Hi Roger and welcome to the Forum. You can find used 4-4-0 Americans on Ebay for reasonable prices and there always seems to be a steady inventory in HO scale. Also IHC makes a 4-4-0 Jupiter(GN) for about $45.00 in the Walthers HO Reference Book(2008). There is a section for Beginners in the Forum that has a couple of guys modeling Civil War Era. HO scale Civil war equipment and figures are on the web either plastic or resin. Squadron Hobby usually has some inventory of Civil War figures either in 1/87 or 1/72 if you can live with some "Super Soldiers".:laugh::laugh:. As for whistle sounds maybe someone has an idea that could step up on the Forum, or ask at your LHS. There are sound cars out on Ebay that are reasonable(steam/whistle) Anyway check out the Forum and ask plenty of questions....we are never short of opinions or help. Good luck.:thumbsup:
i don't do steam but i hear that Spectrum makes acceptable quality steamers for reasonable price.
if i had a need to add sound in a pinch without installing asound systems and speakers in locos, i would integrate a speaker somewhere in scenery and feed it with PC generated sound - there aplenty old machines on craiglist. sometimes even free.
so to make things bit more realistic perhhaps the wistle can only be activated when loco is in vinsinity (tripped IR or Reed detector).
or if this sounds to complecated perhaps the sound sircuit can be canibalized from some toy...
there are also plenty of the shelf solutions for just that.
If you do not mind having used equipment Mantua made and excellent General 4-4-0 model locomotive. It was cast metal. Most Mantua locos with a little fine tuning can run as well as modern ones. I do not own the General but I do have some of their other small locomotives from that time period. All have excellent traction thanks to their weight.
I have a Mantua General. Over 40 years old. It's been re-motored(twice) and still runs like it was new. And parts are readily available from Yardtrains, including updates.
I think that Spectrum steam engines are not the quality everyone thinks. First of all, they are overpriced. I prefer the older engines as far as reliability. They may not be as detailed, but how many can really notice detail when an engine is loping down the tracks?
If you are wanting an older model let me know. I have a contact that I can give you. He's a good guy and has good prices on used engines.
You don't need to start a new thread every time you ask a question. What you do is go down to the bottom----after the last answer, scroll a little further and you'll find a panel that says "Quick Reply" or "Reply to Thread" in the upper left corner of the gray bar. Post your new question or comment in the large white area, then drop down a little further. You'll see a gray rectangle that says "Post Quick Reply" or "Submit Reply". Punch that, and your answer will appear as the newest entry, at the bottom. That way, all discussion of your topic stays in one thread.