N Scale Switchers?

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by 2-8-2, Apr 21, 2006.

  1. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    I imagine this has been discussed before. It seems like finding a nice switcher in N scale is a hard thing to do, mostly because there simply aren't that many to choose from. I've read a few reviews, and some of the so-called "best" aren't even made anymore. Is there a transition era switcher that stands out from the pack?

    I'm interested in discussing "actual" switchers, not road switchers like the RS-1.


    Bachmann Spectrum 2-8-0
    - Mixed reviews. Questionable quality control.
    - Not really a switcher.

    Model Power 4-4-0 American
    - Mixed reviews.
    - All metal frame has nice weight to it for such a small engine.
    - Not really a switcher.


    Rivarossi ALCo S-2
    - All metal body.
    - Most owners like this engine, but all agree that it is noisy compared to others.
    - Good luck finding one.

    Atlas Fairbanks-Morse VO-1000
    - DC and DCC options.
    - Comes in two body styles (w/ and w/o step guards).

    LifeLike EMD SW-8
    - Mixed reviews.
    - Seems like a quirky break-in process makes or breaks its performance.

    LifeLike EMD SW-1200
    - Most seem to think it outperforms the SW-8.
    - Very reasonably priced.

    There are others that are often mentioned as well, I wasn't trying to make a complete listing...just ones that stood out in my mind. I definitely want to purchase a switcher, but performance is key. My layout is small, and it would have to do its job well.

    I think if I were buying one today, I'd be leaning towards the LifeLike SW-1200, just based off what I've read about them.
    What are your experiences?

  2. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    2-8-2,Don't rule out the Arnold/Rivarosi Alco S2.

    http://www.buynscale.com/Arnold Alco S-2's.htm

    Qr the old Mini Trix FM switcher..If you can find them.

    The newer Bachmann 0-6-0 is a smooth running engine.

    Oh yeah..The GP7/9 can be used in yard service as well as the SD7/9.
  3. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Don't forget the GP7/9,SD7/9,RS1,RS2,RS3,RS11 and the FM H15-44s and H16-44s can be use in yard service as well.Don't over look the FM H-24-66 Train Master.
  4. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    Thanks for the suggestions, brakie...but I was hoping to discuss "actual" switchers. Road switchers, general purpose engines, hood units or whatever else they're called aside. I'm talking about engines that are specifically designed for switching and yard duty.
  5. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    2-8-2,All to sadly there isn't that many switchers..In fact you named the few switchers there are except the MP15.I am not sure what brass switchers are out there because I haven't kept up with N Scale brass.
    Model Power makes a 2-6-0.The older Atlas 0-8-0 doesn't look too bad, and it runs pretty good.Sadly this engine stalls a lot on switches.Atlas also made a 0-4-0 that ran fairly good but,stalls a lot on switches.Both of these engines have deep flanges.

    As far as the LL SW1200 I have read and been told they are on the light side as far as their pulling ability.

    I wish I could be the bearer of good news instead of bad news.
  6. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Hobby store up here still has one painted for PRR on their shelf... at list price. That says it all right there!

  7. gringo

    gringo New Member

    Life Like's new PROTO1000 line of SW8 and SW9 switchers run BEAUTIFULLY- very quiet, and very slow. I was highly impressed by them- I'd rate them just under Kato and Atlas mechanisms. The new Atlas VO1000 runs exceptionally smooth, as well. I saw it run on Bill Denton's Kingsbury Branch layout last month at a show in Chicago- all I can say was WOW!

    I recently purchased Life Like's older SW8 in C&NW colors- I thought it ran nicely, until I tried out the new PROTO series yesterday. Think I'm gonna trade mine in...
  8. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    I'd much like to see a SW1 in N scale. You listening, Walthers?
  9. DavidB-AU

    DavidB-AU Member

    I concur about the Life Like Proto-N SW8. I have a 1 year old SW9 and the new SW8. I'm very happy with both but the Proto-N mech is fantastic. I agree that it's almost equal to Kato quality.

    Close to the top of my shopping list it the Small Scale Logistics GE 44t. I'm waiting until they get their own chassis rather than having to hunt down and modify a Kato Shorty B.

  10. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    As to the Bachmann 2-8-0, our club has about 10 steamers on our modular N Scale Layout that we take to shows. The 2-8-0 is by far the best runner of the lot. You can give it 25-30 cars and send it on its way and it will run all day if we let it. No question about quality, it is top notch.

    As to the MP 4-4-0, if I could find one I would have one. sign1
  11. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    That's good news about the 2-8-0. To be honest, 90% of what I've read about it wasn't very promising. I'm still not sure I'd use one, just because it's not a prototypical switcher, it's more of a road engine. Besides, I'm a 2-8-2 fan! :D

    Thanks for the input, guys! I only need 1 switcher for my small layout, though it's always possible that another may find its way there one of these days. My grandfather's layout lies dormant in the basement...I might head down there today and see what he had. It's been nearly a year since he passed away, and grandma has given me the okay to take what I want. I remember he had a little black and yellow (ATSF?) switcher that was a monster. It had more power than some of the road engines! I don't think it will fit in with the era I'm modelling, but to be honest, it's been so long since I've seen it I don't even remember what kind of loco it is.
  12. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Brian,If that shop has got a new one in stock then its a oldie..Those FM switchers was smooth runners and I will still put them up against todays switchers as far as pulling and smooth running.:D
  13. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Oh yeah, could definately see that. When was the last time new locomotives were sold with cardboard boxes and a $60 MSRP?

  14. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    $60.00!!! :eek: I only paid $22.00 for mine back in 80!!! That engine must be from the last run which I believe was in the late 80s or early 90s...Even at that its a antique.sign1
    These FM switchers was also imported by Model Power..
    I wouldn't mind having one but not at 60.00 bucks.:D
  15. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Which is why it's still on the shelf...

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