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Probably not going to be the "right" answer for many here, even though I do fully understand the desire for the most accurate prototypical representation that you can buy for your buck. But the fact of the matter is that even down to rivet counting level, our models fall short of true prototypical appearance, especially when in operation. In truth, even our best efforts at track work clearly falls far short of looking and being truly prototypical. Steam plumes also fall far short of looking scale, and the total lack of any chance at billowing black smoke coming out the stack is a fail no one has found a practical way to remedy. The actual motion of the engine and cars is clearly not a true scale representation of the real thing either.

Having come from a lifetime of HO/HOn3, I long ago determined that the best way to deal with all these scale shortcomings is to adopt an attitude that accepts models for what they are, and so I came to the conclusion that "stand-off" scale is the best approach for me. In HO/HOn3 my typical stand-off distance was 3 feet, so that if it looked about right at a glance from that distance, that was good enough. In Fn3 and associated scales, I find that 10 feet seems about right, as with ground running, I'm rarely much closer and most often much further away anyway.

Your imagination is the best tool you have to accept these failings and enjoy that which we do have. But if you feel the only way you can truly enjoy these things is when viewed under a microscope, then I think your only way forward is to turn to scratch-building, and I truly wish you the best of luck at achieving what you desire.

Meanwhile, back to the valve gear on the Accucraft Shay, I would suggest that you continue your crusade to try and enlist fellow enthusiast to rally the Accucraft management into providing a more realistic option showing multiple valve rods for each cylinder, and even have them fully functional and conspicuously different in forward and reverse. But I suspect that the cost might be a bit more than you think. Perhaps another possibility would be for you to add the other valve rod to each cylinder yourself, as I see that the crank mounted cams actually have substantial room for another valve rod, even if it is only a dummy.

Just a thought.
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