Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Thoughts on Model Power or Tyco locos?

17857 views
54 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: OH
  • 16,867 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 8:12 PM

jwhitten

BRAKIE

John,Gotta ask..Do you recall how smooth those MP sharknoses or the RS11  ran? They was fairly decent for their era..

Do they compare with today's models? No,but,we didn't have today's models back then either.

And I take it you haven't looked at the 3 rail engines and cars from Atlas and MTH?

Have you seen Gar Graves  track with wooden ties and darken 3rd rail?

How about the Atlas track?

Ever see Lionel's fast track?

Like you I recalled the Lionel O27 locomotives,cars and track-not the newer stuff.

As a example:

http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/151-4011

http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/507-2033821

Exact models no but,still enjoyable for the 3rd rail crowd and those of us that still like to see big trains run during train shows.

And there is certainly nothing wrong with that..

 

 

 

If you're directing this question to me-- Absolutely, I'm not knocking 3-rail, I'm just saying that nowadays I find it toy-like and hard to overlook.

The lionel trains I played with as a kid were similar to this:

Lionel Steam Engine 

 I remember hoppers, boxcars, tank cars, flat cars and cabooses. But I was only around five or six at the time (I'm forty-six now).

The S-gauge stuff was American Flyer. It had been a train set that either my Dad or my Uncle Mike had been given one year when they were kids. The O-27 stuff was all tin-plate, for the most part. The O-gauge was all lionel-- trains, track, switches, accessories, transformers, everything.

And that's about all I remember about it-- we used to set it up on the floor in my Granddad's basement-- he had a huge basement-- and there was enough track to go nearly the whole length of the room in a big rectangle with a couple of passing sidings. I remember there was one extra switch and a lot of left-over curved pieces and I always added that in and made a snaky-spur... no realism there! Big Smile

 

No,The question was for CNJ.

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
Moderator
  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: London ON
  • 10,392 posts
Posted by blownout cylinder on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 8:01 PM

rjake4454
They should be sold by Bachmann for absolutely no more than $20 each in my opinion.

-----and that is generousSmile

Any argument carried far enough will end up in Semantics--Hartz's law of rhetoric Emerald. Leemer and Southern The route of the Sceptre Express Barry

I just started my blog site...more stuff to come...

http://modeltrainswithmusic.blogspot.ca/

  • Member since
    March, 2009
  • 802 posts
Posted by rjake4454 on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 7:11 PM

jwhitten

The lionel trains I played with as a kid were similar to this:

Lionel Steam Engine 

See even there, with that piece, I would consider that lionel hudson to be far more realistic than most of the junk put out by Bachmann or Model Power. It looks more realisitc, its heavier due to the die cast construction, and far more reliable. The old lionel post-war steam engines still run after all these years whereas I have heard several horror stories of Bachmann 4-4-0's burning out after 20 minutes of run time.

I want to again clarify that I actually really want one of those Bachmann 4-4-0's because they are such  unique looking trains that still remain obscure in HO modeling today (from what other company can I even buy one?), but I don't want to put out $85 for something that is apparenlty as cheaply made as any Toys R' Us train for toddlers. This puzzles me, why even make these for HO if they are such crap to begin with? Why are 10 bachmann 4-4-0's sitting in a locked, pretty glass display case at this hobby shop, why are they presented as 'models', when due to their poor quality, they belong in boxes on the shelf of Toys R' Us next to the dolls and cabbage patch kids?

They should be sold by Bachmann for absolutely no more than $20 each in my opinion.

 

 

 

  • Member since
    April, 2008
  • From: Northern VA
  • 3,050 posts
Posted by jwhitten on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 11:14 AM

BRAKIE

John,Gotta ask..Do you recall how smooth those MP sharknoses or the RS11  ran? They was fairly decent for their era..

Do they compare with today's models? No,but,we didn't have today's models back then either.

And I take it you haven't looked at the 3 rail engines and cars from Atlas and MTH?

Have you seen Gar Graves  track with wooden ties and darken 3rd rail?

How about the Atlas track?

Ever see Lionel's fast track?

Like you I recalled the Lionel O27 locomotives,cars and track-not the newer stuff.

As a example:

http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/151-4011

http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/507-2033821

Exact models no but,still enjoyable for the 3rd rail crowd and those of us that still like to see big trains run during train shows.

