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Who makes domestic locos ...and are they any good?

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, January 12, 2020 12:08 PM

The Milwaukee Road Warrior

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

So now to the more important question that will drive what brands of locos you are interested in.

What actual locomotives are you interested in having models of?

A specific railroad? - Milwaukee?

A specific era? 1940? 1950? 1960?

A specific type? Steam? Diesel? Electric?

These questions will drive your choices as much as the name on the box or the place of manufacture.

Sheldon

 

 

 

Thanks for refocusing the thread Sheldon.  To answer succinctly: I'm going to be building a roster of steam and diesel that would be representative of the Milw Rd in the 1950s.  Passenger and freight.  No electric as that would have been way out west on the network and well outside the area I'm modeling: the central city of Milwaukee and the shops/yards/port.  

I'm still researching the locos that were used but I know there were FP's and geeps for diesel, and the occasional FM "erie-built".  Some of the Morning Sun Books have been very helpful in the research.

For steam I will be looking to get some ALCO S3 like the famous #261, but not sure about other types of steam at this point other than maybe a streamlined Hudson or two for the Hiawatha passenger trains.  

I believe BLI makes an S3, I just thought I'd ask up front if anyone in this country still makes any locos before I pull the trigger on something.  Obviously, as a little kid I was clueless on what was made where - and still am, hence this thread.  I'm not surprised as most things are made in China these days.  I should have known it would trickle down into model railroading as well.

 

OK, yes, BLI makes a nice model of the Milwaukee S3 4-8-4.

For EMD F units, including FP's, Intermountian and Athearn Genesis are good choices.

For EMD GP units, Athearn Genesis and Proto2000 are likely the best choices.

And, to help you out a little here on the forum, lots of us know a lot about a lot of railroads, but it may help if you describe steam locos like the S3 by their wheel arrangement (4-8-4) rather than their railroad specific Class (S3).

By example, would you know what I am referring to if I said "B&O P7", "B&O B18", "C&O F19", "C&O J2".

Answers to the quiz later,

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, January 12, 2020 12:29 PM

BATMAN
Hands up, everyone that has responded to this thread that holds a passport

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Why? What in the world would you ask this question for?

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Does whether or not I hold a passport have anything to do with my ability to tell if my HO scale Chinese made locomotive is a good model or not?

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Does your holding of a valid passport make you better at judging the running aspects of your Chinese manufactured locomotives?

.

I really am curious to know why you think this is relevent to this thread.

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-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by BATMAN on Sunday, January 12, 2020 1:37 PM

SeeYou190
I don't know... everything I have purchased lately, no matter where it was made, had been very high quality. All my Chinese made appliances and electronics have been flawless so far.

I agree, anything I own from China which is a high percentage of goods in my house I have no complaints about.

I had a GMC truck made in Ontario Canada, had it for fourteen years and it hardly cost me a dime in repairs. I then decided to go with a foreign-made truck and bought a Ford F-350 made in Kentucky. What a mistake, should have been a homey and bought a good ol made in Canada truck. The Foreign-made Ford has been a money pit. 

I think the above statement is as ridiculous as bashing China. People need to get out more or at least clue in with the modern world. 

Globalization really got started with Reagan, Thatcher, Mulroney and the other G-7 leaders of that time deciding to float all boats was better than endlessly shipping bags of grain to starving individuals all around the world. So we have globalization where we in the West are waiting for the rest of the world to catch up so we can all have a decent standard of living. If you have a problem with helping other human beings have a prosperous life, so be it.

We are all free to our opinions and choices in life. Understanding how we got to where we are in this world will help reel in the spread of silly cynical ideas. 

Why did I ask who holds a Passport? I have found that views of most people that have travelled are much more informed than those that haven't. 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Sunday, January 12, 2020 2:16 PM

BATMAN

 

Why did I ask who holds a Passport? I have found that views of most people that have travelled are much more informed than those that haven't. 

 

 

I've actually found a much stronger correlation between those who read books and how informed they are rather than just those who have travelled.

