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Author Topic: Why some prefer steam and others diesel  (Read 9731 times)
captain1313

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« on: June 05, 2012, 01:09:11 AM »

In another discussion, some comments were made regarding why some modellers prefer steam and others diesel.  So I thought this might be a nice discussion.  Some like steam because that's what they remember as a child........others never had the opportunity.  Growing up in Chicago in the 50's I don't recall ever seeing a steamer.  Then again my memory may have some gaps. Grin  I got back in this hobby about a year and a half ago.  My first power was diesel. 2 F7's, 2 GP40's and a 70 tonner.  Once I started building the layout (and the 3 expansions) I realized that the structures I liked (and had room for) were from the "Golden Age of Rail".  Small freight stations, smaller passenger depots, ice facilities, feed lots and other small businesses that utilized rail for their goods.  They have a smaller footprint as compared to modern industries on the rail lines of today.  Back in the sixties RR's closed most of their smaller branch lines and got out of the LCL business and went to trucks and piggyback.  A steamer is the only thing that looks good spotting cars at the icing facility.  I now have 7 steamers. Life was so much simpler in those days but oh brother the work was harder.

Took a vote at the company board meeting and Me, Myself and I all voted  for steam. 

Kevin
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NarrowMinded


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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2012, 02:43:27 AM »

I like steam engines because that's what was in the sets I got when I was a Kid in the the 60's, I also like diesels like the SD-45s and SW1500's I saw running on the tracks at the edge of the city I grew up in.

My favorite steamer is the SP 4449  they repainted for the Bicentennial, I was 12 years old  when I saw her in person, it was night time, the ground was wet from fallling dew, the sky was clear with a bright moon, I walked with my dad as we turned the corner there she sat steam drifting away from her with all the lights reflecting off her new shiny paint.

On the flip side I can't recall a single detail of the Freedom train Cars or what I saw inside, I was to wrapped up in my thoughts of getting outside to see her again.

NM-Jeff
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phillyreading

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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2012, 08:16:55 AM »

Growing up in southeast Pennsylvania in the late 1960's and early 70's, I got to see both steam and diesel engines. I like steam engines better, but the diesel models in model RR seem easier to work on.
I also like to see RDC passenger cars, or interurban passenger units in use on the real railroads.
With steam or diesel models, you just need to have tracks run, unlike electric models that don't look right unless you have the overhead electric wires ran.

Lee F.
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ebtnut

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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2012, 12:53:40 PM »

My working theory has been that you are usually most content modeling what you remember around ages 10-12.  Certainly not a hard and fast rule, becuase variety can also be a good thing.  I can just remember Pennsy steam in the early 1950's in NW Pennsylvania, and steam is what I model.  But I also like and appreciate first-generation diesels, which fall into my age 10-12 period.  Ergo, my model railroad is principally a steam-powered narrow gauge pike set in central Pennsylvania in about 1954, connecting with the Western Maryland running RS-3's, F-A's, and one Russian Decapod. 
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jward


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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2012, 01:54:24 PM »

hmmm 12 years old. for me that would be 1976. conrail had just taken over from penn central. between all the lines that went into conrail, and the leased power from all over the country it was a rainbow. f7s and alcos everywhere. that was also the year we stumbled upon the farewell to the train master excursion on vacation in southern virginia.

let's compare that to what i currently have on the layout:
9 alcos including rs3s, an fa2, a couple of s4s, and an rs36.
an n&w baby train master.
one conrail b23-7.
several various emd locomotives including gp40s, a gp38-2 and a gp15-1

lines represented, pennsy, penn central, conrail, b&o, western maryland, erie, chessie system, n&w, d&h and union pacific.

plus a couple of steamers for my better half, and some amtrak stuff for my son.

the vast majority represents equipment as it looked in the 1960s and 1970s.

maybe there is something to that 10-12 year old rule after all.

