As some here may recall, I did an article a few months ago about the brass builder's plates that are on the DRR engines. Basically, builder's plates are like the engine's "birth certificate," showing the date of construction, place of construction, the builder and a serial number. All the Disney locomotives have builders plates.
Last year, I commissioned a gentleman to create a duplicate builder's plate from the Fred Gurley. This gentleman creates reproduction builder's plates for railroad museums, and is quite respected in the industry. The Gurley plate came out so nice, a pair of them were actually used on the engine when it was rebuilt last year. You can see one of them here, below the smokestack:
This year, I'm having the Ward Kimball's builder's plate reproduced. The plate is nearly finished. Here's a shot of the pattern being made.
The pattern should be completed today, and test pours using molten aluminum as the metal will take place tomorrow or Wednesday, for my approval.
If anyone here is interested in obtaining a plate (or plates), they will be cast in either aluminum or brass. There will be several options for each plate, such as if you want the background painted black (like the Gurley plate above), or have the brass letters polished, have the plate bent like it was made to fit the curve of the boiler, etc.
The aluminum plates will be far less expensive than brass ones (the Gurley plates were close to $200 last year, and will probably be more this year, what with the cost of metal going up), but the purists might like the brass for its authenticity. They are very heavy, and look wonderful mounted on a wooden plaque and hanging on a wall. The pattern maker can paint an aluminum plate to resemble brass, however, and an aluminum plate will probably be less than $50. I've had good luck using gold leaf from Michael's to give an aluminum plate an even more brass-like look.
EDIT: Someone on another board compiled some of the prices from a year ago. As I said, I expect prices to be higher--especially for the brass--but these can give you a rough idea on what you'd need to save:
Aluminum plate, no paint, $35
Aluminum plate, finished gold, $45
Aluminum plate, finished gold and black, $65
Brass plate, ground, no paint, $110
Brass plate, satin finished, black background, $190
Brass plate, weathered similar to original plate, $250
The plates will be sold directly from the manufacturer. I get nothing out of this in the way of profits. All I get is the test casting.
Last year, the pattern maker accepted orders for one month; after that, no more orders are taken, meaning the production numbers will be very low (I believe the number of Gurley plates made, in both aluminum and brass, was about 25).
We should have order forms soon. If anyone is interested in getting a plate of their own, please PM me, and I'll send you an order form when I get them (or, I may just put one in this thread).