An Introduction to Large Scale Locomotives
The impressive MTH RailKing G Gauge 1 4-8-8-4 Big Boy Steam Engine with Proto-Sound 2.0
Should you fancy acquiring on of these "Big Boys" you may already be too late as I believe that MTH has already called for last orders before they close down later this year (2021).
The choice of name for these mechanical 'brutes' is something of a contradiction as locomotives (or indeed any form of transportation such as cars, ships, and planes) normally have a metaphorical female gender and are conventionally referred to as "she", especially by men. I digress already. No wonder this manual is taking so long to write.
Fortunately, there is no immediate shortage of locomotive product offerings on the market to attract your eye. In fact, as I write this module I am forced to conclude that today’s garden railway enthusiasts have probably never had it so good.
Despite the demise of Aristo-craft as a major force in the industry a few years ago (briefly reincarnated as Polks Generation Next although this company was short lived and has also now abruptly ceased trading) there are a significant number of Large Scale equipment manufacturers and suppliers worldwide prepared to invest considerable resources in providing an ever-growing range of products designed to satisfy the insatiable demands of hobby enthusiasts who indulge in garden railroading.
This cornucopia of riches includes an array of motive power designed to whet the appetite and liberate the credit card of even the most tightfisted large-scale modeller.
Whatever type of model railroading you favour you are most likely to discover a choice of commercial ready-to-run or kit form locomotives (and rolling stock covered in a later module) to satisfy your particular interests.
The choice of which locomotive or locomotive(s) to add to your roster is ultimately a matter of personal choice and even if a particular model that appeals to you is not strictly compatible with your themed layout you will probably find a justification for acquiring it nevertheless.
Bachmann 4-6-0 Virginia & Truckee Railroad livery
Lenin's Funeral Train - Moscow
This is a photograph of the Bachmann "Lyn" I took many years ago when it was re-released in an improved version. Examples are quite difficult to come by nowadays.
GWR No. 7029 "Clun Castle"
Bachmann 4-6-0 Virginia & Truckee Railroad livery
In 2013 it reached its 25th Anniversary (Bachmann said they introduced the “Big Hauler” in 1987) and to celebrate the event the company released a much enhanced “Anniversary Edition” (nicknamed “Annie”) of this classic workhorse which incorporated metal gears and an updated lead-truck and was still in production until quite recently. Bachmann subsequently released a far more sophisticated and extensively upgraded (and much more expensive) replacement which has still to attract the same sales volume or indeed affection.
This "Anniversary" series where far superior to those included in the train sets and are well worth trying to find and may still be available from certain retailers - otherwise try the second-hand market. The "Annie" locomotive comes in several liveries, five of which feature the impressive Walschaerts Valve Gear.
The following images are of the later upgraded versions with updated lead truck released in 2011 and bearing the 916xx product code range. They are all suitable for Narrow Gauge operations. For an informative video produced by Bachmann Trains and others so please click the following links:
East Broad Top #10 – Item No. 91601 Narrow Gauge
Denver Rio Grande & Western #178 “Bumblebee” - Item No.91602 Narrow Gauge
Rio Grande Southern #25
Item No.91603 - Narrow Gauge
South Pacific Coast #22
Item No.91604 - Narrow Gauge
Denver& Rio Grande #10
Item No: 91605 - Narrow Gauge
Denver & Rio Grande #10 Item No: 91605 Narrow Gauge
East Tennessee & Western North Carolina #11
Item No.91606 - Narrow Gauge
Painted, Unlettered - Black
Item 91607 Narrow Gauge
In the later 2016 Bachmann Catalogue models 91601, 91603, 91604, 91605, and 91606 – 91605 remain the same but 91602 (Bumblebee) and 91607 were replaced with new versions 91608 and 91609 respectively.
Denver & Rio Grande "Bumble Bee" #168 Item No: 91608
Painted, Unlettered Black w/Red and Black Trim
Item No: 91609
Since writing this section and citing the ubiquitous nature of the Bachmann 4-6-0 appearing in almost every catalogue the firm ever published, they have suddenly decided to discontinue production in 2018 and the Anniversary models no longer appear in any form in the company’s latest Catalogue. Even the standard version is only available as part of two Christmas Train Sets.
C’est la vie!
