~ Updated January 28, 2014 ~
Anyone who has ever tried to get through to a "real live person" when seeking assistance with a computer bug, ( Or about anything else these days! ) can attest to the frustrations encountered while wading through endless recorded phone messages ( "If you are calling from a touch tone phone; press "1", if you know the number of your partys' extension you can dial it at any time during this message; if you are calling about tech support, have you tried our automated tech support serve yet? , etc. etc. etc. etc. an nauseam.. ).
P-B-L's business philosophy, since its inception in 1971, has been to offer a personal, yet professional level of service to our friends. ( Our Customers..).
Initially ( As early as 1965..) we offered home "tweaked" ( Track tested and adjusted..) Brass Locomotive Models, equipped with the appropriate Kadee couplers, along with the ancillary items to make a model railroad operational.. We also supplied advice based upon our years of hands-on experience in the Model Railroad field..
By 1971, we had progressed to the point of producing mostly one-off, fully operational models we called "FOREGROUND MODELS ™" which included carefully selected gears and gearboxes which we matched to our 'favorite motor' at the time, the elusive 22X30mm coreless Micro-Motor from Faulhauber, for smooth, powerful, reliable operation; PFM ® Sound, operating headlights and firebox lighting, a Hand Painted Crew, and exquisitely rendered professional paint with totally "film free" lettering. All features that were virtually unheard of in those days! ( Click on the highlighted text for a view of a couple of those early efforts...)
By the late 1970's, after spending half a decade in the Northern New Mexico Railroad town of "Chama", enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of real live steam in action, the Narrow Gauge Bug finally bit us, and it "took"... We were hopelessly hooked on the Narrow Gauge. ( The railroad still runs today, and if you haven't yet experienced the thrill of Steam, Mountain Railroading, a trip to Chama, New Mexico and a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad should certainly be of top priority! Click here to visit their web site. Don't forget to tell 'em we sent ya, OK? )
Realizing that most HO narrow gauge, ( HOn3 ) was too small ( and lightweight ) to offer reliable operation, and the 1/4" scale narrow gauge stuff ( On3 ) required 'way more room than we had, we turned our attention to 3/16's scale narrow gauge, ( "Sn3" ), which seemed to offer all the detailing possibilities of "On3", within the confines of a layout area suitable for an HO scale standard gauge layout! And, of course, since the largest locomotive on the Narrow Gauge was a 2-8-2, ( D&RGW's magnificent "K-37" Mikado!) which actually was converted from a Baldwin Built Standard Gauge 2-8-0 in 1928, the ponderous "feel" of this huge, ridiculously proportioned locomotive could be captured nicely in this scale! If only there were models available with which to do it!
( If the Narrow Gauge is new to you, try to envision a locomotive (( This same "K-37..)), measuring over 10' (( TEN FEET! )) across its cylinders, running on track gauged to 3' (( three feet )) between the rails! Its wheels are INSIDE its frame! (( In order to accommodate the huge firebox, the frame could not be narrowed.. So it was widened instead! )) It has all the valve motion, side rods, and main rods of the standard gauge (( broad gauge )) locomotive, but these are attached to counterweights located OUTSIDE the frame rails! And yes, it still retains the tender trucks of the broad gauge locomotive, and they're still far enough apart to accommodate the almost 5' gauge of its predecessor, but now it sports 26" wheels, instead of 33" wheels, and these have been "squeezed in" on the original axles to the proper 3' between the rails gauge!
(Now if you can conjure up a mental picture of this beast tackling fifteen miles of 4% grade with a heavy freight consist in tow; or in the middle of a 20 car tank train, with another at the head end; or pulling a four car "Varnish String" of passenger cars up that same grade, then man, you're beginning to see the attraction of the Narrow Gauge!)
(And if you can visualize the tall, spindly bridges spanning crystal clear trout streams, and the trees, the wildflowers, the rugged, reddish rock outcroppings, and the deep majestic blue of the high country sky, then you need to visit our old digs, Chama, New Mexico, whose elevation is 7,860 feet above sea level, and take a ride on the C&TS Railroad! Step back in time and let yourself be enchanted by what you see there! It'll be a trip you'll never forget, believe me!) Oops... Did I digress?)
Anyhow, we decided that our newly adopted "scale" needed some proper models. Models that would exhibit all of the visible detailing of the prototype, to suit the "detail hound" in us, yet be fully operational, at Scale Speeds, to suit the "operator" in us.. Our first brass import arrived in 1980.. It was a D&RGW "K-37.." Its' prototype was built in 1911 by Baldwin Locomotive Works as a "Standard Gauge" 2-8-0, class "C-41".. It was rebuilt by "the Grande" into a Narrow Gauge "Mike" in 1928, which was the way we modeled it... (We imported a second run of this behemoth in 1991. You can Click Here to see a photo of one we produced as a FOREGROUND MODEL™ .
Today, seventeen + years later, with but one exception, we've imported locomotives of every class of locomotive that the D&RGW ever ran. And most of the R.G.S. locomotives to boot! ( Click Here for a sampling of just some of the models we've been responsible for creating!)
We've also had the tooling created for 16 highly detailed, injection molded plastic model kits, and acquired the tooling for three others. These are truly state-of-the-art models!. Models that successfully capture all of the feel and charm of the prototype, but in miniature!
You can now click on our Online Catalog and see what our entire inventory consists of at this writing! (Don't forget to click the "Refresh Button" on your web browser each time you visit! Things change! You'd don't want to be left in the dust, do you? ) Thanks to the hard work of our friend Jim Schultz, our catalog is up and working now. You can now SEARCH through our entire inventory, add items adding to a "Shopping Cart", and do a little ordering on line!
(We highly recommend using PayPal for placing On Line orders. You can read all about PayPal by Clicking Here ... ( And please don't take us wrong here, we LIKE this electronic stuff just fine, but we still don't TRUST it 100%... Which is why, at least for now, we don't have a provision for accepting Online orders... Maybe that will change in the future, but until then you'll just have to continue calling here to talk with the happy smiling voices of Mary Ann, or Keren, or Jason... And in that context, things could be a whole lot worse, eh? )
We also had one heckova Sound / Power System developed for us by the
fellow who designed and engineered the original
. We called it The
~ PBL FOREGROUND SOUND SYSTEM II® ~
You can click on the highlighted text to hear one of the 16 astonishingly
realistic Whistles our FSS-II system was capable of generating! Other sounds
included Fully Synchronized Steam Sounds, Diesel Sounds, even the sounds of
that most famous of all motorcars, the "Galloping Goose" of the Rio Grande
Southern, complete with gear changes which YOU could effect yourself! All these
were digitized and stored in memory chips, and controlled by a three serious
micro-processors, and able to be brought back at your command via a wireless
remote control! Truly this was a Sound Power System without peer in the
industry! Unfortunately, like the PFM Systems, these systems are now out of
Good Modelin' to Ya!
The Guys & Gals at P-B-L