PRR K4 1361

Discussion in 'N Scale' started by Inkaneer, Mar 24, 2012.

  1. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    Well I did it. I ordered the last #1361 PRR K4 available from a certain hobby store located in the eastern USA. Had to do it as this locomotive has been designated as the official steam locomotive of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and I guess there is still some hope of seeing her return to the rails under steam once more. I wanted a K4 along with other PRR steam but as we all know, "...PRR steam will not sell in N scale." So the model I ordered was an HO model and I am seriously considering doing what other N scale PRR modelers have done and that is to get out of N scale and switch to HO. Previously I was hindered in doing that due to space limitations but with a new house on top of a 30' X 50' train room that hinderance has been removed.
  2. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Good luck with your transition to HO.
  3. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    Thank you, but no final decision has been made yet. I am still weighing the pros and cons and will probably be doing so for a while. Right now my preliminary investigation indicates that the prices of rolling stock as well as the prices for locomotives for the two scales are about the same. I paid $119 for the HO K4. Track and turnouts seem to be comparable also. So we'll see how the K4 runs and go from there. It will probably all come down to whether I can get engines like the H, I and L series. These have been made in HO and have sold out. Of course none of them have been made in N.
  4. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I was thinking the same thing a few years ago, but then I ran into a guy selling all of his N Scale stuff, and a lot of it was what I was looking for which included about 8 steam locomotives I could never find. So I was able to dodge that bullet. Part of what I see now, that may be an issue for you, is that the market is really soft for selling these days. I see locomotives with decoders on eBay sell for $60 or less, most of the time. I rarely see DC locomotives every sell for more than 40$-50$. I picked up 6 older MTL boxcars in perfect condition for $28. So now may not be the right time to liquidate.
  5. TexasNS

    TexasNS TrainBoard Member

    I often find myself considering the same option. If you love steam as I do, it's hard to feel fully satisfied with what is available in N scale. A lot of headway has been made with the development of steam in N. But unless I want to model some "fantasy" layout or add in some locomotives that the Erie Railroad never had and try to come with with a plausible rewrite of history to explain the existence of certain steam locomotives, N scale is really the realm of those who want to model diesels. My layout is one of them, but as I have managed to acquire several examples of HO brass Erie Berkshires and Heavy Pacifics, I am more and more convinced that perhaps I will venture back to HO eventually. Should the opportunity present itself to once again live in the Land of Basements (which Texas is definitely NOT), I believe it would be an easy decision to make.

    As for your Pennsy endeavors, I've seen quite a few of the L-1 Mikados on that auction website quite frequently in the past year, and occasionally one of the H class (though not nearly as often). I think a lot of folks are bowing to the demands of the current economic woes and liquidating some of their collections in order to generate some extra cash flow, even if the price is less than they would like. It is a very good time to buy, not so good to sell. I will say that we're getting to the end of "model railroad season", so I would encourage you to sell soon if you choose before everyone comes out of their basements this spring. Otherwise you might as well wait until fall.

    I'm not sure which part of the PRR you are interested in, though living in Pittsburgh I imagine the lines east of there hold attraction. As a Pennsylvania native myself, I always found their operations west of Pittsburgh to be pretty interesting and it also provided some options for other locomotives (N-1 and N-2 2-10-2's).

    Anyway, if you decide to "pull the trigger", I wish you luck.
  6. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the comments. If I do decide to sell off my N stuff it won't be on Ebay. We have a lot of small one day train shows in this area put on by volunteer fire depts, churches as well as model RR clubs and other organizations. Most of the venders have O scale and of course the ubiquious HO. Very little N scale is offered for sale. Our Ntrak club sets up at some of these and we get to talk to a lot of the people and surprisingly a lot of the people we see are in N scale. One vender who does sell N scale does a good business and is always asking us if he could buy whatever we have that we want to part with. So selling off what stuff I have, if I decide to actually do it, would be relatively easy and doubly so since my stuff is mostly Pennsy which is big here. However, let's no t put the cart before the horse. The decision to sell off the N scale stuff and go to HO has not been made yet and may never be made.
  7. muktown128

    muktown128 TrainBoard Member

    I've pondered the move to HO for the same reasons, but I doubt it will happen. If you ever decide to sell your N scale PRR stuff, I would be interested to know what you have available.

  8. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

    Well, as much as I'd hate to see you leave N, if you decide to do so, hit me up. I might be interested in throwing some cash your way in exchange for some PRR equipment.
  9. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    Well it came in the mail today. PRR K4 #1361, HO scale. It was with great trepidation that I opened it. I am now trying to find all that Bachmann EZ track I got with the On30 set we use around the Christmas tree so I can run it. If it runs well this will be one very, very difficult decision.
  10. eric220

    eric220 TrainBoard Member

    Inky- I moved from HO to N several years ago. I admit that I have watched BLI release PRR prototype after PRR prototype in HO and I have felt the temptation to switch back. I would strongly recommend that you do not let one piece of equipment make the decision for you. The critical factor for me has been the ability to run prototype length trains in a reasonable space. I keep coming back to the fact that for a given amount of space, you can get nearly four times the model in N versus HO (eight times in three dimensions). The options in N are much more limited, but you've still got the Minitrix K4 and B6, along with the I1Sa(lmost) that can be kitbashed into a decent approximation. There's also the GHQ L1 kit for the Kato Mikado, the Model Power P70, the Kato Broadway and GG-1, and any number of freight and passenger cars. Granted, many of these are not RTR solutions, but they are out there. Just figure out what's important to you and go that way.

