Steam Locomotives - looking for opinions

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Darkelf, Dec 4, 2003.

  1. Darkelf

    Darkelf New Member

    Hi all,

    I'm curious about the steam locomotives that are currently being offered in N scale. With the recent flood of steam being offered, I am curious about the different manufacturers.

    I have, in the past year and a half, purchased Bachmann's 2-8-0, MDC's 2-8-0 and Kato's Mikado. I have seen offerings from ConCor, Life Like and Model Power. Part of my observation has been the large price variance for similar locomotives - at least, similar to the casual observer (I understand that there are different eras being offered, but I am looking more at the similar era locos - Bachmann, ConCor, Kato, Life Like, Model Power.)

    I'm looking for opinions on the companies mentioned - specifically, is the pricing of their products valid? Why is ConCor $100 more than other manufacturers? Let me know what you think.

  2. Wyomingite

    Wyomingite Member

    Hi Greg,

    You have already bought some of the best there is in N-gauge. If your layout is large enought you would love the Life Like Mallet. Its a beautiful engine and runs like a top. I picked up two for one forty nine but the sale is off for now. I have on order a Model Power and pray for a good one. Theres been a lot of bad ones in the past but they now claim they have the bugs out.

    As far as ConCor there a small company and way over priced. Unless your a train repairman I would stay as far away from ConCor as you can. I bought two Hudsons when I first started out and they spent more time in the mail then they ever did on my layout. To be honest they came back worse then when I sent them in. I dought either ran a total of two hours. They now sit in a siding unpowered. Hope this helps some

  3. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I'll second that! I found one at Trainfest for $140.00, like the HO version, it is a sweet running loco. I also have one of the Bachmann Spectrum 2-8-0s, another great runner.

    P.S. Is it just my lack of knowledge with N scale, or are there really only a handful of cabeese on the market.
    Got to kitbash an appropriate caboose for the N&W 2-8-8-2.
  4. Cinnibar

    Cinnibar Member



    We share similar rosters, which I suppose is true for most N scale steam fans. Here’s my rundown:

    MDC 2-8-0 – The best for switching around the yards (almost never stalls) and maintains a nice steady 15 to 20 mph out on the main. A terrific little 2-8-0.

    Bachmann 2-8-0 – I have two, one ran good out of the box the other was way out of whack as far as driver quarter and valve gear position. It took a fair amount of tinkering , after disassembly for painting and weathering, to get it all smoothed out. They both run well now but tend to stall once and awhile in the yards. I think they sometimes short out on Peco hot frog switches. But they are great engines and a giant leap from what was available say ten years ago.

    Kato 2-8-2 – I also have two of these. Out of the box they are smooth as silk. Mine are about three years old now and their performance seemed to deteriorate this year. It has been a wheel to track contact problem. There are very small copper tabs that pick up current from the “driver tires” and carry it to the axles and frame. I checked for continuity between the “tires” and the frame and found it nonexistent on three of the four sets of drivers. Interestingly enough the set of after-market traction drivers I had installed were the only set conducting to the frame! A check with Kato revealed I wasn’t the only one with problems. They now offer replacement drivers at $20.00 a set with enhanced conductivity. I rambled on about this in case others may be having similar problems with older 2-8-2’s.

    Con-Cor Daylight – I don’t own one but a friend asked if I could get his running better. After much valve gear tweaking and driver quartering the best I was able to get was about a 10 mph starting speed. Which, in my opinion was a bit lacking for what one pays for the engine.

    Model Power – I have one on order. A friend has one and brought it to a club meeting. It sure ran smooth with a nice slow start up.

    Brass 2-8-0 – Same friend has a beauty with a “Vandy” tender. I’d heard they didn’t run all that well……WRONG!!! We used it during an ops session on the A & T and it was smooth as silk with no stalling. I’d love to have one but $450.00 is a bit out of my price envelope.
  5. pjb

    pjb Member

    MICRO-ACE 0-6-6-0 Mallet

    MICRO-ACE which makes excellent locomotives at moderate prices, has introduced an early mallet that can be easily accessorized into "Old Maude" , the B&O mallet that started the use of the type in North America. It is closer to, and more compatible with, a railroad featuring consolidations as mainline power - than cab forward "Yellowstones".
    MICRO-ACE is best known to mainline traction modellers, because of the many box cabs , that lend themselves to bashing up U.S. prototypes. Europeans , who also can use the more modern juice jacks, because of their similarity to power there, make much more use of MICRO-ACE models than we do.
    However they have made steam in the past, and ATLAS has leased their tooling for the JNR 7100 class moguls , and plans to make it in China and sell it here , as the "Porter Mogul".

    It is in fact a model of a Porter built 2-6-0 , sold to Japan circa 1880, and assumming that they put it together as well as MICRO-ACE did , it will be an important addition to 'N' scale early steam rosters over here . Early 'N' scale locomotives lack good performance , if they are moderately priced. The Japanese Rlwys' had a smaller loading gage than North American RRs , but Japanese 'N' scale uses a 1:150 ratio so the models work out well sizewise , for use here.
    In any case, the 0-6-6-0 is a great development for modellers here , because it gives us a 1900-10 prototype loco that matches up well with what was running here. The addition of a leading truck, etc.-increases the utility further.
    Good-Luck, Peter
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I've received an e-mail from a guy in New Zealand asking about the n scale Bachmann 2-6-2 prairie. I model in ho, so I know nothing about n scale locomotives. Does anyone have any experience with the Bachmann prairie?
  7. CNR

    CNR New Member

    The best current available steamers are, without question, the MDC Consol, the B'mann (Spectrum) Consol, Kato Mike, Life Like Mallet, and the very recently released B'mann Spectrum light Mountain. The Model Power Pacific is also a very good steamer, but performance wise is a little below the others I have listed.

    There are a number of steamers coming to the market in N Scale in the very near future, including the above mentioned Atlas Porter Mogul, an MDC Mogul, Model Power light Mike (actually I understand that this is already available but I have yet to see one), and B'mann Spectrum Ten-Wheelers and 2-6-6-2's. All of these should be very good locomotives and well worth considering as they come out.

    Con Cor has a very spotty quality level; some of their locomotives run well while others are terrible (given the price, this is really not acceptable).

    The B'mann Prairie (2-6-2) which was questioned above is a so-so locomotive; they can be tweaked into working not too badly. Usually these can be picked up relatively cheap $20 to $30 US range), and it is worth getting one at this price, if for no other reason than to use to getting used to working on steam locomotives without "experimenting" with a more expensive steamer.
  8. uboat

    uboat New Member

    I have to agree with CNR about Concor.

    At one time the Concor hudson was one of the best there was in N, but those were the Kato built ones. The Con cor built ones require some "customer supplied quality control"

    The newer CC 4-8-4's are pretty decent but again are try before you buy. They have the usual complaints about fantasy schemes from CC. They are way over priced for what you get though, particularly since you can get Kato mikes and bmann consols for less than half at street price.

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