A Question for Serious Modlers

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by glenn railey, Aug 27, 2005.

  1. glenn railey

    glenn railey Member

    Thanks for the replies. My wife has been giving me the "Business" for all the MTH 0 guage
    trains that I have. She fell in love with a Spectrum 2-8-0 Station Master. She was enthralled with it when I tested it.
    I bought a F 7 A&B and wanted to know what I was getting into. The 2-8-0 seemed to run well. I am not so much interested in name brands as much as I am inerested in quality. I own 2 camrys. I have owned Toyota's since 1993. I own them because of quality.
    Spectrum seems to be above the Bachman stereotype.
    The MTH trains have not given me a minute's bit of trouble. MTH has been true to PRR enigines and rolling stock. Spectrum seems to be following in this tradition.
    I will take all the feedback and digest it.
    Thanks again
  2. K.V.Div

    K.V.Div Member

    Having been in the hobby on and off over the past 42 years and with 34 years in the hobby (26 of them in N Scale), I have had experiance with Bachmann since 1972. This was about 8 years after the introduction of N Scale in North America and 11 years after its birth in Europe.
    The quality of the manufacturers locomotives and rolling stock was, for the most part very poor,
    All locomotives were equipped with 3 pole moters (versis the 5 pole types common today), many were equipped with brass gears that made them sound like a moterized gravel crusher or with very poor plastic gears that had a habit of stripping with no warning at all.
    Many were powered by one truck only and and picked up track power from the one truck that did not do the driving.
    Everything electrical was connected by (often poorly) solder joints wich could break at any time, stalling your running sessions.
    Many of my locomotives seemed to run according to the weather. Case in point: All 3 of my Riverossi SW1500 switchers (actually an SW1200 with a really really bad body job) would pur like a kitten on a warm sunny day and howl like a wolf on a rainy day.
    BTW, most HO didn't run much better.
    however, we looked forward to each and every release because, even if it didn't run well it could still be rebuilt into something decent.
    Starting in 1983 Atlas/Kato relaesed a radical new locomotive in the RS3 and it took the N scale world by storm: Quiet, smooth and with detail never found outside of brass (itself only less then 2 years old).
    Since then we have been blessed with many new models by several manufacturers: Kato, Atlas, Life Like (Also once known as lifeless), Bachmann, Intermountain, Microtrains as well as others.
    the efforts of all of these manufacturershabve placed N Scale in the position is in today (in 1972, N Scale was a total of 7% of the hobby and in 1985, it was 18% and today, by some estimates it is 35-38% and climbing. here in Victoria it is 52% of the model railroad hobby and interest keeps growing).
    All of this is due to the work of the early manufacturers, who put so much into improving (Painfully slowly it often seemed) and, with each relaese, raising the benchmark that the others had to match or better.
    FWIW, I don't care for the Spectrum Diesels, as they are too modern or were never used on the Canadian Pacific's Kettle Valley line,
    However, I have 4 Spectrum 2-8-0's, all DCC equipped and they are among the sweetest, smooth running and quiet units I have.
    I also have 3 Minitrix 2-10-0's, non DCC equipped which run great.
    As for noise, All of today's locomotives are extremely quiet compaired to the releases of the "Dark Ages" of N Scale during the 60's and 70's and, in my ever so humble opinion, anyone who stands next to a real locomotive will agree that the equivalent locomotive's sound, scaled up 160 times is not so bad at at all.
    We are currently living in the golden age N Scale, so says one old F**t, among many other like members on this great forum :thumb: :cool:

  3. kenabody

    kenabody New Member

    HO steam locos, be it Bachmann, Lifelike, Rivarossi, Mantua etc. are products of compromise....usually cosmetics vs mechanical quality. Such compromise is usually made on the basis of cost and what manufacturers think may sell their product. Lately, the trend is towards highly realistic, detailed locomotives, but at the expense of, say, quality motors or drive systems and running gear. Why can't we have both? Well, we can if we're willing to pay the price. Does anybody out there really think that a plastic $100, $200, or even $300 (or more) mass produced HO steam locomotive is going to perform like its hand fitted brass counterpart? The #1 reason we will continue to see these detail showboats on the market is simple....detail is much cheaper to incorporate into a model than the precision tolerances necessary for good running! You say you have a plastic cheapo and it runs "great"? Well, all I can say is a) you're extremely (lottery level) lucky, or b) you really have never seen a well tuned, precision assembled quality HO steam locomotive operate. Think about this...HO scale means that the model is 1/87th the size of the prototype, right? OK, a machine tolerance of just .001 (one thousandths inch) on the steam prototype, if not also scaled, would be .087 (eighty seven thousandths inch) on the model. So obviously, manufacturers have to scale down tolerances accordingly. But true prototypical tolerances are extremely difficult and hugely expensive to accomplish at 1/87th scale. However, the closer your can come, the better the mechanism tends to operate. I think the question I'm trying to address is something like: Who makes the "best" locomotives? You need to ask yourself what you want in a locomotive....details aplenty (many to choose from) or a real performer (damn few around)?
    Want both? Then get out the check book. What do I have on my layout, you ask? Well, many different brands, but (BUT) each has been, and the very least, blueprinted, remotored and balanced. Many are regeared. Each is meticulously maintained. Its a lot of work, and frequently requires custom machined parts. Luckily, I am a machinist. But did you really think that model railroading was just a matter of writing another check?
  4. SeriousSam

    SeriousSam Member

    I've never had any problems with Spectrum Diesels nor Steams. I do however try to keep them hooked on with the same brands. What Im saying is that Spectrum locomotives will run much slower with the same amount of power that can run a faster Kato or Atlas loco. As far as detailes and such, any locomotive can be improved dramatically by the owner or collector. I would rate Spectrum's details the same as Atlas, Kato or Athearn, or even any other plastic manufacturer out there.
  5. Hoghead

    Hoghead Member

    I have been in N Scale for about 11 yrs now and in those early days I made the mistake of purchasing Bachmann and Lifelike engines and rolling stock. I was burned more than once with the poor running or no running capability of their products. The NYC F7's I have always made nice stationary models in either the Roundhouse, Fueling Tracks, or the Deadline.

    While many here praise the latest efforts by Bachmann and Lifelike, I for one cannot spend money on their products. Yeah, I know -- many say it is the Bachmann of yesteryear, but the old saying of "You never have a second chance to make a first impression" still comes to mind.
  6. glenn railey

    glenn railey Member

    Can you send me the info for those.

    And guys thanks for the feedback. It definitely gives me more things to ponder.

    Thanks again.
  7. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    I have owned the earlier run of the Dash 9 diesels and I thought they were at least OK.

    I think their 2-8-0 Consolidation is the best of the lot. Here's a photo of what I did with mine:


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