Help choosing a small switcher.....

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Iles, Oct 25, 2006.

  1. Iles

    Iles New Member

    In another post I am discussing building a small car repair facility diorama and and considering what structures, materials, etc. I will need. One thing that is a must is an engine to move the cars (pretty obvious, huh?)

    I would like to equip this diorama with sound and want some opinions on small switchers that are available or have been produced in the past. I am leaning toward EMD models, but haven't ruled out ALCO, Baldwin or GE products.

    So, let me know if you have experience with the following models or have suggestions for something I may have missed.....

    Walthers SW1
    Proto 2000 SW8
    Bachmann Spectrum 44T
    Atlas(?) S1 or S2

    anything else out there that fits the "small" switcher category
  2. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    I bought some Proto 2000 Alco S1 switchers from Trainland for $29.99 back when they were on sale. Awesome little engines.
  3. Iles

    Iles New Member

    Okay, so the S1's are P2K....I've been away from modeling for some time and wasn't sure who made what.

    Those engines look pretty sharp. I guess most of the P2K stuff is real nice. I would definitely consider one of these for my "shop goat"....
  4. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    Don’t forget the Kato NW2. I won mine on ebay a few weeks ago. It is a marvellous little engine. As a Baldwin fan, I like the Stewart Baldwin switchers very much. They are very good runners and after installing all the detail parts included in the box, they look as good as P2K engines. I can’t say anything about the Walther’s switchers, but you can’t go wrong with Kato, Atlas, P2K and Stewart. I think it just depends on which of these companies produce (or produced) the switcher you want to have. I don’t have a Bachmann 44T myself, but I heard that the drive is not as good as the drives of the four manufacturers I mentioned. Maybe someone on this forum can tell you more about it.

    Here are two links that might help you:
    On the Atlas site you find a list of previous runs of their S2 and S4.
    Kato has the NW2 still on its website, although it is out of production for eight years now. .
  5. Iles

    Iles New Member

    I figured the 44 Tonner is probably not a great engine, but in some pics the details looked acceptable and maybe with a little TLC could pass as accurate. Since I won't be running it all that much I thought maybe it could work for me. I always thought the 44 Tonner would be an ideal shop goat....some roads probably did use them for this at some time or another. But my heart isn't set on it.

    Anyone know anything about the Walthers EMD SW1?
  6. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

  7. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

  8. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    I second that...the "Critter" is a fine little bugger...just make sure you don't get one that wobbles. The first one I brought home was lopsided, and with only four wheels that can make a big difference. But the slow speed running is great, especially with if you could find a sound system (like the MRC synchro sound box) that has a single chime air horn (the MRC doesn't, as far as I know) then your sound would be there too.

  9. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    Could you shoehorn a speaker and all that in such a SMALL engine??
  10. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Glad you posted about that Model Die Casting loco, Miles. I was going to reply, but couldn't think of the model designation.:rolleyes: If it runs as well as you say, it'd be my choice for a shop switcher. In fact, it's so appealing, if GERN had more trackage, I'd seriously consider one of them as a plant switcher. :thumb:

    I have an Atlas S-2 and S-4: both are smooth runners and pull really well. I also have a number of Athearn SW's: while all of mine have been remotored with can motors, Ernst makes a regearing set that is a cheap and easy way to get excellent low-speed running from these older type locos.

  11. Iles

    Iles New Member

    Thanks everyone for the replies. I really like the EMD model 40....that said, I think it may be a bit out-dated for my purpose. I guess I didn't make note of the fact that I plan on modeling the modern era (let's call that 1985-present).

    So, I really need something that is still found in regular use. I doubt the Model 40 is still around....I could be mistaken.

    EMD switchers of all models and ages seem to soldier on and that would probably be the most *prototypical* of the choices, but I know many of the ALco's are still being used for industrial purposes and on some shortlines. As for the 44 Tonner - I think most of those have bit the dust, but the 70 Tonners are still around.

    I think at this point I am leaning towards one of the P2K models: the SW8 or the S1. It just seems like the easiest thing and I won't have to try and squeeze a sound module into such a small space.

