Stupid question I'm sure: Brass

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#2
Just like most other expensive models, brass engines and rolling stock have a higher level of detail, better performance, and are overall more accurate models. Brass is usually more expensive then high end plastics because they are notoriously good runners. The weight of the metal helps make the locomotive run very well by giving it better traction. I personally have never owned a brass model, but would like to someday.
 
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#3
Yeah I supposed, but what detail you gain you loose in realism. I've never seen a brass locomotive before. I guess I just don't get it.
 
#4
Just like most other expensive models, brass engines and rolling stock have a higher level of detail, better performance, and are overall more accurate models. Brass is usually more expensive then high end plastics because they are notoriously good runners. The weight of the metal helps make the locomotive run very well by giving it better traction. I personally have never owned a brass model, but would like to someday.
What you said is true of the current brass models. Older brass models may be lacking in detail and their drives are terrible.
 
#5
Yeah I supposed, but what detail you gain you loose in realism. I've never seen a brass locomotive before. I guess I just don't get it.
The models can be painted, I think they come unpainted because it helps show detail and it allows the engine to be painted in whatever scheme the owner desires.
 
#7
Until the last fifteen years or so, the detail and accuracy of brass models was far above any plastic models. Running qualities varied, but the detail made them desirable to modelers. Also, in a lot of cases, brass was the only way to get a model of some locomotives. Additionally, lot of the high price is a result of the fact brass models are pretty much hand made in small runs of sometimes as few as 25 models. Though most runs are more, 500 would be a very large run for a brass model. That really helps keep the price up there.

Plastic has come a long way in recent years, driving the price of some brass down. PFM C&O K4 2-8-4 locos routinely sold for $350 to $400 on ebay until several manufacturers started making good running well detailed plastic models of the K4. Now it is rare to see a brass PFM K4 go for much over $250.

There are still some locos only available in brass, so expect to pay a premium price for those locos. But you can also generally expect a high level of detail and accuracy, especially in brass being produced now.

And, they are not models of "brass" locomotives, they are model locomotive made of brass. There are no "plastic" locomotives out there, but that doesn't make a good plastic model any less desirable.

JB
 
#8
Until the last fifteen years or so, the detail and accuracy of brass models was far above any plastic models. Running qualities varied, but the detail made them desirable to modelers. Also, in a lot of cases, brass was the only way to get a model of some locomotives. Additionally, lot of the high price is a result of the fact brass models are pretty much hand made in small runs of sometimes as few as 25 models. Though most runs are more, 500 would be a very large run for a brass model. That really helps keep the price up there.

Plastic has come a long way in recent years, driving the price of some brass down. PFM C&O K4 2-8-4 locos routinely sold for $350 to $400 on ebay until several manufacturers started making good running well detailed plastic models of the K4. Now it is rare to see a brass PFM K4 go for much over $250.

There are still some locos only available in brass, so expect to pay a premium price for those locos. But you can also generally expect a high level of detail and accuracy, especially in brass being produced now.
Agreed although there are some such as Hallmark which had more detail than the plastic of its day, but lacking by today's standards (no see-thru fans, etc)

And, they are not models of "brass" locomotives, they are model locomotive made of brass. There are no "plastic" locomotives out there, but that doesn't make a good plastic model any less desirable.
We either said Brass locos (referring to the model) or brass models which gets the point across just fine.
 

MGWSY

Active Member
#9
Here are some HO brass models I have. Both are of units that are not available in plastic without some major scratchbuilding. Both are Overland models.













 
#10
Brass used to be the most detailed engines available. They are ususally made for specific roads and more unusual engines.

With some of the current offerings in plastic that may not always be the case, the "modern" plastic engines may have a better drive and better detail.

Having said that if I want a 1900 era engine, and don't want to do a lot of kitbashing, I will probably be looking at a brass. If I want a specific steam engine from a specific road, I would be looking at brass.

I model the P&R in 1900. The only truly accurate engines for my road in my era are brass.
 

Espeefan

Well-Known Member
#11
What you said is true of the current brass models. Older brass models may be lacking in detail and their drives are terrible.
Yes and no. Older models such as the old Akanes and M.B Austin models had crude detailing but were very good runners. 60's, 70's and 80's models such as those by Balboa and Westside had good detailing and good drives. PFM steamers from the same era had great detailing and noisy drives, though they ran well. Early Korean steam and diesel models had issues as the Korean manufacturers made their way up the learning curve (like learning how to solder and clean the models between steps) similar to the quality issues we are seeing today when companies move their manufacturing to new vendors.

