NEB&W Guide to Life-Like Steam Locomotive Models

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Like their line of rolling stock, Like-Like started with crude models including ones like Varney which date far back to an era of lower standards. Then they turned around a complete 180 degrees to produce some of the hobby's most outstanding models. In 2005, they were acquired by Walthers, who apparently is keeping the name alive.


  • 0-4-0 Dockside - Apparently a model they acquired from the Varney line, probably Varney's most popular model, down to a "V" for Varney on the builder's plate. (Bowser also seems to have acquired the Varney dies.) The prototype, "Little Joe Dockside", were four rather heavy saddletank locos (nos. 96-99) were built by Baldwin for the B&O in 1912. They were nicknamed as such because they were intended for the very sharp curves along the Baltimore dockside. In 1921, two (nos. 96 and 98) were converted to regular type locos with tenders. (AHM at one point offered the rebuilt tender-equipped version.)
The Life-Like model is very crude in that there is no valve gear and it doesn't even appear to have a crosshead guide.

  • T230 Teakettle 0-4-0 - Model of a c. 1900 (or earlier) saddletank loco with an oil headlight, diamond stack, but a wood road-engine type pilot. Model had RP-25 flanges. It was first announced c. 1972.

  • T-234 PRR 0-4-0 - Model of the PRR A-3 loco (although the model also came lettered for Santa Fe). This was offered c. 1972 and I would bet it was the same European maker (not Rivarossi since it came with RP-25 flanges) that later produced the identical model for AHM c. 1978 and Model Power c. 1981. (I understand it was made in Yugoslavia.)
There were 84 locos of this class built between 1895 and 1905.
The review in the April '72 Railroad Model Craftsman pointed out the prototype had the boiler/firebox extending all the way through the cab. The fireman stood on the tender deck to fire the loco.

  • USRA Switchers - As good as it gets, both the 0-8-0 and the 0-6-0.


  • NKP 759 was a loco that became famous in post-steam days simply because it survived (and in this case, restored to service and ran all over the country in excursions). (I don't mean to slight NKP modelers, but what survived and what didn't was more a matter of chance than not.) The original 2-8-4 loco was basically a super powerful version of a 2-8-2, a freight engine. The pony truck did not track as wheel as the four-wheel version so it couldn't run as well at speed. I understand by the time of the NKP version, they had improved the two-wheel lead truck to where such a loco could be used on passenger and other high speed service. (The first Berkshires had 63-inch drivers, basically like a Mikado, but with the greater speed possible, the later ones like the NKP and clones had 69-inch drivers.)
    Nearly identical locos were built for the Pere Marquette and very similar to a few other roads, including the VGN, C&O, RF&P, and L&N. Unlike AHM, Life-Like is offering each roadname with changed details. (Not all these "clones" are close enough for Like-Like to replicate.)

  • 31672 2-8-4 C&O Berkshire - Numbered 2744.
  • 31673 2-8-4 C&O Berkshire - Numbered 2759.
  • 31674 2-8-4 C&O Berkshire - Numbered 2746.
    The C&O started getting their Berkshires in '43 from Alco, nos. 2700-2739. In '46, they got 10 more from Lima, nos. 2740-2749, another 10 from Lima the next year ('47), nos. 2750-2759, class K-4, and 20 from Alco the same year of 1947, nos. 2760-2789.

  • 31675 2-8-4 NKP Berkshire - Numbered 772.
No. 779 was the last steam locomotive built by Lima, in 1948, one of 10 engines, S-3, nos. 770-779, and one of 65 Berkshires total for the NKP. The first 15 date back to 1934.
This model has a Mars light. The Mars headlight, mounted just above the main headlight which is centered on the smokebox, is one clue of the late construction of this loco. (Or it might have been retrofitted on some or all of these in the late '40's.)

  • 31678 PM Berkshire - Numbered 1235.
  • 31679 PM Berkshire - Numbered 1239.
  • 31680 PM Berkshire - Numbered 1236.
    The Pere Marquette got 39 Berkshires from Lima. Nos. 1210-1215, class N, were built in '37. Nos. 1216-1227, class N-1, were built in '41. And nos. 1228-1239, class N-2, built in '44. When the PM was merged into the C&O in a few years, the class N locos were renumbered as C&O 2685-2699. The other two classes remained lettered and numbered for the PM. These models are of the N-2 class, said to have the "forward sand dome".

  • RF&P Berkshire - The Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac got 10 Berkshires from Lima in 1943, nos. 571-580 and were all retired 9 years later, in '52. The sand box was not as massive as the NKP one, which is a hallmark of the NKP design.

  • VGN Berkshire - The Virginian's five Berkshires were built by Lima in '46, class BA, nos. 505-509. Due to remaining war restrictions, the VGN locos were built identical to the C&O's K-4 class.

