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Little blast from the past! I built a "new" Athearn blue box kit

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Little blast from the past! I built a "new" Athearn blue box kit
Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Saturday, July 24, 2021 8:39 PM

I got an unbuilt Athearn SD40T-2 for my birthday last month, and just finished building it!  I think it would be great if Athearn brought back this kind of stuff.  Sure, the new ones have a lot more detail and everything, but these older ones were designed so the average person could easily work on them.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, July 24, 2021 9:13 PM

Darth: Nice video again.

I am glad you found the handrail. I also am quite a fan of Athearn blue box models. The chassis is rock solid, and like you said, it is easy to work on.

I wish they would come back. Entry level models are needed.

-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 up831 on Saturday, July 24, 2021 9:56 PM

For what it's worth, I would love to see them make the mechanisms and offer undecorated shells kind of ala carte.  It would revive the paint market, enhance the decal market, and revive the detail parts market.

Youre absolutely right.  When Athearn dropped the BB kits, it left a void in the MRR  industry that hasn't been filled.  At least that's my opinion.

Less is more,...more or less!

Jim (with a nod to Mies Van Der Rohe)

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, July 24, 2021 10:29 PM

I'm building a BB Trainmaster. Nice cast metal trucks and metal handrails.

I just finished fitting an F7B Intermountain kit to a relatively recent Athearn RTR F7A drive that came with a CPR shell painted in the wrong red colour.  The kit was undecorated so I could match the paint colours to the old BB F7A I bought new in 1973 and onky recently decorated. 

I find it to be more enjoyable if I build several kits at the same time. I've nearly finished my Kadee Skeleton Log Car kit, just the tricky chain bits to do. I also have an old Alexander log  buggie kit I'm almost finished, real logs. Just finishing chaining them down. Prototypically I'm fairly sure no superglue was used but it's sure handy at 1/87. Alexander says I'm supposed to glue the logs down so who am I to argue. It's a safety thing. 

 My LHS recently acquired a pile of NIB BB kits which I've been picking over judiciously. Undecorated freight and older passenger cars are my targets. Nice "50' express reefer" with proper trucks. Very nice actually. A bunch of Proto 2000 car kits also which can be very nice to build.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, July 24, 2021 10:30 PM

up831
For what it's worth, I would love to see them make the mechanisms and offer undecorated shells kind of ala carte.

That would make me very happy also.

-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 hon30critter on Saturday, July 24, 2021 10:50 PM

I wonder if Athearn still has their old molds. The next question is: would they want to compete with their other product lines?

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, July 24, 2021 10:52 PM

I think the problem is the kits cost too much to market compared to the RTR lineup.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, July 24, 2021 11:46 PM

hon30critter
I wonder if Athearn still has their old molds. The next question is: would they want to compete with their other product lines?

When they brought back the "Roundhouse" name, I honestly thought that a resurrection of the Blue Box locomotive line was right around the corner.

Then it didn't happen.

-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 7j43k on Sunday, July 25, 2021 12:03 AM

Guys,

 

What about the Walthers stuff?  They're really into that kind of thing now.

I've got what I hope will be a very nice SW7 coming from them.

 

Ed

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Posted by OT Dean on Sunday, July 25, 2021 12:27 AM

Darth Santa Fe
I got an unbuilt Athearn SD40T-2 for my birthday last month, and just finished building it!  I think it would be great if Athearn brought back this kind of stuff.  Sure, the new ones have a lot more detail and everything, but these older ones were designed so the average person could easily work on them.

When I had my model RR shop in northern Wisconsin, back in the '80s, I sold a lot of these, mostly in the Soo Line red and white, with black, livery.  I even made up train sets (with matching Soo Line Wide Vision cabooses and at least one Soo boxcar) for customers to give as gifts to young'uns.  I liked all the Blue Box diesels, particularly the F7 "Lash-ups."  (I even custom decorated an AA or AB set or three in the old maroon and gold, with cabooses dolled up in Caboose Red with Soo Line heralds--and one set with Athearn Blue Box heavyweight passenger cars, for a retired Soo Line engineer.)  They were of good quality and were quite affordable for modelers with thin wallets.

Deano

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, July 25, 2021 12:34 AM

7j43k
What about the Walthers stuff?  They're really into that kind of thing now. I've got what I hope will be a very nice SW7 coming from them.

Doesn't the DC SW7 have an MSRP around $150.00?

