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SP Daylight - MTH vs BLI - Opinions Please

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SP Daylight - MTH vs BLI - Opinions Please
Posted by Aztec69 on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 10:57 PM

Looking on opinions on these two different manufacturers. Of course BLI has only produced their observation car as of now. Thanks

  • Member since
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  • From: Carmichael, CA
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Posted by twhite on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 1:55 AM

Can't comment on the BLI "Daylight", but I do have a full set of the MTH cars plus one articulated coach.  I like them a lot.  Very nice detail, beautiful--and as far as I can tell--extremely accurate paint.  Very smooth running cars. 

I changed the couplers to Kadee 'whiskers' on my cars, since I don't really trust the plastic couplers that came with them--a train that long is heavy, and I didn't want to have to worry about the couplers failing during running. 

Which leads me to the only quibble that I have with the cars--as set up, they're designed to work on 22" radius, so there's naturally a space between the full-width diaphragms.  However, adjusting the coupler boxes for close coupling results in a train that is limited to a 48" radius.   Since I have 36" radii on my layout, I'm going to have to come up with some kind of solution for close-coupling--possibly converting the cars to long-shank Kadee coupler boxes.   I"m just not comfortable with the space between the cars, especially since all of my Walthers passenger cars run with the diagphragms touching.  

But that's my only quibble with the cars.  I think they make up a beautiful train.  All cars are lit--which seems a little 'overkill' for me, since the Daylights did not run at night.  I haven't attempted to get into the cars to 'populate' them as yet, the instructions for opening them up seem a little complex to me. 

Here's a partial shot of the train on my layout--the locomotives are a re-worked brass Balboa GS-4 and an Athearn Genesis MT-4 running as road locomotive and helper, respectively. 

As I said, I like the cars a lot.  I think that MTH came up with a real winner, here.

Tom

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Posted by CAZEPHYR on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 10:36 AM

twhite

Can't comment on the BLI "Daylight", but I do have a full set of the MTH cars plus one articulated coach.  I like them a lot.  Very nice detail, beautiful--and as far as I can tell--extremely accurate paint.  Very smooth running cars. 

I changed the couplers to Kadee 'whiskers' on my cars, since I don't really trust the plastic couplers that came with them--a train that long is heavy, and I didn't want to have to worry about the couplers failing during running. 

Which leads me to the only quibble that I have with the cars--as set up, they're designed to work on 22" radius, so there's naturally a space between the full-width diaphragms.  However, adjusting the coupler boxes for close coupling results in a train that is limited to a 48" radius.   Since I have 36" radii on my layout, I'm going to have to come up with some kind of solution for close-coupling--possibly converting the cars to long-shank Kadee coupler boxes.   I"m just not comfortable with the space between the cars, especially since all of my Walthers passenger cars run with the diagphragms touching.  

But that's my only quibble with the cars.  I think they make up a beautiful train.  All cars are lit--which seems a little 'overkill' for me, since the Daylights did not run at night.  I haven't attempted to get into the cars to 'populate' them as yet, the instructions for opening them up seem a little complex to me. 

Here's a partial shot of the train on my layout--the locomotives are a re-worked brass Balboa GS-4 and an Athearn Genesis MT-4 running as road locomotive and helper, respectively. 

http://i299.photobucket.com/albums/mm310/TWhite-014/Rio%20Grande%20Yuba%20River%20Sub/DSC05032.jpg

As I said, I like the cars a lot.  I think that MTH came up with a real winner, here.

Tom

Tom

I agree with your assessment of the MTH cars.  When they first came out, I did a comparison of the BLI and MTH observation cars.  The MTH car would roll away on the slightest unlevel table, while the BLI car would not move unless pushed on the same unlevel table.  

The MTH cars are nice and roll so much better than the BLI car.  I purchased the BLI observation and when their schedule slowed down, purchased the complete MTH train with the additional 4 articulated cars and two of the coach cars.  If you relocate one coupler set close and the connecting car as delivered, the diagphragms will be very close and still work on shorter curves.  If both are moved to the close position, they will derail.  Try moving the coupler on one of your cars and see if your layout will handle the cars with the modification.

The MTH cars are worth the money and look very nice overall.  I am happy with them and have cancelled the rest of the other cars I had on reservation after the TBD started showing up for the schedule.  

The other advantage for the MTH cars is they are or at least were available for purchasing and taking them home to run on a layout. 

CZ

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  • From: Carmichael, CA
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Posted by twhite on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 10:57 AM

CZ:

I tried shortening the couplers on only one end of each car and still had derailment problems on 36" radius.  However I think your solution would work fine on either 38 or 40" radius (wish I had room for that, by golly!). 

And you're right, I didn't have to wait for a pre-order of the cars at all--picked them up at my LHS.   And I think the price was pretty reasonable for such well-detailed cars.  My brass Balboa GS-4 was one Very Happy Camper when I backed her up to couple on to that very handsome train, believe me, LOL! 

