Scale: HO. Cars, engines and accessories are easier to find. And when compared to some large scales, easier on the pocketbook.
Manufacturer: Many. I look for quality and detail. If the piece is then affordable and worth the asking price, I buy it. Much of my rolling stock is Athearn. These cars are very affordable and look good. Engines are Athearn Blue Box(converted to DCC), Spectrum, Proto 1000 and 2000, Genesis, Broadway Limited, Rivarossi.
Model: I like them all or I wouldn't have bought them. I prefer steam engines and early diesels, the F-3's and 7's, early Geep's, the Alco's, PA's, Railmasters...... Steam? If it has rods moving, I like it. My modern stuff is pretty generic. Most made by Spectrum, Proto 1000 and 2000, Genesis, Broadway Limited, Rivarossi....Higher quality, and price unfortunately.
DCC has been the big story in the hobby in the past 15 years. Innovations in tooling have also brought better detail and quality to the product.
For me it's gotta be Shays. Yeah they may be small but some of the very best brass with the best detail in Ho, yeah shays, I love the way the various ones power the wheels. I like watching them moving or admiring them sitting. I like Steam 1850 -1950, forward cabs, and I like real working oil well horses and windmills pumps steam donkeys. . . especially if it's scratch or kitbashed. I also like the rail working/laying/repairing equiptment. Not that I don't really admire most all trains ... anytrains all scales as long as its got some heart in it. Scuse my long winded dreaming.
I have no clue who my favorite manufacturer is, maybe Lionel... I like O scale because of their size, and HO scale is just too small for me... Of course my favorite steam locomotive is the Union Pacific Big Boy:
O is my favorite because of my fathers engines from when I was growing up but I have had HO since I was little too so they are a very close second. When we get a house I plan on setting up a combo HO/O setup and I hope it will look nice.
Anything steam. From my Marklin class 23 2-6-2 to my Rivarossi Y6b. I am in the middle of building a proper train for my Rivarossi Casey Jones to pull. I tinker with the older Rivarossi's till they run like a fine swiss watch.
Its probably a tie between a 2-8-4 NYC & STL Berkshire, Y6b N&W, Y3 Pennsylvania(my Mallets,and UP Challenger(The ARTICULATES). I really look for older steam units because I like to tinker with them(especially those that people THINK are over the hill. AHM/Rivarossi are just exceptionally made and detailed engines...as for diesel Atlas is outstanding. Rolling stock is a toss up between Athearn and Whalthers. I guess that what you look for ties into the theme of your layout. We were doing a Southern NY Northern PA. small town of Bedford,PA. The kids are grown and after much thought I've started a Midwestern Meat Packing Plant w/ Cattle Pens/Stock yard. All based on Steam era. Once you decide what to do...research and comit to it. Good question!:thumbsup:
Isn't the Y6b a Norfolk and Western compound(Mallet)? Challengers were used by UP and Clinchfield. Pennsylvania had a few compounds. One of the more famous was the T-1, a 4-4-4-4. Pennsy's 2-8-8-2's were actually Y3's