But to Sheldon's point, I didn't mention the wheel arrangement because I was in a hurry while replying (was about to leave the house) and couldn't remember the S3 arrangement off the top of my head lol.

Andy

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Posted by BATMAN on Sunday, January 12, 2020 2:20 PM

The Milwaukee Road Warrior
I've actually found a much stronger correlation between those who read books and how informed they are rather than just those who have travelled.

I agree, books are like advertisements that entice one on to travel. 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, January 12, 2020 2:30 PM

BATMAN
Why did I ask who holds a Passport? I have found that views of most people that have travelled are much more informed than those that haven't.

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In a thread about how well locomotives run? This is an insane venue to bring up globe-trotting elitism. Do you really discount the views of people that have a differing opinion if they have fewer pins stuck in their globe than you do?

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Does it matter where they have been, or in what context they travelled?

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I have been all through the caribbean, as well as parts of Cenrtral and South America, but it has all been for work.

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The most travelled person I know is my good friend Lt. Col. Jones, but he goes to such places as Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, Iraq, and of course, Germany. Wherever the US Army sends him to work.

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My middle daughter has been all over the world, but only been to tourist resorts.

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Which one of the three of us has, in your opinion, best earned the right to express our views publicly?

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-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, January 12, 2020 2:54 PM

BATMAN

 

 
SeeYou190
I don't know... everything I have purchased lately, no matter where it was made, had been very high quality. All my Chinese made appliances and electronics have been flawless so far.

 

I agree, anything I own from China which is a high percentage of goods in my house I have no complaints about.

I had a GMC truck made in Ontario Canada, had it for fourteen years and it hardly cost me a dime in repairs. I then decided to go with a foreign-made truck and bought a Ford F-350 made in Kentucky. What a mistake, should have been a homey and bought a good ol made in Canada truck. The Foreign-made Ford has been a money pit. 

I think the above statement is as ridiculous as bashing China. People need to get out more or at least clue in with the modern world. 

Globalization really got started with Reagan, Thatcher, Mulroney and the other G-7 leaders of that time deciding to float all boats was better than endlessly shipping bags of grain to starving individuals all around the world. So we have globalization where we in the West are waiting for the rest of the world to catch up so we can all have a decent standard of living. If you have a problem with helping other human beings have a prosperous life, so be it.

We are all free to our opinions and choices in life. Understanding how we got to where we are in this world will help reel in the spread of silly cynical ideas. 

Why did I ask who holds a Passport? I have found that views of most people that have travelled are much more informed than those that haven't. 

 

Well, GM builds good cars and trucks too, I would be interested to know what troubles you had with your FORD F350, and what model year. Every company has some models with issues from time to time, but generally a Kentucky built F series is a good vehicle, I've had two with great service records for a 20 year span and about 370,000 miles worth. And the two Canadian built FORD Crown Victoria's we owned were great cars as well. 

As for the passport thing, my life as been way too busy with things I considered way more important, and I could never get comfortable with the cost of overseas travel, no matter how much money I have.

Today, I will admit I have concerns about foreign safety and my safety under their laws. Except for Canada, I think I will say right here.

So feel free to count me less informed.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, January 12, 2020 3:23 PM

Back to trains......

Quiz answers:

B&O P-7 - A class of 4-6-2 Pacifics built in 1927 by Baldwin, commonly known as the President Class, each loco carrying the name of a US President. The B&O continiously upgraded and modernized the P7's, right up to the end of steam.

B&O B-18 - A class of 4-6-0 Ten Wheelers, some the last ones built, 1908. A very large and modern loco for that wheel arrangement.

C&O F-19 - A class of 4-6-2 Pacifics, the last of this wheel arrangement delivered to the C&O, built in 1926 and converted into the streamlined L-1 Hudsons in 1946.