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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
Johnson Bar Jeff

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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2012, 02:54:24 PM »

Growing up in southeast Pennsylvania in the late 1960's and early 70's, I got to see both steam and diesel engines.

I was growing up in the same general region in the same general period, but I think, paradoxically, I may actually have seen more steam than diesel, even though steam was all but gone by the time I was born at the end of the 1950s.

But I grew up near the Strasburg Rail Road, so I was taken for a steam train ride every summer. There was also the Wanamaker, Kempton, & Southern. (I didn't make it to the East Broad Top, the Wilmington & Western, or the New Hope & Ivyland until I was an adult.) My childhood was also the era when there seemed to be several of steam-train-themed TV shows, for example Petticoat Junction and Iron Horse (both of which featured the same train, actually  Grin ). And lots of the old Westerns on TV usually featured a plot involving a steam train now and then (a couple episodes of Gunsmoke come readily to mind). And then there was watching The Great Locomotive Chase on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. So growing up seeing steam on TV fairly regularly, I almost feel as though I grew up with steam rather than diesels.

I guess my interest can be blamed on television!  Grin

JBJ
« Last Edit: June 05, 2012, 02:57:22 PM by Johnson Bar Jeff » Logged
ryeguyisme

Heavy Mountain Steam


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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2012, 03:32:02 PM »

Well starting from when I was about the size if a football, to the present 23 years of age, I started out watching a lot of Thomas and watching black and white movies on turner classic movies, favorites like "Danger Lights" and the original "Silver Streak" from the 1930's so granted the Milwaukee Road and CB&Q with all the mountain scenery and roaring steam locomotives will always have a special place in my heart.

I also watched "Ghost Trains Of The Wild West" featuring maintained narrow gauge and standard gauged steam and with one heck of a decent musical score, deff worth a watch.

My father was a model railroader and at a very young age like 3 I remember getting into his stuff and hiding his pancake motor bachmann daylights under the bed only to be discovered accompanied by a nasty spanking(how discipline was dealt back then) despite the punishment, it didn't stop me from trying to get into things again.

Along the way I've broken his equipment from my rather dubious handling, and he had this cardboard box he shoved everything I destroyed into and I was allowed to play with just those. It had some diesels but I preferred to play with a mantua pacific that only had wheels left and pretended it was roaring through the mountains of the Milwaukee road

As I grew older I dipped a few times into diesels but they didn't really catch in.

My father had this book on Model Railroading with John Allen as well as hundreds of the mdc cars, and that book I used to snatch and ogle at until the pages fell out, it was the only book I didn't color in with a crayons when I was 4 must've been that good of a book.

I also became a huge john Allen fan as I grew older imagining I had his layout and engines and hoping someday to have magic of his caliber.

Fast forward to my teens I've been to a few scenic railroads like Essex here in Connecticut and everytime I go and watch those magnificent steam beasts labor through the yard I would get chills up and down my spine and have the biggest grin on my face, its an experience no diesel could ever give me.

I'm strictly steam on my rails.

I got into high school and couldn't buy much, I had a few engines that were mostly kits like mdcharriman switchers and atlantics I built on my own, they were my father's as well so I still got in trouble for touching those. And as time went on the collection grew, until I had a bunch of plastic diecast steamers. Then at 21-22 years old I got tired of the genericness of things and decided to go brass and I bought my first engines a 0-8-0 and a 2-6-0 and really liked them but they weren't my prototype, then came my brass DMIR 2-10-4 and eventually my DRGW brass steam which I love dearly.

I'm big into DRGW heavy steam and Gorre and Daphetid Steam

No motorized boxcars for me, I need the soul of a breathing steam locomotive.
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2-8-8-4

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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2012, 04:33:13 PM »

I started out with diesels on my first layout, and with a few minor exceptions, diesel power is all I've ever seen working.

Of course I've ridden the Grand Canyon Railway in the dome car behind 4960, Steamtown in the fall, New Hope & Ivyland, and Strasburg--many times to Strasburg in recent years with small boys at home and living only an hour away--too many Days out with Thomas.