And there is certainly nothing wrong with that..

 

 

 

If you're directing this question to me-- Absolutely, I'm not knocking 3-rail, I'm just saying that nowadays I find it toy-like and hard to overlook.

The lionel trains I played with as a kid were similar to this:

Lionel Steam Engine 

 I remember hoppers, boxcars, tank cars, flat cars and cabooses. But I was only around five or six at the time (I'm forty-six now).

The S-gauge stuff was American Flyer. It had been a train set that either my Dad or my Uncle Mike had been given one year when they were kids. The O-27 stuff was all tin-plate, for the most part. The O-gauge was all lionel-- trains, track, switches, accessories, transformers, everything.

And that's about all I remember about it-- we used to set it up on the floor in my Granddad's basement-- he had a huge basement-- and there was enough track to go nearly the whole length of the room in a big rectangle with a couple of passing sidings. I remember there was one extra switch and a lot of left-over curved pieces and I always added that in and made a snaky-spur... no realism there! Big Smile

Modeling the South Pennsylvania Railroad ("The Hilltop Route") in the late 50's
  • Member since
    April, 2001
  • From: US
  • 3,150 posts
Posted by CNJ831 on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 11:00 AM

 

  • Member since
    April, 2008
  • From: Northern VA
  • 3,050 posts
Posted by jwhitten on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 10:51 AM

TMarsh
When I say from all manufacturers and scales I mean not necessarily from their factory direct, but after someone works with them. Uses them as a modeling starting point and they do a fantastic job. 

 

 

Yeah, but that's also like saying you can take a skateboard, do some fiddling, and turn it into a formula one race car. Which means you chuck everything but the logo and add the race car.

Modeling the South Pennsylvania Railroad ("The Hilltop Route") in the late 50's
  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Williamsville, ILL
  • 3,698 posts
Posted by TMarsh on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 10:43 AM

I think CNJ831 summed it up pretty well as to the background of the brands. Good information as you are trying to buy some items and possibly save some money in the short term. His opinions on whether you should or should not buy the items is of course his opinion. Valid, in my opinion, and probably shared by many, but as he said it is always possible to get a fairly good one. There may be many factors that influence your decision on what you buy and that will be up to you of course. If you choose a TYCO or old Bachman or MP, I'm sure no one wil come to your house and scold you or throw you out of the MRR world. (I'm not meaning that anyone is saying that either). Though for a display or an infrequently used loco, I would think about these. However, I definately wouldn't put them on as main motive power during an operating session unless rebuilt or gone through and you know this particular piece.

Everybody makes a piece of junk. It happens. Likewise most all have some redeeming qualities that make them attractive. Just proceed with caution. Model Power still, in my opinion, as a whole, is not up there on the list at all of brands I would purchase. Probably I'd go for an old TYCO first and hope for the best.

Just my opinion mind you based on what I've seen and experienced. Others will vary. And I am the first to admit I have not had every locomotive these brands have made, nor have I even seen most.

Todd  

Central Illinoyz

In order to keep my position as Master and Supreme Ruler of the House, I don't argue with my wife.

I'm a small town boy. A product of two people from even smaller towns. I don’t talk on topic….. I just talk. Laugh

  • Member since
    May, 2009
  • 356 posts
Posted by Silver Pilot on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 10:36 AM

Most older Tyco from the late sixties to earliy seventies were fairly well made and ran relatively well.  The older Mantua steam locos were well built, you could also buy them in kit form to detail and build.  The 'newer' Tyco was of poor quality.  I wouldn't want them operating on my layout.  They few old Tyco equipment I have is kept for sentimental reasons and not for operating.

In general, the base Bachmann stuff is junk.  My only experience with Model Power locos is an E9 that I purchased years ago.  It runs very well with a large motor that barely fit inside the shell.  So not all MP was junk.

As with any piece of rolling stock, given enough time, detail parts and modeling skill anything can be made it a fairly decent looking and operating piece of equipment.  Typically though, the people interested in running the Tyco, bachmann, etc equipment being discussed also don't have the modeling skill to convert this stuff; those that do stay away from them because there are usually more attractive alternatives.

