High End Engines

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by planeshavings42, Aug 14, 2002.

  1. Hi All, I have several Atearn HO Gauge engines, and while they are reliable and have plenty of power They are also very loud. They are about three years old. I have disasembled and lubricated, but still loud, I would like to buy one High End Diesel with Decoder in Plastic. Can anyone suggest a good manufacturer?? Thanx in advance :rolleyes:
  2. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I like the Athearns, heck they were the only decent locos for so many years! They have been left behind though when it comes to detail and quality. You won't go wrong with any of the following: Atlas, Stewart, Lifelike 2000 and Kato.

  3. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    I'm with you, Gary - the majority of my fleet is still Athearns - excellent value for the monies. I do have a few P2K's now, though, and they are *amazing* - both in terms of looks/details, as well as performance. Much quieter, and much better at low speeds.

    I've heard even greater things about Kato and Stewart; it's just too bad they don't make any roadnames I'm considering right now. Don't know or hear much about Atlas up this way.
  4. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Noisy Athearn

    Hi Dewey, Noise is just the nature of the beast with a lot of the Athearn engines. Re-motoring them with a good quality double shafted can motor mounted in silicone will cure a lot of the noise if you want to go to that time and expense. Also the plastic shell sorta acts like a soundboard for the motor vibrations. I had some success with stuffing some foam rubber in the shell to dampen the noise.
  5. Michael, What's a P2k???
  6. Catt

    Catt Guest

    P2Ks are LifeLike Proto 2000.They are excellent runners and look great.

    IF YOU WANT A great loco with a decoder you can't go wrong with an ATLAS Master series loco.The have a GP38, a GP40 and a GE Dash 8 40B.They look awesome run the same way and by moving a little plug you have either a DC unit or a DCC unit.

    I had a pair of the Dash 8s and the only reason I got rid of them was they looked damn silly on N scale track:D
  7. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    What Catt said.

    Duey, which roadnames are you interested in ??? If you're just going for Santa Fe, you'll be quite successful; everyone makes them. If you're like the rest of us, it's not quite as easy.

    BTW, the higher-end companies also do considerably more research. I.e., you will get a locomotive that was actually run by the railroad, and in the right number sequence.

    I'm still cheesed about my Santa Fe SDP40 in warbonnet from Athearn. Not only did they never have any SDP40's, but even if they did, they woulda been in bluebonnet. Ggrrrr.........it's in the paint shop waiting conversion to my fictional shortline (which will eventually be running a trio of the units, and some switchers).
  8. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    Here is my list of "upper-end" locos (best first) , with number I own:

    1. Atlas Master (best by far! wonderful detail, DCC chip included, great motor/drive) (2 locos, with 2 on order)

    2. Kato (fantactic motor/drive, great detail) (1 loco)

    3. Proto 2000 (P2K) very good detail, motor/drive very good but not up to Atlas Master or Kato standards (8 locos, with 1 on order)

    4. Athearn Genesis (tie with P2K - maybe slightly better, detail-wise, slightly less better motor-drive-wise!) (2 locos)

    5. Stewart (less detail than above, but almost Kato-quality drive) (3 locos)

    Of the "mid-class":

    Athearn blue box (6) , P1K (1), and Atlas classic (2)

    (Atlas classic & P1K have much better motors/drives than Athearn)

    I can't comment on Intermountain. Walthers (1) is "hit or miss" - a "hit" for me, but others have had problems - try before you buy.

    Avoid Model Power, Bachmann (1) and "reguar" Life-Like - unless buying for children.

    As I have *recent* locos of all the top and mid-class, I feel qualified to make these comments. Take recommendations from folks who have never bought a certain brand loco (or bought it more than a couple of years ago) with a BIG GRAIN OF SALT, as loco quality can vary over time (I hear Athearns SD40-2 has a much improved drive now than the originals, for example) !!!

    My 5-cents worth!

    Happy shopping!

    - George

    PS Most of these locos look better in ROCK ISLAND colors!
  9. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    Another example, to back up Mikes comments:

    Athearn produces a RI SW7 in cow & calf - the RI NEVER owned a SW7 !!! They DID own 22 SW 9 & SW1200s, which looks simular. Why they didn't label their SW7 as a SW9 is beyond me (maybe they still don't know!).

    Once you have decided on which road(s) you are modeling, one of the best investments you can get is to buy is one or two good books about that road. I know I refer to Marre's "Rock Island Diesel Locomotives" before I buy ANY RI model loco!

    - George
  10. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    I'd say that's worth at least 12 cents, George, perhaps as much as 25. YOur comment on the book is right on, too. I don't have a Rock Island book *yet*, it's on my wishlist, but I have one from Santa Fe, and refer it to mucho often.

    I'm also on the prowl for an OER around the time period I model (1980). One just came up on eBay, but it'll ship only to US. So I sit and wait. Not only does this have the information you need for *your* railroad (at the time period you're modeling, even), but, if you're trying to be even more prototypical, it will tell you what railroads had what equipment (for example, did such-and-such shortline have their own boxcar to ship stuff from their client to your layout).