C&O J-2 - A class of 4-8-2 USRA Heavy Mountains, which the C&O improved and upgraded, which pulled the famous "George Washington" once the train became too heavy for Pacifics.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, January 12, 2020 3:29 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
C&O J-2 - A class of 4-8-2 USRA Heavy Mountains,

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I love the USRA heavy 4-8-2 design, but the C&O J-2 always looked weird to me with the smokebox mounted air pumps and the vanderbilt tenders.

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I like the SOUTHERN version of the USRA heavy 4-6-2 much better.

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But, what do I know. I have never been to Europe.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, January 12, 2020 3:42 PM

SeeYou190

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
C&O J-2 - A class of 4-8-2 USRA Heavy Mountains,

 

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I love the USRA heavy 4-8-2 design, but the C&O J-2 always looked weird to me with the smokebox mounted air pumps and the vanderbilt tenders.

.

I like the SOUTHERN version of the USRA heavy 4-6-2 much better.

.

But, what do I know. I have never been to Europe.

.

-Kevin

.

 

Here on the ATLANTIC CENTRAL we have a large fleet of USRA Heavy Mountains, most do not have front mounted air pumps, types of tenders do vary.

We also have three C&O copies, for some of those C&O passenger trains that roll into the station..........

We are most happy with all nine of our Chinnese made Bachmann Spectrum Heavy 4-8-2's, which was considered one of the first larger dual service wheel arrangements.  

 

Sheldon

    

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Sunday, January 12, 2020 6:12 PM

I confess I found the passport thing odd ...but I never expected such a rumpus over my simple question about the sourcing of locos either...

Think about it from my standpoint: a guy who modeled as a young kid, got busy with life, and finally came back to the hobby in his 40s when his youngest kid asked "What's in those boxes dad?"  I've been catching up on decades of modeling history over the last 6 months or so.  It's a daunting task.  I've read a ton, bookmarked hundreds of sites, looked over thousands of photos to research my prototype, purchased many books and materials to start a layout, built some of the benchwork etc etc, but realize that when I left the hobby in the early 90s DCC as we know it today didn't exist.  When I jumped back in last summer I had literally never heard of DCC before.  The hobby shop guy had to explain it to me.  Smile

All I wanted to know was if anyone makes locos domestically.  Next thing I know I'm in the middle of some geo-political pi$$ing match, with people amazed (!) I didn't know that Atlas made locos back when I was a pre-teen, that Athearn has another "A" in it (I knew that), that China makes seemingly everything in the global market (who doesn't know this?), and that since I've never been anywhere outside the US except for Mexico I'm therefore to be considered of sub-intelligence.

Good grief.  

It's a good thing I have a good sense of humor.  Less understanding folks would have said 'screw these guys' and left the forum.  It's just bad form to treat people with condecension and disregard.  I'm embarrassed for people that would do this on a forum that purports to exist for the sole purpose of helping modelers.  If I need snide asides I can look elsewhere..........

Let's start this whole thing over and focus on the topic at hand.  

Obviously my initial question was answered pretty early on.

NO ONE makes locos domestically.

So, the next logical question is have people found certain brands to be more reliable?  Someone earlier mentioned that many of the brands are good quality.  That is encouraging.  I won't feel so concerned about getting a dud knowing this.

You gotta understand, I'm trying to make the best use of my time and keep things moving forward at my house so I can have trains up and running before my kids decide they aren't interested anymore.  So time is "of the essence" so to speak!  I've not had time to digest the most recent threads here but I see that Sheldon (and a few others) have provided what looks like good feedback.  So thank you to those that didn't get sidetracked.

Andy

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Sunday, January 12, 2020 6:20 PM

It seems to be the nature of this forum that you get answers to questions you´ve never asked Smile, Wink & Grin

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Sunday, January 12, 2020 6:22 PM

Tinplate Toddler

It seems to be the nature of this forum that you get answers to questions you´ve never asked Smile, Wink & Grin

 

LOL.  Actually I've found 99% of the stuff I've read to be on target.  But seriously, I think I strayed into the Twilight Zone there for a bit.

'I shoulda taken that first left at Albuquerque...'

