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Old 10-02-2019, 06:07 AM   #1
Steve25
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Diesel vs Steam question

Is the Modeling of the Steam era and Steam engines going out of model vogue?

I went thru the 2019 Walthers catalog last night with this question in mind and has 7 HO scale Diesels in it for every 1 Steam loco.

That's not good for use folks who model the era!
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Old 10-02-2019, 06:46 AM   #2
Lee Willis
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Is the Modeling of the Steam era and Steam engines going out of model vogue?

I went thru the 2019 Walthers catalog last night with this question in mind and has 7 HO scale Diesels in it for every 1 Steam loco.

That's not good for use folks who model the era!
Maybe. It depends what you mean by "going out of vogue."

The industry makes what people want to buy, and most model train enthusiasts buy models of trains they saw growing up as kids, and see today.

There was a time when all model locos were steam because all real locomotives were steam - WAY back when in the 1920s and 1930s. Today, and for the past sixty years, most locos have been diesel. Most model locos are diesel, partly as a result.

But many people like steamers, so even though many model railroaders never saw a steam loco in regular service, as I did when young, but only restored ones running in exhibition and excursion trains today, they still want models of them. So there is a market for them. But that said, most people joining the jobby today have seen only diesels all their lives so that is what they want to model. The vast majority of us model trains and such that we saw when growing up, rather than model the trains that run today - right now. The market responds: you will find that most of those diesels for salw are models of diesel locos and railroads that existed and were in use thirty to forty years ago, rather than the lastest (although you can find models of those, too).

I will say this however, that at least in the O-Gauge community, nothing gets as much attention, or as much talk on the forum, as the release of a major new steam locomotive. New diesels are noted, and wanted and discussed, but the "big news" is whenever Lionel or MTH releases a major new big steamer loco, like the Vision Challenger, or a new Premier Big Boy. I think people look at those big steam locos as the ultimate in some sense (which it terms of price, they certainly are). And for me, although I have about 100 diesels and love them, the 54 steamers I have are the pride of my collection. But I have friends, younger in all cases, you collect only diesels and have maybe just one or two steamers. Here are a few of mine.

Slide2.JPG
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Old 10-02-2019, 07:22 AM   #3
gimme30
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In N the ratio is more like 800:1.

775 of which are SD70s.

Kidding aside I'd guess Lee pretty much nailed it, although in my case, not having grown up around trains, I prefer steam simply for their mechanical complexity.

I'm finding model RR'ing to be an odd duck sort of pursuit....Without exception in every other hobby in which I'm involved there are more choices than I can afford. The opposite is true here.
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Old 10-02-2019, 07:31 AM   #4
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Every time I see those engines I think about what an amazing collection you have.
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Old 10-02-2019, 07:56 AM   #5
ogaugeguy
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I'm admittedly not familiar with HO offerings, Steve25, for for 3raid O scale, there also seems to be more diesels offerings than steam nowadays. Perhaps this is related to the cost of tooling, where diesels have fewer visible moving parts and detailing than steam engines and is therefore less expensive?
Also, and this is by no means a scientific survey, but judging by the posts here and on other forums, more people seem to rum contemporary motive power than steam
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Old 10-02-2019, 08:55 AM   #6
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I like both, but I agree with Lee, steam is where my heart is.
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:36 AM   #7
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I like both, but I agree with Lee, steam is where my heart is.
And our wallets. Hard to find a premium diesel costing over $1000, and hard to find a premium steamer costing less.

But still. I was running my Vision Challenger this morning . . .
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Old 10-02-2019, 11:37 AM   #8
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Yep, the steam addiction is expensive, no doubt about that!
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Old 10-02-2019, 12:16 PM   #9
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Very few people model pre-1950 anything. As the arrow of time shows the way, we advance and keep redefining 'new normal'.

The further in the past a technology is, the less likely it is to be popular...if interesting. We model what we see, what we know, what evokes fond memories. Since there's so little steam left, most will model something more modern, and the market is slowly reflecting that.

Those in their mid-60's now have vague recollections of steam here and there. For me, it was in the switching yard at Sudbury, ON, Canada where INCO was shipping and receiving hundreds of tons of goods daily. After that, and five years after steam dropped their last fires in N. America, it was at altitude in the Andes Mountains of Peru, SA. Steam ran there until about 1963 with Baldwin 2-8-0's and the odd Garratt 2-8-2-2-8-2.

But, people who grew up in the 70's and beyond will only know diesels of the SD40 and more modern. And that's why everyone makes them.
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Old 10-02-2019, 01:32 PM   #10
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It also seems that most people modeling steam model or collect stuff from the later years like the 1940s and primarily the "transition" years of the 1950s so they can run both steam and early diesels.

Not a lot of modelers of small early steam from the 1800s. (They're out there, but there's very much in the minority.)

So that's like one primarily popular era of about 15-20 years for most steam modelers.

By contrast you can break the "diesel era" into 4 or 5 rather distinct eras based on equipment design and major corporate mergers over the last 70 years. Lots of interesting things to pick from there, and also the tendency (not universal, but it's common) to go with things you're more familiar with and those of us under the age of under the age of about 60 or so have only ever seen live steam on excursions and tourist lines.

(You can break the steam era down into just as many separate eras, but most people are just modeling the last one...)
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