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Model trains

Model trainsVolumes could be written on the subject of model trains and locomotives; the different types, their capacities, advantages, and so forth, and still there would be something more to add.

Like their prototypes, there are a great number of different kinds of model trains and locos, ranging from a little four-wheeled engine to the multi-wheeled express locomotives that haul the fastest and heaviest trains. The cost of these models varies almost as widely as the types, a matter that is easily demonstrated by study of any of the catalogues issued by the manufacturers. Not only do the types vary, but most of them are available with a choice of steam, electricity or clockwork as the motive power. The proper gauge of engine will, of course, have already been settled before the time comes to choose the locomotive. As a rule it is a wise policy to begin modestly, by getting a simple engine, and become familiar with its manipulation before acquiring something of a more expensive nature.

Enormous strides have been made in recent years in the manufacture of really high-grade model locos, and it is safe to assert that British makers are producing the finest examples in the world. Rustless steel, and other modern materials of construction have done much to remedy some defects associated in the past with models of Continental manufacture, and today the model railway enthusiast has a wonderful choice of high-grade locos at extremely moderate prices, considering the mass of detail work involved.

Those with a bent for mechanical engineering can make up their own engines from the castings and parts supplied by several firms, but this work involves considerable time and a good deal of manipulative dexterity, as well as a practical knowledge of metal-working processes. The smallest model locos commercially made are the tank engines for the No. "00" gauge, which cost are small.

Some inexpensive locos can be made at home by obtaining a good-grade electric mechanism, complete with coupled wheels, and making the carcases or body work, either in tinplate or with thin wood or cardboard. Another plan, especially applicable to the smallest gauges is to fit an electric mechanism into a goods brake van, or a passenger coach and make "dummy" engines.

Steam-driven tank locomotives are practical for dealing with goods traffic or suburban passenger trains, their short wheel-base, small diameter coupled wheels and generally robust design contribute to their overall efficiency. Many of these tank engines do not exactly follow the lines of a particular prototype, but are in a sense freelance designs, based on good practice and typical of colliery or industrial engines.

The enormous flexibility of the electrically driven train model makes it extremely fascinating to handle, as it can be stopped, started, reversed, made to run fast or slow, entirely at the will of the operator, who only has a switch or two and a resistance to operate. Thus, by a suitable combination of locos, track controls and electric signalling, every movement of a real train can be reproduced without the need of touching the train. Moreover, it is possible and practicable to couple or uncouple the engine from the rest of the train and even to carry out shunting operations without having to move from the signal box or control board.

The productions of the commercial firms catering for the model enthusiast are remarkably efficient and faithful to their prototypes, and the thanks of all model railway lovers are justly due to those firms for their courage and foresight in popularizing the hobby.