Andy

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, January 12, 2020 6:29 PM

The Milwaukee Road Warrior
have people found certain brands to be more reliable?

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Bachmann, for the past 20 years or so has been one of the most consistent manufacturers of good quality locomotives.

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I just saw one of their GG1 models running last week, and i was impressive.

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I had a very bad experience with an Athearn Genesis Steamer, so I have avoided their line.

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Proto-2000 (made by Life Like) had gear issues, but aside from that easy-to-fix problem, they are inexpensive to buy and still available more than 10 years since the went out of production.

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ScaleTrains are wonderful, but probably way too fragile for little hands.

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All lines have had clunkers here and there most likely.

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Honestly, if you are working with kids on a DC controlled layout, I would seek out "New Old Stock" Stewart/Kato F units.

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Over half my fleet is either Stewart/Kato F units or Sunset Brass Steamers.

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-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Sunday, January 12, 2020 6:45 PM

Thanks Kevin for that good advice.

In the last few minutes I pulled out one of my resources to give people a better idea of the types of locos I'm talking about for this location and era.  The MILW RD ran the following from the 40s into the 50s:

F3 Pacifics 4-6-2

Steam in 2-6-2, 2-8-2 (Mikado), 4-4-2 (the F6 and F7 Hudsons that set speed records on the Hiawatha lines), S2 Northerns in 4-8-4, the aforementioned S3 #261 (also 4-8-4), and 2-8-0.

The transition into diesel included EMD units E6A's, E7s, F7s, FP7s, Fairbanks-Morse ABA units and H12-44 switchers, and Alco DL109's, S2 switchers and RS3s.

Andy

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Sunday, January 12, 2020 6:56 PM

Thanks to Sheldon for the info on his steams.  I gotta say I'm hearing a lot of positives about Bachmann since getting back into the hobby.  I was not expecting that because the Bachmann stuff I had in the early 80s was pretty lousy.  Obviously much has changed...  From what I gather talking with my local hobby shop, the biggest hurdle may be just finding anyone producing these period locos for the Milwaukee Road.

Back in the old days many of the companies just seemed to continually make locos for all sorts of lines in all different configurations.  Now I find out that everything is "limited run" and if I don't want to repaint something myself for my needs I may wait a LONG time for someone to do a production run for Milw Rd.

My hobby shop guy showed me a stack of special orders for locos going back 5 years that he is still waiting on.  He asked what I was modeling and when I said Milwaukee Road he laughed and said "good luck."

Yikes.

Andy

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, January 12, 2020 7:22 PM

Yes, "things can get out of hand, that is why we have orders" to quote General Lee at Gettysburg. It happens all the time on here.

Despite most stuff on the market today being pretty good, you will find strong opinions on various brands.

Now for lesson one.

Not every product from any one brand will be of the same quality level, or of the same "modeler skill level".

The bigger the company, Walthers, Athearn, Bachmann, Atlas, the more they will offer products at different levels, "entry level", "intermediate level", and "high end advanced modeler level".

Generally all will have pretty good durablity and running qualities, but the higher end stuff will run the best, and have detail and accuracy levels well above entry or intermediate level products.

These companies are now doing a better job at identifing their different product "levels", they did not always do a good job with that.

There are those who still have a hard time understanding what I just explained....

And they will tell you that Bachmann and Athearn are all junk because they had some entry level piece that did not meet their expectations 10 years ago, so they will not even look at anything else to see that it is different. Or they had the occasional dud, more on that later.

Other smaller brands tend to just be in the intermediate or high end part of the market:

Broadway Limited

Intermountain

Scale Trains

Bowser

Just to list a few.

NOW, every once in a while, EVERY company makes a dud. A bad design, or a production problem, and a whole batch of this or that can be bad news.

Also, keep in mind, that not every product that says "Athearn" is automaticly coming from the same factory in China.......

Bachmann is actually owned by a Chinese company, Kader, who actually owns a large percentage of the model train production capacity in China. Kader owns lots of different factories and makes trains for lots of the other brands.