That seems a bit high to compare to good-old blue boxes.

I think there must be a market for a reliable, simple, $75.00 locomotive that is easy to work on.

Maybe that is impossible to make.

-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 Southgate 2 on Sunday, July 25, 2021 3:07 AM

I can't resist a Darth video! And Athearn BB kits, both diesel and freightcars will always be well represented on my layout.  Others can dump them on ebay, I'll be there to make the occasional catch. I no longer care about their inaccuracies or lack of finer detail. They are what they are. Nobody who will ever visit my layout will know the diff. They kept me in the hobby when the far lesser train set junk failed. The tuning tips here make 'em even nicer.

The video is a nice tribute to Uncle Irv, and his contribution to this hobby which continues on. Dan

Added in, this vid pushed me over the edge that I was teetering on, of picking up a "broken" BB UP SW-12(?) in cosmetically great shape, all there, and clean. Cheap buy-it-now. Doesn't run. It's not a dummy, you can see the components in the underside shots. I'm betting it's something real major, like the bendy-current-conductor strip popped out of contact. (I wire those)Smile

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Posted by tankertoad135 on Sunday, July 25, 2021 7:30 PM

It was a sad day fer me too when Athearn shut down their blue box line.  I really enjoyed working on and detailing them with after market parts.  That was pure joy and taught me much about maintaining those humperdills.  The vast majority of my roster is Athearn Bluebox with the metal handrails.  They are tough runners and really run well with some time on them.  I left one of my original SW1500s on my test stand running for over 24 hours.  I fergot about it until the wife called and asked me at work regarding the puppy.  It had no motor damage and ran just fine.  I did apply some Labelle oil to the mechanism and she is, far and away, my best running switcher to date.

Don; Prez, CEO or whatever of the Wishram, Oregon and Western RRGeeked

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Sunday, July 25, 2021 10:11 PM

Thanks, I'm glad you all liked the video!  My personal experience with most of my BB kits was that they had one problem or another out of the box, but they've always been repairable to the point that you'd never know.

You can get some Walthers Trainline and Bachmann diesels for a decent price.  The WT GP15-1 is currently going for around $70 if you go to Amazon, and others may have it for a similar price.  I have the GP9M which runs on essentially the same chassis, and aside from a little derailing issue that was easily fixed, it's a really smooth and quiet runner with some good pulling power.  My cheaper Bachmann models use the old Spectrum/Plus drive, and they run smooth and strong as can be.  They're good for starters, but I do wish there was more variety in that price range.  I've turned away from buying some of the new BLI and other models (really want one of those Bachmann SC-44 Chargers) because of the fact that they're exclusively sound and DCC, and that's an extra cost that's done nothing on my end but stop me from making a purchase.  Why spend an extra $100 on something I'm going to rip out anyway?  The only sound model I have is the Rapido Turbotrain, and cool as it is, I'm fine with that being the only one.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, July 25, 2021 10:20 PM

Darth Santa Fe
My personal experience with most of my BB kits was that they had one problem or another out of the box, but they've always been repairable to the point that you'd never know.

That pretty much sums up my experiences too.

My favorite locomotive has been my Athearn Trainmaster for a very long time.

-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 PC101 on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 8:37 PM

SeeYou190
 
Darth Santa Fe
My personal experience with most of my BB kits was that they had one problem or another out of the box, but they've always been repairable to the point that you'd never know.

 

That pretty much sums up my experiences too.

My favorite locomotive has been my Athearn Trainmaster for a very long time.

-Kevin

 

I must have been the lucky one, my Athearn BB locos. worked just fine right out of the box and were in my price range as a kid. Matter of fact the un-upgraded DC ones still work fine. Then I later learned how to upgrade them with ''hard wiring'', super gearing, directional lighting, personal and Kadee couplers. Two of my neatest custom painted BB locos in DC maybe thirty years old. Maybe not ''correct'' for todays standard but cool non the less.

I need to stop enlarging the photos, I see so many flaws.Sigh

 

 

 

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 9:11 PM

Well, I have two Athearn Trainmasters. One kit built and decorated by the previous owner and a second undecorated kit I'm halfway through building.  I like them a lot. I've also got two Athearn F7 which really run well. And two old Atlas FP7A by Roco which are pretty much superb models for the time.  

I have an Atlas Gold Trainmaster which is very good but really doesn't outshine the two old Athearn locomotives if I'm honest.

