLI & Bachmann
  • 4-4-0 - Bachmann

You can also find most of the above, as well as unique locomotives in used brass for decent prices.  Brasstrains.com is a very good & reputable vendor but their prices can be steeper than picking up brass from places like eBay.  My handful of NYC brass locomotives - steam & diesel - has primariliy come from eBay and most have been very smooth runners.

Rolling stock -> Accurail 36' double-sheath wood boxcars (i.e. 1300, 1400, 1700 & 1800 Series) - These are kits rather than RTR but they are relatively simple kits to put together and quite handsome when completed.  Be sure to click on each series to see the list of roadnames offered.  Accurail also lists the original BLT/NEW date and any repainted date for each of their offerings.

HTH,

Tom

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Posted by "JaBear" on Thursday, May 4, 2023 9:41 PM
Gidday, Welcome to the Forum.
 
Forum member Dave Husmans layout timeframe is 1900 to 1905. His website is a goldmine of information, and well worth a read even for the likes of myself who is inclined to the 1950s.
 
 
Cheers, the Bear.Smile

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, May 4, 2023 10:04 PM

Athearn Roundhouse has some old time models.  You can filter by era on right side of screen:

https://www.athearn.com/by-brand/roundhouse/?cgid=ath-by-brand-roundhouse&prefn1=subBrand&prefv1=ROUNDHOUSE&srule=best-matches&sz=24

 

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Thursday, May 4, 2023 10:06 PM

In addition to the Accurail line, MDC/Roundhouse produced a broad line of 36' truss rod box boxcars and reefers; also long and short passenger cars - all easy to assemble once you do some filing to clean up the cast metal chassis. Craftsman kits from LaBelle, Ambroid and Huff-n-Puff require more work as you're starting from "a box of sticks".

Local model train shows/swap meets are great places to acquire lots of these kits for very little money.

Jim

 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, May 4, 2023 11:44 PM

Locos like these Bachmann 4-6-0s would be a good choice for a late 1800s or early 1900s layout...

(Click on the pictures for an enlarged image)

 

...but since my layout is set in the late '30s, I opted to modernise them, using some older (but more modern-looking) cast-metal boilers, then re-working the old-time slide-valve cylinders into more modern piston-type ones, and adding more modern cabs (leftovers from some Bachmann 2-8-0s)

Here's one just prior to heading into my paint shop...

...and two of them in-service...

Wayne

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Posted by dknelson on Friday, May 5, 2023 10:05 AM

Late 19th century to early 20th century is quite an era range if 1920 is "early."  That would mean 1880 is "late."  20 years is 1 pretty good chuck of century!  And as it happens railroading was undergoing major changes in the decade before and after 1900 , from airbrakes and eletric lighting and steel underframes and so on.  And as Wayne points out, even the "same" locomotive built in 1890 or 1895 would have looked different by the end of its useful life in 1925 or so, from valve gear to stack to headlight, cab, tender, and so on.  Still it is useful to think in terms of railroad rolling stock having a useful life in the 30 to 40 year range.

So thinking of circa 1900 in general it seems like slim pickings out of the modern catalogs, although Bachmann has some things or did in recent years, but not bad if you include used and train show and swap meet fodder.  The Mantua General 4-4-0, AHM 4-4-0 Reno, the Bachmann 4-4-0s which I think were intended as Golden Spike locomotives of 1869, the little PRR A3 class 0-4-0 that AHM had in its catalog, are examples of locomotives that would have been in the last gasp of their active careers in the earliest years of your time frame.  By then stacks would have been straight and likely the wood cabs replaced by metal; air brake pumps added, and the long old fashioned cow catcher pilots replaced by something shorter that could handle the modern coupler rather than the long steel bar for the link and pin on the pilot.  If you have seen photos of the how Civil War era "Texas" has been restored and preserved that is the look you want.  No more gaudy coors,  Straight stack, simple pilot.  

And that brings up the fact that some of the lines of detail parts that would be so useful for those kinds of conversions have become harder to find too, 

The Tyco/Mantua 4-6-0 and 2-6-2 would also seem like good choices.  Pemco, a brand long gone that IHC partly picked up, had an interesting little 2-6-0

Model Die Casting has various steam locomotives that would be good bets.  The 0-6-0T, 0-6-0, 2-8-0, 2-6-2, 4-4-2, and I think they had a big boilered 2-6-0.

Model Power imported a really beautiful 2-8-0 of pre 1900 apperance that I think was manufactured in Brazil and may have been a US built Brazilian prototype.  

Probably the Kemtron metal kit for the Wabash 2-6-0 would be a challenge to find, but a neat looking engine.  

While USRA engines themselves are 1918 or so, and continued in production well into the 1920s, it is also true that they followed accepted and common designs of their era and thus are very similar to locomotives that are closer to 1910 in era.  For example the Soo Line had 2-8-2s and 4-6-2s that were pre USRA but very similar to USRA in size and heft and details.

