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Author Topic: Comparing scale and detail - 20.3 to 22.5 and Annie to Spectrum  (Read 8809 times)
bnsonger47


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« on: August 10, 2009, 08:56:06 AM »

(In the event that the Bach Man reads this I'll start by saying that I'm a Bachmann fan and am looking forward to more products from them in spite of the less-than-realistic MSRPs).

So, here I am. Another new convert to large scale modeling. As a lot of others, I jumped in because of the entry level on the Big Haulers line. Now that I'm in, I find that the scale is different. In spite of that I see that some modelers tend to mix things up a bit. Still, I'm wondering two things for which I'm seeking an opinion or two.

How far should one go in mixing the two Bachmann scales? Does it really look OK to have some Big Haulers cars behind a Spectrum locomotive?

Where do you get the other things to make the layouts look somewhat realistic; you know, building, vehicles and people? What scales do you look for? I see a lot of 1:24 but not much of anything else unless it's 1:18 or 1:32 (which would be totally inappropriate)?

Since Bachmann can't make everything, do you have other lines you consider worthy? What are their scales?

How would you rate the difference in details, etc. between an Anniversary Big Hauler and some of the Spectrum products that are currently being offered? Is there a difference in gears and motors or just looks?

Some thoughts from those of you with experience would be nice. (I hope I'm not asking for a book).

Byron
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Byron Songer
Victorian Crossing
Louisville, KY
calenelson

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« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2009, 09:19:12 AM »

Welcome to the Fun Filled world of Large Scale Trains!

You'll find some answers here, but in case you didn't know, there are a few other LS sites that may offer you more depth, and aren't manufacture specific.

http://www.largescalecentral.com/
is a favorite of mine.

http://www.mylargescale.com/
is another.

If you are leaning towards 1:20.3 here is a Great Fn3 Blog (notice links on left):
http://120pointme.blogspot.com/

there are those who mix it up, and depending on the actual loco, sometimes it does not look too bad. Ex: the Bachmann American 4-4-0 is a very small model, and looks good with the Big Hauler cars strung behind it, while the K-27 easily overpowers them.  To each his own...what do I run?  Whatever the kids decide Smiley .

There are other folks who make rolling stock in Fn3 (1:20.3) one company even produces some fine scale passenger cars (while another produces "kits" to modify even those)...it's a Big-small world out here!

again, welcome in!

cale

edit-grammer
« Last Edit: August 10, 2009, 11:17:36 AM by calenelson » Logged
bnsonger47


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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2009, 02:13:58 PM »

calenelson said: If you are leaning towards 1:20.3 here is a Great Fn3 Blog (notice links on left):
http://120pointme.blogspot.com/

Thanks. The links on the left are most helpful.

Other questions, as posted, remain.

Byron
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Byron Songer
Victorian Crossing
Louisville, KY
Kevin Strong


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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2009, 12:42:54 AM »

1) How far should one go in mixing the two Bachmann scales? Does it really look OK to have some Big Haulers cars behind a Spectrum locomotive?

Two schools of thought here. First, the smaller Spectrum locos (2-6-0, 4-4-0, Climax, and upcoming Forney) are models of rather small prototypes, so they'll look okay pulling the smaller 1:22.5 and 1:24 equipment. For example, here's the 4-4-0 on the front of a string of LGB (1:22.5) equipment.



This pursuit makes the assumption that you're not overly concerned with modeling "accurate" 3' gauge, and don't mind passing the locomotives off as smaller-scale models of larger prototypes.



Same locomotive, pulling a 1:20 passenger car behind. The locomotive is smaller comparatively to the passenger car. Running a 1:20.3 passenger car with a 1:22 or 1:24 passenger car will stick out like a sore thumb, but since locomotives tended to come in different sizes, that difference is a bit easier to disguise.

There's also a second school of thought. Early (c. 1870s, 1880s) narrow gauge rolling stock was not as large the more "modern" (c. 1900 - 1920) equipment. As such, some of the 1:22.5 and 1:24 equipment
passes quite well for that older stock. This is especially true of hoppers, flat cars, gondolas, and even a few box cars. The cabooses and passenger cars are harder to pass off because of the size of the doors and windows.



The three freight cars in this train started as 1:22.5 models. The two stock cars (one LGB, one Bachmann) are within inches of stock cars made by Billmeyer & Smalls in the 1870s. I haven't found a specific prototype to match the ore car, though I have found other hopper cars with differing construction, but nearly identical in size. In this next shot, each piece in the train (including the locomotive) started out as a 1:24 or 1:22.5 model, with little done to change the overall size. (The locomotive actually ended up smaller than the starting point!)



To better illustrate this change in size over time, here's a shot of the 4-4-0, a c. 1870s loco with a hopper that's also c. 1870s. (It's a Delton/Aristo hopper that says 1:24 on the box, but scales identical to a B&S 12-ton wood hopper in 1:20.3)



Compare to the same loco with a steel hopper c. 1913



Historically, the older wood equipment would most likely have been retired by the 1910s, but if you're modeling that time period, there's a lot you can play with and still be prototypically accurate despite the numbers on the box.

