Category Archives: Opinion

PROTO works – Let’s build more layouts

Andy Reichert shared a YouTube video on the PROTO:87 Yahoo! Group the other day. It shows a P:76 modular layout with a train running at increasing speeds. I must say, it’s impressive. Have a look for yourself.

The system clearly works, so let’s get cracking and build more PROTO layouts. Fellow modelers will follow suit, publications will cover it, more parts will become available and so on.

Are you on board?

A PROTO:87 quality score for rolling stock

It is customary that FREMO groups keep inventory of engines and cars. The main reason being that each piece of rolling stock needs to have a unique number. This is not only true to the prototype but also avoids confusion during operating sessions. When a member wants to register a newly acquired model, he emails the particular number to the list keeper.

The list keeper of the FREMO:87 group recently changed and the new admin suggested a few additional data sets including a quality score to added to the list.

Introducing a quality score

This quality score, which is assigned by the rolling stock owners themselves, is supposed to encourage the continued improvement of models and has three levels:

  • Ready to run model with spring-loaded buffers, PROTO:87 wheels and original coupler
  • Ready to run model with details such as wire grab handles or etched steps
  • Ready to run model with etched axle holders, brake lines and cylinders or brass model kit

I think introducing a quality score is a great idea but I am not sure if three levels are enough to accurately represent the varying degrees of detailing.

My proposed scoring system

Instead, I am proposing a 10 point system in which a point is awarded for each addition.

  • Spring-loaded buffers, basic PROTO:87 wheels, unique number and original couplers (the bare minimum)
  • Brake hose
  • Etched or wire grab handles
  • Cast or echted steps
  • Brake lines and cylinder
  • Brake shoes with hanging gear
  • Etched axle holders with cast bearings or scale bogie/truck
  • Scale frame
  • PROTO:87 wheels with prototypical wheel contour
  • Weathering

Looking at my current PIKO Tds926 project it would score six out of ten once it is weathered. A fully assembled and weathered brass kit would most likely score ten out of ten.


I think my system has three distinct advantages:

  • It makes less of a distinction between ready to run models that have been supered and complete brass kits.
  • It focuses more on the effort of the modeler who spend a considerable amount of time and money on detailing their rolling stock.
  • It is flexible and can be easily adapted because it doesn’t try to categorize models by attributes.

Your turn

What do you think about my system? Do you have suggestions for improvement? I am looking forward to your comments.