  • WLE Berkshire - The Wheeling & Lake Erie's 32 Berkshires, all built by Alco between 1937 and '42, class K-1, were basically copies of the NKP locos. C. '49, they were relettered NKP with the same numbers and then around 1952, the first two digits, "64", replaced by "8". (In other words, 6401 became 801, 6402 became 802, and so on.) They lasted until 1961-'64, fairly late for steam.


  • 31233 2-8-8-2 USRA - Lettered VGN 716. The following roads got these:
  • ATSF - Secondhand from the N&W.
  • B&O - ?
  • Clinchfield - 10 locos.
  • N&W - 50 locos.
  • PRR - Secondhand from the N&W.
  • VGN- 20 locos.
  • UP- Secondhand from the N&W. For a total of 106 locos. There is a builder's photo of VGN 900, the first USRA Mallet, but this was relettered to become N&W 2000.
The NP and D&RGW got copies of this design.
The original N&W locos were the Y3 class. In '23, Alco built copies, the Y3a class. Superficially, the Y3a look a lot like the Y3 locos.
In 1927, Alco built more copies for the N&W, the Y4 class, nos. 2080-2089. A big visual change for the modeler is that the cab was shortened a little and given a slanted front. The following classes had this feature, including the Y5 (built 1930-'32), Y6 classes (built from 1936 until the final Y6b subclass). No. 2120 was the first Y6 and I think no. 2172 was the final Y6b. The Y4 class still had an inboard trailing truck, while the Y6 classes had an outside trailing truck. (Don't know about the Y5 class.)


  • USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - First time in plastic. The following roads got these locos:
    • B&LE - five.
    • CB&Q - 10.
    • Erie - 25.
    • FW&DC (C&S, Burlington subsidiary) - five.
    • PRR - 130. (125 direct, and five more via the C&EI/SLSF c. 1920.)
    • SLSF - Their subsidiary, the C&EI got five but around 1920, these went to the PRR.
      There were a total of 175 of the heavy version and 94 of the light version.

  • 60000 PRR USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 7190.
  • 60001 PRR USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 7326.
  • 60002 PRR USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 8263.
  • 60003 PRR USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 8360.
    As delivered, the PRR's USRA 2-10-2's were of standard design. However, by 1938, the Pennsy had rebuilt them all with a Belpaire firebox. The cab and pretty much everything remained as is, so the model could be post-dated to WWII and later by adding the "shoulders" of the top of the firebox.

  • 60004 Erie USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 4212.
  • 60005 Erie USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 4213.
  • 60006 Erie USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 4214.
  • 60007 Erie USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 4224.

  • 60008 C&S USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 905.
  • 60009 C&S USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 906.
  • 60010 C&S USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 908.
  • 60011 C&S USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 909.
    The Colorado & Southern's five locos were in the 905-909 series. At some point, they rebuilt the cabs to match their other locos, a sort of Burlington look. (At least one loco, no. 908, still had its original cab in 1941.) They also added an Elesco feedwater heater to the top of the somebox. Also, in later years, parent CB&Q leased some of their USRA 2-10-2's to the C&S.

  • 60014 CB&Q USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 6302.
  • 60015 CB&Q USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 6306.
  • 60016 CB&Q USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 6303.
  • 60017 CB&Q USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 6308.
    At some point, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy added a Worthington feedwater heater to these, which looked like an out-of-scale double air pumps, on the fireman's side. They also added an extra air tank on the pilot deck beneath the smokebox.

  • 60018 IC USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 2924.
  • 60019 IC USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 2952.
  • 60020 IC USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 2958.
  • 60021 IC USRA Heavy 2-10-2 - Numbered 2953.
    While all the above have Southern valve gear, these IC models have Baker. Don't have the IC on the list of getting USRA locos (not these engines, not any), but in 1920, Lima built nos. 2901-2950. This might have been right after the end of the USRA and the use of a different style of valve gear does indicate this is NOT a true USRA loco. On the other hand, built probably within months of the end of the USRA, the IC engines are probably extremely close, close enough for the Life-Like model to accurately enough represent them.

Ten-Wheelers 4-6-0's

  • T-235 PRR 4-6-0 Ten-Wheeler - Model of the PRR's G-5 class of locos built in the 1920's. This plastic model came out about 1971 and had RP-25 profile wheels. Don't know what happened as it hasn't resurfaced either under LL again or some other maker.
    These were some 90 heavy Ten-wheelers built in 1923-'24 with 68 inch diameter drivers. The Long Island, a Pennsy subsidiary, got 31 of these.
Apparently the design of this prototype loco was based on the E6 Atlantic, with a third driver used instead of the trailing truck. This driver had to be placed far enough back to clear the firebox. The Ten-wheeler's drivers were 12 inches less than the 80 inches of the Atlantic. These locos were intended for suburban commuter service.

Pacifics 4-6-2's

  • USRA Light Pacific - In the 1970's, Like-Like came out with a very nice (if simple) model of the classic USRA light Pacific, with RP-25 flanges. I believe this same model has reappeared under the Model Power and maybe IHC labels.