Life-like or Bachmann train set?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by bugeyes, Nov 21, 2005.

  1. bugeyes

    bugeyes New Member

    Hi you all, I am new at this, would like to start a new train set for myself but didnot know either go for Life-like or Bachmann set is a good one to start it out with, also, says I pick the Life-Like train set, simply because it comes with railroad crossing, gravel dump interactive, etc, kind of cool, but I also would like to get a separate set of 'engine or car' in Christmas themes (noel, blue, red, raindeer, etc) to run for christmas time but where can I get them separately without buying another 'christmas set'?, also would any engines will run on Life-like track? sorry seems like alot of questions in one question but any helps would be appreciated....:wave:
  2. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    If you want to get serious into model trains, forget the bachman or life-like train sets, they aren't built to last. Instead look for and athearn set, usually available at a local hobby shop. The engine with the athearn set is built to last as are the cars and if you decide to go further (build a peranent layout) these are the types of train you want, the others you mentioned have too many problems down the road to fix so they end up as dumpster fodder.
  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I would agree. The toy sets frequently have wheels out of gauge, track made of steel instead of nickle silver, and the engines too light ot pull the train. They will also have couplers mounted to the trucks instead of body mounted. This makes them impossoble to back without having them derail. If your trains jump the track so much that you spend more time rerailing than operating, you will get discouraged. For christmas trains, you can buy some cheap boxcars and spray paint them red and green. You can buy alphabet decal sets from Microscale and put you message on the car sides, and bring them out at Christmas time. You can get a cheap airbrush from harbor freight for less than $10.00. You will need to use epoxy to glue the air hose fitting into the gun, but it will work fine to spray paint the box cars. Start with undecorated Athearn boxcars, or you can take most of the finish off a decorated Athearn kit by soaking for a few minutes in Pinesol. The Athearn kits are very easy to build.
  4. bugeyes

    bugeyes New Member

    thanks guy for quick reply, does athearn set have all of the accessory to make the whole thing lively like Life-Like set? automatic raising cross roads stop, dumping stuff into the car, etc?.. and what is the best web site to purchase the set in term of pricing and selection? thanks again
  5. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    The Athearn set dosen't come with things like that but it's reliability more than makes up for it. There are buildings and accessories that are available to add to your train either when you buy it or later.
    Internet trains it a good place to start looking.
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You get more animated accessories with the toy train sets, but as Glenn says, you can buy that stuff. You want good locomotives, good running cars, and good track in a starter set. The animated accessories won't be much fun if the trains don't run well.
  7. bugeyes

    bugeyes New Member

    I did a quick check on ebay and internettrains and was surprisingly to see that Athearn set was not much more expensive compares to Life-like or Bachmann set. What kink of track did Athearn set comes with? is it same as Bachmann or Lifelike? or they have their own track? and since I have 2 little kids my main goal was to have animated train set is it still possible if I start it out with Athearn? thanks again.
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    If your goal is to entertain the kids, then perhaps a Bachmann set is in order - the Bachmann Thomas the Tank Engine set gets good marks for quality and reliability - above and beyond the very basic Bachmann sets at least.

    There are also some very neat (but more expensive - as in "the sky is the limit") large scale trains for kids from LGB. They make very whimsical selection of cars, as well as the more standard "prototype" trains.

    Good luck! (And welcome to The Gauge!).

  9. GeorgeHO

    GeorgeHO Member

    HO trains run on HO track. All HO trains run on all HO track. If you buy a "toy" set it will contain code 100 rail which measures how "tall" the nickle silver railheads are above the ties. The rail will be either standard Atlas type with no roadbed attached, or it will be one of the manufacturer's own all-in-one with attached roadbed with plastic molded stones. If you buy that type of track, you are stuck with it and limited in your choice of available track (turnouts/switches, crossovers, different radii, etc), because it does not mate with other types of track. If you want to quickly set up and run something, even on the living room rug, that's not a bad idea. If you want something to put under the tree and watch it go round and round, that's not a bad idea.

    If you want to have a permanent layout to leave up all year long, then you should probably use the sectional track like Atlas sells, visit their website. If you want to get really serious then you can lay your own, but plan to spend a lot of time and energy working on it.

    Don't buy steel rail (which is probably not made anymore except for some of the all-in-one stuff), and don't buy brass rail unless you wnat to spend time cleaning it.

    If you are new to the hobby, you want to go to your "Local Hobby Shop" (LHS) and ask a lot of questions, because if you buy stuff online and you're inexperienced, you're buying a pig in the poke. I'd buy my first set at the LHS.
  10. GeorgeHO

    GeorgeHO Member

    One of your questions was about the accessories running with other sets. If you get a crossing gate, or a dump/loader structure, and it has the track built into it, if that track is the manufacturer's special all-in-one track, then it will not hookup to any track from any other manufacturer. However, locos and cars will run over that track, and depending on couplers, they will also hook up with your train.
  11. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    In my experience, if you are going to do a 'Train Set' starter, then go with the Bachmann over the Life Like. Yes, Athearn is better, but the Bachmann is better than the Life Like no matter what accessories come with the sets and the Athearn is better than either, but does require a little more knowledge to put together a 'set' than the others..
  12. Clark A.

