Need help deciding on my first engine

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Need help deciding on my first engine
Posted by BLT_BY_LIONEL on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 1:05 PM

Hello,

I've spent most of my life in the O guage world, mainly collecting Postwar Lionel.  While I am still working on my 14x10 layout in the basement (not much progress in the warm weather months), I've been starting to plan a garden railroad for the yard as well.

We have a Koi pond with waterfall and adjacent rock garden that are begging for some track to traverse the area (25 x 25 foot space).  I've been looking into manufacturers and types of engines and, based on my price range, I've selected two that I think I'd enjoy operating:  Bachmann's Climax logging engine and LGB's 2063 DRGW diesel switcher.  Both are on the shorter side since I'll be using LGB R3 curves (4 foot radius) in some tighter spots.  Both have front and rear couplers for switching that I'd like to incorperate. 

What do you all think of those two?  Both would eventually be upgraded with sound/DCC and both are in the $300-400 range.  Do you have any other suggestions for tighter radius, twin coupler engines?

Thanks!

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 3:56 PM
May I recommend you look into PIKO's GE 25-tonner? The little thing uses battery powered, it is now available in RC, and it looks really, really good on my little railroad. All of our curves are R1 / 2ft radius. We have an earlier version of this loco, the Clean Machine, and it is a real joy (so much so it lost all of its grab rails, horn, and bell). If you are an accomplishes kitbasher / custom painter (I am not), it would be a solid base to detail out. Aloha, Eric
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Posted by Postwar Paul on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 5:37 PM

Hello Built by Lionel,

I am like you in that I have Lionel inside, and building a G layout outdoors.( I also have Flyer, H0, 0n30, and Ngauge running in the train room). I wanted to comment because I actually own a 2063, and it's a real tough cookie! LGB stuff is extremely well made. This engine will easily run on R1, also. I do not have the Climax, but I have the 2truck Shay. This engine will also run on R1, but breathes much more easily on wider curves. The advantage here is 2 motors, and gearboxes, which comes in handing with a little longer train.

Both are great choices! Although LGB ruggedness and quality is hard to beat. I guess it comes down to personal taste!

Paul

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Posted by Greg Elmassian on Thursday, September 10, 2020 12:03 AM

To give you a good answer, we would need to know grades and how many cars you wish to pull with your loco.

Visit my site: http://www.elmassian.com - lots of tips on locos, rolling stock and more.

 Click here for Greg's web site

 

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Posted by BLT_BY_LIONEL on Thursday, September 10, 2020 1:46 PM
Eric, thank for the recommendation of the Piko 25 Tonner.  Does it have a track power option?  I will admit, I do like the side rods on the LGB DRGW, but the price difference is tempting.
 
 
Paul, have you had any issues with the shay?  I’ve come across a few thing about the two truck models being an issue.  As far as LGB goes, I’ve heard nothing be great things about their products… I guess you get what you pay for.
 
 
Greg, although not set in stone, I’m estimating a rise in 1 foot from low to high point over about 40-45 feet.  So, that is a max of 2.2-2.5 percent grade? Maybe a spur or siding would be a bit steeper but that’d only be shunting a car or two. I am not planning on running long trains, maybe 4 to 7 of the 14-15” cars most companies offer.
 
 
Thank you all for your replies so far!
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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Thursday, September 10, 2020 3:33 PM

BLT,

Per PIKO, it has a track powered option (https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1960/4221/files/PIKO_25-Ton-Diesel-Info-Booklet_low.pdf?10762605788614708974).  The battery powered version might be a tad wimpy for your grade and intended purposes.  Ours, a battery powered variant, is very happy on slight grades with a string of "minis" from HLW or the Feldbahn series from LGB, but it would struggle, I think, wiht the trains you are describing.  

 

The following is a longer, heavier train:

Diesel Dan, as we call him, really looks better, in my opinion, pulling the short stuff (VIDEO Diesel Dan Pulls the Short Stuff).

