Life-Like: Good, Bad, or Ugly?

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Cannonball, Apr 19, 2007.


What Is The Quality of Life-Like Engines?

  1. Good

    25 vote(s)
  2. Just OK

    20 vote(s)
  3. Bad

    10 vote(s)
  1. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Taking an opinion poll.

    I've seen mixed reactions about Life-Like locos on the forum and I started wondering what the overall consensus was on them. Mostly because I'm looking at a couple of undecorated units on eBay. So what's the scoop?
  2. zachary

    zachary Member

    hello cannoball you will be fine if you stick with the proto series of life like zacharyf
  3. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    What about the non-proto stuff?
    Complete junk?
  4. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    Non-Proto stuff (minus life-like scenery material perhaps) is complete junk, sorry to say. I've had two regular Life Like diesels and two steamers, three from sets I received as gifts when i was younger, and one bought seperately. This was nearly 20 years ago, so maybe they're better now, but I doubt it since they still offer the exact same sets I remember way back when. Out of those four locos, only one diesel lasted more than a year. I didn't abuse them, they just stopped working. And the paint was plasticy looking, the detail was terrible, things were out of scale, or just not there. There were no provisions for adding knuckle couplers, and they sounded like food processors when they ran.

    Sorry if this sounds like a rant, but those were my honest observations.

    The Proto 2000 line are some of the nicest, smoothest running, best detailed engines and rolling stock out there. And they are priced pretty reasonably too. Love them, can't complement them enough. Proto 1000 is good too.

    Hope that helps, no hard feelings if you're a life like fan. Maybe I just had bad luck. :)
  5. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    I find that pretty amazing that their high end stuff could be so great but their regular stuff is junk. Made in two different places perhaps?
  6. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I completely agree with Kanawha.

    LL P2K locos are pretty terrific. The plain ol' LL are junk.

    Edit: Oops... this is the N scale forum. My thoughts are based on HO.
  7. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    hhhmmmm.... What the poll shows and what people are saying seem to be two different things. Are the voters not talking or are the talkers not voting?
  8. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    I think the problem may be that the poll should specify whether you are talking about the low-end LL or the LL P2K

    again, I don't know anything about N scale except that it is small:)

    do they even make P2K nscale?
  9. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    I do have some Life Like N scale. Some of the older products are poorly made. I am impressed with the new stuff. I have a Rock Island and Southern E6 locomotives. The dual flywheels makes them look so realistic. Even for the price, the details are good too. Remember, you get what you pay for. If you think you are buying a new Cadilac car for the same price of a new Ford Torus. Think again!sign1

  10. COX 47

    COX 47 Member

    I think the newer LL stuff runs pretty good with the older stuff you pretty much get what you pay for.....With new trucks and coupler their rolling stock is OK...Cox 47
  11. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    The 1st N scale loco I purchased 1 year ago was the Life-Like Hobby quality Proto N MoPac GP18.
    It was running smoothly , but after 4 months it started to have a jerky motion.
    I took the trucks apart ( frightening experience for a newbie ) , cleaned and bent a little the 2 brass current pickups in each truck, and voila my GP18 is running again the way it was when it came out of the box.
    I like it , not too noisy just the right amount.


    I have a 2nd Life-Like N scale proto, it's a TH&B SW9. It's out of order right now, but just because I can't find a proper way to replace the rapido coupler with a micro-trains one. But it is a very smooth runner and can crawls at very low speed.

    Atlas locos ( and Kato of course ) are on the top of my list but if I want a model that's only manufactured by Life-Like , provided it's the Hobby Pro quality Proto N of course, I won't hesitate to buy it.
    That's the reason why I 'm voting and giving them a high note.
  12. jesso

    jesso Member

    It depends on which you buy and who is taking care of them. In my opinion, the older GP38's are not very good. However, all the n scaler's, including me, have at least 2 of them and they are all working. One guy that is very good at keeping them running has 20+ of them and swears by them, not at them. They just seem to be touchy and really need to be maintained, cleaned and oiled. My E8 is just lifelike (and only cost $24) and it has always run great. I also have GP-20 that is a proto, it runs well. The main difference I have seen is that my e8 has a flywheel and the gp38-2's don't. The GP-20 has 2 flywheels
  13. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    The GP38s and later F7's aren't "that bad" for entry level diesels. If you can get them for a price point of $10 to $15 they're OK.

    The E8's are OK as well, though their noses are not that well modeled vs. the prototype. But they will pull the siding off a house since they are heavily weighted.

    The GP18's were better. The first run of FA's were decent as well.

    The later FA's, with both units powered, were better than that. I have a couple of sets. They were massively overproduced and don't even sell at $30 for a pair on eBay much of the time. They're well worth that.

    I have a couple of the earlier run switchers and I like them. BT, I think they all take the Micro-Trains 1015 or 1016 (or whatever the new number is) and it should be a relative drop-in. You'd use the clip that holds in the Rapido coupler, very similar to some of the later Atlas locos.

    I stopped buying Life-Like after that since the price points went out of sight and availability became much more limited. I have enough locomotives already as it is! I've been told that the latest are more improved but have not actually seen any running.

    Now, Life-Like from the 1970's and 1980's... that is a totally different story...
  14. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    i have 2 regular life like E8's i love them run great, i only paid 40.00 each for them new at my LHS.
  15. darkcurves

    darkcurves Member

    Used to have two GP38-2, the ones which has got two spring to move the gears. It does look plasticky but ran well. I put it on test where i ran it continuously for about 7 hours with 6-8 tankers. After 7 hours, it did get abit noisy but after lubing, was quiet. They are not really good for crawling speed though

    I heard alot of good stuff about N scale Proto products. Might get a GP20 soon to test it out.
  16. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Yeah, I'd get a little noisey after running for 7 hours too. :D

    Dude.... Where did you find the Wilson pic in your avatar? :thumb:
  17. 70Runner

    70Runner Member

    The NEW Walthers/LifeLike N-scale locos are great! Split frame design,Great detail,And the latest run of GP38-2's are DCC ready. A list of them is GP18's(split frame design) GP20's,GP60's,GP38-2's(Latest run) These are all great running and great looking Locos.
  18. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Yes, and available in ... september 2007 :cry:
  19. darkcurves

    darkcurves Member

    Hehe, i only dared to run it so long because both the locos cost USD18.
  20. BNSFtheLeader

    BNSFtheLeader Member

    There's many factor you must consider before judging LifeLike.

    don't forget that they started as a toy company and a toy is what it was supposed to be considered, They came out with the proto series because they wanted to become apart of the Prototypical line of manufactures since the demand for more of prototypical engines where at a boom at the time of there Prototypical series. Yes they had there flaws but there working them out but you can't forget that atlas was junk until they imported Kato line of engines, than kato went solo and that's what pretty much started the prototypical demand. Also don't forget that it was because of modeler request that LifeLike even started the Proto line to begin with. I personally think if they get the backing of us they will eventually become one of, if not the top contender for us. They have come a long way for a company that has done it on it's own with no imports, Patent buying from another company, no way of knowing where to start, Etc. I think there SW9/1200's where a break through for them and us alike, if we just give them some time I think they will be a top contender or at least right up there with the rest of them since there all improving every time each company out does them selves.

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