    Now I'm going to stop trying to convince you not to switch because I want dibs on your N-Scale stuff when you decide to let it go...
  11. robert3985

    robert3985 TrainBoard Member

    Since I model the U.P. in the early '50's, I don't have a big problem with N-scale motive power. Today is really N-scale Nirvana compared to what it was back in the early 80's when I started up.

    And, what isn't available, I just kit-bash or scratchbuild...which is all of my structures, all of my CA-1 cabooses, all of my turnouts (including cast-brass switch stands with moving handles and targets) and a few engines (Baby Turbines and Verandas).

    When I got into N-scale, it was the scenery to track ratio that did it for me, not the availability of RTR stuff that's available in HO. Frankly, I will NEVER even consider moving down to HO...EVER.

    But, if ya decide to go, I hope switching to an inferior scale makes ya happy!

    Bob Gilmore
  12. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    Ho has far more PRR models then N Scale will ever see..


    PRR engines like the H9, H10,L1,6snb are hard to come by since Bowser dropped the line of PRR steam locomotive kits.

    Your choices is brass PRR steamers at a premium price(even the PRR brass engines from the 60s has a high price tag) or find a stock of Bowser PRR steam locomotive kits.

    I suggest you do some research before changing scales-there's far more PRR diesels available then PRR steam..
  13. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    But if it is PRR diesels I wanted I could stay in N scale. Outside of a correct F7 there is little in the PRR diesel lineup that has not been produced in N scale. But if you want steam power then HO is the place to go. That doesn't mean that HO has all the PRR steam. But there is a far better chance of getting that H10 or any of the PRR steamers in HO than in N.

    The more important thing here is that I am not unique. I am willing to bet there are many people, just like me, who have come to the same conclusion. I have met more than a few people who have told me they would be in N scale if PRR steam was available. They don"t like the size of HO and when you are modeling the PRR mainline, size does matter. After all, it hits at the essence of being a SPF. And let's not minimalize this as far as the impact on N scale. Had PRR steam been available in N and those SPF's chose N over HO they would have would have bought other N scale products besides the PRR stuff. That would have helped everyone in N scale by increasing the market size and enabling more production.

    The popular thought in N scale is that Kato does only western roads. I think that outside of Atlas the majority of N scale production is western roads. Besides Kato, Athearn and IM do primarily western roads.
  14. muktown128

    muktown128 TrainBoard Member

    I tend to agree with the assessment that Kato has a western roads bias. However, why did they make a GG-1 and then re-run it in different schemes and numbers? Does the relative success of the GG-1 provide any clues about the potential market for PRR steam? The GG-1 does fit into the same era as steam. Other than successor RR's, no other roads used the GG-1. I would consider it in the same category as PRR steam (unique, single road locomotive). Yes, it did have a much longer life span (30's-80's), but how many modelers are actually running their GG-1's under a wire? I'm still holding out hope that someone will offer PRR specific steam (Kato would be my first choice, but I would buy a Bachmann if they did it).

    I wonder if someone could RP new PRR shells with Belpaire boilers for the Bachmann 2-8-0 and 4-8-2 to convert these to H-9/H-10 class and M1 class locos. I know GHQ did a pewter shell of the L-1 for the Kato 2-8-2.

  15. robert3985

    robert3985 TrainBoard Member

    Just visited the GHQ website. The description says that GHQ is accepting orders and they will be filled on a "first-come-first-served" basis, but, if I remember correctly, that's been in the description of this conversion kit for a long time. This is not a "shell"'s a conversion kit with pewter boiler, detail parts, brass wire, decals and a urethane tender shell. From the tone of the description, I think (if they're not yet available) that GHQ would run them if enough of you SPF's would order some.

    Bob Gilmore
  16. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    Kato did the 1948 Broadway Limited which ran from New York to Chicago and competed with the NYC 20th Century Limited. That train was pulled by GG1's from NY to Harrisburg, PA where the PRR electrification ended. From Harrisburg to Chicago it was E8's on the point. Kato already had the E8's. They made the GG1 to complete the eastern end of the trip. No steam pulled the 1948 Broadway although steam did pull lesser priority trains.

    So why did the GG1 sell so well? It sold better than the Broadway sets. Because in addition to passenger servidce the GG1's were also used in freight. Here is a totally unique locomotive that no other RR had except PRR and its successors [Penn Central and Conrail]. The GG1 was PRR's locomotive of the future and was planned to pull trains over the Alleghennies to Pittsburgh. But the depression, WWII and the advent of the diesel locomotive put an end to those plans so the overhead never went beyond Harrisburg.