    Clark A. Member

    I recently purchased a Bachmann Frontiersman. I was slightly disapointed, but it was still pretty decent. The track was a hassle to get positioned correctly, but wiht a layout that will be replaced with the non molded roadbed type. The pieces of Bachmann train sets are hands down nicer than LifeLike. The wheels are metal, not plastic. No mold lines are visible. Theyre much heavier. Now keep in mind the Frontiersman is a Spectrum kit, which is a nicer line. My main problem is how SLOW the engine is. I know trains arent supposed to fly, but it is much slower than my LifeLike locomotives. Also the headlight on the LifeLike is 1000X brighter than the Bachmann. So basically Bachmann wins for looks and Lifelike wins for speed and affordability.
  13. dsfraser

    dsfraser Member

    What can I say? You get what you pay for.

    If you buy train sets, you get toys. If you are serious about getting into model railroading, you must understand up front that it is a rich man's hobby, and a good locomotive will cost you more that a trainset will. And it is worth it.

    A lot of people buy the cheaper trainsets when starting out, and then get frustrated when the brass rails accumulate oxide and no longer pass electricity to the engine, or when the engine craps out, or when they discover that not one of the items in the trainset they bought comes close to being accurate to a real prototype. If your're buying it for your kid, don't sweat it. He won't care. If you're buying it for yourself, don't bother with trainsets.

    In the latter case, do some reading. Decide what era you want to model, what railroad you prefer, and go from there. Find a good trackplan, read up on using flextrack, and buy nickel-silver flextrack to lay your trackplan out. Buy a good locomotive — I recommend Atlas, Kato, Stewart and Proto as brands to buy with confidence. You can often find bargains on eBay. Build up your rolling stock one car at a time, with an eye to acquiring models that fit teh period of your prototype. Look into couplers — Kadee #5 are pretty well standard, unless you want more scale accuracy. When you buy a car, replace the wheels with metal wheelsets. Plastic wheels deposit lots of crap on the rails, don't roll as well, and in the long run sticking with metal wheelsets will save you much grief.

    One common beginner's mistake is building a layout with too much track. I promise you, your first layout will be a disaster. You're going to put up a 4x8 sheet of plywood and load it up with too much track. There won't be room for industries, your sidings will be too short, there won't be any staging, your passing tracks will be too short, and in a year you'll hate it. That's normal. We've all gone through that.

    Go find a copy of John Armstrong's book "Track Planning for Realistic Operation", published by Kalmbach. It is a classic, and well worth the purchase price. Read it. Then read it again. Keep it in the bathroom and read it everytime you have cause to sit for a few minutes. It is a wonderful book, and if you understand what he is saying, you will save yourself much grief, and not a little money, by gaining an understanding of what a good layout includes, and what it doesn't.

    You're also going to run across people who insist on imposing their standards on you. Ignore them. This is your hobby, and you set the rules. If they don't agree, that's tough. You're doing this to please you, not them. If you're happy with what you've done, that's all that matters. The only opinion that matters is yours.

    And remember, model railroading is a hobby, an activity you pursue to eliminate stress, and from which to to get enjoyment. If you find you're getting stressed out over how many rivets are on the plate behind the sand dome, or whether the door latches are the right shape, it's time to step back and remember that this is supposed to be fun, you can only do what you can do, and while you can and should strive to make the next model better that the last one, there's are compromises with every model. Do your best, and don't pay any attention to people who say it isn't good enough. If you're happy with it, it's a great model. There will always be better modellers than you, and if you get hung up trying to best them, you'll spoil the enjoyment that you can gain from modelling.

    And remember always, it's a hobby. It's there to be enjoyed, so enjoy it, and have fun.

    Scott Fraser
    Calgary, Alberta
  14. GeorgeHO

    GeorgeHO Member

    Model Railroader has a special issue "Model Trains - step by step". It is perfect for you and ALL nubees, answering your questions about track. There is one section that lists all the track available - by manufacturer and by gauge. It also has full page ads for Kato Unitrack, Atlas True-Track, Likfe-Like Power-Loc, and Bachmann E-Z Track. Included is a video which shows building a model railroad from beginning to end.

    P.S. I misspoke in a previous statement, Marklin is in a world of its own, its locos will not operate on any other manufacturers track, and no other equipment will operate on Marklin track. It is its own little world, like betamax.
  15. GeorgeHO

    GeorgeHO Member

    If you have a LHS close by, you can go in and see what is in the sets, price them, then see if you can do better by buying individual locos and cars and tracks. You may be able to get something comparable, but more to your liking for the same price or cheaper. Then buy it as seperate components, and expect to pay $50.00 to $70.00 for an MRC transformer - I mean power pack - which you will use for years, instead of the cheap throwaway power pack the comes in the set (no on/off switch, unreliable operation). Or, for the engine/power combination you can buy or mail order a DCC loco/power/throttle combo for about $100.00
  16. wjstix

    wjstix Member

    Not sure if someone answered this, but I believe Athearn train sets come with Bachmann "E-Z Track", nickel silver code 100 with built in roadbed.

    Bachmann offers several train sets in their "Spectrum" line, which is their top of the line stuff, Spectrum engines etc. are very good and would be great choice for a starter set!!
  17. wjstix

    wjstix Member

    p.s. the Bachmann / Spectrum sets come with a 22" radius oval of E-Z track, and the one with the Spectrum N&W "J" steam engine has an engine that is DCC equipped.
  18. gjxj

    gjxj New Member

    Is bachmann "silver series" a "lesser" grade than spectrum? In any case the silver is quite good quality for a set, metal wheels kadee couplers, NS track, etc (18inch though). Also It came with a good power pack. Some starter sets come with really crummy controlers - I wouldn't base a decision on that, but plan on dropping another $40-50+ on a power pack if they give you one of those "slot car" units..
  19. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    I think it better to scatch make a set from good items.

    Sets are pretty much dissapointingh.

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