N-scale models of Czech and Slovak prototypes
In the world, N-scale is the second most widespread gauge. This fact is not valid for Czech and Slovak republics. H0 and TT gauges are used by most of modellers. Though popularity of N scale in recent time probably grows, it grows very slowly and N-scale is still used thin.
Industrials made models and Piko products
Nowadays, there are no industrial made models of Czech or Slovak (CS) rolling stock. Once there were Piko models made in Eastern Germany. Piko models had mostly bad proportions and poor running quality and even choice of prototypes to be modeled was strange, but they were very cheap. Piko made two models of CS-built locomotives – classes T 449.0 and S 699.0 ÈSD. It is interesting to know, how it was with real prototypes of these classes. Only two diesels T 449.0 were built in 1960 and used shortly for shunting on broad gauge in east Slovakian normal/broad gauge transfer station Èierna nad Tisou. S 699.001 was even single member of its class and spent much of its life on railway testing circle in Cerhenice (S 699.001 still exists and is intended for preservation, but it is now in poor condition). Piko made also steam locomotive class 427.0 (ex class 55 DR) in ÈSD livery. In reality ÈSD used only one such a locomotive shortly after world war II. In the case of 427.0 no special tooling was needed, but for T 449.0 and S 699.0 new molds (however deformed to fit existing chassis) were necessary and it is a pity, that more typical locomotives were not choiced. Piko made some passenger and freight cars in ÈSD livery as well. Passenger coaches (Y-type) were shortened (lengths in 1:170) but appropriate for ÈSD operation, except for dinning car, which was completely incorrect. Double deck coaches had some faults due to dissimilarity between ÈSD and DR prototypes (model was built according to DR of coarse). Some freight cars were only DR prototypes in ÈSD livery, but there were two ones which have some value. First is reefer class La, which was typical at ÈSD until the beginning of 90´s. Model is nice, though it has incorrect bogies. The second is open car class Vtr. Real Vtr was typical car, developed and built in big numbers in Czechoslovakia for ÈSD and also for export. Vtr is the only typical CS-rolling stock (CS-built and CS-used), which was ever built as model in mass series production and I feel it as the best Piko CS-product. (Arnold made the same model, but never in ÈSD livery.)
Productin of Piko N-scale was interrupted (several times ?) in 70´s and 80´s and after renewal in the middle of 80´s not all models were available. Catalogue was not issued and models (other than class 118 DR) were hard to see in magazines. I am not sure, but it looks that ÈSD locomotives were no more produced at that time. About 1990 production of Piko N-scale ended definitively.
After 1990 some limited runs of ÈSD cars (mostly freight) were “produced”. Usually some Czech model railway dealer prepared several tens of older Piko or Roco (cheaper ones) cars in new livery. Especially “favoured” beer reefers were issued. Only incorrect cars (often incorrect car with incorrect lettering) were produced, as I know. Even Piko class La reefer (good model, but boring for somebody) was reprinted with inadequate but large, distinct and color “Mrazírny” lettering.
Small series production
If I write about ÈSD models, I use idiom “limited run” in negative sense due to my experiences with these products. In fact, I use it as an invective. There are better N-scale products for sale time to time, which are produced in small series.
In the world, small series products are usually top-class, highly detailed models sold for top prices. It is not necessary true in the world of CS-models. Quality of small series models vary very much and prices are not extremely high. Most of models are manufactured using epoxy or PUR shells, etched brass is in minority. Big problem is with appropriate and affordable chassis. Some models still use Piko class 118 DR chassis, which were so cheap and produced in so big numbers in the past. Small series producers are making only locomotives and motor cars with trailers, there are almost no coaches or freight cars.
Best-known from CS-small series is TH model (formerly known as MTH). TH model locomotives are made using molded shells and recent ones are well detailed and lettered. It is possible to buy them on model railway exchange conventions or in certain magazines (unevenly). Best quality models are produced by Jiøí Heráèek. These models are smooth running, with detailed etched brass shells and crisp painting and lettering. Jiøí Heráèek´s models are on the border between small series production and kitbashing. He make every time some 15 models of one type in couple different paint schemes. He keep several models for its own collection, others are intended for friends and stable clients, handful appears in magazines.
This is the way, how most of current N-scale models arise. Some models are kitbashed completely, many use bodyshells produced by couple persons (Mr. Èíž for instance). Chassis for locomotives have different origins. Piko class 118 chassis are still used, but many modelers now feel that this is not the right way. Chassis of cheaper foreign models are used more and more and there are also producers of custom-built brass chassis (Mr. Pleticha for instance), price of their products is acceptable. Wagons and coaches are kitbashed in lesser numbers. Freight trains could consist many foreign cars and modelers use them in the place of ÈSD ones without making big fault.
Models presented on this website
CS-models presented on this website are not for sale. I know, my web site is a mixture of commercial and not commercial information and it is difficult to differentiate them for anybody who does not understand Czech. You can see many ÈSD N-scale models here, but it is all for inspiration only.
There is overview of industrial models (Piko), which is exhaustive (but still without pictures). There are selections of small series producers (TH model and Jiøí Heráèek). There is ever growing selection of photos of kitbashed models (made by Petr Sporer, Bedøich Rotrekl, Jiøí Sládek etc.). You can see also photos from ÈSD styled N-scale layouts. In the beginning of 2005 there are 4 railway layouts: Ouklice - Malšov, Peklov, Kácov - Knìževes and Zababov (modular layout). There is also tram layout Líšeò (model inspired by Brno tram network) and diorama Karlùv most (model of horse drawn tramway in historic centre of Prague in 1890´s). Other interesting thing is Nm diorama Bujanov, station of horse drawn railway Èeské Budìjovice - Linz, first one in Central Europe. Next ones are awaited – complete listing of presented layouts (all scales) is here. In our republics, there are also modelers, which interest in foreign railways, one really good US-styled N-scale layout is presented on this web site.
Future of ÈSD in N-scale
As European N-scale is generally in crisis, we can hardly expect new mass series CS-models. Yes ÈSD liveries on some foreign rolling stock could come. In fact, we can expect only models of rolling stock, which was used on both sides of border Czech-Germany. German steam locomotives and cars were widespread in all Europe after world wars, but this is not the thing we need so much. There are only few types of locomotives (and more passenger coaches) which were typical in both countries in the period most believed by modelers (from 60´s to 80´s). Freight cars are similar for first look, but in reality they are mostly different.
You can wait for class T 679.1 for instance. There is good Minitrix model of class 120 DR, which could be simply repainted into T 679.1 ÈSD. I know modelers who made it or plan it in near future. Minitrix do not care about handful of CS-modelers with limited finances, and factory production of T 679.1 is not planned (as I know).
My conclusion is – the only future of CS N-scale is in small series production.
I am trying to find and publish here all about good N-scale CS-models. This is one of most extensive web sites about this theme (I do not know any larger now). I wrote this page for those, who are interested in, but do not understand Czech. Send me your photos, if you have such a models, please.
This is not the only web site about CS-models in N-scale. Nice photos with perfect scenery are on web site of Zababov. Zababov is modular railway club building layouts not only in N-scale. See www.zababov.cz.