2)Where do you get the other things to make the layouts look somewhat realistic; you know, building, vehicles and people? What scales do you look for? I see a lot of 1:24 but not much of anything else unless it's 1:18 or 1:32 (which would be totally inappropriate)?

Many of the Pola buildings work well for 1:20.3. We're "saved" by the fact that many railroad depots had taller than average doors, so they work when upsized to 1:20.3. So long as the door scales to at least 6', you're in good shape. For instance, here's a stock Pola station whose door in 1:22.5 (the stated scale on the box) is a bit over 7 feet or so. Most of Pola's western stations (and buildings) work well for 1:20.3



As for people, my general rule is to take out the credit card--and not just to pay for them. A 6' tall person in 1:20.3 will be as tall as the credit card is long. There are some very good figures available, but expect to pay around $10 per, and then spend a few hours painting them. I've also found some less inexpensive people from "Fine Folk" and others. Some are obviously way too small, but people come in all shapes and sizes. So long as they scale between 5' and 6' 6" or thereabouts, they'll work.

3) Since Bachmann can't make everything, do you have other lines you consider worthy? What are their scales?

I like Aristo-Craft's "Classics" 1:24 line. I already mentioned their hopper car as being quite suitable for 1:20, and their flat and gon will be as well. Their box car may be a bit squat; if I recall, it's a bit lower than the standard Bachmann 1:22.5 box car. I've also seen people use the smaller-scaled flat cars as bases and building new sides, etc. to give them a bit more "beef." I use their archbar trucks under much of my scratchbuilt equipment.

LGB makes some locomotives that work well in the 1:20 world. Their ubiquitous mogul scales out very well for a c. 1870 - 1880 small mogul in 1:20. Their 0-4-0 Porter and Forney are very close to 1:20 as well. You're not going to beat LGB in terms of quality relative to their drives. The detail's a bit coarse, but they're bulletproof runners.

In terms of specific 1:20.3 manufacturers, Accucraft makes the only passenger cars in the scale that you don't have to put together yourself. Their freight cars are great as well, though the trucks could be a bit more free-rolling. Alas, like the Bachmann 1:20.3 equipment, it's not quite as "bargain basement" as the less-detailed 1:22 stuff, but watch the on-line shops. They have some good sales from time to time.

3) How would you rate the difference in details, etc. between an Anniversary Big Hauler and some of the Spectrum products that are currently being offered? Is there a difference in gears and motors or just looks?

I don't think there's any real difference in appearance or performance between the Anniversary 4-6-0 and the spectrum line. They're all rather well detailed and smooth runners. Certainly the ones I have are. That's not to say there aren't "issues" to watch out for. Bachmann's drives don't have LGB's reputation for robustness. There's a reason you'll frequently see posts here about broken gears. Some will say it's not a matter of "if," but of "when," but others have been running their locos for hours and hours on end for years with nary a problem. I think success comes in how you run your trains. I keep things well lubricated, and generally run short trains (6 cars or so) on mild grades (2% max on my line). If you run longer trains on steeper grades, you're going to introduce more stress on the system that could contribute to a failure.

Later,

K
« Last Edit: August 11, 2009, 12:45:56 AM by Kevin Strong » Logged

Kevin Strong


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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2009, 01:45:03 AM »

Forgot to mention vehicles...

Hard to come by in 1:20. Most of the collectible cars are 1:18, which are just too large, or 1:24, which is way too small. There are a few 1:20 kits, though. Search ebay for "Hubley," "Gabriel," "Scale Models" or "JE Models." Hubley was the original, the rest bought the molds and produced subsequently. They made 1:20 models of model T, Model A, some 30s era Chevys, Packards, and a few others. (I saw one go for $98!) Every now and then, you'll find a 1:20 model of c. 1920s Ford delivery van show up in toy stores, too.

Tamiya makes a line of 1:20 kits, mostly modern Formula 1 racing stuff, but there may be something in there you can use, too. I've used their figures for the railroad.

Later,

K
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bnsonger47


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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2009, 08:05:27 AM »

Kevin,

As always, an informative and complete response.

One writer to another -- I know it took time, thought and attention to detail (now where is that photo I want to insert?)

One comment, in the event you mix a little more sauce with this and it winds up in somewhere else: Going from photo 1 to 2 bent my mind a bit when you said something about the same locomotive. That word, same, is the trick. I do believe you mean same model.

Again. Most excellent. This and the August 09 Garden Railways article certainly help the "scale-challenge newcomer". Knowing where to look and how to look for the other things that turn you train into a work of art is most helpful.

