Stupid question I'm sure: Brass

ModelRailroadForums.com is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


Alexander

New Member
This wagon, for example, is 56mm in length. I would not be able to make it so detailed from any other material than brass. Maybe steel... Brass gives a lot of opportunity for very small details, like ladders, handles, little chains and hooks.
I have an article about these wagons here

AP4005_005_03_B_c564debf-7f90-4dd6-b009-07075895d476.jpg
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
While brass looks pretty good, when ya look real close you'll see the flaws in the solder points.
As far as being good runners, I've never seen a brass model that doesn't sound like a coffee grinder.
I think today's upper scale production models are better than the proclaimed quality brass and less expensive.
 

Alexander

New Member
While brass looks pretty good, when ya look real close you'll see the flaws in the solder points.
As far as being good runners, I've never seen a brass model that doesn't sound like a coffee grinder.
I think today's upper scale production models are better than the proclaimed quality brass and less expensive.
It is a good point, probably more prominent in HO as there is more room for resonance. I have a number of models from Fugurex and Lemaco (both in N scale though) and they do not rattle. But, frankly, when I buy a model for £500+ I tend to keep it more for a display than to thrash it :)
Specifically about the way I build my brass models, I usually hide solder joints pretty well, for example, most of the assembly is hidden underneath. Happy to take this challenge ;)
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
I highly doubt you'll find a good HO/HOn3 shay or heisler in injection plastic. The only way I know of to get one is in brass.

What about the Bachmann Spectrum 80 ton Shay that was produced several years ago? Excellent runner with lots of detail. Plastic models.

Greg
 

Rico

BN Modeller
A past customer of mine recently picked up a brass model of a GMD1, DC powered no cab glass, just ok paint. He’s happy.
Now I get it if you collect brass and that’s your thing, as it is his, or it’s a rare loco but sheesh, for the price he paid I’d have gotten three Rapido locos with sound!
I don’t know about the newer brass models but any I’ve had or ran… yup coffee grinders.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
While brass looks pretty good, when ya look real close you'll see the flaws in the solder points.
As far as being good runners, I've never seen a brass model that doesn't sound like a coffee grinder.
I think today's upper scale production models are better than the proclaimed quality brass and less expensive.
Once again I think it totally depends on the model. The PFM steam from the 1979-1983 catalog had glorious detail, were good runners, and of course were designed for sound that was also amazing. Then there were those ones (can't remember the brand name) with the free-wheeling drive that were whisper quiet. And of course the W&R models. I have yet to see any as good either detail or running to match them.

On the other hand I have some other brand stuff that is as you say. Noisy open frame motors and gears, with blotches of solder all over, and even the castings are crude. So one just has to pay attention to what they are buying.

My story of the W&R models. At the time Caboose Hobbies in Denver had isles of glass cases of brass models. I would walk through and see price tags of $1500, $2000, etc. and always think, "I would never pay that much for a locomotive". THEN I saw the W&R NP Z6. The sales people had it out of the case on the test track for another customer. I couldn't stop watching it glide up and down the track. Eyes glued to the detail. The more I looked the more I saw. I wanted to reach down and twist the little water valves and pull the reverse lever. Its price at the time was $3500 and I said to myself, if I had that much I WOULD buy that loco. Still don't own that locomotive. Too bad W&R went out of business. The service they did to the Northern Pacific modeling comunity was impressive.
 
Last edited:

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
The video is an Overland brass Erie Lackawanna SDP45 that I had reworked. It started out with a noisy and very stiff drive train. Took a lot of work to get it all smoothed out to the good runner that it was when the owner took it home.

 

Espeefan

Well-Known Member
Haven't visited in several weeks. Lots of interesting replies. Yes, $3500.00 is expensive for an articulated, but it's museum quality, and they probably only made 25 or so. Runs by Glacier Park and W&R were/are small these days. As for coffee grinder drives, yeah, they're out there, but there are plenty of quiet ones too. Depends on the builder. if you get serious about brass, you'll learn to solder and accumulate the tools necessary to work on and maintain your models, or you'll pay lots of money to someone with the skills. Resistance soldering gear is great for locomotives. Once you learn how to use it, it makes pinpoint soldering a breeze. Coffee grinder drives? Not hardly. You be the judge. These models have the factory drives in them. The most that was done was a re-motor and adding a decoder:



Both of those are 1960-1970 era models. Coffee grinders are most likely off brand builders, or articulated models and are noisy due to poor quality gearboxes in the case of the former, or to the High-Low gearboxes used at the time in the latter. Those can be quieted down if you want to take the time, or replaced with more modern better quality stuff if you don't. Then there is the longevity as has been mentioned. The brass models will be running long after the plastic is in the dumpster. :)
 

747flier

New Member
I have been a long term ship builder and starting to get back into HON3. The last several ships I have built featured either wholly 3D printing or most of the detail items. I have even gone back and replaced many items on older models, even commercial parts. Working out the mechanics of printing railroad items, with some success so far. I am copying some old HON3 rolling stock I had from many years ago and designing a few other items. Surprisingly I was able to print working trucks though they do not run as freely as commercial items. Using steel axels turned on my lathe helps a lot but I expect the best route is to use commercial wheels as they are not expensive. Couplers, well I'll stick with the Kadee items for present.

With the current SLA (using bath) technology, very detailed parts are possible, more so than I can achieve by any hand building techniques I possess. This technology opens up many possibilities for construction of any items one might be able to visualize. I use a free program called "Design Spark Mechanical" which works well for many items, though for ships, hulls are very challenging given the limitations.

For anyone interested in home design and building 3D offers much possibility and a satisfaction of self building. I believe it is possible to rival the best commercial products in some ways. All that said, I am working on acquiring a high end brass and also a Blackstone locomotive

Best regards: Tom
 




Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)


ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

Top