I'm going to get a couple of sets of Kadee long-shank coupler boxes and see if a little experimenting will solve the close-coupling problem.  It's actually only about a 1/4" distance between the cars, so I could get used to it, but since the full-width diaphragms are fully operational, I might as well take advantage of them.  Besides, I don't want my scale passengers having to leap from car to car when the train is in motion.  Embarrassed

Tom Big Smile

 

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Posted by csmith9474 on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 11:06 AM

As far as the spacing issue goes, I have used the Darwin coupler boxes from The Coach Yard. They are a little work to install, but will give you a great adjustment option.

It seems that this was sort of a race between MTH, BLI and Athearn to see who could get their Daylight cars to the market the fastest. Looks like MTH won this one.

 

Smitty
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Posted by CAZEPHYR on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 11:22 AM

twhite

CZ:

I tried shortening the couplers on only one end of each car and still had derailment problems on 36" radius.  However I think your solution would work fine on either 38 or 40" radius (wish I had room for that, by golly!). 

And you're right, I didn't have to wait for a pre-order of the cars at all--picked them up at my LHS.   And I think the price was pretty reasonable for such well-detailed cars.  My brass Balboa GS-4 was one Very Happy Camper when I backed her up to couple on to that very handsome train, believe me, LOL! 

I'm going to get a couple of sets of Kadee long-shank coupler boxes and see if a little experimenting will solve the close-coupling problem.  It's actually only about a 1/4" distance between the cars, so I could get used to it, but since the full-width diaphragms are fully operational, I might as well take advantage of them.  Besides, I don't want my scale passengers having to leap from car to car when the train is in motion.  Embarrassed

Tom Big Smile

 

Tom

I was thinking it might work but the radius has to be larger than 36".  I should have realized you probably tried that trick already.   I have two of the Balboa GS4's like your GS4 and some Westsides GS4's along with one Key in black without skirts.  When the BLI GS4 came out, I got two of those but they are problematic.  The first one now has a Tsunami installed in it and the second one has problems which I don't care to work on any longer.   

CZ  

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  • From: Carmichael, CA
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Posted by twhite on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 11:38 AM

CZ:

You're not the first one I've heard that has had problems with the BLI GS-4's.  Actually, since I'm DC, my Balboa works just fine for what I need .  I bought it second-hand, the original owner had installed a good-quality can motor and operating Mars light in it.  Runs like a dream, pulls like a Sherman Tank. 

I also have a de-skirted Westside that I like a lot, though it's kind of a 'coffee-grinder' noise-wise--haven't re-motored it yet.   That's on the 'to-do' list, LOL!   But Lordy, those Westside locomotives can PULL! 

I looked at the MTH GS-4, but I thought the detail was a little crude--just my opinion.  But since I'm DC, and the MTH locomotives take so much power to start with their DCS/DCC configuration, I bypassed it.  Which is my main quibble with MTH--I had to pass up their AC-6 (my favorite cab-forward model) because of that very same condition.   I don't want to spend that kind of money just to turn around and have to spend more to have someone rip out everything to convert it to strict DC (at my age, I don't really want to go to the length and expense of converting a rather large brass fleet to DCC, understand).  

But, like you, I like those MTH Daylight cars a lot.  It's definitely the most spectacular passenger train on my layout.

Tom  

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Posted by CAZEPHYR on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 11:53 AM

csmith9474

As far as the spacing issue goes, I have used the Darwin coupler boxes from The Coach Yard. They are a little work to install, but will give you a great adjustment option.

It seems that this was sort of a race between MTH, BLI and Athearn to see who could get their Daylight cars to the market the fastest. Looks like MTH won this one.

 

The MTH cars have two slots for the screw on each car and can be adjusted close, but they still require more than the 36" radius if adjusted close.  Tom has already tried moving the screw of one car to the close position but it derailed on the 36" curves.  My cars had trouble also when close coupled below 40" to 46" radius, but did work on a club layout since it had great large radius curves.  If the cars had more weight, they probably could compress the diaphragms better without derailing.  The other option would be to update the cars to the early fifties with the smaller diaphragms and close couple the cars.  They would compress better than the full width ones.   The SP removed the full width diaphragms in later days so this configuration would be correct for the later era.

CZ

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  • From: Colorado Springs, CO
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Posted by csmith9474 on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 1:49 PM

If you are going to change out the diaphragms, I suggest the Hi Tech Details kits. They have the prototype correct striker plates, and are about the the best diaphragms on the market. They cost a little more than American Limited stuff, but are worth the extra cost.

Smitty
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Posted by CAZEPHYR on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 2:38 PM

csmith9474

If you are going to change out the diaphragms, I suggest the Hi Tech Details kits. They have the prototype correct striker plates, and are about the the best diaphragms on the market. They cost a little more than American Limited stuff, but are worth the extra cost.