I guess if I could go back and read six years worth of GR, look at everything there is at Family Garden Trains, keep up with Buck the Wonder Dog and events on the Cleveland, Delphos, & St. Louis Railway blog, and exhume a few ancestors I might begin to be as intelligent as you and a few others on this forum. But, at 62, there just aren't enough hours in the day to do that and get in the yard, too. I'm just grateful I've figured out what direction to head.

If the stimulus money keeps coming in one day things here in West Mitford and over at Victorian Crossing will start to look more like a worthy stop for the ET&WNC. All I have to do is get the crew to move a little more rock and I'll have a chance at getting the attention of the Board. I'm sure they'll want me to build a business case and promise to complete the trestle.

Byron
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Byron Songer
Victorian Crossing
Louisville, KY
Loco Bill

Model Railroading since 1947


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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2009, 08:19:00 AM »

Byron,  Kevin also wrote a great article on scale comparison in the current issue of Garden railways Magazine,  it is one of the best I have seen so far!

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Loco Bill,
Roundhouse Foreman
Missouri Western Railway

Unnofficial Historian of Bachmann Large Scale Products
bnsonger47


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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2009, 08:50:25 AM »

Loco Bill,

Got it. Have read it twice. Yes, the best around with photos to help those that are graphically appreciative.

His response here and that article make a great combination.

I've grabbed it, messaged it, printed it, and stuck it in the GR issue.

Byron
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Byron Songer
Victorian Crossing
Louisville, KY
Casey_Jones


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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2009, 12:03:44 PM »

Great info kevin,  love the photos, they bring the comparision to life.  I'm sure this will help a lot of folks who may have started in the Big hauler/LGB and Delton and now see most new offerings in 1:20.3  with limited offerings 1:22.5 & 1:24. 

thank you
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Kevin Strong


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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2009, 12:14:28 PM »

Quote
...Going from photo 1 to 2 bent my mind a bit when you said something about the same locomotive. That word, same, is the trick. I do believe you mean same model...

I had that thought when I was writing it, but just kept on going. In this case, it is indeed the same locomotive, just taken during its service on two different railroads. The first, in service on my dad's Woodland Railway about 10 years ago, the second in service on my Tuscarora Railroad last summer. As typical of many prototypes, the locomotive got something of a facelift upon arriving at its new home.

Before:


After:


Builder's log here: http://tinyurl.com/TVRR5

Later,

K
« Last Edit: August 11, 2009, 12:17:19 PM by Kevin Strong » Logged

bnsonger47


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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2009, 08:36:05 AM »

OK, Kevin, enough with the showing off. It makes me slobber all over the keyboard. The drool factor is significant. It also makes me think I need to just stick with teaching music appreciation the rest of my life in spite of the extreme boredom it cause semester after semester. However, if I didn't appreciate art I wouldn't have the problem.  Smiley

By the way, your documentation on myLargescale.com is awesome. You write well, model well and do a great job setting up your own photos.

Thanks, again, for sharing your experience and expertise.

Byron
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Byron Songer
Victorian Crossing
Louisville, KY
andyb

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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2009, 12:04:37 PM »

You write well, model well and do a great job setting up your own photos.

Thanks, again, for sharing your experience and expertise.

Byron

Kevin

I must agree with Byron on this.  :thumbsup:

And great photos of the 4-4-0 - I had to look twice to make sure it was the same locomotive. Maybe will try a similar exercise on my SPC mogul. I had been toying with the idea of replacing the stack with a straight stovepipe but your piccie has cinched it for me - it really looks the biz!

btw I'd be interested to know what camera you use to take the photos and if any special lens to get the depth of field?

Keep up the great work!

Regards

Andy
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Kevin Strong


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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2009, 01:22:38 PM »

Quote
...I'd be interested to know what camera you use to take the photos and if any special lens to get the depth of field?

Canon Rebel XT with a Sigma 18 - 200mm lens. I generally stop down to around f22 on the lens, as that seems to be the lens's "sweet spot" in terms of decent depth of field while still maintaining sharpness. Much smaller on the iris, and the image starts to get soft. Each lens will be different in that regard. The Sigma 18 - 200 is not a high-end lens, but it gets the job done. For posting on the web or printing at half page, it's more than adequate.

I think the first shot was taken with my old Minolta DiMage point-and-shoot. I've still got it; it does macro work much better than the Sigma lens lets me. Since the camera's smaller, I can put the lens almost literally in the door of a passenger car. On the point-and-shoots, just set the iris to the smallest size (largest number) possible and go from there.

Later,

K
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armorsmith


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« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2009, 04:10:48 PM »

Byron,

I have been running a Spectrum K-27 with Bachmann and LGB 1:22.5 and 1:24 car consists since I got back in model railroading (large scale) a year or so ago. My K was my first purchase (I work on a shoe string budget) and the Bachmann and second hand LGB freight cars fit there. I have one AMS box in 1:20.3 and it dwarfs the smaller cars. So long as I leave the AMS in the box until I can buy or build some more 1:20.3 rolling stock, no one seems to notice the scale difference.

My tuppence worth.

Bob C.
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