NEB&W Guide to Aristo-Craft Steam Locomotive Models

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Locos Table of Contents
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This was an extensive line of ready-to-run die cast locos produced around 1960. Apparently despite the cast metal construction, these were built in Japan, a forerunner of the Japanese brass models to come. Never seen one in person so I don't know how good they were, but apparently they were all based on specific prototypes. I believe the line was sold by Polk's Hobby Shop in New York City. At some Polk took over the line and marketed it under the Polk name, but by then, there were only a few models left. The entire line seems to have just vanished.


  • CB&Q 0-4-0 Switcher - Engine c. 1880's with a diamond stack and slopeback tender.

  • Saddletank 0-6-0 Switcher - Engine c. 1872 with a diamond stack. Model is lettered PRR, no. 125.

There was a review of this model in the Dec. '60 Railroad Model Craftsman, which said the model stood about a scale 18 feet high, three feet or so taller than even say a model loco of c. WWII. (The reviewer said substituting a shorter more modern straight stack would bring down the overall height, but the model would still be too big for a serious modeler.
When first introduced, the model wasn't named, but by the time of the review, it was nicknamed the Uncle Tom. The reviewer could not find any PRR loco so labelled, nor any apparent Pennsy prototype.

  • Ashland Coal & Iron 0-8-0 Switcher - According to the review in the March '62 Model Railroader, the prototype was built by Baldwin around 1910 for this 22-mile Kentucky mining road, which was absorbed into the C&O in 1933. The model was said to be close to the five Virginian locos, nos. 1-5, class SA built by several builders c. 1909-1910. The prototype had 51 inch drivers, the model has ones two inches bigger. The entire superstructure apparently sat about 6 inches too high. MR said the castings were not too sharp. The domes and air pumps were brass castings which apparently were left unpainted.


  • 0-4-4 Mason Double-Truck - Built for suburban service since they could run equally well in either direction. Unlike other tank engines, the water and fuel were carried on an extension of the main frame. Prototype built in the 1870's.

Columbias 2-4-2's

  • Columbia 2-4-2 - Built by Baldwin for the Columbian Exposition of 1893, hence the name which was also given to the wheel arrangement. This was a compound engine, perhaps one of the first. The lead truck and drivers were so large to achieve speed, they extended into the pilot deck and running boards, thus requiring wheel covers. While the wheel arrangement as such did not caught on - few prototypes was built to this wheel arrangement, this was a pioneer in having a large enough firebox to require a trailing truck. And also, this was the classic Lionel 0-27 arrangement to represent a 1920's large loco.

Baldwin built Philadelphia & Reading 694 for the Columbian Exposition, as part of a display of several locos for the "Royal Blue Line" high speed service between New York City and Washington, DC. This was similar to the prototype of the Aristo-craft model, the Baldwin demo.

Moguls 2-6-0's

  • Thomas Rodgers 2-6-0 - Said to be a Civil War era loco. Model painted a dark green with a bright red frame and pilot, gold or brass cylinders and domes, and a black smokebox. (The strange color of the frame was due to it being one piece with the pilot.)

Consolidations 2-8-0's

  • New Haven 2-8-0 - Looks like a c. 1880's or '90's loco, akin to the Model Power and MDC "old-time" Consolidations. Model is painted black with bright red wheels (sort of European scheme, not a colorful 1800's one), with brass band on the dome and smokestack, and a bright apple green on the side of the headlight and cab.

Mikados 2-8-2's

  • Frisco 2-8-2

Bicycle Types 4-2-2's

  • Baldwin 4-2-2 - Said to be a c. 1880, developed for the very high speed service over the CNJ and Reading.

Ten-Wheelers 4-6-0's

  • B&O Royal Blue Ten-Wheeler - Apparently based on a class of locos built by Baldwin in 1896.

The Royal Blue Line was the name of the fast passenger trains operating between Washington, DC and New York City. This was a joint effort of the B&O, the CNJ, and the Reading and there were a number of high speed locos assigned to this service.
The model came painted a cyan or Conrail blue, with bright red wheels.

  • Ten-Wheeler 4-6-0 - Unknown prototype, but the model has outside valve gear and piston valves, so representing about 1910 or later.

Mountains 4-8-2's

  • USRA Mountain - Aristo-craft ad showed a tiny prototype photo. Can't be an originial USRA engine as built, as it had an Elesco feedwater heater.