NEB&W Guide to Mantua Steam Locomotive Models

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Loco Models Table of Contents
Locos Table of Contents
Stock Table of Contents


Mantua basically produced generic designed models. Many of their locos shared the same cab, which is a unique design to Mantua/Tyco. It is sort like the USRA switcher cab and seems a little short for road engines. (There is a period in the late '20's where such a cab was seen on road engines.) Wish they had invested a little more and did a few other cab versions. Mantua was based in New Jersey, so any prototype-based models come from prototypes local to them (CNJ, RDG, LV).

Also, at first, in order to have a working headlight, they put the bulb in the smokebox and had the headlight cast on, with no space between the headlight and smokebox front. In later years, they redid this, which also allowed them to move the headlight around.

For years and years, Mantua produced the same few types of locos, but in the 1980's, they got very creative, changing boilers around, modifying details, and producing new wheel arrangements.

Around 2004, they were acquired by Model Power, who have only released a few of these locos.

Tank Engines

  • 0-4-0 "Busy Bee" Switcher - This model was produced in Mantua's early history, c. 1948, and was only produced for about four years, until the "Booster" was introduced c. 1952. The Busy Bee was fabricated of sheet metal (the Booster was cast metal) and was said to be based on Jersey Central's no. 840, a Baldwin 1907 product, which switched the car float terminal until the arrival of the very first and famous diesel, boxvcar no. 1000 around 1924. Then it worked out its days as a shop switcher, surviving till the end of steam.

  • 0-4-0/0-6-0 Booster - Originally, Mantua produced a tank engine with a pair of rectangular tanks, one on each side, which they put either an 0-4-0 or 0-6-0 mechanism under. Their latest version is a saddletank version somewhat akin to the Bachmann engine.

  • 361059 Leetonia & Cherry Valley 0-6-0 Switcher
  • 393021 Reading 0-6-0 Switcher
    The second version. I think the mechanism is set back a little too far. I think the center of gravity is under the steam dome.



  • 204 0-4-0 Goat - Sheet metal kit, based on a Reading prototype. Later re-introduced in plastic.

  • 0-4-0 "Mighty Mite" - Apparently a sheet metal kit based somewhat on the B&O's "Little Joe Docksider", as rebuilt in 1921 with separate tenders to work in Philadelphia (nos. 96 and 99). Kit introduced in 1949, but was replaced shortly afterwards by the die-cast "Shifter".
The cab is clearly not deep enough on the model. In fact, this might be the origin of the hallmark Mantua cab.

  • 0-4-0 Switcher - Originally, Mantua produced a switcher that sat on either an 0-4-0 mechanism or 0-6-0 one, which they called the "Shifter". The superstructure appears to be based on the PRR locos, but without the hallmark Pennsy Belpaire firebox.
The PRR prototype 0-4-0 was lighter-looking than the model, while their B6 class of 0-6-0's were heavier, so the model isn't that exact for either type. (Bowser makes a more accurate model of a Pennsy A5 0-4-0.)
In the mid-'60's, Mantua redesigned their superstructure for their small loco, and used a bunch of different wheel arrangements under it. The review in the August '67 Model Railroader said the model(s) followed no specific prototype, but felt the boiler was fairly large for an 0-4-0 arrangement.


  • 0-6-0 Switcher - Originally, Mantua produced a switcher that sat on either an 0-4-0 mechanism or 0-6-0 one. Also see the discussion under the 0-4-0, above. The first PRR B6 class 0-6-0 switchers, I believe, were built in 1902, and built through 1924. Driver diameter was 56 inches, which is a little bigger than the typical 51 inch diameter of most switchers, and larger than on the model.
The Belpaire firebox was used infrequently on a number of locos here and there, the Great Northern liked it, and the Pennsy loved it, so by leaving if off this model, it became useful as a generic type of switcher.
However, squeezing another driver in there to make it an 0-6-0 out of the 0-4-0 doesn't really work. In general, the reason to adding extra drivers was to spread the weight out more. Which means either an extra-drivered loco is designed for lighter track (like the way the RS-2/3 loco could get six-wheel trucks for branchline service), or more likely, the entire loco is bigger and heavier. In other words, in theory the boiler on this model should have been lengthened to justify the extra driver.
At about the same time Mantua produced their 0-4-0, Gilbert produced an 0-6-0 that was much closer based on the PRR locos, so the Mantua and Gilbert models look somewhat similar.

  • 0-4-0 Camelback - According to the review in the Feb. '86 MR, this model is based on the Reading's A-5a class of engines, built by Baldwin between 1906 and 1913. Plans were published in the July '74 MR. These locos were intended for sharp curves in some urban industrial areas. One of these locos (actually a class 4-2b, but similar) survived and is on display at the Strasburg Museum in Strasburg, PA. (I've also read that the loco model sits about a foot too high.)
It appears their 0-6-0 camelback and this one share the same superstructure. I think that the prototypes, too, were fairly close in all matters other than the number of wheels, but if not, I'm not sure which prototype this model is closest to. (I'm pretty sure it is the 0-4-0 version.)
Originally the model fabricated of sheet brass, then went out of production for decades, until re-introduced in plastic.

  • 0-6-0 Camelback - I believe this is based on a Reading prototype, class B-8a, one of 36 such locos built by Baldwin between 1906 and '12. Mantua probably followed the plans that were in Model Railroader in the 1950's. (I've also read that this being the 0-4-0 superstructure on a different mechanism, it isn't that close to a B-8a, particularly as it is too short.)


  • 368145 Wabash 0-8-0 Switcher - Mantua/Tyco took the USRA 0-8-0 switcher with its 51-inch drivers and stretched it to accommodate 63-inch drivers to produce a Consolidation. Then for a short time, they left off the pony truck in the front to make an 0-8-0. (I think they substituted 51-inch drivers in this version but this would still be too long for a real USRA switcher, but not too bad for a somewhat freelanced design.) Have no idea how close this is to any Wabash switcher.


  • 367086 0-10-0 Switcher - Mikado boiler on a new mechanism with the smaller coal tender. They retained the regular spoked pilot, so it isn't a footboard one found on most switchers. They also left off the air pumps on the pilot deck, but since the boiler casting doesn't have any on the fireman's side, the resulting model has no air pumps whatsoever. This would not be a problem in stopping as much as in starting as they need to pump up the air in the freight cars in order to get them to move.
In the April 18, 1933 Railway Age, there was an article about the single engine, no. 14, built by Baldwin for the A&S. The road was a subsidiary of Alcoa, and the engine was being shown because so many of its parts were made of aluminum (and left unpainted, including the boiler and cylinder jackets and the side rods. Obviously Mantua was following this prototype as they even used the same loco number. The prototype had 57 inch drivers and I suspect the model had 51 inch ones. There were numerous other inconsistencies, but on the other hand, the "silver" coloring would tend to be so distinctive, one might be able to overlook these problems.

Freight-Type Engines (Two-Wheel Lead Truck)

Passenger-Type Engines (Four-Wheel Lead Truck)