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Berkshire Question

Started by Country Joe, July 27, 2014, 11:00:19 AM

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Country Joe

I am very excited about the Berkshire but disappointed that there is no painted unlettered or Boston and Albany version. Might we see these next year?

I have noticed that you have not done painted unlettered versions of locos lately. Do these not sell well? I like them since I model a custom road and add my own decals. I use white lettering so I have to remove all the gold lettering to customize the loco.




Painted unlettered locos sell in very low numbers making it difficult for us to meet minimum order quantities....


Considering the amount of work that would be required to turn a Van Sweringen Berkshire into a
NYCS A-1, you would do just as well to  buy any one, when it appears, strip it, make the required alterations, then paint and letter it yourself.  Microscale does sell NYCS steam lettering.

Con-Cor did sell its Van Sweringen Berkshire lettered for an A-2a, but the only resemblance among A-1,
A-2a and Van Sweringen is the wheel arrangement.  Lima did build the A-1s and the Van Sweringen, but ALCo built the A-2a.  It was ALCo's last domestic steam build.  Lima built the tenders on the A-2a, as by 1947/1948, ALCo was too busy building diesels to be too bothered with steam that was being phased out.

If the locomotive lines are not that big a deal, you could buy one, erase the road name and numbering and apply B&A lettering.  If you do not want to disassemble, you might get away with careful masking.


I have had the same problem with needing  unlettered steam. What I have done. 

1) converted Bachmann J to Milwaukee road. ( its my railroad) Used comet cleaner with a piece of wood to rub off the N&W from tender side,with care did not remove the paint stripe , then re lettered

2) remove the Santa Fe from tender side and cab from a Y3 2-8-8-2 left s sorta shiny spot but is easy to cover with weathering I now need to do a second Y3 just left the silver numbers will match new lettering. (one  advantage of a freelance line)

I was given this suggestion on lettering removal.   water & comet cleaner put on lettering then rub with wooden stick, wipe off and check often to see that the surface or under paint is not damaged  repeat as necessary.However it seems to leave a shiny buff spot on bare plastic. I would suggest you remove the shell to do this.

Country Joe

I'm interested in the Boston & Albany because it has white lettering. All I would have to do is to remove the road name and add my white Alma & Jupiter Bay Railway decals, easy peasy. With gold or any other color lettering I have to remove it all. Gold lettering isn't a deal breaker but it's not as easy.


I must wonder why Bachpersonn did a Van Swerigen.  The WKW/LL version is out there.  To be sure, it ain't got no sound and no onboard decoder, but WKW did make improvements to it for the second run and the DCC is not supposed to be too difficult.  I have only the first runs, which were anemic pullers and pilot couplers at the incorrect height, but probably the smoothest running N scale steam out there.

There is also the Con-Cor/Rivarossi, which is a copy of the old MRC/Rowa.  It did not run badly for its time.  It is now dated, clunky with cast-on details and some of the proportions are, at best, questionable, but it is out there.

As there is one good and one that is somewhat acceptable Van Swerigen, why another one?  If a Berkshire it must be, I would think that an A-1 would be a better choice or a B&M or even an A-2a.  To be sure, they are road specific, but road specific big steam seems to sell.  Witness the Kato GS-4, the Athearn Challengers and Big Boy and Bachmann's own EM-1.  Several in the hobby business have told me that B-mann's EM-1 has outsold the others.

The A-2a has historical value, as it was ALCo's last domestic steam.  In addition to running on the P&LE, it did run on the Big Four.  The A-1 was a B&A, but probably did show up elsewhere on the NYCS.  The B&M sold some of its Berkshires to the SP in the Second World War, so you have one there that could be lettered for two roads.

I know that B-mann did this in HO, so we get it in N, eventually.  Still, I would guess that there are decently running Van Swerigen Berkshires in HO.  Lately, I have been giving big steam a pass, as there are enough issues of small to average sized steam to encourage me to get out the ol' tarjeta a credito.  I do, however make an exception to something road specific for a road that I run.  Thus, I did buy an EM-1 and would buy an A-2a.

While on the subject of they did it in HO, I wonder if we will see in N the 'modern' eight wheeler that B-mann did in HO.  We did get the ten wheeler and mogul, both of which are very nice.  Also, as the USRA 0-6-0 is a good seller, due to the improved mechanism,  I would think that it would be an ideal candidate for a final upgrade to a factory installed decoder and all wheels live tender.

B-mann has done a good job on its steam with the onboard decoder.  The latest issues do not seem to need that [OOMPH!-then scaleback on DC to run at creeping speed.