Your opinions of rolling stock brands

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ddavidv, Dec 21, 2003.

  1. ddavidv

    ddavidv Member

    I've been buying most of my N scale rolling stock via eBay simply due to cost. As a beginner, I needed to get trains up and running quickly. Much like a protottype railroad just starting out, I bought a lot of used and obsolete stuff. ;)
    Anyway, I have a selection of Atlas, Minitrix, and other oddball stuff (no Bachmann or Micro-Trains). Some of them have 'issues', mostly to do with trucks or wheels. My question is, are there any brands I should stay away from in regards to replacement parts (trucks, etc) or that won't easily take MT style couplers? The bulk of the cars parked on my service siding seem to be Atlas, FWIW.
  2. Overshoe

    Overshoe New Member

    My personal preference runs towards Atlas. They seem to possess the best combination of what I'm looking for (modern cars) and price. MT is also good, but expensive. Personally, I have been disappointed with the few Life Like and Model Power cars I have purchased and would recommend stearing clear. Ultimately though, I think your choice of rolling stock is going to be driven by what era/type you are looking for.

    Overshoe :)
  3. Overshoe

    Overshoe New Member

    My personal preference runs towards Atlas. They seem to possess the best combination of what I'm looking for (modern cars) and price. MT is also good, but expensive. Personally, I have been disappointed with the few Life Like and Model Power cars I have purchased and would recommend stearing clear. Ultimately though, I think your choice of rolling stock is going to be driven by what era/type you are looking for.

    Overshoe :)
  4. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    While an HOer myself, I enjoy buying used equipment---even taking advantage of the freebies from drop-offs at the clubhouse. Because most of the members are interested only in the latest Genesis, Spectrum or Proto 2000 release, I get showered with all kinds of interesting possibilties to rebuild, rewheel (Kadee or Jay-Bee) and recoupler (Kadee or Accurail if necessary, sometime the only one that will work in older stuff). The money I save pays for all the modifications and the final work stands up to the high dollar items. Realistically, I probably enjoy a 5 to 1 (5 cars to 1 car on money spent) ratio over the others in my circle of modeling friends thereby spreading my hobby dollar into areas I couldn't normally afford (DCC decoders, throttles, and the occasional G, S or P2K release). As a former N scaler, I know that Kadee offers many drop-in replacement parts that will help you along with what I have found to be an enjoyable facet to the hobby. Nothing quite like getting a compliment on a train put together from junk box surprizes and toy box rescues.
  5. zeeglen

    zeeglen Member

    I buy mainly Micro-Trains N scale simply because I like their couplers.

    Where i've bought other brands for roadname or era specific use, i am not happy with the stock couplers that come with them and i've either changed to MT trucks/couplers or plan to do so when i finally get a round tuit. (and round tuits are hard to come by...)
  6. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    While I model in HO I lean toward Athearn,Atlas and Life Like(P2K) locomotives.I use Athearn,Athearn Genesis,Atlas,Accurail some MDC,IM and KD cars.I prefer the Athearn and Accurail cars.

    My short journey into N scale I went with Atlas and Life Like locomotives with cars by Atlas,Red Caboose,MT and MDC.
  7. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    A further counter-question to you folks in this thread. I'm only starting to acquire rolling-stock for my yet-to-be-built N-Scale layout. So far, I have one intermountain and two Atlas cars (ooooh, ahhhh)... I do intend to upgrade the couplers to Micro-trains. I've seen Model Power cars up close, and found them a bit light scale-wise and a bit flimsy on the wheels.

    However, is it possible to do upgrades on lower-quality rolling stock like Model Power, such as giving them new trucks and couplers, as well as upgrading their weights to NMRA standards? It may be a way for me to quickly bulk out my rolling stock to begin with...

  8. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I model in ho, but doesn't Micro Trains offer trucks and wheel sets for n scale the way Kadee does for ho scale.
  9. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    Yes... Microtrains offers trucks and coupler sets for N-Scale in the same way that Kadee does for HO. That's why I was wondering if it is possible to take a lower quality kit, like perhaps a Model Power and upgrade the trucks and couplers, as well as adding some weight to the cars to NMRA standards...
  10. Arlaghan

    Arlaghan Member

    Personally, I like Atlas cars. As stated before, they are a good compromise between quality (very good) and price (again, very good). Micro-Trains is dubbed the "Cadillac" of N scale, and with good reason, they have the best detail and some even have operating parts (sliding doors on boxcars, opening flaps on hoppers, etc) that you just don't see in the other cars, but as the nickname implies, they come with a "luxury" pricetag.

    The newer Atlas cars come with Accumate couplers which are compatible with Micro-Trains couplers, though some people complain that they tend to fall apart. While this hasn't happened to me, I can see the merit in the argument. Just be sure when you get Micro-Train trucks to get the low profile wheels, as you mentioned you would be using Atlas Code 55 track.

    However, do not overlook Life-Like rolling stock. As with their locomotives, they do have some nicely detailed cars - the cupola caboose comes to mind. You can usually acquire these cars for ludicrously low prices (I got some for $1.99) and the level of detail on them is quite good. You will have to get trucks for them, as they come with Rapido couplers, but if this has already been budgeted, you can get some good deals with LL.

    I would avoid Bachmann cars. My friend bought a couple and I'm not convinced about them. They tend to derail (likely due to weight issues) and the detail doesn't seem as good. However, I have limited experience with those cars.

    Kato makes decent cars as well, however I do not like how some of the cars and trucks cannot be parted. (The 2-bay hoppers come to mind.) If you get Kato cars, make sure they have knuckle couplers installed.