Model Die Casting had plastic models of nice wood passenger cars.  They also had older prototypes that were still seen in your era; ditto for the wood passenger cars from Tyco Mantua although might have been in work train service by then.  

The Varney, later Bowser, metal 4-6-0 and 2-8-0 models (they shared a boiler and cab casting) are still common at swap meets.  

Dave Nelson

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Posted by BATMAN on Friday, May 5, 2023 10:25 AM

Brent

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, May 5, 2023 12:18 PM

MAikey
Are there any sources for 19th and early 20th century locomotives and rolling stock? 

Locomotives: Used brass.

Rolling stock: Westerfield and Funaro & Camerlengo.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, May 5, 2023 12:43 PM

I think most of the stuff available for '19th Century' is either older or Western in appearance.  One starting point might be the 'large-drivered' Mantua camelback 4-4-2; I think the Bowser NYC 4-6-2 is a good representation of what Cole was designing before WWI, some of the prettiest and best-proportioned engines built.  Of course most anything USRA is 'pre-1920' -- and that might include predating a N&W Y class...

There's an active modeling community for Civil War railroads, but I don't remember a counterpart for late-'80s and '90s locomotives.

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, May 5, 2023 1:45 PM

MAikey
Searching the web, I noticed that every few years someone asks a similar question - "are there any sources for 19th century locomotives and rolling stock".  A handful of replies pop up, but it seems that a number of those sources are no longer in business. 

That doesn't mean you can't buy the products, you just can't buy them direct from the company. You'll find a lot of products are easily found at model railroad flea markets or shows, even if they haven't been in production in this century. Plus, some companies that used to make kits (decorated or undecorated) now only make the item as 'ready to run' - so maybe you can buy a RTR passenger car for $40, or an old kit of the same car for $10 at a train show.

Anyway, I second the thought of the very nice Mantua 4-4-2, and the old MDC/Roundhouse "Pullman Palace" cars are very nice - plus you guy search around on e-bay and find one-piece plastic / resin interiors for them now at a reasonable price. 

Trix made a nice plastic NYC wood caboose a few years back, you may be able to track one down...they're made in Germany, I got mine from the website of a hobbyshop that carried a lot of German-made trains. 

Stix
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Posted by tstage on Friday, May 5, 2023 1:52 PM

wjstix
Trix made a nice plastic NYC wood caboose a few years back, you may be able to track one down...they're made in Germany, I got mine from the website of a hobbyshop that carried a lot of German-made trains

Presently eBay sellers are asking 2X MSRP for that particular caboose. Dead  And there are a few fixes needed, if you lean towards wanting a correct NYC 19000-series caboose.  Otherwise, it's fine as is...

Tom

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Friday, May 5, 2023 2:43 PM

One thing that you have to realize is that late Victorian ("Gilded Age") and Edwardian US Railroading is a pretty esoteric subject, so their aren't many people modeling that period, so the manufacturers don't pay much attention to the period.

First, in any case such as this, join the historical society for the road you are interested in

NYC =NYCSHS | NYCSHS Website – New York Central System Historical Society

Northern Central (The Chemung RR, Elmira, Jefferson & Canandaigua RR, and Sodus Bay & Southern Ry. were consolidated on December 31, 1886, to form the Elmira and Lake Ontario Railroad Company, a continuous line from the Erie interchange at Horseheads to Sodus Point, with a branch from Stanley to Canandaigua. It was leased and operated by the Northern Central, which reached it via the Elmira and Williamsport Railroad, another subsidiary, and trackage rights over the Erie from Elmira to Horseheads. The lease was transferred to the PRR, which controlled the Northern Central, on January 1, 1911.) - Home - Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society (prrths.org)

As a SPF (Sloberin' Pennsy Freak), i can state the following have incredible amounts of information Rob's PRR page (railfan.net) and PRR Research (prrths.com) I also recommend books like Pennsy Power and New York Central's Early Power (Which covers 1831 to 1916 - looks like that's a must!)

I am a member of both and they have sections in their journals that answer  questions. The PRR Society publishes a separate journal, The Pennsy Modeler, which would probably be of interest. 

2) Visit - yes, physically - the archives in the local libraries and historical societies. You're looking for period pictures and maps showing the railroads and the industries like the famous Sanborn maps (Sanborn maps are detailed maps of U.S. cities and towns in the 19th and 20th centuries. Originally published by The Sanborn Map Company (Sanborn), the maps were created to allow fire insurance companies to assess their total liability in urbanized areas of the United States. Since they contain detailed information about properties and individual buildings in approximately 12,000 U.S. cities and towns, Sanborn maps are valuable for documenting changes in the built environment of American cities over many decades) About this Collection  |  Sanborn Maps  |  Digital Collections  |  Library of Congress (loc.gov) and Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867-1970 (proquest.com) 

Once you have seen pictures of what you are interested in, you can see wat is currently available (Ebay is your friend! as is HO Train Reference and Resource Site (hoseeker.net) ) and then plot how to modify it into something that looks similar to the prototype.

