Time to Model: Michael Stoke’s Museum Quality HO Scale Turbine
As the most powerful locomotives ever built, the “Big Blow” Turbine represented an era of Class I railroading where anything was possible and continues to be an inspiration to many railroaders today, including Michael Stokes, a lifelong modeler, railfan, and locomotive engineer for Union Pacific Railroad. In this week’s “Time to Model” series, we’re highlighting his Museum Quality HO Scale GTEL 8500hp “Big Blow” Turbine and exploring how Museum Quality trains set the bar high in unparalleled realism.
Recently, Michael Stokes shared an image with us that featured his Museum Quality HO Scale GTEL 8500hp “Big Blow” Turbine with a builder’s plate and operator’s manual in the background. The items, which are now among his prized possessions, were a recent eBay find.
“I’m not 100% sure how to tell if it was the one off of the 30,” Stokes said. “It was one of those ‘out of the blue’ eBay finds that had no information to go with it and I just grabbed it. Being that the plate is from 1961, it would have to be from one of the last turbines produced (as 61 was the last year according to Wikipedia).”
Stokes says that the Big Blow captures his interest as a modeler/ and railfan due to the fact that, “It is one of the most, if not most-beautifully made models outside of brass,” he said. “As one of the most famous locomotives UP ever owned,” he continued, “and one of the most powerful ever built, ScaleTrains.com represented the model with an attention to detail that is second to none. Out of the 130+ locomotives that I own from various model manufacturers, the ‘Big Blow’ from ScaleTrains.com is the crowned jewel of my collection,” Stokes said.
Some of his favorite things about the model include the attention to detail in the cab, including the cab and instrument lights. He said, “The additional hoses that are used to connect the A and B units together, you don’t see that on other models.” Most importantly to Stokes is the roof detail. He added, “We spend a lot of time looking down at the models as we operate and the roof is seen most often as the train rolls along the layout. The spinning turbine blades are also a big hit with my fellow operators!”
Stokes says he still has the original receipt from when he purchased the model and it shows that he purchased the “Big Blow” on September 22, 2016, making him among the first to have purchased the first round of Museum Quality Turbines.
“I would definitely recommend ScaleTrains.com’s products to anyone looking to expand their locomotive fleet on their model railroad. I myself own at least one of every locomotive ScaleTrains.com has produced.” Stokes continued, “The hobby had reached a point of just about all that you could do with a plastic model, but then ScaleTrains.com came along and raised the bar even higher with the railroad specific details, color-matched paint, the use of ESU LokSound, and even the step and walkway lights,” he exclaimed. “I and my fellow operators cannot wait to see whats next from ScaleTrains.com!”
Michael Stokes is an Engineer with Union Pacific out of Shreveport, Louisiana. He has been with Union Pacific for since 2011. Normally, Stokes runs out of Shreveport toward Longview, Texas, or to Livonia, Louisiana. “I’ve run trains as far west as Fort Worth, and down into Hearne, Texas. We operate on the old Texas & Pacific, and parts of the old Southern Pacific and Cotton Belt. I also operate on trackage rights in Shreveport on the KCS (ex-Louisiana & Arkansas) and have worked on excursion trains with UP 844 and UP 4014 when they were in or around the Shreveport area,” said Stokes.
“As a modeler, I also operate weekly on the Sue Line, and Louisiana, Arkansas, and Western model railroads. I have always had a fascination with trains ever since I can remember! As I got older, the trains kept getting bigger and bigger until I reached 1:1 scale with UP!”
We’d like to thank Michael for sharing these fantastic images with us – along with highlights of his career with Union Pacific. Our Museum Quality HO Scale GTEL 8500hp “Big Blow” Turbine is available now. To learn more about the model, watch our recent video highlighting the Museum Quality features.