    BTW George, I don't know if you'd know the answer to this or not, but I'm considering an Atlas Master H15-44 in our fave road name. I don't have DCC, though - is that gonna screw me up cause it already has a decoder in it ????? I've decided I'd like a P2K GP18 too, but don't really have the money; and like you said they're already gonzo at Walthers. And you can bet my CDN mail order place will say "ROck who ??"
  11. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    To be fair to Athearn, no manufacturers at the time their models were made gave any thought to what a prototype road owned. Heck, someone made a conrail steam loco! Every model made was usually available in the roadnames proven most popular with buyers, such as Santa Fe, Union Pacific, etc. Back then, everyone knew that just because it was offered didn't mean it existed. And most people didn't care either. This hobby has so much better equipment available today than even 10 years ago that it is amazing. With all the newer and better and more accurate models available today I guess it is easy for relative newcomers to expect accuracy. don't do it! If you care enough to only want equipment your prototype had, you'd better know of your own firsthand knowledge what that equipment was! That's why I love buying books for my favored road the NYC. Yes, they are expensive, but I really enjoy them. Of course the internet and historical societies are even better sources of knowledge. But you still, even nowadays, should check before buying.

  12. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Mike, The Atlas master loco should run fine on DC, that's what they're designed for. I have just one, but never ran it on DC so can't say for sure. And in so far as prototypical goes, how I justify a dash 8 in yellow and black Susquehanna colors on my 1950's era pike is nobody's business but my own!

  13. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    LOL I'm often tempted myself, seeing those Dash 8's and AC4400's. I get to see the prototype AC4400's twice or thrice a week pulling a train out of the CP yard. Damn those are nice looking engines.
  14. marty w.

    marty w. Member

    Until you get some books, check out George Elwood's site.
    He does have pic's of loco's and rolling stock of the Rock Island.
  15. Thanx To All for the experienced advice. Now to find the Santa Fe F7A's and B's In the Warbonet. That'll be the fun part.....:) ;)
  16. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    If you weren't aware of it already, Duey, Walthers (walthers.com) has an excellent search function. You can usually find what you're looking for cheaper elsewhere, but at least you'll know what's available. Seems to me I saw some F7's earlier when I was searching for something.
  17. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    Mike -

    Too bad about the OER - why someone won't ship to Canada is beyond me.

    Where do you find them on e-Bay? Maybe I could get one and mail it to you (bank account permitting ... better be NEXT month!).

    I have the Atlas Master GP38 (BN) and GP40 (RI). They have dual-mode decoders to run on DC as well as DCC. As my Zephyr is not here yet, I still am on DC. They run just fine, so you should have no problems with the H15-44. And when you finally go DCC, just change the plug position and off you go in that mode!

    - George
  18. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Kewl, thanks for the info, George. And the offer, but paying double postage seems kind of silly. I'll wait, I'm sure one will turn up that does ship to Canada. I figure, if they don't wanna sell to me, then their loss, they probably coulda made more money.
  19. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    The Dark side ...

    .., well, maybe the "down side" of locos on my "best" loco list.

    (but with Star Wars and LOTR, one must use the current terms!)


    I am not perfectly happy with the headlights on most of the "best" locos. OR lesser ones, either!

    Atlas Master: With DC, headlight is off at less than 15 smph, at P2K light levels about 30 smph. This is, as I understand it, a result of the dual mode decoder. With DCC, you get P2K light levels at all times, I hear.

    P2K: Well, they come on at loco motion, but don't acheive full brightness until at higher speed. But, IMHO, are always too dim.

    Kato: a headlight to blind you! BUT, too blueish for my taste.

    Stewart: Bright headlights, but too amber for my taste.

    Athearn Genesis: On my SD70M, best of the headlight bunch - bright (not as bright as Kato) and not too blue! On my "Mike", too yellow. Different LEDs for diesel and steam, I suppose.

    (This is Truth in advertising for my "best" list ??)

    Of course, some of the "mid-range" locos have headlight problems, too:

    Atlas Classic: most (older models) headlights are not directional (if even there IS a back light), light intensity is proportional to speed (voltage).

    Athearn "blue box" - most (SD40-2, GP38-2, SW1500, etc.) have a FIRE IN THE CAB !!! Very unrealistic. The P40 and some others do have a "directed" light, but its not as good as a LED. Again, light intensity proportional to speed (voltage).

    I don't know why the "perfect" headlights for locos still escapes most makers......

    - George
  20. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Duey, My brother models Santa Fe and just bought Athearn Genesis F7's in warbonnet, they look excellant. He also has a couple MRC units, they look good also. I think Intermountain has that scheme s well. And I'm pretty sure the original Athearn F7 comes in that scheme. shouldn't be too hard to find one in virtually any price range you want! And in this case you will pretty much get what you pay for.


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