Brass can be a hobby within the hobby, or simply a way to get prototypically accurate models that will never be done in plastic. Most these days are factory painted and ready to run or display right out of the box. As has been said above, runs are small these days, which means a higher unit cost. One good thing about brass...you can always get your money back out of it, unless you panic sell.

PS: The only stupid question is the one you don't ask ;)
 
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Espeefan

Well-Known Member
#12
Yeah I supposed, but what detail you gain you loose in realism. I've never seen a brass locomotive before. I guess I just don't get it.
:confused: How so? How can you gain detail and lose realism? And not having seen one, how did you arrive at that conclusion? Sounds like you may have got some bad information.
 

RW&C

N Scale with Stone Tools
#13
:D I get what you're on about. They come looking like brass, but then you paint them.

Nobody leaves them in their original brass finish, except collectors. You gain detail, and the realism comes from that detail and from the paint you apply over the brass.

I wondered the same thing when I first found out about brass engines.

If plastic models are like a normal car, brass engines are like a hand-assembled car made by one guy in a shed in Italy. For most of us, they're excessive. For hardcore modelers who notice if the air hoses on the secondary compressor have the wrong style of fittings (or people modeling unusual prototypes) who don't mind slinging a little paint, they're perfect.
 
#14
Some people consider brass to be an investment, but since plastic models of obscure locomotives are coming more frequently these days, it's a risky investment.
 

Espeefan

Well-Known Member
#15
:D I get what you're on about. They come looking like brass, but then you paint them.

Nobody leaves them in their original brass finish, except collectors. You gain detail, and the realism comes from that detail and from the paint you apply over the brass.

I wondered the same thing when I first found out about brass engines.

If plastic models are like a normal car, brass engines are like a hand-assembled car made by one guy in a shed in Italy. For most of us, they're excessive. For hardcore modelers who notice if the air hoses on the secondary compressor have the wrong style of fittings (or people modeling unusual prototypes) who don't mind slinging a little paint, they're perfect.
A reasonable analogy. One thing you might want to take a look at is how close some brass models are to plastic models in cost. Any of the newer 4-8-4's by Precision Craft or MTH are averaging about 500 bucks if you get the sound versions. Sunset Models just did a brass 4-8-4 for $699.95 (with sound). So for another $200.00 you get the quality of a brass model, in a road name not likely to be done in plastic ever. (Sunset did the NP/SP&S 4-8-4, not another GS-4 or an FEF-3 or a USRA prototype wheel arrangement that can be lettered for anything. That's the big difference. Plastic model makers want universal appeal. They want to sell thousands of models, so they'll pick a common prototype that can be lettered for three or four roadnames at least, and then produced unlettered or undec for anyone to do his own freelance or foobie model. Or they'll pick a famous one and hope to sell it on the "Famous Train" appeal to collectors or guys who'll buy anything. For those of us who want something more accurate and not USRA (for steam era guys) we can get an accurate model for a reasonable upcharge.

As to Eric's comments on investment, he's right, you don't want to put your 401K money in brass! OTOH, you can generally get your investment back if you're patient. For example, you might not want to be selling your brass bipolar or brass Broadway Limited passenger cars right now.

In the 70's speculators jumped on the brass bandwagon, as they have with baseball cards, coins, comic books, and other collectables. They ran the prices way up, and took a bath when they tried to sell.

Brass is also good for smaller steamers. Right now all of the manufacturers are obsessed with articulateds and northerns. If you want ten wheelers or consolidations and the Spectrum offerings don't please you, then brass may be where you have to go. It's an interesting part of the hobby, and a way to get unique pieces that you don't see everyday.
 
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tooter

play every day
#16
Brass used to be the most detailed engines available. They are ususally made for specific roads and more unusual engines.

With some of the current offerings in plastic that may not always be the case, the "modern" plastic engines may have a better drive and better detail.

Having said that if I want a 1900 era engine, and don't want to do a lot of kitbashing, I will probably be looking at a brass. If I want a specific steam engine from a specific road, I would be looking at brass.

I model the P&R in 1900. The only truly accurate engines for my road in my era are brass.
I've been getting interested in really old engines and found this plastic Roco loco...



The detail rivals brass... and the price was right. :)

Greg
 
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Lateral-G

Chief Test Pilot
#17
I highly doubt you'll find a good HO/HOn3 shay or heisler in injection plastic. The only way I know of to get one is in brass.

Until you have seen a brass loco up close and held one you cannot understand the appeal.

-G-
 
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Espeefan

Well-Known Member
#20
Very long on stuff they want to sell you and very short on photos and "How To's".

This one is much better:

http://schutzer.net/

The models are mostly SP, but the clinics and pics of the conversions he has done apply to all brass.
 
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