Google is good! Yahoo is my friend.
  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: San Francisco Bay Area
  • 65 posts
Posted by EMD F7A on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 10:14 AM

Funny.... I spent last Saturday unboxing 25-year-old HO locomotives. Stamped on the bottom of every one? TYCO. Those engines, as shiny and chunky as they were, brought a lot of joy to my friend as he grew up- now he's coming back into the hobby (just as I am after a decade hiatus) and finding that he'd like to have something a bit more realistic riding his rails. I believe those toybox TYCO locos (and similar) still do, at the right price point, have a place in Model Railroading... albeint on the "toy train" side.... there's a story about it on my blog if you care to read it :)

-Trains, Cigars, & Classic Cars-
http://huntershobbies.wordpress.com/
  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: OH
  • 16,867 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 9:44 AM

John,Gotta ask..Do you recall how smooth those MP sharknoses or the RS11  ran? They was fairly decent for their era..

Do they compare with today's models? No,but,we didn't have today's models back then either.

And I take it you haven't looked at the 3 rail engines and cars from Atlas and MTH?

Have you seen Gar Graves  track with wooden ties and darken 3rd rail?

How about the Atlas track?

Ever see Lionel's fast track?

Like you I recalled the Lionel O27 locomotives,cars and track-not the newer stuff.

As a example:

http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/151-4011

http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/507-2033821

Exact models no but,still enjoyable for the 3rd rail crowd and those of us that still like to see big trains run during train shows.

And there is certainly nothing wrong with that..

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
  • Member since
    April, 2001
  • From: US
  • 3,150 posts
Posted by CNJ831 on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 9:01 AM

A few points to set the record straight.

First off, in the past tinplate trains (Lionel, Flyer, Marx) were highly unrealistic in scale and relative proportion...although at least Flyer came closer than the other two. The 3-rail track of Lionel was/is totally unrealistic in every way. Even when these three company's trains are placed in a reasonably scale setting by hobbyists they have been regarded as "Hi-Rail" by the more serious, scale model railroaders and not a part of real model railroading. There is, of course, nothing wrong with enjoying tinplate trains, it's just that they represent a totally different hobby from scale model railroading.

In the case of Tyco trains, it is highly important to qualify what era you are talking about. Early Tyco was essentially the RTR arm of Mantua and, for their time, were the workhorses of the scale hobby and a good buy. If properly maintained, they will run well forever...as well as out pulling virtually any of today's best plastic locomotives. However, after Tyco was sold off to Consolidated Foods, circa 1970, the product became increasingly cheapened until they were pure junk. Tyco as a company ceased operation decades ago. Thus, anything in the way of Tyco still in hobbyshops today would have to date from this latter, junk, era and is to be avoided.

Bachmann had a very poor reputation until relatively recently. The older Bachmann, cheap, trains that are being referred to here are essentially part of that era. Of course, there is always a chance that you could get a good runner, but the odds are certainly stacked heavily against you. Likewise, the very small, older, Bachmann items, like its historic (tender drive) engines, hand cars, etc. are junk and not worth purchasing at any price. Their Spectrum line is, however, quite a different animal and most are items of reasonable quality and a good buy, even if no longer cheap.

Model Power was long considered even worse than Bachmann was and even now, except for a few of their most recent entries, can not really be considered worth a secod look. Model Power is today supposedly attempting to bring back the classic Mantua line of die cast locomotives and including can motors in them, but their progress has been extremely slow. As to the usual Model Power trains to be found in hobbyshops today, either avoid them, or don't pay more than $50 or $60 for them. Good perhaps for running with your Christmas village display for an hour or two, they are not good for much beyond that.

CNJ831 

Moderator
  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: London ON
  • 10,392 posts
Posted by blownout cylinder on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 7:07 AM

aloco
But don't buy anything with what even remotely resembles a pancake motor.  Pancake motors are pure junk.

