need help on brands, starting out

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ceebeenq, Jan 30, 2002.

  1. ceebeenq

    ceebeenq Member

    Hi all-- I just found this site 5 minutes ago. I am going to start an HO layout in the next month or so. I know next to nothing. I have been told that flextrack is the only way to go.
    What I'd appreciate help with is the quality of name brands that I am aware of. (locos and cars)

    If somebody could rate these or *offer suggestions of other quality brands*. I suppose my budget is "moderate".

    In my other hobbies I always try to follow the "buy quality once" approach.
    So, I see a lot of: athearn, bachmann, model power, atlas, kato items mostly.
    Thanks in advance. If there is one brand that is "junk", pls don't hesitate to say so!
  2. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi ceebeenq
    Welcome to the gauge friend.
    Let me state as a long term modeller that flex track is the way to go. There are many brands on the market, but to my mind, (Might get shot down in flames for this but) PECO track & points are the best.
    As for loco's, that depends on what you want to model. If you like Diesels, then Kato/Atlas are the best, with Athearn a close third. Model power make some very nice 2-8-0's which are tender drive and run quite well. As I said, I don't know which way your thoughts are in respect to H0 modelling. Perhaps a more detailed in-sight would be the order of the day.

  3. ceebeenq

    ceebeenq Member

    starting out, cont.

    Shamus- thanks.
    Starting out, I'd be doing mostly diesel era, HO. I got an Athearn diesel loco (UP) as a gift and that started the ball rolling.

    Steam may come later but.......diesel for now.
    What is the word on Bachmann? Are they more of a toy line?
    I realize I could base a lot simply on price tags but I know that can be a mistake.
    Anyway, I will spend some time at Caboose Hobbies in a couple weeks (Denver) with a knowledgeable person and may make some purchases. It takes me a few hours to drive there and I need to see and inspect stuff before I buy. I research everything.

    Thanks again for any comments or suggestions. I'll sort it out and go from there.
  4. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    IMHO, the new Bachmann locos, particularly the Spectrum line, are A1. As for rolling stock, may I recommend Intermountain. I have five of their rtr hoppers, and man are they ever slick. Well worth the $45CDN I spent on each.
  5. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    So far, the advise you've recieved is right on the mark.
    Diesles, Kato(although I have heard a few negative remarks) Atlas, Athearn(Genesis series),their standard line of diesels are very good for their price range, LifeLike(Proto2000) I don't think there is a lot of support for their standard line. Bachmann (spectrum series[like Kato, I've heard some muttering]), and I have a Rivarossi alco C420 that runs perfectly with my Atlas RS1s.
    Steam; I own 2 of the Rivarossi alleghenies, 2 of the LifeLike Heritage series 2-8-8-2s, 2 of the Bachmann spectrum 2-8-0s, 1 of the Bachmann spectrum shays, 1 of the Bachmann spectrum mountains. and 2 Athearn 2-8-2s. All are excellent running locos, and well worth the price. As much as I like the Alleghenies, I have to say that the LifeLike 2-8-8-2s are the sweetest running of all.
    Rolling stock; Kadee, Athearn, Intermountain, I know there's more, market ready to run rolling stock of excellent quality. If money is an issue, and you want a lot of train in a short time, Athearn kits are good looking, relatively easy to assemble, and dependable.
  6. ceebeenq

    ceebeenq Member

    starting out

    I'm "getting" what somebody elsewhere had mentioned: many of the makers have several grades or quality levels.

    Similar to photo gear: Nikon makes some super Pro level gear and some low end consumer stuff that is almost an embarrassment to the Nikon label. (that's MY opinion. grin)

    So, all the info helps and it's starting to make more sense. thanks again.
    any other opinions, suggestions, etc appreciated. I'll sort it out. Mull it over.
  7. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    Ok, my turn!

    Based on locos I own, here is my list of the best DSL locos (in order):

    1. Atlas Master series - fully DCC ready + fantastic detail + top notch motor - what's not to like??? My GP40 (RI) and GP38 (BN)are fantastic locos! My Atlas Classic (RI S1) has less detail, but is a good runner - and can outpull the P2Ks (except for the E8 - NOTHING out pulls THAT loco!). I would rank this series about equal with P2K.

    2. Kato (WARNING!!! Do NOT buy the SD40-2: major problems!). Excellent motors, detail not as good as Atlas Master series. Have a great SD-40 (IMRL)

    3. Life-Like P2K. Good detail, good runners, usually. Lots on e-Bay for half price! I have almost a half dozen - all ROCK (BL2, SW9, GP7, GP9, E8) !

    4. Athearn Genesis series. New kid on block. So far, so good!

    5. Stewart- Nice and dependable, my RI F7 is a smooth runner! Less detail than above.

    6. P1K - don't have any of these, but heard they are good.

    7. Athearn- the old standby - they groan around the track, but keep going forever. Just repaired my RI SD40-2, with some help from the Atlas Forum. The AMTRAK P40 runs fine, but loud.

    Walthers locos are "hit and miss" - I lucked out and got a good AMTRAK F40PH.

    I would not buy from anyone else - it's down hill from here!

    I can't say much about steamers, except that I have the Athearn Genesis "Mike" (Rock Island, of course!) - it's a honey!!!

    I've heard that the Bachmann 2-8-0 is good. It's one of the FEW Blochman locos I've heard anything good about. I DO have a doodlebug, but then again I'm a sucker for RI equipment!

    I think Model Power is good for grade school kids, not serious modelers.

    I think you are on the "right track" - buy quality, it's cheaper in the long run!

    And remember to check out e-Bay - I've got half my fleet there (from mostly DEALERS) at good prices!

    Good Luck - and have fun!

    - George
  8. ceebeenq

    ceebeenq Member

    starting out

    George-- thanks-- that is very helpful.
    I kept seeing P2K and didn't know what that meant til I heard my buddy say Proto 2000. (ya gotta go slow with me. heh heh)

    I have been scanning ebay as well. Amazing how much is there.
  9. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    Yeah! Almost TOO much on e-Bay!

    It is very helpful to set up a "search" routine that looks for the model or make of the model railroad stuff you are looking for.

    For example, I've got a search that finds all HO Rock Island locos and rolling stock. Makes it easy to see if a model I want is for sale, and if two are for sale, which one has the lowest bid!

    Good luck with YOUR searching!

    - George
  10. rockislandmike

    rockislandmike Active Member

    Well, now I **KNOW** who I'm competing with for Rock Island equipment on eBay. :)

    Actually, I'm thinking about buying an Athearn Rock Island (red/yellow, not the happy blue I was hoping for, but they'd still have a number of red/yellow units even at their demise) SD40 from my mail order place. Only $68.95CDN, which is a pretty good deal.

    Every single one of my ROCK engines to date are from eBay, actually.

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