In 2008, I posted a set of questions to the MaineOn2 Yahoo! group list under this title. I felt that the Yahoo! group postings had been dominated by other topics such as ”bashing brass and brass owners” in the verbal/written sense not the converting to another type sense, and by complaints about the poor running qualities of particular examples of brass loco’s, and that it was time to encourage other brass loco owners who had been quietly enjoying positive experiences with their collection of loco’s to post about them.
The questions were chosen quite deliberately to allow different locomotives to be selected, recognising that some owners may have a favourite loco which they would not necessarily recommend as a suitable choice for a newcomer.
My thanks to all the contributors for their comments and especially to Bill Kerr for updating his replies showing how they have changed over a three year period, and for the “Pearls of Wisdom” from a former Moderator of the Yahoo! Group and long term On2 modeller about starting today.
The collected views have been re-edited in 2013 to present a consistent loco/model naming format to facilitate links etc, and finally posted to the new style FAQ’s site.
What’s your ***** loco? – part 4
What locomotive would you suggest to an interested newcomer (who is supposed to be fully aware of the pitfalls of brass loco’s, but nevertheless has decided to model in On2) as a first purchase and why?
Terry Smith: Probably a Custom Brass SR&RL #6, because they are a good general engine, and when re-motored (a number are already) can be very reliable performers.
Bill Kerr (2008): Custom Brass SR&RL #6 , basic engine, not too complicated, good starter if it needs rework, not too costly, the Forney’s probably defined the two footers, more then the 2-6-0 or 2-6-2 (which I prefer).
Bill Kerr (2011): If serious about On2, start with Custom Brass #6, its small, still seems to be relatively easy to acquire one, and easy to start your journey on working with On2 brass. See also the general comments.
Jerry Kitts: I will stick with the No. 23. Some of the smaller engines would frustrate a new comer to On2 right to another scale or track gauge.
Brass Locomotives have pitfalls? All models that move under their own power can have problems. I would suggest the No. 23 because it runs well, it’s easy to work on, plenty of room to add sound and/or DCC without losing your mind trying to stuff all that electronics in a Forney should it be your first time around.
I would certainly recommend a brass steam engine over some of the new stuff coming in from say Bachmann, which may be cheap, but you really get what you pay for. I have some Bachmann engines most of which have failed when you actually run them with a heavy train. Bachmann has replaced the parts, on two of them twice and now one of them has failed just sitting on the shelf. I tried their version of a Forney and sent it back. The drivers were not even round and as to turning into a scale model not much chance of that happening if you are interested in Maine Two Footers. The out of round drivers gave me a good excuse to get my money back.
So far if you want to be in On2 I am not aware of any offering that is not brass for a locomotive.
Trevor Marshall: I’m quite pleased with the performance of my Car Works B&SR #6. It is relatively new and needed little done to it. I added a pair of wipers to the drivers on the insulated side and it picks up power well and runs very nicely. Locomotives from this run (SR&RL 8 and 9, WW&F #7, B&SR #6) are still available “new” so haven’t suffered from being much loved, as have some of the older engines that I purchased second hand. For someone who’s looking for a first On2 brass engine, I think there’s a lot to be said for getting one that’s new.
Chester Louis: I would ask the newcomer what their plans were and then suggest. If they are interested in big power I’d suggest Custom Brass SR&RL #24 or Custom Brass SR&RL #16. If they wanted something simple, then it would be Custom Brass SR&RL #6. They keep popping up on eBay.
Jace Kahn: The last is a thorny matter, as most On2 modellers are prototype-specific, and a great deal depends on the individual modeller’s preferences. As a general thing, probably a Portland Forney remains the obvious choice for a first locomotive, both for size and because, effectively, all the Maine two-footers had them; the SR&RL Prairies (and even WW&F #6) are large to start with. If someone were thinking of producing a new locomotive in On2, I think one of the Porter 0-4-4T’s would be worth doing (I’d buy one)–they are small and basic, and no else has ever made one commercially (I’m not sure whether anyone has even scratch built one). The other suggestion is one of the Monson Vulcans, which have the advantage of also being small, uncomplicated, and the prototypes are still in existence, and (periodically) still in steam, so there is likely to be some additional interest among the general public.
Bob Schlechter: The Custom Brass SR&RL #6, etc. Forney as it is the most versatile of the prototypes as it was produced in the greatest numbers model wise and can depict many roads if not free lancing. Also, the Forney is the watermark of loco types for the Two Footers.
Gerry Cole: The Custom Brass SR&RL #6 seems to be often available, or at least quite a few were on eBay a year or so ago. Availability at a decent price would be the main advantage, and it’s already On2!
Dean Brown: Get one that you like the looks of. This is a personal choice, but chances are you will spend a lot of time with that loco, so make sure you like to look at it. Also make sure you get one that runs well, or that you have the wherewithal to make it run well.
Matt Coleman: Any of the old CB or CW locos would be a great start. Avoid the Putnam and Stowe locos — they are too much work.
Matthew Latham: Hard to say as I only have one brass locomotive.