Questions for the pros...

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Sideslip, Nov 29, 2001.

  1. Sideslip

    Sideslip New Member

    I have an HO scale "set" in several boxes, unfortunately, which hasn't seen the light of day for about 13 years now. I am now at a point where I think I want to have the boxes shipped to me (currently they're in the parents' basement a few provinces over), and start thinking about getting that hobby going again. My question is regarding (1) locomotives, and (2) power packs.

    1- When I started into this stuff almost 20 years ago, Athearn seemed to be the supplier of most "higher end" locomotives- I'm under the impression that things have changed now. What do you folks recommend for quality locomotives now? (I'm looking at either CN, CP or Wisconsin Central if the road names matter).

    2- What does one look for in a decent power pack for a beginner, hopefully headed into sort of an "intermediate" type of set-up down the road.

    Thanks all in advance for any advice.

  2. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    That all depends on how much you want to spend.But,I will gladly spend it for you. my frist choich is the Life like proto-2000.These are slick running engines and hard to beat.My second choich is still the athearn,they are well built and will last for years with normal maintenance.third choich is atlas.Nice runners but the cost is on the high end.Followed by kato nice runners but the cost is high end also.Your best bet on the power pack is the MRC Tech 2 or tech 4.There is Dcc but you should not consider this till you gain experience in the hobby. Most starter sets like the digi trax is around $249.00 mfrsp. There are other dcc starter sets such as atlas that will cost you less. some engines come dcc ready,but you still have to change them over from dc to dcc.:D
  3. IMRL393

    IMRL393 Member

    Hi Sideslip!

    I can agree with Brakie's list for the most part, but would add the Atlas Master series of trains. IMHO, the recent Atlas productions edge P2K and Kato for quality and detail. Plus, the Atlas Master locos are DCC ready (with the decoder installed) if you want to go that way.

    In truth, you will wind up buying from all of the above if you are trying to model a specific road and/or want specific loco types or color schemes. Take my Rock Island (a mighty fine line!) collection, for example:

    I have an E8 in full Rocket dress from P2K, a GP-40 in maroon and yellow from Atlas, a F-7 in red and black by Stewart, and an Athearn SD40-2 in red and yellow. When I want to go "modern" or "real", I have a Kato IMRL SD-40 in blue and black. Different manufacturers make different models!

    You won't go too far wrong with any of the above.

    (I rate them: Atlas, Kato, P2k, Athearn Genesis, Stewart and "regular" Athearn at the bottom).

    If you are going DCC, go ahead and get a dedicated power supply from the manufacturer (MRC, Atlas or and the lower Digitrax systems are the most affordable - the Digitrax Chief perhaps the best system regardless of cost). If not, the MRC Tech 4 series of power supplies seem to be held in high regard from what I've read on several forums

    (Me? I still have an old Athearn PS - I'm waiting to see which DCC system, of the new ones out, is the best "fit" for me - and of course to collect the coins to buy it!).

    Happy Shopping !! :)

    - George
  4. gibbs

    gibbs New Member

    I was in your shoes a year ago. Pulled out the 'old' train set... hooked it up... threw it back in the box. I live just north of Toronto (Ontario, Canada for everyone else), and have started modeling CP and CN '50-'60s era. Having said that, I find that Proto 2000 offers the best selection for Canadian modelling. I haven't tried Kato or Atlas but hear good things about them. IMO i'd stay clear of Bachman. I own a GP30 that makes a racket at any speed.
    As for power supplies, toss your old one, and invest in a new MRC pack. I picked up a couple of Tech4 260 for $80cdn each. They offer plenty of power and superb control.
    Where in Ont. do you live?
  5. Sideslip

    Sideslip New Member

    Thanks guys for the timely responses. I appreciate it.
    Gibbs- I live in a place called Hearst. If you don't know where that is, pull out a map, look up, waaaay up, past Timmins, past Kapuskasing (depressing eh?) and there you'll find Hearst. I lovingly refer to it a "Worst". No offence to the locals...
  6. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    hehe I just posted a picture from the excursion train that runs between Sault Sainte Marie and Hearst! It's in the thread on Power Plants in the Photography forum.

  7. Sideslip

    Sideslip New Member

    You know what's funny? I moved here from Sault Ste. Marie. I've been on the ACR to the Agawa Canyon twice. If you ever get the chance, it's a good family trip. The scenery through Algoma is (next to the Rockies) probably the most picturesque (sp?).
  8. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    The photos of the area look spectacular! I really like the fall colors, too. Down here in this part of Texas we have Fall in about one day. The leaves all die, fall of the tree, and the temperature drops down enough so that most people ask themselves "should I got ahead and wear a long-sleeve shirt today?" So nothing so picturesque here... :)

  9. Sideslip

    Sideslip New Member


    I wish my daily dilemma was which shirt to wear! Now it's which jacket, and I actually had to wear my parka the other day:eek:
    It is snowing as we speak, we've got about 6" of the white stuff on the ground now (not much for December in the north). Temperature is about 23F, but will soon be around the -23F to -30F range! What is Texas like in the winter months? :confused:
  10. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    It depends on where you live. The northernmost parts of the state get a fair amount of snow most winters. In the middle portions, we get a lot of rain (especially in East Texas). It rains down south, too, I think, but it's generally warmer. It's considered a crisis if there is ice down south because of all of the fruit orchards and farms. I went down to South Texas one summer and was amazed by all of the orchards. They had a hard freeze the following winter, and when I returned the next summer the orchards looks desolate. They had to cut back the limbs to try and save the trees. Our pine trees in this part of the country don't hold up to much ice, either. Their limbs break and they look a mess after one of our infrequent ice storms.

    Where I live (East Texas), winter is chilly and muddy!

    I got to listen to the first few minutes of Prairie Home Companion yesterday evening. Keillor was talking about the snow this time of year in Minnesota and, among other things, how it is a burden they carry for the sake of those of us living down south. When we complain about the heat, insects and rain, we can always remember, "Yeah, but it's snowing in Minnesota!" and feel better about our situation. :)


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