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Athearn Genesis 2-8-2 Mikado review

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Athearn Genesis 2-8-2 Mikado review
Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Thursday, October 08, 2009 1:36 PM

This review is on Athearn's Genesis 2-8-2 Mikado by Samhongsa. It's currently out of production, but is still widely available at shows and in auctions.Big Smile

Athearn's 2-8-2 is based off the USRA design, making it a pretty generic model that can be used for a lot of railroads. There are some minor detail variations, like the headlight and bell positions, or the type of pilot. I have the version with a boiler mounted bell, upper headlight, and freight pilot. The detail may not measure up to the USRA 2-8-2s available now from BLI and Trix, but it's still an excellent model.

All the main body pieces are molded very cleanly, with some of the sharpest detail I've seen. Most of the separate detail comes factory installed, but the rest has to be put on by the owner. The parts bag with the final details includes the main boiler handrails, front and rear marker lights, bell, whistle, cab grab irons, tender ladder, and rear coupler cut lever. Athearn recommends using liquid plastic glue, but all the parts either press fit or snap on tightly enough that it really isn't needed (I actually had to shave the mounting tab on the whistle to make it fit). Most of the upper boiler detail is molded on, but it's done so well that you almost have to look twice at some of it to tell if it's really separate or not.Big Smile

The detail on the lower boiler, chassis, and tender are almost all separate, and most of it looks great. The large grab irons on the cab and tender are too thick and mostly warped out of shape, and could've been done better. Replacing them with wire parts should be pretty easy, fortunately. The separate smokestack is also too wide and doesn't match its base, and looks like it was done at the last minute during development. Other than those two things (which can all be fixed), the detail looks great.Big Smile

The cab has a full interior, which only needs a crew (and glass) to be complete. All the linkage, from the siderods to the full valve gear, is very well detailed, and made mostly from cast parts. Both eccentrics are angled forward just like they should be, instead of one being forward while the other is reversed, which is a problem many steam engines from the past had. The front coupler is a dummy, and replacing it with an operating coupler could be a challenge. The wiring harness for the DCC plug is very large and stiff, so carefully removing the heatshrink and painting the wires black may be a good idea to improve both appearance and performance. There isn't really much to say about the tender, except that it's also well detailed. The drawbar is bright silver, and could probably stand to be painted black. The paint on the whole engine is excellent, with smooth, even coloring and good color separation, and it's thin enough to not obscure any detail. I can't comment on their lettering, since mine is unlettered, but I'm sure it's as good as what's on their other Genesis models.

The 2-8-2 was a real smooth runner right out of the box, with a wide voltage control range and realistic speed. The right main rod was binding with the bottom of the valve gear hanger just slightly, but a tiny bit of filing fixed that very easily. The mechanism is one of the smoothest running I've tested to date, with no gear noise or extra wobbling/surging motions of any kind.Big Smile The maximum speed at 12 volts is about 50 scale MPH, so it's not good for use as a fast freight or passenger engine. The minimum speed it ran smoothly at was only 2 scale MPH, which is pretty amazing for any steam engine.Big Smile The average current draw running free at 12 volts was 0.13 amps, with a 1.2 amp stall current. The Mikado has the same Beuhler motor used in all early Genesis models, which is a very good running motor, but I wouldn't describe it as being very quiet. The motor may get quieter with more run time, but for now it's only decent. The flywheel is near perfectly balanced, but it's off center by probably only 1/20 of a millimeter, so it makes just the slightest humming noise when it's spinning. The stock weight is unbalanced, giving the 2-8-2 fairly poor traction (it seemed like it was struggling with a dozen free rolling cars), but there's plenty of room in the front for enough weight to be added for good balance. Electrical pickup is with all 8 drivers, and it works very reliably. The headlight is a yellow LED, which looks alright when it's turned on, but the back had to be painted black to not show through the back of the headlight housing. The DCC plug is a 9-pin type, instead of the usual 2x4 pin socket used by most manufacturers. There's plenty of room in the tender for a good quality sound system to be used.

For those of you who may not know, the Athearn Genesis 2-8-2 and 4-6-2 models had problems with the main axle gear splitting, and I think some of the idler gears had problems too. NWSL makes replacement axle and idler gears. Mine's been fine so far, but you never know when or if it's gonna happen.

Except for a few problems (most of which are minor), the Genesis 2-8-2 is an excellent looking and running steam engine. They can be found easily for under $100, making them a very good choice for those who don't want to spend the extra money for one of the more expensive models.Big SmileBig SmileBig Smile Just keep on eye on those gears.


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