8 months ago, I joined a local club for some like-minded company and an oppurtunity to build on and share my knowledge with others. Not wanting to be a wallflower, I volunteered to help sell off the estate of a member willed to the club as a fund-raiser. In the lot was a little brass locomotive that my wife and I would have liked to own but in no way could have afforded. Knowing this, yesterday the officers of the club presented it to me as a "thank you" for what I did for them. I've never owned a brass piece before so I need some information. It is a PFM/United model of a Colorado and Southern narrow gauge loco #5 or 7, early 70s in tarnished but undamaged condition. Using Ebay as a reference point, I found two identical locos, one professionally painted and in excellent shape, the other in bare brass, dinged and missing it's tender. The painted one went for $290, the busted up one went for $225(!?). What made the price point so odd was that the motor is in the tender, connected to the drivers thru a shaft and universal joints. To me, that would make the bare brass one at best a candidate for the junkyard. Of course, I have no intention of selling it but I do want to care for it in a way that retains it's value over the years. I've dusted it off and cleaned and lubricated the mechanism. Should I retain the brass finish or have it professionally painted? If left bare, are they like coins, best left untouched and tarnished or can it shined back up? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'd also appreciate any information on the prototype. I know about the "beartrap" spark arrestor but, what's that barrel thingie 'tween the domes for?