    I only own one set of Athearn cars (the Tri-Rail Bombardier passenger cars) and I must say that I was very impressed by the quality and level of detail in them. I would definitely continue to look into Athearn cars. Not to mention, their road trucks are very cool!

    There are countless other makers that I have no experience with. Red Caboose cars look to be high quality, but I can't back that with personal experience. Deluxe Innovations (I think it's called) did not look very good to me.

    Enough rambling for me. I haven't been in the hobby long enough to give you better advice in this area, so I just related my experience. So take it as just that - my limited experience. :D
  11. jsolie

    jsolie Member

    I like the MT cars and have a number of them. Their level of detail is incredible!

    I also have a number of Atlas (some recent, some from the mid-1970's), InterMountain, a couple of DeLuxe, some Con-Cor and a Red Caboose or two. And Bachmann :oops:

    I've had problems with the Accu-mate couplers used by Atlas, in that several of them have fallen apart, especially on some of the InterMountain stock. :mad: When that happens, off comes the truck and on goes a MT truck. I've also replaced Accu-mate couplers on some locomotives because they came apart.

    I also have a couple of cars that wiggle and shimmy whilst making a trip around my track. IIRC, these cars had Accu-mate equipped trucks. I replaced them with MT trucks and the problem went away. :D

    I can usually find Atlas cars for a much better price than the others. For some odd reason, the train stores that I frequent (after quite a drive, I might add) always never seem to have any Bachmann rolling stock in stock... :confused: :confused: :D :D

    -- John
  12. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Guys,I have always considered Atlas being the Athearn of N scale..That is why I went with the Atlas locomotives and cars above the others..Now as I stated my short journey back into N scale I had 15 locomotives and 12 of those units was Atlas(I still have my C&HV geeps) and 3 was LL GP20s.Now due to the era I was going to model I had to turn to Red Caboose,MDC and MT for cars although I did have some Atlas tank cars,covered hoppers,hopper cars and modern boxcars..I did change out the trucks and couplers to MTs on those cars that did not come equipped with MTs..

    Now as far as upgrading the cheaper brands of cars I see no reason why it can't be done by adding MT trucks and couplers,
    weathering and perhaps repainting and decaling the car..
  13. Wyomingite

    Wyomingite Member

    I bought a lot of Model Power cars when I first started out and was not to happy with them. But after adding a little weight and the new Atlas 50 ton trucks they run like a top. Over all you still come out a lot cheaper then the more expensive cars. I also like the new Atlas cars and Micro Trains. It all depends on the era you happen to be modeling Ron :wave:
  14. rcwatkins

    rcwatkins Member

    The good: Micro-Trains, LBF, MDC Roundhouse, Red Caboose, Atlas, Deluxe Innovations, & Intermountain.

    The bad: Life-Like, Model Power, Bachmann, Industrial Rail, Arnold, & some ConCor(Not including Auto racks & Intermodal equipment)
  15. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    I have Changed out trucks on most every make out there.I use MT's exclusivly and while i only have an operational yard at this point,i have found that the MT truck is the only system that runs through multiple turnouts successfully everytime without problems.
    The costs associated with changing out is incidental compared to the reliabiity you get in the end.
    Some cars will require a bit of shimming to get your coupler heights dead on.I highly reccomend getting the MT starter kit if you plan on doing much of this.Its the best system for getting everything right on.
    As far as costs go,you have to watch what you buy and how much you spend to keep things at a point where you are not overspending on each unit.
    As an example,Ore cars seem to be going at a rate out of site on the auction sites.Spending 4.50 for a car,4,00 to ship and another 3.50 to retruck for an old model power ore car would be ludicrous.Now 3 atlas ore cars at 4.00 each and 4.00 to ship would get you MT equipped cars at a rate close to what a new atlas car would cost.
    Weighing the cars and adding weights according to the NMRA data sheet will dramatically help.Most older cars may look nice,but they wont track worth crap without this attention to detail.I go to rummage sales and look for old fishing weights,Decoy weights etc and get alot of weight for a minimal cost.
  16. Catt

    Catt Guest

    I buy my cars from which ever company makes the one I'm looking for.

    The Model Power cars need more weight and ATLAS or MT trucks/couplers.

    I like the Bachmann cars because the trucks being screw mounted you can adjust them just like HO trucks.In fact once my layout is operational and my TTRAK and NTRAK modules are done I plan to alter all of my rolling stock to having screw mounted trucks and body mounted couplers.

    The best thing to do to the Bachmann/LifeLike and other cheap cars is to strip the THICK paint off and repaint and decal.
  17. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    What do you recommend to actually strip the thick paint off of these models? I want to be careful not to end up with a big pile of plastic ooze :eek:
  18. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Geez Catt, where do you find the time?? I have about 40 ore cars that need just that(oh and a few modifications to fit the prototype) ive got the decals if youve got the time;)
  19. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Agatheron,I use 91-99% isopropel alchohol to strip Bachmann cars.It is very effective though I suggest that you invest in a stif toothbrush to use for scrubbing.


    This is a pic of a pair of Bachmann Hi-cubes that I stripped.

    The IP also works on at least some of the ConCor cars.

    Acetone will remove the lettering from older KATO locos with out touching the paint.It works on the newer releases too but if your not careful it can take of paint.

    Tileguy ,contact me after March,2011 and we can make an arrangement.:D
  20. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    Catt! Do you immerse them in alcohol, pour, or rub? The alcohol is pretty much household... although I'd have to look around for stronger concentrations...

    Helpful info though...

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