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Posted by snjroy on Sunday, May 7, 2023 7:37 PM

Hi there. For civil war era engines, a number of manufacturers made nice looking engines in HO scale over the last 40 years. But beware: many do not run well, especially the plastic 4-4-0 engines with the motor in the tender. Bachmann recently released some 4-4-0s Civil war era engines, with new tooling, with the motor under the boiler, DCC sound. I have one and they run very nicely. Do not confuse them with the older Bachmanns that had the motor in the tender arrangement.

For 1900's era engines, Bachmann also sells a nice modern American 4-4-0s and 2-8-0s (motors under the boiler). I have some that run flawlessly. Athearn also offers a 1900's 4-4-0 and 2-6-0. I have a 4-4-0 model, and it runs great. It's a little bigger than the Bachmann model. Athearn also sells a nice oldtime 2-8-0 (I also have one of these, runs great). 

Passenger and other cars are widely available, old and new. Bachmann sells a range. Old Rivarossi, Pocher, Model Power and MDC cars will run well if you change the wheel sets. 

Simon

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Posted by MAikey on Tuesday, June 20, 2023 1:14 PM

Thanks Tom.  Yes, I am modeling HO scale.  Your information is very helpful.

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Posted by MAikey on Tuesday, June 20, 2023 1:18 PM

Bear,  thank you for the link.  Very interesting.

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Posted by MAikey on Tuesday, June 20, 2023 1:26 PM

Dave,

Thank you for the information.  Lots to digest.  As I think through what I want to do with the layout, I am beginning to narrow my timeline.  At this point about 1900 into the 1920's will be my target.  I seem to be at the bottom of a steep learning curve when it comes to the evolution of individual locomotive models.  Fortunately, folks like you make that curve more managable.  

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Posted by MAikey on Tuesday, June 20, 2023 4:26 PM

Very nice locomotives Wayne.  Modifying locomotives at this point is, unfortunately, above my skill level.  

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Posted by MAikey on Tuesday, June 20, 2023 4:42 PM

Thank you all for your replies.  They are interesting and informative.  As a point of information (which I neglected to mention in my original post), I am modeling HO scale.  Also, I have decided to narrow my timeframe to around 1900 into the 1920's.  By using a number of your suggestions I am begining to unearth period correct rolling stock.  My biggest challenge is finding images showing how Northern Central locomotives and rolling stock are marked.  Gunnarsson's book, Story of the Northern Central Railway, is of some help, but images showing NCR marked rolling are few.  But, the adventure continues.

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 9:14 AM

MAikey
20's.  By using a number of your suggestions I am begining to unearth period correct rolling stock.  My biggest challenge is finding images showing how Northern Central locomotives and rolling stock are marked. 

Are you sure they weren't lettered for the Pennsylvania RR? Often when a large railroad took over a smaller one, like PRR took over the NC in 1861, the small railroad might continue as a "paper railroad" but all the equipment, advertising, printed schedules, etc. would carry the name of the large railroad/owner. Perhaps some equipment might have small initials somewhere indicating the prior railroad (like Soo Line GPs that had a small "WC" to indicate they were part of the old Wisconsin Central.)

Generally, the farther back you go and the smaller the railroad you model, the harder it gets to find suitable models. Modelling the NYC and PRR after WW1 would be relatively easy, as many cars, steam engines, structures, etc. are readily available RTR or as kits. 

One option might be to free-lance a "what if?" railroad...like 'what if the Northern Central had remained an independent railroad?' Then you can use your research to create credible versions of the railroad's equipment, using what's available for the era you wish to model. 

Stix
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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 9:29 AM

wjstix
One option might be to free-lance a "what if?" railroad...like 'what if the Northern Central had remained an independent railroad?' Then you can use your research to create credible versions of the railroad's equipment, using what's available for the era you wish to model.

This could be highly interesting if the "Northern Central" runs up to connect with a heavily-built Philadelphia and Erie... crossing over the Gould 1906 Ramsey Survey ultra-high-speed line and its prospective PRR competitor enroute...

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Posted by xboxtravis7992 on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 3:09 PM

For 19th century rail modeling, it is worth pointing out that many of the most active 19th century modelers have "retreated" from the mainstream so to speak and are most active in more closed door communities. One of these I can point to is the Railroads of the 19th Century Discord server, and its a great focal point of 1800s modeling; as long as you can accept Diane Foxington as our server's mascot and vain idol. Stick out tongue Members of that server can also point you to the Pre-Depression railroad server which focuses on the turn of the century stuff from the 1900s to 1920s.

https://www.deviantart.com/eddie-sand/journal/19th-Century-Railroad-Discord-816714107

As for products, 3Dp Train has some 19th century focused vendors. https://3dptrain.com/store-listing/ 

Toma Model works is great to if you are looking for small industrial locomotives. https://tomamw2.com/ 

Bitter Creek Models also has rolling stock and detail parts: https://bittercreekmodels.com/ 

B.T.S. has craftsman kits (both rolling stock and structures) and detail parts: https://btsrr.com/ 

 

 

 

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