What was your first brass engine/rolling stock?

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Brass isnt for everyone, but if you own and enjoy them like I do, what was your first model(s)? For me it was one of the PFM ATSF 1950 class 2-8-0s. Super common and affordable, even at that time when brass was sky high price wise. From there I divulged into Shays and Climax engines before the coal train bug bit hard. My first brand new brass, bought in my mid 20's was two Overland Conrail engines, an SD38 and MT6 slug that was the hump power at Avon(Big Four) yard near Indianapolis. Both were unpainted, which I did on my own(my first airbrushed paint jobs as well). They worked the main yard at the local train club for years. I wish I still had them!! Mike


Section Hand
Not a brass locomotive, but my first locomotive was a 0-6-0 heavy cast metal model, lacking detail, that I traded a 3 cent piece for at the local hobby coin store in maybe 1960. I don't know the manufacture. I still have the loco after selling it and then buying it back. Run terrible and looked bad, but it was a HO locomotive.

Wish I kept that 3 cent piece!



Well-Known Member
I purchased three BLI Hybrid steamers prior to getting an all-brass Sunset 2-10-4 "Selkirk". All four locomotives are of very high quality and run like Swiss watches.

There's still a certain cachet about brass models, but unless you have proof of materials, it's very hard to tell the difference these days with higher details. The early Proto 2000 steamers were very good, probably the best for details in the non-brass market. Now, Rapido and Scale Trains are pushing the envelope.


Product Tester ACME INC.
Staff member
My first "Brassie" was a PFM 'Frisco' 2-10-0 in 1964. I still have it though I have not had it on the track in almost 30 years.
One of my projects during this stay at home time is to start with at least a 4x6 foot layout and see it and a few others run again.


Gomez Addams
Staff member
My first brass engine was a Tenshodo SD24. I was thoroughly underwhelmed by it, and it took me a very long time to even look at another brass engine of any kind.


Well-Known Member
1950s Akane HO Ma&Pa consolidation. Only other was a traction boxcab w/ working pantograph and trolley pole (don't know maker)....
If Connie didn't have pizza cutter flanges I'd possibly make an attempt at my first decoder install.. But I ain't gonna be turning down flanges. Back in the late 50s she certainly ran smooth on the old (ugh) Atlas c 100 and some of that track with the cardboard ties, when I was about 10...


Most of the better older brass, such as PFM, Westside ect have RP25 flanges or close to it and can run on code 83 just fine. Most all will have a weak magnet in the original open frame motor, so new magnet or a can motor is needed to bring them into the DCC world. Early diesels, all of them, were coffee grinders drive wise. For those that have them, many have adapted Kato/Proto/Athearn trucks to them, or picked up the replacement trucks that were offered in the late 70's thru the 80's to make them run better. The later Overland/Division Point/UTI diesels are smooth and quiet running. Most all brands had duds, so if your considering buying your first model, or one you dont know the history of, as on various social media platforms if its a good model. How does it run, it is know to have issues or common problems that can be easily fixed ect. I have had a few of the Proto steamers, overly fragile with gear cracking issues. If i am going to be dealing with replacing gears, it will be in brass, which is much easier to deal with all the way down to putting a whole new NWSL or Boo-Rim gearbox in. Turning down flanges are not that hard if you have a dremel with a stone and some test leads to power the motor. Mike


Staff member
From there I divulged into Shays and Climax engines before the coal train bug bit hard.
Do you have the PFM 3 truck Hillcrest Climax by chance? I've always wanted one, but never wanted to pay the nearly $1,000 asking price.

I have worked on the real thing for nearly 40 years, and it would be cool to have one, but that's a lot of money to have tied up and just sitting around on my layout.


When they were released, they had a couple different variations. This is the original version and there's a post wreck / excursion service version. It has the welded water tender, since the riveted one was damaged in a collision with a truck.

They did a really good job, but they got one detail wrong on the later version. They left the tall oil filler hatch on the oil bunker. They were showing these off at the NMRA convention, and I told them "That oil filler is wrong, it's a small hatch, nearly flush with the deck. Well, of course they didn't like hearing that, and told me how they'd gone up and measured the real on and photographed it and on and on. I replied "That's all well and good, but that hatch isn't there now..." He insisted it was. I replied by pulling up my pants leg to show him a nasty gash on my ankle. I said "See that? I got it yesterday, when I turned around and accidentally stepped into the dang hole... So that's how I know and how I spotted that so quickly, LOL.... " "Oh, OK then..." :)
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Staff member
I like this one even better though. We spent two days out on the line recording the sounds for this one. Rumor has it you can even hear my voice in some of the "Conductor" sound effects, though I haven't been able to confirm that.



Staff member
Just realized I never did answer the question. My first brass locomotive? Well, I haven't bought one and doubt that I will. The fanciest and most expensive I get are a couple of the Broadway Limited basic models, purchased at a discount from their outlet store online. They're nice and have all the detail I need. They're still expensive, but not quite as bad.


Never got one of the Hillcrest Climaxes from PFM. All of my logging stuff is long gone now. Yes the Hillcrest is expensive as it came toward the end of the PFM era of importing. Beautiful models none the less. Mike
I think my first was either a GOM/PFE D&RGW modernized caboose or a High Country Brass CZ 16-section sleeper. The GOM/PFE caboose turned to have incorrect window placement on one side so I sold it and now stick with Overland cabooses for Rio Grande. I sold all my brass CZ cars are they were unfinished and the Broadway Limited are overall better (finished, lettered and lighted).

At present this is what I have in brass:

- 2 Palace Car Company Pullman Standard combines (as used on the Rio Grande Zephyr). Here is one of them (the other is being painted)

- 7 Overland 01400 class D&RGW cabooses (3 welded type and 4 rivited). One still needs painted.
- 1 Overland 01500 class D&RGW EV caboose (unpainted)
- 1 Division Point 01400 class modernized D&RGW aboose in 4-stripe yellow/silver paint.
- 1 Overland CA-5/6 class UP caboose unpainted; plan to paint it for Utah Rwy

Two of the Overland D&RGW painted cabooses I acquired more recently, one a week ago (black riveted version) and the other last year (orange riveted version).

Here are some of the painted D&RGW Overland cabooses:

Division Point D&RGW caboose:



Well-Known Member
Very nice collection riogrande! I need to get mine out of their boxes and do a family photo. Are you doing the painting yourself, or working with someone else? I have an unpainted Mikado (Key Imports) that I got relatively cheap that I was going to cut my brass painting "teeth" on.
The two newest acquisitions I haven't taken any pictures of yet. Since I can't afford much brass, I'm sticking with what to me are the most essential, which are cabooses and the PS combine. My main interest is the 1970's up through end of caboose era. I don't have a paint booth set up yet but hope to in the next year. A fellow D&RGW modeler painted the PCC PS combine and black caboose with the yellow stripes. I have two more needing painted, a welded 01400 caboose and a EV 01500 caboose.
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Gandy Dancer
The only brass I've got is this:


(This is a subtle warning to some nefarious individual who might be looking for a place to burgle.)

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