Van Sweringen Berkshires from Life-Like Proto 2000


Until Proto 2000 came out with these 2-8-4 Berkshires, I have never heard the term "Van Sweringen Berkshires."

This brings up two questions:

  1. What is "Van Sweringen"?

  1. Why are they (Life-Like) the only ones that seem to use this term? All the other references I have ever read about Berkshires, never use the term "Van Sweringen."

Thanks, Jim

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The Van Sweringen brothers, Oris Paxton Van Sweringen and Mantis James Van Sweringen, were Cleveland real estate promoters who bought out the NYC's interest in the Nickel Plate in 1916. They eventually controlled a large business empire, which included railroads such as the NKP, C&O, Erie, and Pere Marquette. Senior mechanical officers from these roads were brought together in an organisation known as the Advisory Mechanical Committee, charged with the task of developing standardised motive power and rollingstock for the Van Sweringen roads.

The NKP 2-8-4s were a product of the A.M.C., derived from the Erie

2-8-4s and the C&O 2-10-4s. One could describe them as either A.M.C. or Van Sweringen engines, I suppose, given their lineage. This also accounts for the term not being used in relation to other 2-8-4s, which were not derived from these designs

Life-Like have made an excellent choice of locomotive to model, since this basic design was used, with detail variations, by six railroads:


The rather beautiful L&N M-1s were also closely related to the AMC design engines.

Reply to
Mark Newton

| 1. What is "Van Sweringen"?

Oris and Mantis Van Sweringen of Cleveland. Real estate tycoons who became the first, great practitioners of the leveraged buyout. At the height of their railroad empire they controlled the Nickel Plate, Chesapeake & Ohio, Erie, Wheeling & Lake Erie, Kansas City Southern, Chicago & Eastern Illinois, Denver & Rio Grande and the Missouri Pacific. 2 billion dollars in holdings purchased with about $500,000 cash. Done in by the depression.

| 2. Why are they (Life-Like) the only ones that seem to use this term?

They aren't the only ones. The term refers to specific Berkshires purchased by the Van Sweringen's for their railroads. Distinctive appearance.

CTucker NY

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I think they missed the boat by not offering PM 1225 though. Especially with the Polar Express movie using that engine ;^)

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Gee, what a beaut couple of Christian names, 'Oris' and 'Mantis'. Just the thing for today's yuppy kids. Regards, Bill.


Reply to
William Pearce

IIRC, they were Dutch, or at least of Dutch descent.

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The big point about the Van Swerington 2-8-4's is that they run REAL NICE! It makes the Rivarossi look like a charicature of a Berk.....

Reply to
John Franklin

But they and the other AHM/Rivarossi steam engines were a godsend to modelers when they came out in 1968 or so. The only other alternative was brass or buying Bowser or Mantua/Tyco and spending a fortune on Cal Scale and Kemtron castings. The designs are basically 35+ years old.

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Reply to
Mountain Goat

"Mountain Goat\

At 2005 prices. :-(

-- Cheers Roger T.

Home of the Great Eastern Railway

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Reply to
Roger T.

Maybe as a Proto 1000 model, they coulda- since the 1225 is a different class with different physical features than either of the PM Berkshire classes for which they made tooling. We'd have loved for them to tool up an N-1 and paint it as 1223 and 1225, but the extra expense wasn't justified by the additional sales they could anticipate.

'course to make a P1K version as the Polar Express, they'd've had to license it. I'll bet that Lionel arranged exclusive rights to it.

-fm Webmaster of the Pere Marquette Historical Society, at

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Reply to
Fritz Milhaupt

Interesting - what are the differences, Fritz?

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