This could've fooled me!!Big Smile There is a fellow up here who actually still has a couple of these Model Power pancakes that are real pullers. And they'll run for hours. And besides--some guys will buy them and remotor them--even if the frames are to be modified.Whistling

Any argument carried far enough will end up in Semantics--Hartz's law of rhetoric Emerald. Leemer and Southern The route of the Sceptre Express Barry

I just started my blog site...more stuff to come...

http://modeltrainswithmusic.blogspot.ca/

  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: OH
  • 16,867 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 6:57 AM

I suppose there is good/bad with Tyco,Model Power and Bachmann.I had  Tyco 4-6-0 and it was a smooth runner.Who can overlook the Model Power Sharknose and RS11 since both was decent runners? I've seen Bachmann Dash 8-40CWs locomotives run for hours during the county fair and other open houses..I've seen a Bachmann Dash-8-40CW mu with a Kato GE unit on DC and at first glance I thought both was Kato.

I never liked those "Plasticville" buildings and they been around for as long as I can remember in HO,S Scale and Lionel.

 

Lionel..There is absolutely nothing wrong with Lionel.Many  older modelers started this hobby with Lionel..Some of the 3 rail stuff by Atlas and MTH looks pretty dang good..

I suppose its boils down to 2 two things:

1) Type of modeler -obviously a occasional hobbyist doesn't spend mega bucks and will enjoy "train set" models while others look upon these cars and locomotives with scorn..There are those that enjoy Lionel and all of its automation.I am 61 and my eyes still light up watching all that automation..

2) How serious one wishes to get in the hobby..There are those that only buys prototypical "correct" models that fit their modeling era while the majority just enjoys the hobby and buys what they like.

So,I guess its all a matter of perspective base on one hobby desires.

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
  • Member since
    April, 2008
  • From: Northern VA
  • 3,050 posts
Posted by jwhitten on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 5:45 AM

 When I was a kid, playing with my Dad's O, O-27, and S-gauge trains from when he was a kid was a lot of fun. I can remember plenty of happy hours at the throttle with me and my Dad or my Uncle or either of my Granddads, blowing the whistles and pouring that stinky smoke liquid down the stacks of the locos-- watching them blow smoke rings around the track. The 3-rail track. As a kid, I could have cared less. They were trains and it was a blast to run them and have fun with my favorite people.

Nowadays though I very much do not like the look of 3-rail track. I have seen a number of beautifully-constructed railroads that are, in my view, cheapened with the use of 3-rail track. It blows the whole illusion for me. I can overlook almost every other anachronism, incorrect detail or lack thereof, except for 3-rail track. It looks toy-like to me. If I were to sit down and run a train on such a layout, I would probably enjoy it-- it would bring back lots of those good memories from earlier years, but it would still feel like a toy.

John

Modeling the South Pennsylvania Railroad ("The Hilltop Route") in the late 50's
  • Member since
    December, 2009
  • From: New Bern, NC
  • 128 posts
Posted by tugboat95 on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 12:25 AM

 I have recently gotten back into model trains (this Christmas with my son).  I have pulled out all of my very cheap Bachmann and Tyco stuff from over 20 years ago.  Some of this stuff was used and abused very heavily by me as a 10-14 year old. (I also have several Athearn engines I bought when I was in my 20's.)  I do agree these are cheap but I am proud to say every one of them still runs.  After 20 yrs out of it, I have received a very enlightening education on the price of new engines.  I am not ready to turn my 12 yr old loose with $100 or more engines.  I am looking at Bachmann because they are cheaper, but still $75 is a lot of money.  I am thinking about staying DC just so my son can play with my older engines.  But I digress.  My cheap bachmann engines have stood the test of time, at least one of them is 30 yrs old

Now we're tugboatin!
  • Member since
    March, 2007
  • 2,751 posts
Posted by Allegheny2-6-6-6 on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 12:21 AM

 Don't ask me why but those things almost have a cult like following. I answered an add posted on craigs list for wanting to buy old Tyco and Model Power trains. I happily answered his add and he was very happy to take all the old clunkers off my hands. So it was a win/win for the both of us. When I asked him why he said these were what he had as a kid and was just in it for the fun. Hey good a reason as any I guess. Maybe being not too serious about the hobby isn't such a bad thing.........nah just kidding.

Maybe the reason that guy still has Tyco's in stock is because he thinks he can get $120 for them. I can't say I ever remember them selling for that much way back when god was a kid and dirt was new.

 To each his own I guess.