All the Bachmann Anniversary Edition 4-6-0 Steam Locomotives came with operating headlight; smoke and speed synchronised sound (the latter is fairly rudimentary and is operated by a 9v battery in the tender), all new metal gears and an updated die-cast lead truck. New features also include metal side-rods; separate piping and all metal handrails. These models are far superior to Bachmann’s standard “10 Wheeler” production and naturally their higher price tag reflected this.
Each version comes with simulated metal valve gear – either Stephenson or the more complex Walschaerts type as per prototype.
Dimensions (Locomotive and Tender):
Length: 30” Width: 4.75” Height: 6.75”
Weight: (Locomotive) 5.5 pounds
Great news, hot off the presses (perhaps mildly warm by the time you are reading this), is that Bachmann Industries will be introducing yet another upgrade of this ubiquitous locomotive in 2019. Details below.
The new version of the popular 4-6-0 is expected to come with metal gears, operating headlight, smoke, metal side-rods, separate piping metal handrails and an all new tender (details awaited) in the 918** series.
So far, very similar to the Anniversary Edition (in fact the company are now promoting the latest "Annie" adaptation under this appellation, rather than as a new addition to their ‘Big Hauler’ line – the major difference being that the new models will be DCC and Sound-Ready (similar to the Spectrum range) that features an advanced non-proprietary plug & play circuit board to accommodate the control system of your choice, including conventional DC power, NMRA / NME DCC and/or Radio Control (RC)operation - a major step forward.
Equipped with factory installed speakers, it is ready for the installation of “plug-and-play” prototypical sound. (Plug-and-Play sound modules will be available separately for sound on-board performance.)
At the time of writing the following versions have been announced (but no official pictures of the actual models are available):
"Flying Grande" #17 Item 98101
Pennsylvania #867 Item 98102
Denver & Rio Grande #176 "Bumblebee" Item 98103
Painted, Unlettered - Black
Item No: 98104
North Pole & Southern #1225
Item No: 91805
Although Bachmann rarely publish the exact scale of their products (preferring to use the term ‘Large Scale’ or “Big Hauler’) it is thought that these locomotives will continue to adopt the 1:22.5 scale made popular by LGB.
To many the Bachmann version of the "Ten Wheeler" is the ideal entry point for new large-scale modellers so we will have to wait and see what improvements are ultimately introduced (if indeed they are) on the version that is supplied with Bachmann's inexpensive Big Hauler Box Sets. I fear that the upgrading of thie popular locomotive and the significantly higher price might well deter parents and guardians from investing in such an expensive model just to introduce their children to the hobby.
Whilst Bachmann “Old-Time” 4-6-0’s used to dominate the field as regards low cost entry models there are other models with different wheel arrangement from some of their main competitors such as Piko (although so far they have not introduced a 10-Wheeler to their range.) This does not mean that you cannot obtain other makes of 4-6-0 (Ten Wheelers) as Accucraft for one, often feature such locomotives in their catalogue but they can hardly be described as “entry level” as they usually cost several thousand pounds like this splendid Southern Pacific version.
Accucraft Live Steam 4-6-0 #9 in Southern Pacific Railroad livery
A further update on the anticipated upgrading to the Bachmann 4-6-0 ("Annie"). The good news is that the improved versions should soon be available (Spring 2021) and incorporate all the "bells and whistles" more commonly found on their Spectrum range. The bad news is that the official SRP has now rocketed to US$ 999 (or around £750). The company do tend to artificially inflate their suggested retail prices and dealers usually offer a discount but even so you can expect to pay upwards of £650 depending on the exchange rates prevailing at the time. Mind you the newly announced LGB 2-6-0 Mogul in Durango & Silverton livery is priced at £1440 so perhaps costs are appreciatingmore than expected.
New photographs have recently been released in the 9180X series :
When available (production has been delayed by the worldwide Coronavirus Epidemic) the new 4-6-0 is now expected to feature:
DCC- and Sound-Ready with an advanced non-proprietary plug-and-play circuit board to accommodate the control system of your choice, including conventional DC power, NMRA/NEM DCC, and/or RC operation.
Equipped with factory-installed speakers, it is ready for the addition of plug-and-play prototypical sound. (Plug-and-Play Sound Module available separately for sound-on-board performance.)
It also features metal gears, a new tender, operating headlight, smoke, metal siderods, separate piping, and all metal handrails.
Overall the specification seems a little disappointing considering the financial outlay involved particularly by the time you have paid for all the extra control and sound "add-ons". We can only wait and see if this latest reworking of a popular line proves as popular with customers.
