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. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Life Like

    My impression of the LL products. Two different animals. The early stuff was entry level/toy quality. Proto 1000 and 2000 stuff is model railroad equipment. Just make sure of what you are bidding on.
  2. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Like most others have said, any LL that's more than 5-10 years old is likely toy-quality at best. Their GP38-2's, FA's and BL-2's are not too bad.

    They have a newer line of rolling stock that comes with finer flanges and knuckle couplers that are quite nicely done (I think they just upgraded the paint and trucks on some of their older cars) and are quite reasonably priced.

    The LL Proto stuff is excellent.
  3. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Well, I just got a Life-Like BevBel Santa Fe this morning.
    I won it off eBay a few days ago.

    So far I'm happy with it. It does what I want it to do which is pull cars and stay on the track.

    My only complaint is the seller did a crappy job of packing it and the front coupler was broke as a result. Not a big deal to me since I don't plan on using the front coupler anyway.

    I also got an Undecorated Life-Like E7 unit with a dummy B.
    It arrived in perfect shape but I was rather suprized to see the front coupler is a dummy even for a Rapido. Other than that, it runs well.

    Both are a bit on the noisey side but I don't mind that. It wouldn't be as much fun if they were quiet.

    Now I need track.
    Lots and lots of track.
    Still trying to decide on flex track or an Atlas layout pack just for convenience sake.
  4. Bones

    Bones Member

    My opinions are strictly based on N locomotives:
    Andy pretty much summed it up. You get what you pay for.
    BUT... for the price, they are good runners. I own 7-8 LL diesels and 2 steamers. The steam is so-so, but worth the price. The diesels are decent. Sometimes you'll get one that runs like a Kato, usually they run like a good Con-Cor. (without the Con-Cor noise)
    Alot of people complain of noise from LL diesels. I personally, think most of them are quietter than almost any CC product.
  5. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    ConCor is another I have no experience with. As well as Trix.
    I see a lot of stuff come up on eBay for Trix locos and all I can think of is that silly rabbit.
  6. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    ok i have a n scale LL E8 and an E7. i got them 6 months ago. but i think the lhs had them awhile. i got them for 40.00 each. marked down from 50.00.

    are these the toy like ones ya all are talking about? the box's has 7192 on one and 7016 on the other.

    they look like twins other then one has round windows on the side and one has square. one is faster then the other.
  7. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

  8. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

  9. Catt

    Catt Guest

    ozzy,it is a rather common thing in N scale for like locomotives to run at disimular speeds.This is not just a LL thing but like an N scale thing.

    Ya got them ,run them the more running they get the closer they should come to matching speeds.

    As for the poor running quality of the LL trainset locos (F40 PH & GP38-2-?) the biggest problem is the solder joints breaking where the pick up wires connect to the truck.It can be a real PITA to resolder the wires but all you need is a solder pencil and some patiance (SP).

    One more point while I'm on the soapbox.While it's true that this is the N scale forum it is also a model railroading forum and any and all modelers are welcome to visit and post as long as they play nice.:mrgreen:

    [EDIT] I have 7 of the GP20s and several versions of the SWs and a couple of the F40 PHs I like them all.
  10. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    One can expect a speed difference even with 2 engines of the same type ( GP7 for example ) AND from the same manufacturer ( Atlas ) due to manufacturing tolerances
    The only way to get 2 engines with the exact same speed ( consist ) is to go the DCC way. I remember seeing one article in MR about how to tune the DCC parameters in the DCC decoder of each engine so their maximum speed and acceleration match.
  11. ozzy

    ozzy Active Member

    i did not think my LL looked toy like, looked great to me. i guess i need to go look at some of the other kinds then.
  12. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    I think it's becoming harder to find the toy-like Life Like locos. Anything they produced in the '70s or early '80s was pretty crude, like this little steamer:


    But once they came out with the FA2 and BL2 in the late '80s-early '90s, the product improved considerably. I think now that Walthers has bought LL, they're skimming the cheezy stuff out of the product line. Their Proto stuff (like the E units) is excellent.