Just my 2 cents worth, I spent the rest on trains. If you choked a Smurf what color would he turn?
  • Member since
    March, 2009
  • 802 posts
Posted by rjake4454 on Monday, December 14, 2009 11:43 PM

Darth Santa Fe

The store still has Tycos left in stock!?Shock They stopped making and selling trains almost 20 years ago! As for the rest, $85 is a little less than retail for the Bachmann 4-4-0, but it's still expensive. And although a lot of Model Power's stuff is decent, non of it is worth $120. I think these things will be sitting on the shelves for a long, long time.

As for 3 rails, it is unrealistic and usually toy-like, but I've seen some 3-rail track where the middle rail was made to be less obvious. They still use very large flanges, but there is some very realistic and nice looking 3-rail O gauge out there. I wouldn't consider a lot of the really cheap HO to be real "models," since they're often detailed poorly, and even have entire body shells molded in color instead of painted.

At this point, many HO starter sets are very good quality (even the Bachmann ones). They usually have raised roadbed snap-track, a decent quality engine, and nice rolling cars. Really, the only cheap sets left in production with truck-mounted horn-hook couplers, plastic wheels, and a plastic power truck are the ones from Life-Like, which my LHS no longer carries because they were so cheap. Walthers, Atlas, Proto 1000, Athearn, Bachmann, and even Model Power make some pretty nice sets now.

I have all 3 of Bachmann's historical train sets. The Lafayette got a burned out motor and split axle gear, and the DeWitt Clinton has a little trouble starting. But the John Bull has been pretty reliable. Their new 4-4-0s are pretty nice too, but could stand to have extra electrical pickups added (not hard).

Yeah, the stuff at the store has been there forever, the model power stuff for $120, I couldn't believe that price, no wonder its still there. They had Bachmann Niagara which I really want because of the look of it, but does that thing have a can motor?

And yes, the track you are referring to is gargraves and atlas O, these are very nice indeed.

I really want the John Bull, thanks for the heads up about the Lafayette, I was thinking about getting one of those.

Concering the the 4-4-0's, were there previous runs, or are the ones that I saw at at the hobby shop the ones you were referring to? Which 4-4-0's do you have? I really want the black prr one like this:

 

But again, $85 for a Bachmann 4-4-0, I wonder why they don't make one of these older types in Spectrum? They would get great business.

  • Member since
    August, 2006
  • From: Kokomo IN
  • 630 posts
Posted by climaxpwr on Monday, December 14, 2009 11:15 PM

Now if you want a steam engine that will pull paint off walls, build yourself one of these, or sometimes you can find these on the used table at the local show.  This is a Bowser Pennsylvaina RR M1 Mountain class steam engine.  All diecast metal, engine weighs over 2lbs buy itself.  Even the tender is diecast.  Now these came as kits when in production and are not real hard to build.  Makes a nice couple of evenings or more of building with normal tools any model railroader should have in his toolbag.  You can also find them at shows, some are even the earlier Penn Line models that became part of the Bowser line.  They might not be as finely detailed as the latest from BLI or MTH, but that can be changed if you enjoy the work to produce a model just as nice, but will pull 10 times better with no traction tires.   Cheers  Mike

LHS mechanic and geniune train and antique garden tractor nut case! 

  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Williamsville, ILL
  • 3,698 posts
Posted by TMarsh on Monday, December 14, 2009 10:15 PM

I would be hard pressed to say anything is doomed to being toy like. I've seen, I should say, we've all seen some amazing stuff from all manufactures and all scales. I know that's not your statement, but I just wanted to say that. When I say from all manufacturers and scales I mean not necessarily from their factory direct, but after someone works with them. Uses them as a modeling starting point and they do a fantastic job. 

Plasticville for instance and for the most part, is very toylike. But I've seen some take one and make it look as good as a craftsman kit. Other than just knowing you'd never know. It's all in what you are willing to take as a starting point, and how much you are willing to do.

I have an AHM that I've had since the early seventies and it runs just the same as it did then. Yes I'm in the process of adding pickups, but it still runs. I know it does because it's loud enough you can't miss it. I have a couple of Life Likes and they don't run. Didn't run very long at all until the motor burned or the gears broke. Same with a TYCO I have. The other TYCO will run, sluggish, but it will run.