    Any more ideas or reccomendations?
  12. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    The EMD model 40 was mostly gone from the rosters of industrial plants about the early 1970's :( The 44Tonners soon followed, with a few exceptions. The S1's are gone for sure, BUT S6's (availble from LifeLike P2k) are still seen rarely across the nation, one local example is (was) the Ex-SP alco S6 that used to help feed the chickens at a fosterfarms feed elevator out in the central valley, near Stockton, Ca.

    Here's a fun kitbash based on a prototype? Looks like afun one to do out of old athearn parts! Shaygetz, are you seeing this? :D

    Here's a MODERN UP shop switcher (pic taken 2001!) of an SW10 (yes, you read that right)

    Another battery switcher.

    Here's a bunch of critters!

    ..basically you could kitbash any diesel parts and make a switcher, or the 70tonners would fill the bill necely! ;)
  13. dsfraser

    dsfraser Member

    The SW10 can be bashed in the same manner as UP did it — start with an SW 12 and graft on the radiators from a GP9.

    There haven't been any new switchers made in ages, so the Proto SWs are good choices. Those that have maintained them still use them. They run sweet too.
  14. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    There's a Model 40 still in use at Travel Town in Griffith Park, CA. They use it to move around their equipment (other locos and cars).

    The MRC Synchro Sound system isn't a loco-mounted system. It's a speaker and little control box with volume knob and pushbuttons. That's for DC or DCC use, but with DCC you simply assign it the address of whatever loco you're running and it's synchronized to the power use. It's perfect for diorama or switching layout use since the speaker is stationary and the brain is pretty easily fooled into believing the sound is coming from the loco.

    Perhaps an alternative would be a Green Goat?

  15. Iles

    Iles New Member

    Yeah, I didn't realize how old the S1's are. I can't get close enough (on the property) to figure out what models they are, but ADM in Decatur, IL still has a few Alco's doing switching work.

    The SW10 seems like a fun project and something I might think about tackling some time.

    I know it seems relatively boring, but I think I might go with the P2K SW8....

    As someone who owns no DCC-equipped locos I was curious if the switchers have the same sounds or does an alco really sound like an alco? (sorry if this seems elementary)
  16. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The bad news is that you probably won't find room in any of the small switchers for sound. The good news is that as long as you are just building a small diorama, your sound can be external to the locomotive and nobody will really notice where it is coming from.
  17. viperman

    viperman Active Member

    On the main lines that run through Downers Grove and Westmont (west burbs of Chicago), there is a siding where there are always about 5 covered hoppers. A few times I've seen a GP (my guess is 40-2) being used to switch them up
  18. EngineerKyle

    EngineerKyle Member

    As I scanned this thread, I see talk of adding a speaker. Does this mean you are DCC? If so, I am happy with my BLI NW2.
  19. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    About the 44 tonner: A couple are still in use, or were in use as recently as the 1980s/90s. I am a fan of the Bachmann Spectrum 44 tonner, just make sure you get the newer single-motor ("DCC ready") version rather than the earlier (now out of production) two-motor version. Same goes for the Bachmann Spectrum 70 tonner.

    About the S1: The Proto 2000 S1 is fantastic for super slow-speed crawling, it looks great, and it pulls like nobody's business. Nothing bad to be said. Probably a good choice for a shop goat, too, as it is pretty short and ideal for positioning cars precisely due to its good slow-speed handling. It just doesn't have a "fast" setting.

    About the Walthers SW1: Also very nice, good detail, good slow-speed performance but some models use rubber tubing as a universal joint and have kind of a "lope" that wobbles the locomotive at slow speeds.

    About the Grandt Line 25 tonner: I own one of these neat little pipsqueaks. They're cute as the dickens, but they're not exactly RTR. It's a fun kit to build, you get a few sacks of parts and some pretty good instructions. Mine works acceptably well sometimes but is not particularly mechanically reliable, and trying to shove enough weight into it to keep it on the track was a challenge. It is an adorable little locomotive, though, and several of them are still in service today.

    I'm tempted to get the 23 ton boxcab they make, as the larger chassis means that there might be more space to shove a couple ounces of lead inside.
  20. Iron Horse

    Iron Horse Member

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