    However there are still a couple of "toylike" remnants... the F7:

    and the F40: [​IMG]
  13. sabretooth47

    sabretooth47 Member

    This is a pic of my LL switcher I bought about 6-7 years ago -- as far as quality goes, I'd give it a 8 of 10. It runs good and has a nice paint job, but the rails and nose light are a flimsy plastic (more so than usual) and their yellow color on the rails doesn't quite match the yellow in the paint. But that might just be me being picky.

    Overall, I'm not disappointed...for the price I paid I'd say it's a great engine for the value.

    Attached Files:

  14. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Here is my LL switcher too. I agree with your score sabretooth47 my SW9-1200 deserves an 8 out of 10 too.
    sabretooth47 , what kind of coupler was factory installed on your switcher, Rapido ?

  15. Boilerman

    Boilerman Member

    I have some old and new LL and have happy with it however the new steam has the looks and slow speed but lacks ability to pull much.

    Seems that the new Steam coming out next from Walthers / LL will have traction tires to improve the pulling ability.
  16. sabretooth47

    sabretooth47 Member

    Yep, Rapido's -- I installed the Magne-Matics myself -- it looks much better without the Rapidos (as do pretty much everything else :mrgreen: )

    Where did you get the TH&B paint scheme? I haven't had much luck finding engines with those road colors...
  17. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Thanks for the info about the couplers sabretooth47.
    That's one point I don't like with Life-Like engines, some have Rapido couplers.
    Hey, we are in 2007 and Rapido is dead.

    The Life Like SW9/1200 TH&B is available from :
    They is an Intermountain 40' boxcar TH&B with guess what ? a ... Rapido coupler.

    They sell an Atlas GP7 TH&B too, here is a link to my gallery pictures .
    Atlas N scale GP7 TH&B - Hobby Photo Gallery -
  18. nscaler711

    nscaler711 Member

    I love the standard line LL i had 5 of of `em they all were extremely smooth runners due to the springs for drive shafts....
    The only reason why i have one now is b/c 4 of `em had a date with the floor, the shells were extremely fragile. Notice i had the most recent LL standard line before they were sold to Walthers.

    About the proto line i dont like their SW8's in fact i hated that switcher, she would stop and go at full throttle:curse: . i finally got rid of her (i am not disclosing how i did it.)

    But like i said i love the Standard line!
  19. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    NScaler711, I think you got a bad copy of the SW-8. I just picked up a copy in Lehigh Valley and I'm very pleased with it, particularly the slow speed operation.

    If the one I got only had the speeds "Stop" and "Fast" (a common complaint on many early N Scale locomotives!) then I would have had it quickly back to the dealer.

    You're starting to see a few of the later LL diesels on overstock clearance; for example the Penn Central SW-8 in the latest Walthers flyer for $36.98 which to me is a good deal.

    Bev-Bel recently did a massive clearance on the "entry level" Life Like diesels, with the result that one of my local shops has a few for less than $20 each.
  20. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    Did anyone else...

    ...happen to buy LL GP18s. I saw an ad for "New Release Special" and they were only $16.00, limited quantity, buy now or you'll be sorry. I kept thinking- yeah- I'll buy 'em and they'll be less than "life like". I bought two- they are the sweetest. I got 'em to do uP in NYSW. Shockaminahhh!*

    I also have a few other LLs- 424s also sweet, ABBA FA1s, ABBA FA2s. All Proto- run nice and smooth.

    The FA1s in R E A D I N G colors pulling a coal drag are sooooooooooo impressive. 'Course I'll need to add another 60 or 80 coal cars now:eek:.

    I like the LL Protos.


    Shockaminahhh!*: A word I created to entertain our Cairn Terrier "Joey" who needs to get his *ss kicked just about everynight I come home just so he can have a great time gnawing on me. It's really quite a pleasant event. At some point during the evening he makes eye contact with me, raises his lip to show his fangs and it's- Shockaminahhh! time. Let the games begin! The best part- he thinks N Scale trains aren't all that interesting. Good boy Joey, gooood boy. Shockaminahhh!

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