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Author Topic: How accurate to the prototype should I expect model trains to be?  (Read 1686 times)
tbarber1027

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« on: November 21, 2019, 04:57:48 AM »

How accurate to the prototype should I expect model trains to be?
I recently ordered a new locomotive (a Bachmann model # 63563). After doing a little research on the model number (EMD GP40) within seconds I found a WHOLE LOT OF INFO on the prototype loco.
It seems that the manufacturer (Bachmann) used the wrong locomotive prototype number for their model (#63563).
For the RR named Sante Fe, the locomotive model used was an EMD "GP 39-2" not "GP40" as described in the Bachmann catalog.
Should I ask Bachmann to make the correction?
« Last Edit: November 21, 2019, 06:16:13 AM by tbarber1027 » Logged
Maletrain

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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2019, 10:55:08 AM »

You seem to be new to model railroading, so you probably have not yet heard the word "foobie".  It means a model that may be reasonably representative of some prototype somewhere, but has been painted in schemes for other railroads that might not have ever had that same equipment.  Manufacturers do that to increase sales of the basic locomotives, so that they spread the development and tooling costs over a wider customer base and keep prices down for customers.

Many customers don't care that much about prototype accuracy, so the strategy of marketing "foobies" works.  But, for a customer who does care about prototype accuracy, it pays to do your research homework before you buy, because there are plenty of foobies on the market.

As for asking Bachmann to change the number on a locomotive that you purchased, I would not expect them to do that.  But, you can do that yourself.  Removing numbers and replacing them with decals (or rub-ons) is a skill that most model railroaders who care about prototypical accuracy develop early in their hobby.  I am not going to get into that in this post, but you can probably find several techniques posted on model railroader forums and illustrated in YouTube videos.
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jward


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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2019, 11:31:42 AM »

Santa Fe only had one GP40 in its entire existence.

On later Bachmann models like the GP7 and RS3 they make the effort to put the correct numbers on them.

SOme models are better than others. The Bachmann GP50 for example resembles a high hood GP40 more than an actual GP50. That said, the GP40 and GP50 are holdovers from the low quality train set era of the 1970s and 1980s. The models have been drastically improved with a good running drive, body mounted couplers, and thinner handrails. They are a good value for the money. If the number bothers you, you can use decals to change it.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
Trainman203

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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2019, 11:52:41 AM »

You probably havenít heard of ďrivet counters ď yet either.  They can on occasion be hypercritical and easily turn off new or prospective modelers.

Look up railway prototype modeling.  Those guys are extreme.  They worry about the width of wheel treads, size and placement of underbody brake piping, prototype sized knuckle couplers, all to produce contest entry models, not a model that will actually run on a model railroad.
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Modeling the New Iberia and Northern 1945
Len

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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2019, 12:11:48 PM »

Then there are those of us who fall into the 'close enough' camp. If something bears a reasonable resemblance to what we're trying to model, especially if the only way to get 'exact' is scratch building, that's 'close enough. And l love giving 'rivet counters' apoplexy with my DD40AX painted up in it's Pennsy 5-stripe tuscan scheme.

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

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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2019, 01:05:34 PM »

Some compromises have to be made to get a model locomotive to run on a typical model railroad.  All the previous info offered is good.  But prototype locos are generally not intended to negotiate the type of curves we use.  A very sharp prototype curve comes out to about a 30" radius in HO.  Most of our diesel models will operate down to an 18" radius, which means some compromises in truck swing, coupler length, piping locations, etc.  Steam models have it worse because of the space needed for pilot and trailing truck swing.  The long rigid wheelbase of the drivers limit curve capability unless some lateral play is designed in and/or some of the drivers have no flanges.  The spacing between the loco and the tender may have to be wider than prototype as well. 
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RAM

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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2019, 11:38:35 PM »

many locomotives get renumbered many times during the life of the locomotive.
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DAVISinGP

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« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2019, 01:00:09 PM »

Contrary to what one might conclude in reading certain forums, people enjoy their hobbies (model railroading being one of them) in different ways.

Personally, I'm not very concerned with "accuracy." In fact, I've found that I've gained a lot of freedom having given up reality in several aspects of my life (model railroading being one of them  Wink). That's why a Boston PCC trolley can often be seen running through downtown Grants Pass, Oregon.  Smiley
« Last Edit: November 23, 2019, 01:04:08 PM by DAVISinGP » Logged
Trainman203

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« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2019, 05:26:38 PM »

Iím not a rivet counter but I do like plausibility.  I like branchline railroading in the South in the 1930s and 1940s, steam only, particularly the little MP sub in my signature.  But by swapping equipment I can do a 1915 train or a 1960 train. Most of the time Iím 1946.  But when in 1946, I run certain Cotton Belt and Central of Georgia cars from the late 50s just because I like them.

