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54050Re: enough of the locktite, geeze! any what HOn3 brass is good?

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  • Jonathan Zook
    Jul 1, 2008
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      I'll chime in with some of my limited experiences with brass. I'll
      admit, I only own one brass locomotive, but I spent hours at Caboose
      Hobbies testing various brass locomotives from their consignment
      cabinet. Some ran really very well, and some hardly ran at all. It
      was amusing to see that the ones that ran well were often less
      expensive than the ones that didn't run so well. For example, I
      compared a Custom Brass C-21 (the one I eventually purchased) to a
      Precision Scale C-21, and the Precision Scale loco was jerky at best
      on the test track. We constantly had to give it a nudge to make it
      move in either direction. The cost difference between the two was
      nearly $300. There was also a noticeable difference in the
      performance (for the better) of brass locos that were refitted with
      can motors. The staff I worked with at Caboose noted that the
      locomotives which didn't run well probably needed to be cleaned and

      I purchased a nice running NJ Custom Brass C-21. It was re-motored
      and re-geared by it's previous owner and it's a great little
      locomotive. I cleaned it up and lubricated it, and it pretty much
      runs perfectly on DC power. I ran it on our groups sectional layout
      (now completely dismantled), and the locomotive never once shorted out
      on curves or running through turnouts (#4's and #6's). This little
      guy may be the exception rather than the rule for NJ Custom Brass
      offerings, based on other posts about these models. However, it does
      prove that brass locomotives can be good, reliable runners.

      Now, for some other thoughts. There are at least two manufacturers
      currently importing HOn3 brass models, Precision Scale and Division
      Point. Their prices are hefty, and they're not releasing models which
      any frequency, but they do exist. Caboose lists a Division Point K-27
      #461 with the RGS herald for $1332. I talked with Duncan about this
      model, and he explained that it's pretty much a work of art. It has
      all wheel pickup, a lighted cab, and incredible amounts of detail. On
      top of all of that, it runs as good as any Blackstone or MMI K-27.
      The challenge is that it runs on DC only from the manufacturer, so a
      DCC decoder would have to be installed by the purchaser.

      All that being said, I think brass locomotives are viable as part of a
      fleet on any layout. Sure, they're higher in maintenance and they
      need continuous TLC, but I find that to be part of the fun in the hobby.

      So, there's my 2 cents worth.

      Jon Z.
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