NEB&W Guide to Geared Steam Locomotive Models

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Locos Table of Contents
Stock Table of Contents


I really don't know much about these, not having paid attention to these type of locos.

A Shay had the cylinders and drive train on one side (with the boiler offset to balance the weight). A Climax had the cylinders mounted up on the side of the boiler pointing down at an angle. A Heisler had two cylinders arranged in a "V", with the drive train under the boiler. A Willamette was basically a Shay, built after the original patents expired.

Shays were the most popular, with Climaxs second-most. There were only about two dozen Willamettes built.


AHM started producing highly-detailed ready-to-run plastic steam in the 1960's, but insisted on large knife-flanged wheels that wouldn't work on scale track. In order to get around tight 18-inch radius curves, they added a lot of sidesways sloop to the mechanism, which did work as intended. (Other manufacturers chose to make the center drivers "blind" which is noticeable.)
AHM locos were unusual for their time in being styrene ready-to-run.

  • Heisler - This was available in both a two-truck and three-truck version. I understand this was a little big for what it is supposed to represent. It is considered a nice model but not as nice as the Bachmann Shay.


The new generation of Bachmann steam, named "Spectrum", is manufactured in China. While in general, these are excellent locos, we have found they suffer from poor quality control. Some locos within a given batch are real dogs in terms of running ability.

  • Climax - According to the review in the Feb. '06 Model Railroader, this model is based on the Greenbrier & Durbin no. 3, a 50-ton two-truck version.

  • Three-Truck Shay - Eighty ton model, available with either a wood or steel cab. I understand this model is somewhat akin to the MDC one, but this is rtr, not a kit.


Also see AHM, above.

Keystone Locomotive Works

  • 105 Shay - This is a non-powered model of a small loco, based on no. 31 of the Kelly Island Lime & Transport Co. I believe it is all soft metal castings. It can be built with an oil tender or wood-burning one, and a couple of different styles of stacks.
    I understand that North West Shortline has a kit specifically designed to power this model.

Model Die Casting

  • Geared Locomotive - Originally, MDC made a model of the first diesel, a so-called "box-cab". Then someone got creative and designed a new superstructure for it, to represent a geared loco. It was pretty bulky to fit over the frame and motor.

  • Shay Locomotive - Guess sales of the above loco were strong enough but probably others complained, so eventually MDC came out with a Shay model, an original, not some retrofit.
    This was available in both a two- and three-truck version. I understand this kit is pretty tricky to assemble.


Rivarossi has long been the manufacturer for the models imported by AHM and then IHC, but has since broken out on their own. They have reduced the size of the flanges, although still not down to RP-25 size. (Idiots - how long has RP-25 been the hobby defacto standard?!)

See AHM, above.


See Model Die Casting, above.