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As I read through various posts I get a chuckle out of the semantics surrounding the word modern.  For example, many writers will use the term modern to mean railroad prototypes since the very late steam period and all of the diesel period ie roughly the product line that is sold by USAT or Aristo.  Hmmm ... that covers everything since the Second War and that was over 60 years ago!

The diesel period has now covered a timespan almost as long as the steam period did.  And all of us recognize that the 4-4-0s of the 1870s bore only a scant relation to "modern" steam power.  In fact, the early steam power of the late 19th century was revolutionized in the two decades to start the 20th century and then transformed again into "super power" between 1920 and 1940.

The first gen diesels of the immediate postwar era were long gone in mainline service 25 years later ... and second and third and later generations of diesels followed.  Even SD-40-2's are almost extinct in Class I mainline service these days.

When someone says modern to me, i don't think of trains of 40 foot red boxcars pulled by first gen diesels that looked just like the steam trains of the 1930s.  The image of 12000 hp of Dash 9's thundering by with 100 intermodal cars is closer to the thought in my mind..

Are all us old pharts so stuck in our ways that modernizing ended in 1950?

Regards ... Doug
 

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Good question.

I'm not a great steam engine fan but to me, "modern" steam is any mainline standard gauge engine built after about 1920 or, in another way, anything working for a class 1 railroad during the last 25 years of steam power.  

I'd also classify any diesel power as "modern" if it followed the SD40-2 into service.  One again, anything working regularly for a class1 railroad during the last 25 years.

Those parameters effectively eliminate all N/G stuff and the pre WW1 standard gauge tea kettles that manufactures insist on turning out.  Where is the big "modern" 2-8-0 and 4-6-0 that would fit on every ones layout even if it was used as a fan trip engine?  Diesel products pretty much cover the board except for that much needed C630/636 (%$&*$#) but steam seems to be centered around the 1870's and the really BIG stiff in their final years.

Dave
 

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Hi Doug,

Quite an interesting point and a rather large mouth full of food for thought.
Guess I will have to be more careful about saying, "I model the modern diesel era" .....because I clearly do NOT!;)
Ummm, guess I do NOT know what modern diesel era I model.
Now I am a little shocked to find MY era ended 30 years ago./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/angry.gif

Maybe I am an older phart than I thought I was....

Tom
 

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If you go out on the mainline of a Class I RR I think you will see what they consider to be modern, and in a short time (not there quite yet) there will be mostly 6-axle locos of 4000 and above HP. You still see GP38's,GP40's and SD40's right now plus a few other odd locos but it is becoming harder to find them. Many have moved into the leasing market and do lease them to the Class I's. I believe much of this change has to do with the EPA mandates for the Class I's which means that many of the older locos will not meet the requirements without expensive upgrades. Many will not do that as they lease their locos so will just let the lease go and get newer locos.

Art
 

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"Modern" has many meanings... 

One, is anything that is current with the present society; - contemporary, - today.

It is also a semi-official term to represent the mid 20th century... "mid" being from about 1920 to about 1980... there is lots of overlap between things that get general names associated with them to identify an era and style in art and architecture.  Such as my use of "contemporary" above, that is associated with the years at the end of the Modern era, extending to the end of the 20th century.

The thing that happens as time marches on is that what is "modern" today, is junk or antique (depending on how much you are willing to pay for it) tomorrow.

Thus, Modern Steam COULD be Steam Locomotives that existed around the year 1950, give or take 20 or so years.  it could also mean a Steam Locomotive built (or rebuilt) yesterday using present day technology.  Modern Diesel could mean either the one just delivered from the manufacturer or it could mean one from 1950, give or take 20 years or so (concurrent with the end of the use of Steam Locomotion). The true meaning would have to be inferred in the context in which the word was used.

To my kids, MY "Modern" furniture is "OLD", but the same stuff they just bought at K-Mart or Wal*Mart is "Modern" and to my grandkids my stuff is "Antique" and the stuff they just bought is "Fizzle Razz" or "Whoppin".  I am not sure what term will be applied to the furniture of today so my Great-Great-Great-grandkids can pay exorbitant prices for it in a Junque shop.
 

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"late steam" meaning 1920's-1950's has always been referred to as "modern steam"..
and since it was generally the last steam built, it remains "modern steam" to this day..even though the 1940's get further away all the time.
its "modern steam" when put in the context of ALL steam..I dont consider the term "modern" to be a conflict or out of place in that context.

I have never heard anyone use the term "modern" when referring to all diesels since the 1950's however...only steam.
Diesels are generally lumped into "1st generation"..which is roughly 1930's to 1950's..
"2nd generation" which is roughly 1960's..
and there isnt really a specific term after that..the term "3rd generation" hasnt been used much..
people do say "modern diesels"..referring to locomotives made right now..which might be a problem in 30 years! ;)
I suppose there will eventually be a 3rd generation classification, probably being 1970's and 80's..
then a 4th generation, wide cabs and microprocessors, beginning in the 1990's..

For example, many writers will use the term modern to mean railroad prototypes since the very late steam period and all of the diesel period ie roughly the product line that is sold by USAT or Aristo.


I really dont think anyone does that..I have never heard it used that way.

Scot
 

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Well, since the term was first used in the sense we use it today in the late sixteenth century, I sort of figure most all of the Locomotives (i.e. steam, electric, diesel, or otherwise) and trains fall into the postmodern or late-postmodern period. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/hehe.gif:D
 

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...I really dont think anyone does that..I have never heard it used that way...