I have not tried Hi Tech Detail parts, but thanks for the advice.  I would want diaphragms that are detailed and work great so the extra cost would be worth it.

Thanks

CZ

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  • From: Colorado Springs, CO
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Posted by csmith9474 on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 3:01 PM

CAZEPHYR

 csmith9474:

If you are going to change out the diaphragms, I suggest the Hi Tech Details kits. They have the prototype correct striker plates, and are about the the best diaphragms on the market. They cost a little more than American Limited stuff, but are worth the extra cost.

 

I have not tried Hi Tech Detail parts, but thanks for the advice.  I would want diaphragms that are detailed and work great so the extra cost would be worth it.

Thanks

That is about the best detail you are going to get. The bellows are even detailed. They take some patience, but are worth the end result.

 

 

CZ

Smitty
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Posted by hdtvnut on Thursday, December 15, 2011 4:40 AM
I have 13 of the MTH cars and am happy with them. To get the closest possible spacing for my 36" curves, I used KD standard length couplers and draft boxes mounted in the close-spacing holes. This required taking a small round file to the center mounting holes of the couplers and draft boxes in some cases and elongating them slightly - didn't seem to hurt the working of the couplers any. The car diaphragms are now about .05-.07 inches apart. By the way, the diaphragms may cause derailments catching on each other because of edges of the bellows protruding past the end plates, easy to fix. I didn't like the interior lighting as it seemed too bright, and was visibly showing thru the car bodies with room lights off, so I cut it by about 50% by changing some resistors. This also cut the current drain per car from about 45 ma. to 22 ma. Hal
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Posted by CAZEPHYR on Thursday, December 15, 2011 9:45 AM

hdtvnut
I have 13 of the MTH cars and am happy with them. To get the closest possible spacing for my 36" curves, I used KD standard length couplers and draft boxes mounted in the close-spacing holes. This required taking a small round file to the center mounting holes of the couplers and draft boxes in some cases and elongating them slightly - didn't seem to hurt the working of the couplers any. The car diaphragms are now about .05-.07 inches apart. By the way, the diaphragms may cause derailments catching on each other because of edges of the bellows protruding past the end plates, easy to fix. I didn't like the interior lighting as it seemed too bright, and was visibly showing thru the car bodies with room lights off, so I cut it by about 50% by changing some resistors. This also cut the current drain per car from about 45 ma. to 22 ma. Hal

HDTVNUT

Thanks for the tip about getting them to run on less than forty something curves.  The observation car was the problem for me with the light being too bright on the drumhead.  I installed some black tape around the edge of it to cut down the light showing around the drumhead and installed a red light in the mars light up top. 

By the way, the diaphragms may cause derailments catching on each other because of edges of the bellows protruding past the end plates, easy to fix.  Did you cut them back?

Thanks

CZ

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Posted by hdtvnut on Saturday, December 17, 2011 5:26 AM
CZ, I sanded the edges enough to get smooth surfaces and did minor repainting. Chair car sets also can suffer derailments when close coupled because they have offset stirrups at both ends, so one set can interfere with the next car's stirrups. I moved the offending set back enough to fix that, without it being very noticable. Regarding lights, you can cut the brightness by increasing what memory seems to recall to be a 27 ohm resistor on the lighting board to about 200-500 ohms to suit your taste. My additional resistance can be switched in or out with a latching magnetic reed switch at the roofline, like Rapido does for battery power. My set is re-decaled as the pre-1950 cars, so my observation car's light is still a white (back-up) light, controlled by a DCC decoder. I also painted the inside rear of the car black and added shrink tube shields to the led's to further subdue them. I got some MTH Powhatan cars recently, which are very similar, so have more work to do. Hal
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Posted by Heritagefleet1 on Monday, December 19, 2011 6:20 PM

Aztec 69,

I purchased the GS-4 #4449, about 2 years ago, with the promise from my friends at MTH, that there was a complete passenger train coming - well, the cars finally arrived and I can tell you now- you will not be disappointed - they are on par with some Brass cars I've seen, the detail is about as precision as you can ask for-even under the car - and they operate flawlessly.

You may have to make adjustmenst for the couplings but MTH even offers a dual threaded socket for coupler adjustment.

I also just received my MTH Alco PA-1/PB-1 Daylight set and all I can say is - wow...it was worth the wait.

The N&W Powhatten Arrow All-coach Set is equally super-well done, and really looks at home behind those J's.

MTH  really put a lot of thought into the design and detail of these cars and the lighting is just one of the resulting benefits -the lighting is the best I've ever seen on a model.

One other thing I like is the paint color consistancy between all the variations of cars and locomotives.

I can recommend these sets and individual chair cars and articulated cars, without reservation. Considering some of the quality issues coming out of China, MTH seems to be doing something right to keep any problems to a minimum.

 

 

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