I'm about to be 44 next week, have been in model trains for 39 years, and just simply prefer steam power at this point.

I've owned all kinds of diesels, including PA's, E's, F's, Alco Centuries, SD-40 variants, and the latest modern stuff, both in HO and in large scale--outside in my back yard.

However, I simply prefer steam.  I am utterly fascinated by the design, engineering, and operational aspects of steam power, and only now, after all these years in this hobby, am I truly able to appreciate the mundane small steam engines that worked everywhere doing everything, as well as the big power.

On my layout, diesels are on the way out for good.  All that remains are an Atlas ACL S-2 and a Bowser Alco C628 Demonstrator.  They both belong to my youngest son, otherwise, they would already have been gone on Ebay--with all the rest of the diesels.

I do not railfan anymore as there's nothing running everyday that I need to see, and no old freight car survivors out there in revenue service leftover from the transition era.

John
« Last Edit: June 07, 2012, 04:46:40 PM by 2-8-8-4 » Logged
jward


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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2012, 05:59:36 PM »

there is still stuff from the transition era, just not in revenue service. norfolk southern, for one, still has southern gondolas from the 1930s in m of w service. you have to look for it but it's still out there.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
Desertdweller

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« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2012, 08:34:58 PM »

10 or 12 would be a little early for me.  My hometown railroads had all Dieselized by 1955, and the last passenger train ran in 1959, the year I turned ten.

My real rail exposure came when I was in college, in the rail corridor between Chicago and St. Paul.  I started riding these trains in 1968, then started using them to take trips home to Colorado.  The more I saw of this industry, the more interested in it I became.

And that is what I model today, passenger operations out of Denver in the mid-60's.  I rode Milwaukee Road and CB&Q passenger trains regularly.  I've ridden in both prototype dome cars on the CB&Q, the "Silver Dome" and the "Silver Castle".  Milwaukee Road Super Domes.  The Denver Zephyr and the California Zephyr.  The Empire Builder, the North Coast Limited, the Black Hawk and the Pioneer Limited.

It got to me to the point I was approached by a major railroad and offered a job.  As I worked in the rail industry, first in station operations, and then in train operations, my sentimental interest remained in the 1960's.  Steam was a seldom-seen novelty.  Everyday railroading was F's and E's, GP's and SD's.  I think of the era I model as the last of the "good days".

My beloved Milwaukee Road never ran into Denver, but their equipment sure did, on UP's "City" trains.  Denver was a major terminal for CB&Q.  Two fine smaller railroads called Denver home, the Denver and Rio Grande Western and the Colorado and Southern.  Santa Fe was one of the owners of the "Joint Line" to Pueblo, and ran a short train to connect with their main line at La Junta.  Two other railroads operated trains into Denver over regular Denver railroads: the Rock Island over the UP, and the Missouri Pacific over the Rio Grande.  Good thing for me my parents moved to Colorado while I was in college!

Les
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WTierce1


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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2012, 10:12:12 PM »

I prefer steam over diesel because of the Pure Awesomeness of the steamers. Even though I prefer steam, I like a few diesels as well such as the 45 ton. I have seen very few steamers in person because I am only 14, but my favorite steamer is hard to say. I love all the types of loggers, mainly the 3 Truck Climax, the PRR S-2 steam turbine but mostly the SP 4449 in the orange, red, silver and black. I have not seen the Daylight in person but I would love to. I am going to a train camp at the Tennessee Valley Rail Road near the end of the month. I would like to go to the Cass Scenic Rail Road in West Virginia to see all the logging locomotives. I live in Georgia, and my sister wants to go to the Kentucky Horse Parks, so we are thinking about going some time soon and do both in one trip.
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jtgray

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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2012, 10:50:07 PM »