Bachmann Brass Locomotives
You may not be aware that Bachmann have also supplied occasional runs of brass locomotives under their "Bachmann Brassworks". They have no current plans to produce any more at the moment but occasional locomotives may come up for sale on auction sites or model railway outlets.
Aristo-craft 4-6-0 Steam Locomotive ?
To the best of my knowledge, despite producing several other popular wheel arrangements, Aristo-craft never did get around to releasing a "10-wheeler in G Gauge" unless of Delton origin or possibly in collaboration with Brawa during the early 2000's. Perhaps, the company decided to leave that field to Bachmann who had already cornered the narrow gauge market. A 1:29 scale 4-6-0 might have looked very small and incongurous in comparison to the competitor's 1:22.5 version and Aristo-craft already had a 2-8-0 Consolidation in it's collection.
Once again I have been unable to identify any large-scale 4-6-0 steam locomotives issued by Piko who tend to favour the 2-6-0 Mogul for the North American market although they did produce this design (Class 38) for HO scale customers.
PIKO 4-6-0 Steam Locomotive
LGB are well known for their extensive roster of steam locomotives but the 4-6-0 wheel arrangement does not feature prominently which is somewhat surprising given their early involvement in the North American market and their initial focus on narrow gauge prototypes. Indeed, my extensive research has failed to come up with a single example. This may have been a conscious decision on the company's part not to go head-to-head with Bachmann but their primary model aimed at the USA customer base was invariably the universally popular 2-6-0 Mogul and later the impressive Mikado 2-8-2 and Mallets 2-6-6-2 configurations.
There is little doubt, though, that Bachmann sales of their 4-6-0 did impact heavily on LGB's inroads into the United States and must have prompted much pondering and consternation back home in Germany.
LGB 4-6-0 Steam Locomotives
Another well-known and long established supplier of large-scale model trains is Marklin (now the parent company of LGB) who pre-dated the latter's rejuvenation of the hobby in the early 1960's by well over a 100 years. Indeed the company was largely responsible for formalising the nomenclature for the hobby as a whole by identifying the various scales as in Gauge 0, Gauge 1, Gauge 2, Gauge 3 and Gauge 4 (or 0 Gauge,1 Gauge, 2 Gauge, 3 gauge and 4 Gauge for the purists) but other company's were using similar terms before them.
You can discover potted histories concerning Marklin at the Brighton Toy & Model Index, and if you are interested in vintage models from the past, an incongruously named website called "Guide to Z Scale" and naturally Wikipedia:
LGB's foray into the garden railway arena may have prompted Marklin to re-enter the gauge 1 market and although the degree of commitment was challenged for many decades the release of the Gauge 1 DB Class 38 (P8) in Black livery with a 4-6-0 wheel arrangement in 1978 helped to quell any doubts as to their longer term ambitions.
MARKLIN 4-6-0 Steam Locomotives
Prototype for the Märklin Locomotive 5799
The Marklin model was based upon the first P8 “Cőln 2401” built in Berlin by Schwarzkopf. This came fitted with a streamlined driver’s cab as it was when it was delivered to the Royal Prussian Railways in 1906.
The proven reliability and good performance of this type made it the workhorse of the railways, and it was used extensively for both express and local passenger services for over 60 years during which it benefitted from a significant number of modifications.
This P8’s versatility resulted in this class becoming one of the most popular locomotives in the world with around 3800 being produced altogether. The P8 remained in service until its last scheduled journey took place in the Federal Republic of Germany took place in May 1972.
Prussian Class P 8 of the Prussian state railways (DRG Class 38.10-40 of the Deutsche Reichsbahn), a 4-6-0 steam locomotive built from 1906 to 1923 by the Berliner Maschinenbau.