I also purchased a Bachmann starter set. Thunderbolt I think it was, a GP40 in Santa Fe red and silver (imagine that). It runs very well and pulls equally well. It's not as smooth or as quiet as my Atlas and is not near as detailed nor do I expect it to last as long. But gee whiz I didn't pay near as much either. I also have a Bachmann Spectrum F40PH to replace the Life Like, (the ever present 229) and it really doesn't run any better than the GP40 nor is the detail any better.

Many really suggest against the starter sets, and their reasoning is sound and I agree. But only to a point. If you don't have much money or you aren't sure of your scale or if you will be able or want to grow in the hobby or even if you'll like it, why not a starter set. You get some track a loco and some cars plus the power pack to get you hooked at a reasonable cost. After that, like was said, if the thing quits out of waranty, get a new motor. You might as well learn to work on them now because they'll all need some level of maintenance sooner or later. Detail parts are easily available and you can fix that dude up and no one will know unless you let them pick it up and turn it over. There are a lot of justified arguements against this, but I for one, do not regret my starter set. Worst case, great canvas for practicing weathering.

Bottom line, IMHO, It's only toy like if you allow it to stay that way. If that's OK with you, it's peachy keen with me. Main thing is to have fun and enjoy yourself.

   

Todd  

Central Illinoyz

In order to keep my position as Master and Supreme Ruler of the House, I don't argue with my wife.

I'm a small town boy. A product of two people from even smaller towns. I don’t talk on topic….. I just talk. Laugh

  • Member since
    February, 2004
  • 933 posts
Posted by aloco on Monday, December 14, 2009 9:50 PM

The old Mantua Tyco stuff was okay. Model Power from the 1980s and maybe some of the current MP steam locos are okay.

But don't buy anything with what even remotely resembles a pancake motor.  Pancake motors are pure junk.

If you want good plastic steam locos, Bachmann's Spectrum line, Athearn's Genesis locos, the Life-Like Proto 2000 Heritage series, and Broadway Limited are some brands worth checking out.  They're pricey, but every now and then a good deal on a used one pops up.

  • Member since
    June, 2005
  • 4,019 posts
Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Monday, December 14, 2009 9:35 PM

The store still has Tycos left in stock!?Shock They stopped making and selling trains almost 20 years ago! As for the rest, $85 is a little less than retail for the Bachmann 4-4-0, but it's still expensive. And although a lot of Model Power's stuff is decent, non of it is worth $120. I think these things will be sitting on the shelves for a long, long time.

As for 3 rails, it is unrealistic and usually toy-like, but I've seen some 3-rail track where the middle rail was made to be less obvious. They still use very large flanges, but there is some very realistic and nice looking 3-rail O gauge out there. I wouldn't consider a lot of the really cheap HO to be real "models," since they're often detailed poorly, and even have entire body shells molded in color instead of painted.

At this point, many HO starter sets are very good quality (even the Bachmann ones). They usually have raised roadbed snap-track, a decent quality engine, and nice rolling cars. Really, the only cheap sets left in production with truck-mounted horn-hook couplers, plastic wheels, and a plastic power truck are the ones from Life-Like, which my LHS no longer carries because they were so cheap. Walthers, Atlas, Proto 1000, Athearn, Bachmann, and even Model Power make some pretty nice sets now.

I have all 3 of Bachmann's historical train sets. The Lafayette got a burned out motor and split axle gear, and the DeWitt Clinton has a little trouble starting. But the John Bull has been pretty reliable. Their new 4-4-0s are pretty nice too, but could stand to have extra electrical pickups added (not hard).

_________________________________________________________________

  • Member since
    August, 2006
  • From: Kokomo IN
  • 630 posts
Posted by climaxpwr on Monday, December 14, 2009 9:09 PM

Some of the tyco steam was the same as the Mantua ones, those are predominatly diecast metal other than the turn of the centruy engines like the 4-8-0 and 4-6-0.  Most run decent and can be upgraded with a can motor and nickel silver wheels in the tenders and run really nice.   Mike

LHS mechanic and geniune train and antique garden tractor nut case! 

  • Member since
    June, 2004
  • From: Orig: Tyler Texas. Lived in seven countries, now live in Sundown, Louisiana
  • 25,640 posts
Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Monday, December 14, 2009 8:50 PM

STEELERSFAN
There are lots of used Athearn diesels out there for $30 to $40 and they will run forever. People are only getting rid of them as they upgrade to DCC controllers.