I have always like steam.  I was born to late to see mainline steam in action, park steam is what I first remember.  A small park in Panama City, Florida operated 3 narrow gauge Porters, a 2-6-0 ex-Argent Lumber, and 2 0-4-0T's converted to tender locomotives.  I loved this little pike.  As a teenager, I spent two different afternoons riding with the engineer in the cab of the 2-6-0, about 3 hours each time.  Those experiences sealed my love for small narrow gauge steam.  Sometime later I discovered Tweetsie Railroad and that has been my favorite ever since.  I remember when Bachmann introduced the radio controlled G scale set with the Tweetsie locomotive. I still have that locomotive plus several other versions of the ET&WNC G scale loco.  Now, I'm into On30 with the ET&WNC #12 and my first ever small layout based on part of the Tweetsie.  So for me, it is steam all the way. 
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Len

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« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2012, 09:54:54 AM »

I love steam, diesels, electrics, and trolleys. That's why my layout is "The KL&B Eastern Lines Railroad Museum", operating on what used to be a 35 mile short line, with equipment old and new running on a regular basis.

By the way, the KL&B defines "Eastern" as anything east of the Continental Divide.

Len
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If at first you don't succeed, throw it in the spare parts box.
Johnson Bar Jeff

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« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2012, 11:10:41 AM »

Too many Days out with Thomas.

Heh. When I go to visit my dad in Lancaster, we stay out of Strasburg on "Days Out With Thomas" weekends.

And that is what I model today, passenger operations out of Denver in the mid-60's.  I rode Milwaukee Road and CB&Q passenger trains regularly.  I've ridden in both prototype dome cars on the CB&Q, the "Silver Dome" and the "Silver Castle".  Milwaukee Road Super Domes.  The Denver Zephyr and the California Zephyr.  The Empire Builder, the North Coast Limited, the Black Hawk and the Pioneer Limited.

I can't imagine what those who rode the "real" California Zephyr think of Amtrak's incarnation, but regardless, the eastbound ride from Grand Junction to Denver is totally awesome. I've done it twice, and was set to ride westbound from Chicago to Glenwood Springs this summer, but life got in the way.  Tongue

Quote
My beloved Milwaukee Road never ran into Denver, but their equipment sure did, on UP's "City" trains.  Denver was a major terminal for CB&Q.  Two fine smaller railroads called Denver home, the Denver and Rio Grande Western and the Colorado and Southern.  Santa Fe was one of the owners of the "Joint Line" to Pueblo, and ran a short train to connect with their main line at La Junta.  Two other railroads operated trains into Denver over regular Denver railroads: the Rock Island over the UP, and the Missouri Pacific over the Rio Grande.  Good thing for me my parents moved to Colorado while I was in college!

Les

Since I've now begun visiting Colorado at least once a year, I've really gotten interested in the railroads that operated in and through the Colorado Rockies.  Smiley
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Desertdweller

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« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2012, 12:30:20 PM »

I've ridden post pre and post AMTRAK CZ's, including the current one.  The scenery is much the same except for the double-deck I-70 route through Glenwood Canyon.

The CZ is still one of AMTRAK's premier trains.  Only problem is, there is nothing that distinguishes it from any other Superliner train.  The "real" CZ was custom-designed for this route, with car interior designs themed to its route.  It even carried the train name on its letterboards.

The Denver Zephyr also featured a themed interior, but did not carry its train name on its exterior.

Although the trains resembled each other externally, the cars were not the same.  The Denver Zephyr carried one or two Budd Slumbercoaches, the CZ didn't.  The dome observation cars were different.  The CZ carried a dome sleeper-lounge-obs. with a teardrop end.  The DZ carried a dome-parlor-lounge-obs. with a square end.

On my N-scale railroad, the Kato CZ set fills this bill nicely for the CZ.  The DZ required kit-bashing of a couple of Con-Cor dome coaches to produce the dome-dormitory-cafe car and the dome-parlor-obs.  The latter required the squared end from a Rivarossi smooth-side obs.

Les
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