So that Atlas loco one guy raves about, might have been build on the other side of the same factory as that Bachmann loco he thinks is junk.......

One last lesson for tonight.

Product availablity. Even when you were a kid, model trains were made in batches and subject to inavailablity. But back then dealers and distributors had buffer inventories to at least make it seem like most stuff was available most of the time.

And, it was a much smaller total selection of product.

Improved manufacturing has allowed the making of a much wider range of accurate detailed models, for which there is less demand for each individual version. 

And now this batch production happens half a world away, and nobody wants a lot of excess inventory sitting around. So we have preorders. 

Manufacturers announce they intent to make a model, people place orders with dealers, dealers place orders with manufacturers, then the needed quanitity (plus some extra) goes into production for delivery in 6 months to a year......if everything goes right.

Now lots of product still ends up on shelves with dealers, but not like the old days. And products migh not get produced again for long stretch - 5 years?, or more.

So if you want it, and you see it a fair price, buy it now.

Well I hope all this helps, more later,

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by BATMAN on Sunday, January 12, 2020 7:32 PM

My apologies for taking the thread off-target, I just get tired of the China-bashing that goes on so often on this forum. Their products are no worse or better than those found elsewhere in the world, Look at Volkswagon, Boeing and a long list of others. My seven-year-old Carrier furnace failed at four in the morning and if not for the CO2 detector my family would have been dead, so don't talk to me about dangerous appliances and the countries they come from. There is not a country in the world that has not produced faulty goods at one time or another. Why China gets skewered differently is beyond me. 

I will answer Sheldons question about my 2001 Ford F-350 7.3ltr diesel P/U and then bow out.

Sheldon, I really love the truck and at almost twenty years hate to give it up as she still runs well. Brakes were a major issue with pads, rotors and callipers often failing, The seals would always be blowing out of the callipers. At about twelve years in a service bulletin came out at Ford that the brake lines were causing all these problems and once I had the lines replaced there was never another problem.

The four-wheel-drive hubs have failed five times, the truck has the duel system of auto-lock or manual lock it has not been a good system at all according to the guys at Ford. I have had four water pumps, one steering box, an alternator, numerous sensors, some on recall, I gave up on the door lock solenoids as they kept failing. 

The truck has not let me down in the backcountry where it is not uncommon to be 200 miles from pavement and it hauled my 30ft trailer up the longest steepest passes never slowing down even a bit, that engine is amazing. I get offers to buy it all the time because of the engine it has. The guys at Ford fight to work on it because it is in really good shape and a few of them want to buy it off me.Laugh

Once again my apologies.

 

Brent

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Sunday, January 12, 2020 7:51 PM

You may be making some valid points Brent (and Sheldon).  Everyone makes a dud once in a while.  And perhaps my view of Chinese work needs to be updated.  I don't know.  I think they make some things very well (they owned Oppo Digital - RIP) and others not so well.  But perhaps that is becoming the norm everywhere.  All I have to go on is what I know and my experience with Chinese products - and that is hit and miss.  So I'm just trying to get the general feel of the land here.  

For example, if others here had more or less uniformly said "don't buy anything Chinese" I would have taken that seriously.  But I'm hearing the opposite.  Global markets have made it so that locos are basically all made in China so we don't have a choice anyway, BUT it's encouraging to hear from those who have been modeling for years that there are, in fact, many good locos that come thru China.  I just didn't have any info with which to judge one way or another so I asked.

[To wit, my uncle has always been a big Toyota fan and 15 or so years ago he replaced his old Tundra with a new one.  He got a lemon.  It was horrible.  Constantly in the shop.  The problems were bad enough that the issues went up to the regional service manager, then his boss, then HIS boss.  Eventually (I kid you not), Toyota sent a guy from Japan to Texas to see this truck and it was decided that Toyota would ship the truck back to Japan where they would completely disassemble it to try to figure out what went wrong.  And my uncle got a new truck no questions asked.]