  Iím not interested in railroads after low nose road switchers came in and roof walks went away.  Or when balloon stacks and red cowcatchers were on engines.  But between those bookends is a wide framework.  Combining equipment from widely separated eras is not plausible to me but if you want a woodburner to pull an Amtrak train, do it and have fun.  I saw a layout one time that was set in the present day but was all steam and it was pretty nifty , the guy loved it.
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Modeling the New Iberia and Northern 1945
dutchbuilder


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« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2019, 07:32:43 PM »

My mantra is; It's my world and anything is possible in my world.
Howe unlikely is seems it has been done in reality.

Ton
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PhillipL

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« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2019, 07:32:14 AM »

I have been in the hobby for 25 years.  I started out trying to be prototypical.  Over the last several years I began to just want to have "fun" rather than worry about being exact on my trains.  I really just enjoy running my trains and be honest few of my relatives or friends can recognize whether a model is prototypical or not.  After a difficult day in the office or after finishing a bunch of household tasks I find nothing is better than watching my trains running on my layout.  Here is a funny point, my layout started out as a German layout so I have U.S. trains rumbling through a German town!  Now that is totally unrealistic but makes me happy!
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Maletrain

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« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2019, 10:17:55 AM »

Imagination and "some day" planning can smooth out the wrinkles in this hobby, even if you do really want to follow a prototype.  I enjoy things B&O around the mid-1950s.  But, there is limited equipment available in N scale that fits that motif.  So, I buy or make what I can, and enjoy learning about my chosen prototype in that period.  But, I am not going to wait until I have perfect models of everything before I run trains.  I can get a model of a USRA 2-10-2 steam locomotive, but not a S-1a type 2-10-2 that the B&O used.  So, even though the B&O never had the USRA version of that locomotive, I am willing to run the model of the USRA version pulling a prototypical consist on the prototype's schedule.  Someday, I may (or may never) get the opportunity to make or buy a true S-1a shell for the 2-10-2 mechanism that I already have, or maybe even a whole new model that is accurate to the B&O engine.  But, odds are that I will never get everything I would need to make my whole layout precisely prototypical during my lifetime.  I just don't worry about that.  If somebody wants to tell me that the B&O never really owned a USRA 2-10-2, my response of "Well, if you would like to make an S-1a shell for me, that would be great!" usually ends the conversation on counting rivets.  And, maybe someday, one of those rivet counters with his own 3D printing machine will volunteer to make that shell for me - one can always hope.  Wink
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RAM

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« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2019, 03:32:20 PM »

and trainman, a train is not a train without a caboose.
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Trainman203

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« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2019, 06:14:48 PM »

What made you think I donít run cabooses?  I must have 40 of them.😱😂😂
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Modeling the New Iberia and Northern 1945
tbarber1027

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« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2019, 02:30:39 AM »

You seem to be new to model railroading, so you probably have not yet heard the word "foobie".  It means a model that may be reasonably representative of some prototype somewhere, but has been painted in schemes for other railroads that might not have ever had that same equipment.  Manufacturers do that to increase sales of the basic locomotives, so that they spread the development and tooling costs over a wider customer base and keep prices down for customers.

Many customers don't care that much about prototype accuracy, so the strategy of marketing "foobies" works.  But, for a customer who does care about prototype accuracy, it pays to do your research homework before you buy, because there are plenty of foobies on the market.

As for asking Bachmann to change the number on a locomotive that you purchased, I would not expect them to do that.  But, you can do that yourself.  Removing numbers and replacing them with decals (or rub-ons) is a skill that most model railroaders who care about prototypical accuracy develop early in their hobby.  I am not going to get into that in this post, but you can probably find several techniques posted on model railroader forums and illustrated in YouTube videos.
----------------------
Thanks for defining "foobie." I'm not worried about the paint on the model loco. It says "Santa Fe 3808."
What troubles me is when I research the railroad and find that the Santa Fe 3808 RR did not use an EMD GP40 but an EMD GP40X instead. It complicated my research.
I just thought that model "trainologists" were concerned about accuracy to the prototype. They seem like a fastidious bunch.  :-)
Thanks for the explanation.

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