Another selling point for me is PIKO USA's amazing customer service and product support.  I documented my initial take on this loco and the company's support here:  PIKO Clean Machine -- A Tropical Take.

 

   I love LGB, and their are solid companies with helpful staff (I like TrainLi) to keep my ka'a ahi iki (little fire coaches) in fighting trim for years to come.  Still, PIKO gets solid reviews for its reliability.  The only downside seems to be the lack of second hand parts on e-Bay.

 

Have fun with your hunt!

Eric

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Thursday, September 10, 2020 5:35 PM

BLT_BY_LIONEL
Eric, thank for the recommendation of the Piko 25 Tonner.  Does it have a track power option?  I will admit, I do like the side rods on the LGB DRGW, but the price difference is tempting.
 
 
Paul, have you had any issues with the shay?  I’ve come across a few thing about the two truck models being an issue.  As far as LGB goes, I’ve heard nothing be great things about their products… I guess you get what you pay for.
 
 
Greg, although not set in stone, I’m estimating a rise in 1 foot from low to high point over about 40-45 feet.  So, that is a max of 2.2-2.5 percent grade? Maybe a spur or siding would be a bit steeper but that’d only be shunting a car or two. I am not planning on running long trains, maybe 4 to 7 of the 14-15” cars most companies offer.
 
 
Thank you all for your replies so far!
 

No trouble with the Shay whatsoever. Great engine. Mine is the second production run with die cast motor blocks. Bachmann offers replacement motors blocks for the Shay.

Bachmann service department is top notch in my book, very happy with their service!

The Climax had an early run, and I believe it was re-released in a later run with metal gears. 
A lot of torque on the gears in this scale, be careful not to overload. 2.5  percent with 7 cars needs 2 motor blocks to do it safely.

Paul

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Posted by BLT_BY_LIONEL on Thursday, September 10, 2020 7:15 PM

Good to know about the motors, Paul.  On flat terain how many cars can your 2063 and shay each pull comfortably?  Maybe I can work on a slighter grade regardless. 

Eric, your piko recommendation had me looking at their short passenger cars.  I could definitely see those on a smaller railroad like the one I'm planning.

 

Thanks again for all the info.

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Thursday, September 10, 2020 9:20 PM

Hi BLT,

the 2063 can easily pull those 7 cars on LEVEL track. It's pretty tough. On a gradient, this drops to 4 or 5 lighter cars. I pull 3 Accucraft cars and an LGB caboose on about a 2 percent without breaking a sweat. Wouldn't push my luck, however.

The Shay, being a 2 motor block engine, I feel comfortable loading 'er down with 5 Accucraft cars and an LGB caboose on 2 percent. This is very similar to the questions Baldwin would ask of those placing a locomotive order!

At one time, I made a matrix of what each engine could pull in number of cars, and minimum radius. But, my roster keeps changing as engines go out of service, and come back out of the shop as something new.

I will say the LGB part of the roster has remained constant, with exception of the Lehman Porter.

Paul

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Posted by BLT_BY_LIONEL on Friday, September 11, 2020 8:38 AM

Wow, didn't realize how big 2.5% could be.... I've been spoiled with Lionel's magnetraction all these years.  I think I'll have to eventually do a real survey of the area with a water level and see what my true grades are going to be.  Thank you for the help... now back to my search

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Posted by Greg Elmassian on Friday, September 11, 2020 12:01 PM

2-2.5% grades... up to 7 cars

climax - great

lgb, may struggle, keep the traction tires in good shape, more like 4 cars

Pike 25 tonner.... no way...

 

Greg

Visit my site: http://www.elmassian.com - lots of tips on locos, rolling stock and more.

 Click here for Greg's web site

 

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Friday, September 11, 2020 3:54 PM

BLT_BY_LIONEL

Wow, didn't realize how big 2.5% could be.... I've been spoiled with Lionel's magnetraction all these years.  I think I'll have to eventually do a real survey of the area with a water level and see what my true grades are going to be.  Thank you for the help... now back to my search

 

One possible solution is to elevate the lower end so that the overall grade differential is much less. Just a thought.