Andy

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Sunday, January 12, 2020 8:01 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 

Not every product from any one brand will be of the same quality level, or of the same "modeler skill level".

The bigger the company, Walthers, Athearn, Bachmann, Atlas, the more they will offer products at different levels, "entry level", "intermediate level", and "high end advanced modeler level".

Generally all will have pretty good durablity and running qualities, but the higher end stuff will run the best, and have detail and accuracy levels well above entry or intermediate level products.

 

I noted this at my hobby shop and in the Walther's catalog.  I'm guessing I will lean towards the middle to upper "trim" lines.  I tend to spend more up front with the hope that the product will last longer and save me $ in the long run.  

After a lot of searching on-line I found a couple of hobby shops that appear to have a lot of MILW RD locos in stock.  My local shop has nothing - but plenty of MR freight cars.  So perhaps there is hope for me to find some of what I need.  I don't think there are many train shows in my area.  I'll go to ebay if I have to.

Andy

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, January 12, 2020 8:13 PM

Brent,

Thank you for all you had to say, you know I respect your knowledge and opinions.

I don't have any first hand knowledge of that model year F350, I know it is related to the platform of my 2015 F250, but a lot has changed on them since 2001.

And, that whole platform was new some time just before your truck. If problems will happen, it will be on a new platform.....

I had a 2000 F150, 4.6 gas V8, 4x4, regular cab, 8' bed. It did have one major problem, but FORD paid the bill 100%, and the problem was never a problem again. I sold the truck in 2015 at 240,000 miles.

That one major problem was the transmission, it quit at 67,000 miles, a known service bulletin issue. The dealer rebuilt it with the upgraded parts, it lasted over 200,000 more miles. I know because I sold it to friend who used it as a "farm truck" until the trans died 4 years later at 270,000 miles.

I never put a water pump, a starter, or much of anything on the 4.6, did have to replace the 8 ignition coils at about 150,000 miles.

I replaced that truck with a 2015 F250 extended cab, 8' bed, 4x4, 6.2 gas V8.

I don't pull heavy trailers often, so I wanted no parts of a diesel, especially since the life span of gas engines is so much improved these days.

The truck already has over 100,000 miles and has been completely trouble free. It has needed brakes and tires at the predictable 50,000 mile intervals. I replaced the shocks at 70,000 miles "just because".

The six speed automatic transmission is amazing, the power and torque from the 6.2 is also amazing. It steps out pretty quick for something that weighs 8,000 lbs. The shift on the fly 4x4 system has worked flawlessly and I use it almost anytime it rains.

If it has any drawbacks (can't call them flaws), it is the truck like ride, and the one size fits all fuel consumption. Up hill, down hill, loaded, empty, pulling my utility trailer, or not, at 70 mph or 30 mph.........12 mpg........ 

And our car, the FORD FLEX LIMITED with ecoboost....everyone should have a 15 sec 1/4 mile, 0-60 in 5 sec, 365 hp, 360 lb/ft torque, twin turbo station wagon. It is way cool.

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by ROCK MILW on Monday, January 13, 2020 10:01 AM

Parts of my own experience are similar to yours: out of the hobby for 25 years and back into it now, and catching up on the changes since then. I model HO scale.

My new Intermountain and Bowser locomotives have been my trouble-free runners. My new Athearn locomotives (ready-to-run) are good, but I've had to conduct driveline repair, headlight replacements, etc. on a few nearly new locomotives. However, I've learned a lot in the process and improved their performance. Athearn's customer service has been very good.

I've had to replace the motors in my rather new Atlas (GP40) and BLI (Milwaukee Road #261) locomotives, but again this is not difficult and not too expensive, and I gained knowledge in the process. Good customer service there too.

I don't have any Bachmann locomotives. I have remotored and restored a 1982 Athearn Blue Box GP35 and it is now a smooth runner.

My layout is DC, silent running which I prefer and also helps keep my wife happy since we share the upstairs space for my layout and her project workspace.

