Which era is easyest to model?

Discussion in 'General' started by Iantha_Branch, Jan 25, 2009.


Which one of these era's are the easiest to model?

  1. early steam

    1 vote(s)
  2. mid steam

    1 vote(s)
  3. late steam

    5 vote(s)
  4. early diesel

    22 vote(s)
  5. late diesel

    25 vote(s)
  1. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Which one of these era's are the easiest to model as far as locomotives and rolling stock go?
  2. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Frisco.org Supporter

    In my case and scale (N), the 1955-65 era seems to me to be the best. Not very many good, reasonably priced N scale steam engines available, but LOTS of nice (Well detailed, good running) diesels. Also, very few N scale steam engines pass for Frisco prototypes. Intermountain, Microtrains, Bachmann, Atlas, Kato, and Life-Like (Walthers) all have nice diesels of the era. Also plenty of freight and passenger cars.
    In HO, where there are more and better steam engines, there are probably more choices of eras to model...

  3. DanHyde

    DanHyde Member

    In large scale, [ #1 ], it is mighty slim pickens. Slowly but surely, there are more offerings in big trains. I just acquired a set of streamlined passenger cars painted & lettered " Texas Special " from Mikes Train House. They are MKT cars, but it is as close as it gets. I will do some re-lettering. To go with them, an Aristocraft E-8 has arrived, and also must be re-painted and lettered. Just the thing to keep me busy this winter!
  4. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    Ok, I should have been more specific. How about this, Which of these era's are the easiest to model in N scale? So far late diesel, I might do an era ca. 1964-66 Based off whats available.
  5. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Frisco.org Supporter

    If it's N scale, then stick with the "diesel" era (1950 on to the present). Really good steam engines are (for one thing) rare, expensive, delicate and hardly any pass for Frisco without custom painting, detaiing and decaling. Atlas, Kato and Life-Like (Walthers) diesels look good and run like Swiss watches, pretty much trouble free.

  6. friscochoctaw

    friscochoctaw Member

    Just be careful about the paint, that it's not too red, like the first run of the Atlas B30-7s. I did, being unaware at the time, and the guys in my train club started off giving me heck over it. But they (the locomotives) do run rather smooooth!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2009
  7. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    I'll make my case for "early steam" for a few reasons:

    (1) If one chooses a small branchline, there's plenty of good-quality rolling stock out there, and it doesn't take a 2nd mortgage to accumulate sufficient rolling stock.

    (2) Locomotives are smaller; Moguls could be found just about anywhere (I think) but one has to narrow down locale if you want to run 4500s.

    (3) With all of the Frisco Employee's Magazines now digitized online, there's a vast quantity of prototype and operational information available.

    (4) For the most part, there's probably less nit-picking to be done!

    If you haven't seen Jim James' Zalma Branch modeling on this site, his work makes a very strong and compelling case for modelng this era.

    Best Regards,
  8. gna

    gna Member Frisco.org Supporter

    I'd recommend posting this in the N scale Forum--you may get more appropriate responses.
  9. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Frisco.org Supporter

    "Which era is easiest to model?" Is a very broad question and every time someone else responds to it, it becomes broader! See just the few responses here. With that in mind, I'd say pick an era that is within your lifetime that you have seen first hand. And then pick a few (just one or two even) good running diesel engines and a few cars--probably freight cars to start with. And get a loop of GOOD track like Kato or Bachmann with built in roadbed. Most all the makers (Walthers/Life-Like, Kato, Atlas, Athearn, Intermountain) make good (even great) running diesel engines and mostly reasonable priced. BUT, if you're going into the steam engine era, you're going to have to do some smart shopping (preferably with a model railrading friend) to get a good running, moderately priced engine that will be durable and trouble free.

  10. Iantha_Branch

    Iantha_Branch Member

    I'm not using EZ track, no way! I have the stuff now and it's junk. And I've heard some bad things about unitrack turnouts. I'm gonna use atlas track with WS roadbed.
  11. pensive

    pensive Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Re: Which era is easiest to model?