Some of the older stuff is very good.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by PC101 on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 10:03 PM

Lastspikemike

Well, I have two Athearn Trainmasters. One kit built and decorated by the previous owner and a second undecorated kit I'm halfway through building.  I like them a lot. I've also got two Athearn F7 which really run well. And two old Atlas FP7A by Roco which are pretty much superb models for the time.  

I have an Atlas Gold Trainmaster which is very good but really doesn't outshine the two old Athearn locomotives if I'm honest.

Some of the older stuff is very good.

 

Did all the BB Trainmasters come with metal truck side frames? All of mine have metal side frames just like the PA's and PB's

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 10:58 PM

PC101
Did all the BB Trainmasters come with metal truck side frames? All of mine have metal side frames just like the PA's and PB's

To the best of my knowledge, All Athearn Trainmasters have metal sideframe trucks. I have been searching for a decade to find a more modern chassis for mine, and have not found one. I do not think they exist.

All my Athearn PAs (4 of them) have plastic side frames and inboard bearings. This is the newer (and in my opinion, better) design.

-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 PC101 on Thursday, July 29, 2021 1:23 PM

SeeYou190
 
PC101
Did all the BB Trainmasters come with metal truck side frames? All of mine have metal side frames just like the PA's and PB's

 

To the best of my knowledge, All Athearn Trainmasters have metal sideframe trucks. I have been searching for a decade to find a more modern chassis for mine, and have not found one. I do not think they exist.

All my Athearn PAs (4 of them) have plastic side frames and inboard bearings. This is the newer (and in my opinion, better) design.

-Kevin

 

See You190, Thank you for the infomation. Good to hear about those PA's and their newer plastic sideframes.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, July 29, 2021 5:54 PM

PC101

 

 
Lastspikemike

Well, I have two Athearn Trainmasters. One kit built and decorated by the previous owner and a second undecorated kit I'm halfway through building.  I like them a lot. I've also got two Athearn F7 which really run well. And two old Atlas FP7A by Roco which are pretty much superb models for the time.  

I have an Atlas Gold Trainmaster which is very good but really doesn't outshine the two old Athearn locomotives if I'm honest.

Some of the older stuff is very good.

 

 

 

Did all the BB Trainmasters come with metal truck side frames? All of mine have metal side frames just like the PA's and PB's

 

My two are metal trucked. Metal handrails also. Quite nice looking and they run well. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, July 29, 2021 8:38 PM

PC101
Thank you for the infomation. Good to hear about those PA's and their newer plastic sideframes.

If you get lucky and can find one, I strongly suggest the Proto-Power-West replacement chassis for the Athearn PA.

I have not been able to acquire one for a PA, but I own five Proto-Power-West chassis for the Athearn F7, and they run like dreams.

This picture shows 2 of them. The one on the left has a "micro motor" (it is huge), and the one on the right has a Mashima motor. Two of mine have Sagami motors, so I guess they used a variety in their conversions. I put an Ernst gear kit in the Micro-Motor unit, and it will pull the walls down.

The detail on the metal Trainmaster trucks is pretty basic, but I did a lot of detail-painting on mine to make them look better.

The effort was worth it.

-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 SeeYou190 on Saturday, July 31, 2021 8:24 PM

I managed to put my hands onto my two Proto-Power-West F unit chassis with the Sagami can motors. These things run so smooth.

I had forgotten that these two chassis have the older style metal sideframes on the trucks.

The chassis that have the Mashima motors have the newer plastic sideframes and inboard bearings.

These are a couple of things to keep in mind if you are hunting down a PPW chassis.

-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 Southgate 2 on Sunday, August 1, 2021 8:05 PM

In the spirit of the original post I hope:

The Athearn switcher I mentioned in my earlier reply came. The motor was bound up due to alignment issues which were quickly enough resolved. The U joints on the motor shafts were split. I cleaned em up, roughed them up inside, and applied a little super glue.  Oiled 'er up, and a new piar of 148s, good to go!       

Maybe someone can help me date this model. Gray magnet motor, gears but no flywheels. The hand rail stansions are drilled, not bent around the handrails, and the wheels are brass, not gray steel. Any ideas?

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Posted by PC101 on Sunday, August 1, 2021 9:03 PM

The truck sideframes also look like cast metal. I can get back to Pre 1971.

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