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Best Quality Engines

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Best Quality Engines
Posted by fender777 on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 7:06 AM

Being gone from this hobby for awhile what are the best brands of Engines. I am just into modern type loco' no steam. I have some Broadway Limited's ' Atlas gold' and Athern. Been hit and miss with the BWL though. Have always had good running with the Atherns' and Atlas. Just seeing if anything new is out. Thanks

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Posted by mbinsewi on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 7:20 AM

I like Atlas, from the "yellow box" to the present offerings, Athearn, new and BB locos, Bachmann Spectrum, and Kato.  I also have a few Walthers Trainline, but haven't converted any to DCC yet.

I also have a few P2K's, and they run fine.

Mike.

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Posted by dstarr on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 7:42 AM

All new production is pretty good.  Any maker who advertises in Model Railroader is offering good product.  The more expensive models may offer more fine detail and a drive that runs a little quieter and is better at slow speed running.  For myself, I buy on looks, if it looks good, it is good.

 

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Posted by tstage on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 8:16 AM

I guess it depends on what you consider "quality": Detailing?  Runnability?  Accuracy to the prototype?  Each manufacturer has their good and bad offerings.

Consistency-wise: Atlas, Bowser/Stewart, Intermountain, and Proto 2000.  Except for a rare exception, they all run very well and look great.

I like BLI but I have had to send 2-3 locomotives to their backshop for repair because of problems right out of the box.  The good news is that they fixed it the first tiem (no charge) and they work great.

I'm not a fan of Athearn.  While the detailing of the mid-line shells was nice, the chassis ran poorly because of pick-up issues.  That said, I was given a Genesis F3 A-B recently and they both run very well.

Tom

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 9:56 AM

I'm not a fan of Athearn.

Of course if you want SD40T-2's or SD45T-2's, at present you have no other choice.

Which brings me to the original poster - your choices can be limited by what type of diesel you want to buy.  In some cases you have choices, like with EMD F units, everyone under the sun has made them so you have a bazillion choices from Athearn, Athearn Genesis, Intermountain, Walthers Proto 2000, Bachmann, BLI, MRC, and some I've forgotten.

OP, if you want advise, help us by narrowing things down a bit because of the above, it depends on the model what choices you have.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by fender777 on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 12:25 PM
I consider a good loco one that can run at very low speed and quiet and never sputters' Look's are great also. I don't care if the Loco is perfectly accurate to the real thing' since I do not study that part of the hobby. I mostly like the 4 axle type SD-40 ect. I do have some of the big Modern 6 axle units that have sound and look great and run well. I guess it still the same as about 7 years ago. Thanks
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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 1:34 PM

All SD40's currently produced look great.  

Kato is generally regarded as having the smoothest and quietest drive train and is usually the producer who has the least one-off lemons.  Intermountain are also near kato in running quality.  

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Posted by jjdamnit on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 2:16 PM

Hello all,

I guess that depends on your budget.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by selector on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 4:13 PM

In my time in the hobby, I have purchased locomotives from Rivarossi/Hornby, Trix, BLI, Atlas, Bachmann, and Athearn.  Hands down, Trix carries the flag for me.  My Rivarossi has never let me down, nor has my Atlas Train Master.  I have had two Bachmann Spectrum steamers, one a plug (Class J 4-8-4) and the other a gem (a metal Heavy Mountain 4-8-2 on the recommendation of Sheldon).  BLI has its problems now and then, but they always come good when asked to repair them, and I am fully satisfied with them.  Their brass hybrid models are exceptionally good.

 While Athearn Genesis engines are very nice to look at, they can be finnicky in terms of pickup and reliability. 

Again, my experience only.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 7:24 PM

riogrande5761
In some cases you have choices, like with EMD F units, everyone under the sun has made them so you have a bazillion choices from Athearn, Athearn Genesis, Intermountain, Walthers Proto 2000, Bachmann, BLI, MRC, and some I've forgotten.

.

STEWART! I have 8 of the Stewart F units with Kato drives. 2 ABA sets and one AB for my streamlined passenger trains. Simply a fantastic locomotive. They run great, and the spartan body casting is pre-dimpled for the drill locations for the Walthers diesel dress up kit.

.

There is no other F unit for me.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by DRfan on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 8:08 PM

I also have had good luck with Atlas and some Athearn.  I was recently surprised with Bachmann's newer line of GP7, GP9 and RS-3s.  They are smooth runners.

