Power Corrupts. So, Clean the Wheels Occasionally.
Every locomotive on my railroad has an authentic number. Indeed, many are specifically modeled from photos of the real units. There are no fantasy models here. (Well, there’s one, but I must explain that elsewhere.)
Locomotives by Railroad:
When this model railroad began, all I could afford were blue-box Athearn units (and low-end Bachmann), which are relatively inexpensive but require a lot of additional work to look more realistic. Now I have begun adding the higher-end Athearn units, as well as Kato, Atlas, Bachmann Spectrum, Walthers, Stewart, MTH, Intermountain, and various combinations of shells and chassis.
As to my choices of locomotives: the key word is TYPICAL. The goal is to have a representative sampling of the various classes operated during each era. My SP units appear as they would in the timeframe 1988-1996. UP-era power is dominated by modern GE AC4400’s and similar offerings from EMD. You get the idea.
I have installed homemade constant-intensity directional lighting circuits in many locomotives. Some are incandescent microbulbs, but I recently discovered a circuit with high-intensity LED’s that are amazing; more will receive these as time permits. A few units are dummies, but I have discovered that, with the steep grades on this line, dummies are a luxury I can seldom afford. I’ve made it management policy to only acquire powered units going forward.