Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Prototypes and modeling

Hobby terminology in plain English
Any real-life object that's modeled is considered a prototype. Examples of prototypes include locomotives, freight and passenger cars, structures, trackwork, and even an entire railroad.

Period modeling
Many modelers set their layouts in a particular span of time. For example,
a modeler may choose a period when steam engines hauled most trains. If the year is 1948, then all locomotives, rolling stock, structures, and vehicles should look like those used during the late 1940s. Period modelers aim for this sort of historical accuracy.

Transition era
Most American railroads changed from steam engines to diesels between 1945 and 1960; thus, this 15-year period is often called the transition era.

Peddler freight
The local freight trains that stopped to pick up and drop off cars at small towns and industry sidings are known as peddler freights but are also sometimes called locals or way freights. A peddler freight was usually short (10 to 15 cars) and was assigned lightweight, versatile locomotives that could handle switching at individual sidings as well as hauling a train on the main line.

Join the discussion

Read and share your comments on this article
Comment on this article
Want to leave a comment?
Only registered members of are allowed to comment on this article. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.


Servicing steam locomotives step-by-step

Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Model Railroader magazine. Please view our privacy policy