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Posted by ggnlars on Thursday, May 11, 2017 11:54 AM

My test results show that Kato & Atlas china score highest overall and have the least variation model to model.  Kato HO choices are limited.

So many trains, so little time,

Larry

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Posted by Sir Madog on Thursday, May 11, 2017 12:27 PM

I am a lucky guy, as I don´t have to ask that question for the prototype of my choice!

There are only two manufacturers catering for those intersted in HO scale Swiss NG trains - is either Bemo from Germany or Ferro Suisse from Switzerland. The latter one manufactures hand-crafted brass locos which are just overwhelming in terms of detail, but as pricey as a Patek Philippe watch.

That leaves with no other than Bemo, which are quite nicely detailed, but their perfomance quite often requires a lot of tinkering to educate them to run smoothly. Once that´s accomplished, they run like a charm and look good, too.

   Ulrich     

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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, May 12, 2017 8:58 AM

fender777
I mostly like the 4 axle type SD-40 ect

A minor correction..A SD40 is a six axle locomotive and there are several SD40/SD40-2 available.. I would hold my mules on buying a SD40-2 until Scale Trains releases their SD40-2 and from the photo examples the operator and rivet counter model looks great.

I decided to stick with Atlas,the older Life Like P2K,Athearn RTR and Kato. I do have a ST SD40-2 on preorder. I have a Genesis GP9 and one Intermountain GP10 as well.

My Atlas collection is Atlas/Roco (the Alco S2 and S4),Atlas/Kato and Atlas Classic. IMHO you can go wrong buying Atlas locomotives.

Larry

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Posted by Doughless on Friday, May 12, 2017 10:24 AM

ggnlars

My test results show that Kato & Atlas china score highest overall and have the least variation model to model.  Kato HO choices are limited.

 

That's my opinion also.  They both run magnificently and each loco is very consistent from model to model.  You know what you're going to get every time you open the box.  

The other producers seem to have more inconsistency with their design of different models and how each individual loco within a particular model might run.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, May 12, 2017 10:30 AM

SeeYou190
STEWART! I have 8 of the Stewart F units with Kato drives. 2 ABA sets and one AB for my streamlined passenger trains. Simply a fantastic locomotive. They run great, and the spartan body casting is pre-dimpled for the drill locations for the Walthers diesel dress up kit.

There is no other F unit for me.

-Kevin

IMO, the Stewart/KATO F unit chassis is 2nd to none; they are the smoothest best chassis out there bar none.  If you get the Kadee 450 close couple kit, they look even better at 3' apart.

The Stewart F unit shell was the best F for years after it was introduced in the late 1980's and still looks quite good even today, especially with a little judicial weathering and some added details.

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Posted by fender777 on Saturday, May 13, 2017 7:40 AM
Sorry your right Larry about SD-40 being 6 axle. I guess I meant my Atlas Athearn GP 35 38' That is what I have most of and they run great. But all of my Broadway Limited 6 axles suck compared to my Atlas 'Athearn. I will never buy any BL again. Junk IMHO.
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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, May 13, 2017 9:57 AM

I will just make my age old comments for any new listeners.....what difference does it make how good a specifc brand is if they do not make the model you want? Are you actually going to settle for something other than what you want?

EVERY company makes winners and loosers, better to judge by the model, than by the brand. I have had great experiances with nearly every brand, and bad or "so-so" experiances with nearly every brand.

I have locos from Bachmann (Spectrum and regular line), Athearn (blue box, RTR and Genesis), Intermountain, Mantua, Rivarossi, Proto, BLI, and IHC.

The nice people at Atlas and KATO, good as they are, simply don't make very much I want, and what they have made that might want, was also made others, often by Proto, which I prefer for several reasons.

BUT, I have no issue with making small adjustments myself and "tweeking" locos to run their best........

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, May 13, 2017 3:03 PM

I am the opposite of Sheldon:

I try not to have to adjust brand new locomotives, because in my past experience, I personally sometimes do more harm than good, even when starting with the best intentions.  Of course I open gearboxes and check lubrication, but I don't modify anything.

For that reason, I try to find what I believe to be the best engines available, regardless of price, that happen to be available and "correct" for a roadname I can live with (midwestern to southwestern).  I run and enjoy them and am happy with them.  Obviously, it has to be a model that I like--I don't just buy anything because it's available and lettered Santa Fe or Rio Grande--I'm actually pretty picky.

All that means I have rather few engines, or anything else, on my roster, but the ones I have are ...well, much better than what I could build/kitbash myself.

