Rolling Stock: Moving People and Stuff from One Place to Another.
There are a vast number of types of rolling stock available in Large Scale today. On real railroads, rolling stock has been developed over the years to haul almost everything manufactured. From the early railroads until the late 1950's, passengers also made up a large amount of what railroads carried. Freight and passenger cars come in all sizes and styles and the cars were specifically designed to haul people and stuff efficiently.
Freight cars come in many different types. The basic types are boxcars, tank cars, gondolas, hoppers, cattle cars, refrigerator cars, flat cars and cabooses. Most of these existed from almost the start of railroading and still exist today. They have changed in size and construction material over the years. Early versions of these cars were built from wood and were small in size. All have grown in size. Early boxcars were made of wood and were 20 feet long and then grew to 40 feet and remained there for a long time.
Today they are up to over 60 feet long. Hoppers were built from wood in the early days and then went to steel construction and also have grown in size to 60 feet long. The other standard freight cars have changed from wood to steel construction and have also grown in length. Over the years the colors of these changed from black and dark red to every color imaginable. In addition to these standard freight cars, there are many different cars designed for the specific load they carry. These cars include ore cars, covered and cylindrical hoppers, piggyback flats, log cars, intermodal container cars and many others. There are also many work cars used in the maintenance of the railroad. All of these are available in Large Scale.
Passenger cars have also evolved over the years from short, wooden, hard riding cars to steel and then aluminum cars that provide a very comfortable place to ride. The early cars were coaches that only had upright seating. Over the years, coaches became longer and bigger and specialize cars were added to the fleet. These included baggage, railway post office, dining and sleeping cars. Large Scale manufacturers offer all of these cars. The manufacturers of ready-to-run cars include Accucraft/ Aristo-Craft, Bachmann, Hartland Locomotive Works, LGB, Marklin and M.T.H. and USA Trains.
The ready-to-run cars are constructed from plastic or metal. They are ruggedly built to last and most are designed to resist the elements. Although most Large Scale railroaders don't leave their locomotives and cars out for long periods of time, this can be done.
Some rolling stock kits are available in Large Scale. Many of these are wooden models and require some skill in building. Hartland Products, Northwest Narrow Gauge, Ozark Miniatures, Shawmut Car Shops and others offer these kits.
Selection of your rolling stock for you railroad should be based upon the timeframe, type of railroad, purpose and locale you want to model. Reviewing the large number of freight and passenger cars offered today is easily done on the websites or catalogs of the manufacturers. If you are modeling a particular freight railroad you can still choose rolling stock from several railroads since in real life cars from a particular railroad travel most other railroads. It is also possible to mix the various sizes of a specific kind of car since in real life cars are different sizes.
On real railroads, passenger cars generally tended to stay on their parent road. Sometimes these cars would travel on other roads, but most passenger trains on a railroad had cars all with the parent railroad's name on them. They could be mixed types (heavyweight, streamlined and car manufacturer) in a train, although the wooden cars pretty much disappeared early in the 20th century except on narrow gauge railroads.
Of course, it is your railroad, so you can do pretty much whatever you want to do, if you don't care about prototypical operation. It is not usual to see an interesting mix of freight and/or passenger cars in the garden.