I lived in Milwaukee in the late 70s/early 80s and vividly remember the yards and shops. As a kid I re-created the entire thing on a track plan in the mid 80s, with lots of pieces of paper taped together. Your project sounds fantastic. A dream layout, I think. On a related note, there is an interesting track plan of the Milwaukee Road in Milwaukee that I viewed recently (perhaps it was in Kalmbach's 102 Track Plans?) It included Air Line Yard (I think), lots of urban trackage and a mainline through Everett St. station with continuous running.

Here are some sources of information that could be of use:

https://www.flickr.com/groups/milwrdmenvalleyshops/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/barrigerlibrary/albums/72157703112618514

I model a short section of joint Rock Island-Milwaukee Road trackage somewhere near Muscatine, Iowa, in the late 1970s.

Looking forward to see what you create.

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Posted by selector on Monday, January 13, 2020 2:08 PM

The Milwaukee Road Warrior

You may be making some valid points Brent (and Sheldon).  Everyone makes a dud once in a while.  And perhaps my view of Chinese work needs to be updated...

 

I spend a lot of time on several forums, and it is quite clear to me that each importer ('cuz that's what they are, every one of them), has had to take back a bunch of sales to either replace or repair.  None of them have been spared.  This applied to Korean merchandise as well as Chinese.  It really depends on the quality of the QA itself. Rapido Trains from Canada has an enviable reputation...or had until their latest release, the RS-11/18 where 'someone' programmed the decoders with an incorrect value, or the proprietors approved an incorrect value and that's what we all got.  They have many videos where they tour their own Chinese factories and show us what's happening there.

I think it's best to keep an open mind and to have a balanced view of things.  The responsibility ultimately is on the entity setting the terms, and then accepting what is shipped to them for sale.  That isn't the Chinese.

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Monday, January 13, 2020 4:14 PM

Thank you ROCK MILW for those links.  I already am on the Menomonee Valley Shops one but had not seen the other.  Some great photos on there that I have not seen anywhere else.

Andy

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Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

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Posted by snjroy on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 9:20 AM

Going back to the original question (sorry, I had to research that one!), I think that the only US manufacturers left are those that sell engines in kit form. Grandt comes to mind, but I'm not even sure they will continue with the new ownership. They make/made small engines in kit form. I suspect the supplied motor is imported, if that matters. I have one of those kits sitting on my to-do shelf. I've read that they can be assembled to run OK... Maybe 3D printing will bring back some manufacturing on this continent, in small tailored runs. But the motors and moving parts will probably be imported for many years to come.

Simon 

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Posted by LouC on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 7:11 PM
Quality control is always the key to getting something made in China that will be decent. No QC, and the results are awful.
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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 6:59 PM

One manufacturer I didn't hear anything about in this thread is MTH Trains.  I know they are based on the east coast and I assume they have production overseas.  Just wondering if anyone here has experience with their engines?  Thoughts on them?

Andy

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Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 7:10 PM

I have never owned one, but in many threads on here, it's been brought up that MTH's own version of DCC, called DCS, doesn't always play well with DCC systems.

There are many that say it's fine, and just as many that say there's problems.

Mike.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 7:16 PM

The Milwaukee Road Warrior
I didn't hear anything about in this thread is MTH Trains.

Never read anything good about their DCS system.  Some like their decoders. 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by cuyama on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 7:23 PM

mbinsewi
MTH's own version of DCC, called DCS

One of the major limitations of DCS in a DC application (like their HO models), is that there's no way to provide auto-reversing. While the engines will accept a change of polarity beneath them, there is no simple way to match the polarities of reversing tracks at block boundaries.

I ran into this with a client project -- his locos and (critically) control system are exclusively DCS. In order to get the flexibility in staging that he desired, a reversing connection slipped into the track plan. He's now attempting a workaround with a complicated system of detection and relays.

For my money, DCC is much more capable than DCS. And the fact that it’s broadly supported is obviously better than a single-source solution.

Byron

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