    I think that there is something obvious here that needs to be said, that hasn't been said yet, and the poll bears this out. Over the years railroads have strived to increase thier efficiency. Thier goal has been to eliminate as many structures, equipment and people as they can while still getting the job of transporting goods done. For those of us that model railroads, structures, equipment and people of a bygone era are the essence of what we are trying to capture in our minature world. For example, if one were to model a present day layout as opposed a steam era one, he/she could eliminate things like roundhouses, turntables, water towers, passenger stations, cabooses and the Saint Louis-San Francisco railroad itself for that matter. Easy to model? Yes. Would you want to do it? Probably not. I don't think that ease of modeling is much of a factor in why people choose a certain era to model.

    That being said, the rise in quantity and quality of models imported from China over the past 15 to 20 years has made modeling any era much easier. For myself, whose modeling skills are suspect, I welcome this development.

    In summary, the closer the modeling era is to the present day, the easier it is to model.
  12. TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020)

    TAG1014 (Tom Galbraith RIP 7/15/2020) Passed Away July 15, 2020 Frisco.org Supporter

    I think a modeler or railfan (and you'll have to stop and think if this includes you) ordinarily chooses the era (and railroad) he was eyewitness to. My opinion--That's what happened to me.

  13. railroadguy65

    railroadguy65 Member

    :) As much as I love Steam we have so few choices out there, without paying throught the nose. So it would have to late diesel. Which is what most of us have seen in our lifetime. Outside of the 1630 or 1522 running, there are alot of modelers that have never seen Class 1 steam.

    But I do wish the Lionel, Bachmann, Broadway Limited, MTH, etc... Would invest some more (affordable ) effort in to Frisco Steam.

    Well that is my 2 cents worth. :D
  14. FRISCO4503

    FRISCO4503 FRISCO4503 Frisco.org Supporter

    I'm with everyone else on this. If your looking for easy, Diesel is the easy way to go. If you want a challenge, Steam. If you really want something sorta easy, go with 1950's and the steam to diesel transition era. You have a large variety of both engines, and rolling stock available, plus you can add passenger service to your layout as well. Your layout would look pretty busy too, with roundhouses, turntables, passenger stations, ashpits, water towers, the list goes on and on. I hope this helped. Especially if your modeling HO scale. |-|:)|-|:)|-|
  15. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    As a longtime HO scaler, I find the diesel era easier to do than the steam era (also cheaper- those brass prices are murder).

    Recently I switched to N scale, and am building a layout on a hollow-core door, based in part on the east end of the A&A Sub and featuring a MP interchange. The introduction by Atlas of the GP38s, GP38-2s, U25Bs, and GP15-1s (yeah, I know, the air intakes are wrong) make it a no-brainer for me. Plus, I can decal my two GP7s into o/w. This would allow me to model the last 3-5 years of Frisco's existence.

    One of the customers is a paper mill, which allows me to plausibly explain the existence of a Frisco VO1000 on the layout as an in-plant switcher.

    Come to thiink of it, get two or three Atlas RS1s in Frisco colors, paint the GP7s black w/yellow stripes, and viola- the 1950s and early 1960s are reachable. But I digress...............:D

    SAFN SAAP Member

    I'm 100% steam. You'll never see me with a diesel. Ever!

    I model 1890-1920. There are so many available cars for that era. To top that, I love the billboard cars. They make trains so colorful and real. Steam locomotives are half and half since most Frisco accurately is brass, however, one can take Mantua and early model Roundhouse steamers and make close facsimiles of the Frisco hogs.

    I feel its important to capture the mood of the era and if you do your best, that's all that counts. Bean counters and rivet rounders can stay with the government.
  17. meteor910

    meteor910 2009 Engineer of the Year Staff Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Don't overlook the Athearn Genesis F3's, or the Proto 2000 FA1/FB1's - they are terrific models for b/y freight power in the 1st generation diesel Frisco era.

    Both available often on eBay at good prices.


    SAFN SAAP Member

    You know I really wanted to start the steam vs. diesel fight, but I'll behave and be nice! :D
  19. renapper (Richard Napper RIP 3/8/2013)

    renapper (Richard Napper RIP 3/8/2013) Passed away March 8, 2013

    I model everything except very earily Steam, but my heart is with steam.
  20. JamesP

    JamesP James Pekarek

    Steam is King on the N&F RR! However, it is definitely easier to model diesel locomotives in my scale...:)


    - James

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