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Friday, September 11, 2020 4:29 PM

BLT_BY_LIONEL

Eric, your piko recommendation had me looking at their short passenger cars.  I could definitely see those on a smaller railroad like the one I'm planning.

 

Glad to help, BLT. 

 

If I may, don't forget to consider how you plan to enjoy the end product.  We deliberately planned away grades to keep operations simple in a house full of kids and because we wanted the Triple O to run with nominal attendance while entertaining friends and family.  If you plan to actively "drive" your trains, then maybe the grade might add more interest than problems.

 

Eric

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Posted by BLT_BY_LIONEL on Saturday, September 12, 2020 1:41 PM
So, after some more searching I kept coming back to the LGB 2063 switcher.  I think a smaller locomotive will fit nicely on my 100-120 foot envisioned main line.  As far a grade is concerned, I like Paul's idea of filling in low areas and making the main line more level.  It won’t be perfect but I think 1-1.5% would be doable.  I'm glad Greg brought up grade in the first place... saved me some headaches later.
 
Eric, I think we have similar goals for operation.  The area is right next to our deck where we entertain guests often.  The sound and sights of trains will be a nice addition to the waterfall background noise.  Although I may sacrifice some operational variety with the lack of hills, I think I can fill that void with turnouts, sidings, etc.
 
I want to do a good amount of planning and research before I break ground.  For the time being I have a loop of R3 LGB track, transformer, and the 2063 on their way and I’ll set up a temporary layout (is that even the right word for outdoor railroads??) for the time being.  I just read “Garden Railroading: Getting Started in the Hobby” offered by Kalmbach Publishing.  I found it very helpful and informative.  If anyone has any other suggestions or favorites, I’m always looking for something to read.  Regardless, I’ll be looking through past threads on this forum since you all are a wealth of experience and information.
 
Thank you all again!
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Posted by Postwar Paul on Saturday, September 12, 2020 3:11 PM

Welcome into the Garden Railway world!

I think the 2063 is an excellent choice for a first engine. Solid , reliable, robust. It may not pull as many cars as others, but it'll get you going with a strong foundation, and you can add on from there.

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Sunday, September 13, 2020 6:10 PM

BLT_BY_LIONEL
 
Eric, I think we have similar goals for operation.  The area is right next to our deck where we entertain guests often.  The sound and sights of trains will be a nice addition to the waterfall background noise.  Although I may sacrifice some operational variety with the lack of hills, I think I can fill that void with turnouts, sidings, etc.
 
....I just read “Garden Railroading: Getting Started in the Hobby” offered by Kalmbach Publishing.  I found it very helpful and informative.  
 

 

BLT, glad to help.   You cannot go wrong with LGB locomotives.  Yours will bring you years of joy!

 

With regards to books, I ended up buying pretty much all of the the GR reference books, and they are very, very well thumbed:

  • "Garden Railway Basics," Kevin Strong
  • "Building Structures for Your Garden Railway," Jack Verducci.  
  • "Miniature Garden Guidebook," Nancy Norris.

For their inspirational value, I bought:

  • "Gorgeous Garden Railways," Marc Horovitz and Pat Hayward
  • "A Passion for Steam," Marc Horovitz.

The latter convinced me I had a ways to go before bringing live steam to the Triple O!

 

     At the risk of tooting my own horn, my thread on this page "Progress on the Triple O" documents five years of Q&A in bringing our own little railroad to life starting from a base skill level was "Zero." There may be some practical applications - and misapplications of the same - of use to you in that thread.

 

Welcome to the club!

 

Eric

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Posted by BLT_BY_LIONEL on Monday, September 14, 2020 10:25 AM

Thank you both.  I'll look into those books and have already been looking at your progress thread... great stuff Yes  Hopefully I'll be starting one myself as well soon enough!

John

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 1:44 AM
Looking forward to reading it and passing the baton to the next guy bringing a garden railroad to life!

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