You can find out about the Prussian P8 by visiting the Wikipedia website (click the button below):
Marklin Model :
The Marklin 4-6-0 Class 38 locomotive and tender reproduction comes in the later German Federal Railways matt black and red livery and incorporates an impressive array of features:
The drive axles through concealed gears
Ball bearings either side for the armature shaft
2 Non-skid tyres
Simulated Heusinger reversing gear
Die-cast zinc frame
Large smoke defector plates
Detailed boiler fittings
Detailed illuminated driver's cab
Forward and Reverse drive
Built-in smoke unite
Three lights on locomotive and tender (burn with constant brightness whether train is moving or stationary)
8-wheel two-truck tender
Coal box filled with real coal
Sprung buffers and imitation brake hoses on both buffer beams
Scale model screw at front (can be replaced with automatic claw coupling)
Automatic claw coupling on tender
Driver & Fireman figures
Altogether there were 4 different versions of this new locomotive probably in order to future-proof it to some degree as there was a gradual move away from AC powered locomotives towards DC power:
Product Code: 5797 Electric Sound AC
Product Code: 5799 No Sound AC
Product Code: 5747 Electric Sound DC
Product Code: 5749 No Sound DC
Minimum Radius: 1m (3'3")
Marklin's Gauge 1 locomotive range has continued to expand to the present day albeit not quite as fast as their LGB brand. Their current equivalent model of the P8 (4-6-0) comes in the form of an Era III or Era IV German Federal Railroad (DB) class 038.10-40 steam locomotive with an 8 wheel tub-style tender. The engine is of highly detailed metal (zinc) construction and incorporates Witte smoke deflectors and 2 boiler domes (steam dome, sand dome) as per the original former Prussian P8 although there are a number of improvements since 1978 including MFX digital decoder, synchronised sound effects, smoke exhaust unit and illuminated firebox. The price reflects the quality of build (and inevitable inflation) so don’t expect to get any change out of € 2,800.
The relevant Catalogue Product Numbers are 55385, 55386, 55387 and 55388.
Tub-style tender as completely new tooling.
Highly detailed metal construction.
A smoke generator with smoke exhaust and cylinder steam synchronized with the wheels included.
Operating sounds synchronized with the wheels and controlled by the load.
Smoke box door with many original details, can be opened.
Headlights with a light colour correct for the era and warm white LEDs.
Two-colour fire box flickering light.
Running gear lights included.
Engine cab lighting included.
mfx decoder for operation with AC power, DC power, Märklin Digital, or DCC.
The first video is of the Marklin Class 38 (55386) with matching rake of 58341 Silberlinge Coaches. The second is the Prussian P8 / Class 38.10 - Number 38 1772 at the Teutoburg Forest Railway.
If the cheque book is even more flexible you can be at liberty to indulge yourself to an even greater degree by luxuriating in the world of hand-made brass locomotives of the finest quality temptingly advertised by companies such as Aster Hobby (distributed in the UK by Accucraft) or Swiss firm Fulgarex.
ASTER 4-6-0 LIVE STEAM LOCOMOTIVES
If you have a predilection for locomotives based on British Railways prototypes you need look little further than these impressive Thompson B1 4-6-0 range from Aster Hobby in a variety of London North Eastern Railway (LNER) and BR (British Railways) liveries. The engine and tender are manufactured to Gauge (1:32 scale) and are all live steam for enthusiasts who prefer to run the real thing. What is more you don’t even have to meet the full outlay of £3600 for the factory assembled model as you can save £500 by purchasing the kit version and building the locomotive yourself.
The first batch of this fine model arrived in the UK just before Christmas 2021. The range will ultimately include 8 different configurations as follows:
AST-109-1K LNER Green #1306 Mayflower (In Preservation) – Kit
AST-109-2K LNER Black #1264 – Kit
AST-109-3K BR Black #61264 (In Preservation) – Kit
AST-109-4K BR Green #61306 Mayflower (In Preservation) – Kit
AST-109-1R LNER Green #1306 Mayflower (In Preservation) – RTR
AST-109-2R LNER Black #1264 – RTR
AST-109-3R BR Black #61264 (In Preservation) – RTR
AST-109-4R BR Green #61306 Mayflower (In Preservation) – RTR
This is a production sample of the 4-6-0 in BR livery (black I believe).
This YouTube Video demonstrates the locomotive on test.
This Video from the same source does just what it says on the tin.
For a more comprehensive and detailed explanation of this superb model please click the button below:
Incidentally, if you happen to have a special interest in high quality Gauge 1 locomotives, whether steam, electric powered, or even clockwork, there are at least two specialist suppliers in the UK which could visit to peruse what stock items they have at that particular time. There are usually discounts to be had on many of these models. It is also a good idea to keep an eye on specialist auction sales which crop up every few months. These are the ones that I am aware of (although have no pecuniary interest – more's the pity).
The availability of such limited production models varies but this is a montage of a variety of different type locomotives released at various times over the years in Gauge 1 (1:32 Scale):