Athearn N Scale Thunder Rails Passenger Set- ATSF

Discussion in 'Product Review Forum' started by Cannonball, Aug 15, 2008.

  1. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    I bought the set from for $140.00.
    The box smelled like rat poop when I opened it.
    The rubber bands holding the track pieces together crumbled in my hands.
    (I didn't think these sets had been out long???)

    The engine is a little 2-6-0 steamer. It runs good and is very quiet but I think my Bachmann Spectrum would have outrun it easily. I'm not sure if it would run better with a different transformer or not. The detail is moderately good. I've seen better and worse. The headlight is really bright.

    Cars seem somewhat flimsy. I was really expecting metal wheels on them. Nope. Plastic. The box says "realistic couplers." That's a joke. Little plastic hooks barely better than Rapidos. Other than that, the car bodies have very good detail.

    The transformer seemed a little weak. I could see the train slowing on the other side of even a tiny 23 x 30 loop. This is why I wonder if the engine performance would improve with a different one.

    The track..... Oh how I hate EZ Track. Hate it, Hate it, Hate it. I didn't like it with my daughter's HO set and I like it even less in N scale. Did I mention I'm not a fan of EZ Track? The rough edges on the track ends were terrible.

    For $140.00 I was really expecting better. Especially from Athearn. :cry:
  2. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Wierd. I have exactly the same set - got it for less during the after-Christmas sale - and it runs fine. The cars have metal wheels, but they do have plastic couplers, which would be part of my planned upgrade process, same as adding any details I think appropriate. It IS just a starter set, and I wanted it that way to keep cost down and allow me something realtively inexpensive to practice on.

    It sounds like yours was stored in a backroom somewhere for a long time and may have been damaged slightly as a result. Rat poop and the accompanying rat pee are not good for electrical stuff, nor is moisutre and dry rot - the stuff that crumbles those rubber bands.

    I'm not sure this Atherearn's fault at all - I would take a very long, hard look at the vendor who sold it to you.
  3. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    That was my first thought as well... "new old stock"?

    Are the couplers not Accumates but instead the non-operating "Mighty Darn Compatible" couplers? That's too bad... seems like the earlier Roundhouse cars were simply recycled into Athearn boxes.
  4. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    the couplers on mine look like actual couplers but are non-working. They must be mated when the cars or placed on the tracks. I plan to upgrade with working couplers when I get around to it.
  5. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Well, I ran it with a different power pack this evening.
    The engine ran like a top. It's still no match for my Spectrum but a good runner with it's 4 cars.

    I got to looking at the power ratings for the two transformers.
    The Athearn is 16V DC Total Output: 7VA
    The one I tested it against was a Model Power transformer which was 18V DC Total Output: 5.5VA
    Both were 19 V AC

    I had to crank the Athearn transformer up 3/4ths of the way to get the same speed and performance I got from the Model Power at just a little over 1/4 of the way up. So even though the Athearn had a higher total output, the Model Power still outperformed it. And there is still only a minute difference in their listed power ratings. :confused:

    I think we will keep the set if I can find metal trucks and couplers that will be compatible and it won't be too much effort to change the tender coupler.

    I still hate the EZ track.
    I can't wait to get started working on my buddy's layout and see this baby run on some good Atlas track with real trucks and couplers.
  6. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I'm not a fan of EZ Track either, but I figured I could use it to test varous curves and configurations, and then relegate it to hidden staging or something, or find an excuse to give it my grandson. :cool:

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