    As for H series shells for the Bachmann 2-8-0 it could be done but both the Bachmann model and the Kato 2-8-2 have some discrepancies in the running gear. The Baker valve gear is wrong as are the wheel weights and I think the steam chests. Not sure about the driver diameters. I think PRR had 62" drivers on the H and L series but I am not sure what the Bachmann and Kato drivers measure. Still a proper body casting would go a long way of giving the effect. I wonder if a UP guy would accept a 4-8-8-4 Big Boy shell that was superimposed on a Y6b running gear with four wheel pony and trailing trucks added as a stand in for a proper big Boy? I think not but PRR people are expected to accept a stand in for PRR steam.
  17. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    GHQ sold out of the L1 conversions long time ago. There is another company whose name I have forgotten that is handling their conversion items. The L1 conversion was good for what it was. Basically an L1 boiler and trailing truck and tender on a Kato mechanism. But, outside of having the correct number of wheels, the mechanism was all wrong for an L1. Still the fact that it sold out very early is an indication of a desire for PRR steam. Forty years after its demise the PRR still has the largest membership of any RR historical society. It is over twice that of the N&W and the B&O. That is a lot of people with enough interest in a fallen flag RR to pay money to belong to an organization that seeks to keep it 's memory alive. And those people have effectively been told by the N scale manufacturer's that their business is not wanted.
  18. Jerry M. LaBoda

    Jerry M. LaBoda TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Republic Locomotive Works may still has some... they carry a number of GHQ conversions and parts.

    I waited over 40-years for a Ten-Wheeler of decent quality in RTR form to come to N-scale... to me the wait was well worth it!!! Unlike a lot of older folks, my visual problems is distance (I am near sited) so I have no problem working with N... and I am thankful for that. I have been a fan of N since I was a young teenager and while I have flirted with other scales, N remains my first love as far as modeling goes. And as much as I wouldn't mind modeling my freelanced lines in a modern setting I want my Ten Wheelers to have an era where they can run so that is where my heart will remain.

    If you do switch I hope that you gain what you are seeking to achieve. There's nothing wrong with making the change... I just don't ever see myself doing the same.
  19. pdx1955

    pdx1955 TrainBoard Member

    Like with a lot of the major roads, a number of iconic pieces have been produced which overshadow the more utilitarian ones which is a source of frustration. I model the SP, but Daylight-painted GS-4's and 4-8-8-2 Cab-forwards do me no good for the subdivision that I model. I have some brass, but everything else needs to be repainted, kitbashed, scratchbuilt, or I have to do without. I would love to do steam-only but there just isn't enough $$ to buy a whole fleet of brass of which petty little is ever for sale as most hold on to it. With Key Imports out of the N brass business, there goes the major source of SP and PRR steam. I have to pretty much do the "end of steam" era which I mix my steam with diesels. You may do that now or will need to stick doing that if your heart just isn't in to switching scales.

    Even the steam-diesel era is problematic for doing in N because of the lack of Baldwin equipment and Alco switchers. I should be in HO too, if I truly want to do my area justice, but I don't have enough space. So you can see, this problem is not unique to PRR as there are still lots of holes in N scale. N scale is good for modeling the overall scene and more from an "arms-length" train basis, while HO is really best for focusing on the equipment in those trains. If you want specific equipment pulled by specific motive power for a specific time and place, then HO is well suited for that .It sounds like you will have the space to do what you want and since it is really best to pick the subject to be modeled first, then pick the scale to do it in, HO would give you what you want all around.

  20. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

    OK, so its not a perfect world.

    But the world has been blessed with a reasonably well-engineered "B+" K-4 for a long time; the Trix K-4, and you can still find them on the auction site on a regular basis.

    You'll have work to do, on the pickups, maybe changing the motor, maybe using Peco C55 instead of Atlas 55 to clear the flanges, or just turn the flanges. Your best investment would be 8x8 end-cap pickups on the tender. But it's still probably 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of ANY other RTR steam out there. The basic running gear design is pretty solid. It's a pretty rugged old girl. Whatever time and money you spend on it won't be wasted.

    I have the GHQ L-1 conversion, it pulls like a tractor but it was one of the hardest kits I've ever done; but between Max's article and my documented expiriments its not impossible to do, either. For me, the dream loco has always been the D-16 4-4-0, other than Kirk I don't know anybody that got one very far with the right dimensions.

    I think if I were planning a Jerry Britton-sized layout I probably would hang it up, devoting your life to locomotive rebuilds (with multiples of the same class) gets to be a problem after you've done four or five... One or two of anything is kinda fun. Also depends on era, etc. But one thing you should remember is that in terms of a feeling of accomplishment .. building something, really making it, is a heck of a lot more rewarding than opening a box. I'm hoping that the GHQ approach may see a whole new rebirth here as 3D printing keeps getting better. If you take that 3D print and use it as a mold master for a metal boiler...whole new world.

    I guess I just don't think it would be much fun to open a box, put it on the layout, and see NOTHING that you'd want to change or fix or upgrade. Handrails right, right number, right paint, proper details, it works right, runs right, is quiet.... What fun would that be?

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