Mea culpa, to a degree. I used the term "modern" to describe post-1940s railroading in another topic. I did qualify what I meant by the term as to not confuse it with "modern" being simply today's railways and operations. Much depends on perspective and context. If one is talking to someone who is well-versed in railroading, then painting post-1940s railroading with such a moniker is indeed far too broad. However, when speaking to someone who is just exploring railroading in general, such a broad brush is well-suited to the discussion. The audience isn't nearly as familiar with the subtle nuances of the technology. A newcomer to the hobby no more knows an F-3 from a Dash-9, but typically does know the difference between steam and diesel. I think back to my early days in HO scale, where I had no concept of era beyond knowing that my Tyco 4-6-0 was really old, and my DD-40 (in B&O colors, no less) was pretty modern. After I had been in the hobby for a while, I began to learn the history and distinctions.

Discussions about US narrow gauge are similarly enigmatic. When you say "modern" narrow gauge operations, to what do you refer? "Modern" and "narrow gauge" tend to be mutually exclusive when taking the word to mean current technology. Most narrow gauge railroads went the way of the dodo still running c. 1890 locomotives and wood rolling stock. The "modern" steel era on the EBT began in 1913. For some of the long-term survivors, their "modern" equipment was still being built from wood in the 20s and 30s! The White Pass & Yukon is arguably the closest thing to "modern" narrow gauge railroading in the US, and even there, it's newest diesel is 26 years old. The rest are pushing 40 or older using 1st and 2nd generation diesel technology at best.

I model the 1910s. For me, "modern" is anything with air brakes and automatic couplers! And that whole "indoor plumbing" thing? Ain't that the cat's meow!

Later,

K
 

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Seems to me it's a relative term. If you're modeling 1850's, air brakes and knuckle couplers are too modern. If you're modeling 1950's an SD45 is too modern. If you're modeling 21st century, nothing is too modern.
 

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I think when it comes to diesels-electrics, it's probably better to use first, second, and third generation.

First generation is everything prior to the -2 series EMD's and the Dash 7's from GE.  Second Generation includes the -2 series EMD's and the Dash 7's from GE.  Third generation starts with the SD-50/60 series and the Dash 8/Dash 9.  Of course, Fourth generation is still to come but could probably start with the "green locomotives" when they start hitting the rails in force.

From that point, it wouldn't be hard to classify freight cars, ie. roof walks, roof walk-less, and the more exotic "new" stuff, such as plastic reefers.  (propotype ones, not models.) 

Robert
 

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Anything that happened before I was born is NOT modern.

Modern Era means just that, of today. Modern is a constantly shifting definition. Example: Modeling "modern" diesels of the late 50's is not modern, anyone here consider a Lockheed Constellation a "modern era" airliner?

For conversational purposes I would define "modern era" as within the last 10 years, although I could see someone pushing that limit out to 15 or maybe 20 years.
 

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I don't know about "modern" but I've always considered running what runs on the railroads right now as "contemporary modelling."

Robert
 

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In my opinion if I were to put a specific date to the "modern diesel railroad era" it would be 1970 to present. Most railroads even class 1's have many older EMD's and GE's (Short lines with Alco's) built from that time period and then rebuilt again to present day to serve as B-B truck power for local and yard switching.

 I live in CSX territory and just about all the local job's are done with GP40-2s.On the main there are the newer high horsepower EMD's and GE's but, it is not out of the norm to see older power mixed in. I think that gives a good time period for the modern diesel era.:)

Thanks
 

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I think when it comes to diesels-electrics, it's probably better to use first, second, and third generation.

First generation is everything prior to the -2 series EMD's and the Dash 7's from GE.  Second Generation includes the -2 series EMD's and the Dash 7's from GE.  Third generation starts with the SD-50/60 series and the Dash 8/Dash 9.  Of course, Fourth generation is still to come but could probably start with the "green locomotives" when they start hitting the rails in force.

Robert



Robert,
hmmm..I dont quite agree with your definations for 2nd and 3rd generation..
2nd generation is generally considered (not just by me! ;)  to be the diesels that arrived "after the first wave"

First generation would be:
EMD F-units
EMD E-units
EMD GP7 and GP9
Alco FA
Alco PA
Alco S-series
Alco RS1
All Baldwins
All FM's.

essentially all the diesels that replaced steam..the diesels of the 1930's - 1950's.
thats "first generation"..if it operated alongside steam, its first generation.

Then 2nd generation arrives to replace those engines,
the diesels of the 1960's, diesels that arrived after steam was fully vanquished.
a clear "next generation" after the first generation.
GP20
GP30
GP40
SD40
SD45
(but not EMD dash-2's)
Alco RS11
Alco Centuries
First GE U-boats

Third generation would be the Dash-2 line.
diesels of the 1970's and 80's.
GP38-2
GP40-2
SD40-2
SD50 (basically still a dash-2, but not called a dash-2 since there was never a "dash-1" version)
SD60
GE dash-7 series. ( clear "step up" from the U-boats of Gen 2)

Fourth generation would be 1990's to today.
The GE dash-9's and newer.
and the EMD SD70, SD90 and variants.
All wide cabs and computer control.

Generation 3 and 4 is somewhat fluid and open to intrepretation.
but  "2nd generation" is quite well defined..

Although I dont think there has ever been any "official body" that has defined these terms clearly!  ;)
so they are quite open to individual intrepretation..
but im pretty sure most people would agree with my defination of "2nd generation"..thats generally accepted.
after that, its more of a grey area..

Scot
 
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why not hook the use of the word 'modern' to something else?

let us say, modern railroads start at the point, where engeneers stopped using tophats?
 

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Scot, I think you have a good definition there. I was kind of just putting together an example, I like your definition much better.

Robert
 

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Modern means you haven't gotten delivery yet. Obsolete means you have.:D

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