John

 

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Posted by Autonerd on Sunday, May 14, 2017 7:45 PM

tstage
I guess it depends on what you consider "quality"

Yes, this!!

It's all about priorities. I like the detail on Proto locos and I'm a sucker for Athearn's see-through fans, but I run on a club layout and those tiny plastic detail parts always worry me -- they are so easy to break.

I've come to appreciate locos I never thought I would like. My Walthers Mainline F40PHs may not have the best detail, but the wire grabs/handrails look good and they pull like no one's business. I used to worship Kato and recently bought a pair of GP35s, but truth be told they look a little plain, and on our massive club layout -- where we usually run 3-4 unit consists -- their fine running qualities are a little lost. I recently bought a cheap-o Bachmann GP40 with DCC on board. Detail is crap and it sounds like a garbage disposal, but mid-consist with a Genesis Geep and the Katos, it adds pulling power and you never notice the molded-on grabs. I can't stand to look at it by itself, but in a consist it does a great job.

A club member has a BLI Hudson that I just love; it looks and sounds great. But it has traction tires and it wobbles. If but if I paid what he paid, I'd be peeved.

Aaron

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Sunday, May 14, 2017 8:21 PM

fender777
But all of my Broadway Limited 6 axles suck compared to my Atlas 'Athearn. I will never buy any BL again. Junk IMHO.

In what way specifically?  

Six axle locomotives (especially longer wheel base ones) require better quality trackwork.  You can get away with absolutely awful track work with a 4 axle diesel.  

Ive got a pair of BLI SD40-2s that run just fine, as well as a BLI E7.  Only had a minor decoder glitch on the E7 (discussed at length on this forum somewhere, and yes I did get the new decoders installed, no I did not get to test them).   

Im not a fan of having to move the locomotive for the sound to start though.

As far as Athearn goes, well, I had a Genesis GP7 show up (new from LHS) with a wheelset popped out of the side frame and detail parts floating around in the box.  Athearn received a phone call and an email.  Response was that other modelers were complaining about too much glue (except that in my case there was no evidence of glue).  Also its weight is on the light side.  My guess is this was a Monday morning or Friday afternoon locomotive.

Every manufacturer makes their own share of lemons.   

I recently purchased 3 Intermountain SD40-2s, all from same production run, three different road numbers.  2 of them ran perfectly, one picked #6 turnout frogs.  It had a warped truck upon close inspection (sent back for repair).

Rule 108: In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken.
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Posted by PRR8259 on Monday, May 15, 2017 11:38 AM

Boo Rim Precision and Sam Modeltech, both located in S. Korea, make great trains that run very well...except they happen to be brass (allegedly also including in Boo Rim's case, the brass hybrids made for BLI) but they are far from what anyone would call "cheap". Imo you get what you pay for, unless you are proficient enough to build/kitbash/otherwise modify your own motive power (my hat's off to those who do, but it ain't me).  Others will not share my opinion, but I don't have to worry or fret about the QA/QC of plastic locomotives anymore.  The very recent stuff from the brass importers has been fantastic where QA/QC is concerned, and even the BLI brass hybrids can be an excellent value, with rather few lemons.  But then also, the choices are limited to what BLI offers.  Then you are stuck with their sound (which may not be as good as the models are) and their smoke (which most just don't need).

John

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, May 15, 2017 3:29 PM

PRR8259

Boo Rim Precision and Sam Modeltech, both located in S. Korea, make great trains that run very well...except they happen to be brass (allegedly also including in Boo Rim's case, the brass hybrids made for BLI) but they are far from what anyone would call "cheap". Imo you get what you pay for, unless you are proficient enough to build/kitbash/otherwise modify your own motive power (my hat's off to those who do, but it ain't me).  Others will not share my opinion, but I don't have to worry or fret about the QA/QC of plastic locomotives anymore.  The very recent stuff from the brass importers has been fantastic where QA/QC is concerned, and even the BLI brass hybrids can be an excellent value, with rather few lemons.  But then also, the choices are limited to what BLI offers.  Then you are stuck with their sound (which may not be as good as the models are) and their smoke (which most just don't need).

John

 

Agreed, modern/current brass is generally outstanding in quality.

But as I commented above, if they don't make the models you want, than what difference does it make how good they are?

Maybe you are happy just picking something from a very short list, but many of us have more specific, or if I dare, more sophisticated goals.

Again, nothing against what you do in this hobby, but it simply does not fit with many peoples goals/wants.