And Athearn's are SO EASY to convert to DCC. It's almost as easy as falling off a log. I've done a bunch of them.

Running Bear, Sundown, Louisiana
          Joined June, 2004

Dr. Frankendiesel aka Scott Running Bear
Space Mouse for president!
15 year veteran fire fighter
Collector of Apple //e's
Running Bear Enterprises
History Channel Club life member.
beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam


  • Member since
    September, 2009
  • 21 posts
Posted by STEELERSFAN on Monday, December 14, 2009 8:44 PM

For the most part, Tyco equipment is junk. Stay far, far away from it. Model Power die cast body locomotives are OK, but I would not spend more than $50 on one. Same with Bachmann. Some of it is true junk!

There are lots of used Athearn diesels out there for $30 to $40 and they will run forever. People are only getting rid of them as they upgrade to DCC controllers.

  • Member since
    June, 2004
  • From: Orig: Tyler Texas. Lived in seven countries, now live in Sundown, Louisiana
  • 25,640 posts
Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Monday, December 14, 2009 8:41 PM

 You'll be wanting to avoid the Tyco stuff, especially it came out after the company moved to Hong Kong. They're junk. I've had some earlier ones that had the Mantua MU-2 drive. They ran OK but picked up with only 2 wheels on each side and were 2 axle drive. With these I pitched the drives and refitted them with Athearn drives. The old standard line Bachmann and Bachmann Plus stuff from the 80's and 90's is worth avoiding too. I've had some Model Power locos, F units mostly, that ran well but were on the light side. After adding a half a pound of weight they'd pull OK but they still had cheap motors.

Running Bear, Sundown, Louisiana
          Joined June, 2004

Dr. Frankendiesel aka Scott Running Bear
Space Mouse for president!
15 year veteran fire fighter
Collector of Apple //e's
Running Bear Enterprises
History Channel Club life member.
beatus homo qui invenit sapientiam


  • Member since
    March, 2009
  • 802 posts
Thoughts on Model Power or Tyco locos?
Posted by rjake4454 on Monday, December 14, 2009 8:22 PM

I went to a hobby shop tonight that specializes more in selling O gauge and G scale equipment but they had a small HO section as well. Many steam engines rested behind the glass but I noticed that none of these were high end yet why are they presented as such and why the high price tag? I counted several Bachmanns, Tycos, most were Model Power though. There were no locos by Athearn or Broadway limited. No diesels by Atlas either. $120 for a Model Power engine? That seems steep. Even $85 for a Bachmann 4-4-0 seems ridiculously high.

First off, I don't want to offend anyone that buys these brands. I do understand that not every person out there can afford the higher end stuff, and I don't want to knock the enjoyment that you may get out of these or the starter sets. We all have our likes and dislikes.

However, my post is more directed at the HO purists who insist that you must run an engine on 2 rail track and that anything else is toy like. I don't mean to come off as antagonistic, I just wish to know your thoughts if you hold to this idea. Do you consider a model power, tyco, or bachmann steam engine to be a 'model' whereas a die cast lionel hudson would be a 'toy'? If so, do you feel this way only because of the third rail or is there another reason?

I have noticed the same thing with scenery. O gauge buildings get knocked because of the plasticville stigma, but at the hobby shop tonight, every single structure for HO, whether pre-made, or kit, had an equally toy like appearance. I actually went there tonight to look for some scenery ideas for my layout, but came back empty handed.

And a lot of stores out there only stock this stuff for HO. There selections are rather limited, infact, without the internet, I doubt many of us would even know that high end engines or accessories even existed for trains. HO seems like one of the most inaccessible scales to the beginner.

For those of you who had the option (financial resources and space) would you advise a beginner to buy one die cast lionel engine or an HO starter set put out by Bachmann? Which do you consider closer to modeling? For me, the answer is simple, the third rail is easy to ignore when you have heavy duty rolling stock and a die cast engine coming down the track. I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

Again, please don't take this post the wrong way. Even I myself am tempted once in a while to buy the Bachmann 4-4-0 or the John Bull set, they do look beautiful, but for that amount of money, I would want them to at least run for a good long time. From a number of reports on these pieces, I have heard to expect just the opposite. I don't know if this is true, but even the owners of the stores often tell me to steer clear of them.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

There are no community member online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!