Steam/diesel engine questions

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by wickman, Apr 1, 2006.

  1. wickman

    wickman Member

    Hi Folks
    I'd like to learn a bit about steam\diesel engines and I have a few
    questions if use can please give your input
    I'm going to be shopping for a few stean engines DCC is an absolute mus
    in HO.
    1. I've seen a few popular manufacturers of steam\diesel engines how do
    they all compare to each other for quality and what is the quality
    being compared?
    I've viewed the athern Genesis, Atlas doesn't seem to have anything
    special other than the consolodation, Bachmanns dash8 is real nice
    looking for diesel , I've looked at the bachman spectrum for steam,
    then I seen the Broadway Limited and they have a real nice looking
    So which types would you's find more reliable and better
    quality\detailed and upgradeable for dcc?
    2 when you purchase a dcc equiped engine can you upgrade it say down
    the road to a better dcc chip?
    3 when they list an engines radius it often seems to be 22" Radius is
    this something they always plugin as a must have or are some steam
    and diesel more forgiving than others? What style of steam can a
    person get away with ie 2-4-0 would this run fine on a couple 18"
    radius minimums copared to a 0-4-0 compared to a 4-6-4 so what types
    would definately need which radius's
    4 Also if use may have your favorite manufacturers that I haven't
    listed here as these seem most popular to myself's readings?
    5 last question for now is where would one find a good supplier well
    priced and when I say price I don't mean a cheap engine I'm looking
    for good quality products only
  2. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    I can only speak to #5

    I am an N-scale nut myself, but for quantity, and quality of merchandise I have always liked the M.B.Klien folks in Baltimore. I have visited the store several times and liked their stock of HO and N products.
  3. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    #1 can only tell you that Arhearn Genesis 2-8-2 can't pull much out of the box
    #2 don't do DCC
    #3 the listed radius per loco is close to minium that they will run on unless you take to tinkering with them .
    #4 any of the brass makers in steam proto seems to be ok
    #5 Hobbies usa
  4. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    All of the manufacturers that you mention make good quality locomotives, so a lot of it comes down to which locos you want and whose you like the appearnace or features of the best. By the way, Atlas makes a lot of nice diesels, but I wasn't aware that they made any steam in HO. I have heard that Kato diesels are very good and I am very impressed with those offered by Stewart. Also, someone is bound to pitch in here with a rant about Bachmann quality. Bachmann's regular line is cheap but not always reliable. Bachmann's Spectrum line is much better quality, but suffers from the odd misfit thrown in. I own a number of regular and Spectrums, all very nice-running locos. If you happen to get a dog, Bachmann will stand behind their product 100%, and parts are available for most recent locos (I've bought several tenders to use behind other manufacturers locos, and tender trucks to upgrade those on other tenders). If you purchase a defective Bachmann loco, they will repair it or replace it with a new one.

  5. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Minimum radius for steam locomotives is an ongoing issue. For the manfacturers, knowing that perhaps most, but certainly a good percentage, of HO model railroads have 18" radius curves makes them tend to try to get their locomotives to run on 18" radius so as not to limit their market.

    However, the modifications for a long HO wheelbase to run on 18" radius are not necessarily desirable. Often a number of details near the leading and trailing trucks must be ommitted to give them room to pivot and swing. Tracking of the leading and trailing trucks is often dubious because it's difficult to get adequate downward force on a truck swung out beyond the frame.

    The length of the boiler and smoke box determines how much overhang and how realistic a model will look going around a given radius curve. Yes, some Big Boys will go around 18" radius, but the overhang is tremendous.

    For a reasonable compromise between looks and smaller curve my generalized personal recommendations are (Note that others will differ!):

    15" radius - 0-4-0, 4-4-0, 0-6-0, smaller 2-6-0s

    18" radius - 4-4-2, 2-6-0, 4-6-0, 2-6-2, 0-8-0, smaller 2-8-0. Others might add 4-6-2, 2-8-2, and 2-6-6-2 to this list.

    22" radius - 2-8-4, 4-8-2, 2-10-0, maybe 2-10-2 and 4-6-6-4 plus the entire 18" list

    I would not use the 2-8-8-2 and 4-8-8-4 on anything less than about 26" radius. But it's your railroad. Also, be aware the brass imports generally had much greater minimum radii than the plastic or die cast production.

    My thoughts, your choices
  6. wickman

    wickman Member

    Fred are different manufactures going to have different tollerances for the above mentioned radius like did some like braodway for instance compared to bachmann go the extra mile to make them as you say go around a tight radius better ?
  7. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I have had good luck with Bachman spectrum steam, The newer stuff. Also like Proto Heritage. I have one Broadway limited it looks great but not best running. Athearn look OK run very smooth but don't pull much. I have 2 Walthers/ riverrossi H8 Alleghennies that run great and look great but not for tight radius turns. All of these are DCC ready or DCC equiped. Stay away from cheap IHC in my opinion.
  8. wickman

    wickman Member

    K these are for steam ... sorry I didn't back to this sooner but for diesel engines such as athern's or atlas what types would be suitable for 18" - 22" radius ? like an sd special duty compared to a gp general purpose ( I read this somewhere and it was the only thing that stuck )
  9. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I don't do stinkpots myself, or anything made after 1900, but reading of those who do, the general rule seems to be

    - 4 axle diesels and smaller are fine on 18" radius. The smaller switchers (SW, etc) seem to do OK on 15" radius.

    - 6 axle diesels will almost all run on 18" radius, but not necessarily well or look good doing it. Older diesels are smaller and do better. Most of those who operate modern and bigger equipment ('70s and later) prefer 22" radius or better. Passenger cars more than 70ft scale length regardless of era do not like 18" radius curves either.

    Again, most models can be made to run on a very sharp radius for their size. It may take some modification to do so without derailing. Whether the model looks reasonable doing this is in the eyes of the beholder.

    my thoughts, your choices
  10. wickman

    wickman Member

    thanks Fred :)
  11. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Or stay coupled. Something like a Dash 9 with body-mounted couplers will probably derail the car behind it on 18".

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