As for cost, I spent $10 for trucks and couplers on nearly every one of 1000 freight cars, many of which were only $5 cars years ago when I bought them, we all make choices about performance and cost.

But since I can successfully work on model locomotives, most brass is way past my "point of diminishing returns". The better trucks and couplers on those freight cars that allow me to easily pull 50 car trains are way more important.

But I do agree, the latest and best brass is amazing in terms of quality and features.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by PRR8259 on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 11:51 AM

Sheldon--

As this topic is about the best quality engines, I interpreted that to mean "best, period, regardless of price", and added my 2c about the brass.  If we are discussing the best, period, I think the brass is worth mentioning as it is one alternative.  Others will choose different alternatives.

I acknowledge that many will not share my views.  However, when you think about it, for the dollar investment that many folks have in their loco rosters, they actually could have a few higher priced hybrids or even the full blown brass models for the same money invested--but just have less of them.  Many folks are modeling a huge mainline empire (or storing engines in the closet diesel shed for someday).

For example, I'm not modeling in the diesel era, and my limited layout does not need helper engines.  If I was in the diesel era, I would likely have 3 and 4 unit sets of diesels to simulate mainline operations.  If I bought those as Genesis level units, for say 4 or 5 of them, I would be at the same price point as many (singular, one each) brass steam engines.  So it's a matter of choices.  Some have 80 unit or greater diesel rosters, and I have 5 steam engines.  Which actually costs more, in total value?  We all are making the best choices that we can with our limited hobby money.  I chose to abandon present day modeling.  I have friends who have easily more than 100 diesels in a closet and no layout yet to run them on.

Again, my hat is off to all those who are able to modify or build their own, who are fine with taking a USRA steamer and reconfiguring it to appear as something else.

Yes, Sheldon is right, I choose to try to find the very best possible, and then choose, from the rather limited availability of what is out there currently, the engines that I want to have.  Also, if one chooses to be patient, there have been many models made in brass that have never/will never be available in plastic, and by waiting, they generally appear on the market, but in limited quantities.  Then one has to jump on them if it is in fact the model that you know you want to have.  So doing the research to know what you want and why you want it and what you want to pay for it (from somebody you think you can trust) is very important.

Otherwise, I too would have 80 to 100 diesel units on hand, which in my particular case would cost me actually much more than the five steamers on hand.

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 1:24 PM

John,

I was not challenging the idea that brass should be in the discussion, it should be.

If you read my very first post in this thread I made the same challenging statement about KATO or Atlas, what difference does it make how good they are if they don't make what you want?

I have ZERO interest in modern diesels, you can pretty much count on one hand the diesels that KATO or Atlas have made that are in my 1954 era, so as a practical matter for me, their quality is of no importance.

If we count each unit of a multi unit diesel lashup as a locomotive, I have a bunch. In my era mainline diesel trains were pulled by 3, 4 or even 6 units as a common practice.

And I model steam in a place, time and way where many trains are double headed, just like most every west bound B&O freight leaving Baltimore in 1954 had two Mikados on the head end.

So if I look at it in terms of number of trains I can field motive power for, on a layout that can handle 50 to 60 car trains, the number is about 30 mainline trains and some switchers/special purpose locos.

Not really that many for an operation oriented 1000 sq ft layout that can store 25 trains.

And, not being in DCC or sound, and having bought a great many of my locos a decade or two ago, and having never sold off previous purchases, the current prices of DCC sound equiped locos do not relate to me either.

So your price comparison does not hold up for me. My "average" ABBA set of EMD F7's or ALCO FA's, or four GP7's typically represents a total investment of $200 to $400, sometimes less, no where near the price of some of your brass.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by PRR8259 on Thursday, May 18, 2017 12:15 PM

Sheldon--

Sorry if you feel I didn't quite get it.

Maybe not Sheldon, but others tend to think in terms of how many diesel units they have on hand, or desire to have on hand, for the layout they think they will have.

I actually get bargains on recent brass sometimes too, in which case a couple or three of your ABBA sets would indeed buy a top of the line factory painted steamer, from the very best builder out there, at the average prices you quote for your diesel sets (ie $900).

It's all about smart shopping.  Deals actually do become available.  Sometimes I'm shocked at what is out there for what price that people don't bid on.

But again--that does not help one if it's not the exact roadname you want to have.  I can totally respect that.

In my case, I will and do buy something when I know it is simply a great buy, when I think I can flip it later for a lot more money if I need to do so.  If and when I trade, I want to trade up, to where I'm getting something for less monetary outlay on my part than whatever its fair market value might be.

