A reader writes:
Hope you're doing well!
I was reading your post about Delton, and I have a question for you. As a beginning garden railroader, I've been picking up used rolling stock off eBay as budget permits, so I have a mix of manufacturers including USA Trains, Aristocraft, and LGB. I only have two engines at the moment, both USA Trains. I saw a used Delton Long Caboose that I'd like to add to my slowly growing collection, but your article made me think that it might look too small in comparison to the other cars. Iâ€™m not a huge stickler for everything being prototypically perfect, but I don't want it to look "funny" and out of place either.
Any comments would be greatly appreciated!
-------------I replied: --------------------------------------------------------
I have a bit of Delton and a bit of HLW, the company that inherited many of Delton's molds. The Delton "long caboose" mold was purchased by Aristocraft and made under their "classic" line for a while. I don't have one of those, but considering its proportions more-or-less match the Delton and HLW I do have, I would say that the car is likely delightful, but will not look great with your other pieces. To make it useful on the average railroad, you'd have to pick up more 1:24 stuff for it to go with. Do you really need to go down another "rabbit hole"? P.S. I go down quite a few because I try to write informative articles, based on things I've actually had in my hands. But building up a collection of several different scales isn't in everybody else's best interest.
I have multiple loops on my railroad, and I "get away" with using mismatched scales by running them on separate loops. Mostly, though, my Delton or HLW stuff is stuff like railbusses that I bought because no one else makes/made the models I like in any scale. I do have an HLW switcher and work caboose, so I can make up short trains. But all of those can go on short loops visually separated from the rest of the trains.
If I stopped my Delton or HLW train next to a stopped Aristocraft, Bachmann, LGB, or USA train, it would look funny to some people, but I don't do that.
You also need to think about era. If you have a bunch of stuff that looks like it belongs in the 1800s or very early 1900s, that caboose, or the LGB "drover's caboose" might be a good match. If most of your stuff looks like it belongs, say from the 1920s on, the Delton caboose, modeled after 19th-century equipment, might not be a good matach.
Sorry for the long explanation. In the long run it's personal choice, and I have bought and sold many pieces that other people loved and I wasn't satisfied with. With stuff getting harder to find, the risks of paying too much for something that really isn't a good fit for you or your railroad are rising.
Best of luck,