I now have a better plan of what I want for my personal roster.

John

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, May 18, 2017 12:31 PM

PRR8259

Sheldon--

Sorry if you feel I didn't quite get it.

Maybe not Sheldon, but others tend to think in terms of how many diesel units they have on hand, or desire to have on hand, for the layout they think they will have.

I actually get bargains on recent brass sometimes too, in which case a couple or three of your ABBA sets would indeed buy a top of the line factory painted steamer, from the very best builder out there, at the average prices you quote for your diesel sets (ie $900).

It's all about smart shopping.  Deals actually do become available.

But again--that does not help one if it's not the exact roadname you want to have.  I can respect that.

In my case, I will and do buy something when I know it is simply a great buy, when I think I can flip it later for a lot more money if I need to do so.  If and when I trade, I want to trade up, to where I'm getting something for less monetary outlay on my part than whatever its fair market value might be.

John

 

No John you missunderstood. $200 bought the whole four unit set of Proto FA2's. Actually it was less than $200 for those........

I don't think I have more than $120 in ANY single diesel unit. Many only cost $30 to $70 each.

And $300 is about my top expenditure for a steam loco.

130 powered units, dollar cost average = $100

Remember, no sound, no DCC. 

Of those 130 powered units, about 50 are steam, about 7 are selfpropelled passenger, the rest diesel.

90% have been purchased in the last 20 years, remember I have been in the hobby for nearly 50 years. When I was young and had less money, I had less trains.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by PRR8259 on Friday, May 19, 2017 12:06 PM

I got the dollars part.  I used an average of the $200 to $400 further above you quoted for an entire ABBA set, of $300 (which could make sense today if one bought new F units), and equated 3 ABBA sets to the price of one extraordinarily detailed and painted brass steamer I got in an Ebay deal.  It's simply a matter of preferences and priorities.  I want the ultimate in detail and running quality, even if just plain dc.  That comes at a price.

We are comparing the cost of apples and oranges.  Two completely different, opposite motive power philosophies.  Both have some merit, at least to one of us.

I have no big future layout plans so I don't need multiple trains.  I want to have a couple big Rio Grande articulateds and some Rio Grande 4-8-2's to go with what I have now.  That's really it.

John

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, May 19, 2017 1:45 PM

PRR8259

I got the dollars part.  I used an average of the $200 to $400 further above you quoted for an entire ABBA set, of $300 (which could make sense today if one bought new F units), and equated 3 ABBA sets to the price of one extraordinarily detailed and painted brass steamer I got in an Ebay deal.  It's simply a matter of preferences and priorities.  I want the ultimate in detail and running quality, even if just plain dc.  That comes at a price.

We are comparing the cost of apples and oranges.  Two completely different, opposite motive power philosophies.  Both have some merit, at least to one of us.

I have no big future layout plans so I don't need multiple trains.  I want to have a couple big Rio Grande articulateds and some Rio Grande 4-8-2's to go with what I have now.  That's really it.

John

 

 

 

John, but once again it seems your are trying to "sell" your modeling goals, and/or negate the goals of others. I don't want to "settle" for less quantity to get higher quality - because the quality already equals or exceeds my needs/wants/goals.

It is fine that you do not want to do what I am doing. But it sounded pretty condescending when you talk about guys with big rosters for layouts not built, with the obvious implication that those layouts will never get built......

And you talk about diesels like that only means "modern" modeling. Guess what, they had lots of diesels in 1954, that was 63 years ago......that is my era of modeling choice.

Detail - first about diesels. I'm sorry but ANY Proto2000 diesel is for the most part plenty accurate and well detailed enough for my goals...and I suspect for the goals of 90% of modelers in this hobby, even pretty serious ones.

Detail - steam. I have Bachmann Spectrum, Proto, BLI, some old brass and a few others in my steam fleet. The detail is good to great for the most part. And as previously disccused I don't buy into the OCD thing with detail since the documention simply does not exist to have every last little nut and bolt correct for September 25, 1954 at 2:37 PM - close enough is good enough........

Steam and diesel - they all run great. Most ran great out of the box - for $100 or $200, not $1,000. The few that did not run great I fixed....because I can.....or the manufacturer replaced.

I only buy what fits the theme and operational needs of the layout. I don't plan to buy much more in the way of motive power.

You keep suggesting that others might be happier if they tried your approach? I failed that class in school, guessing what others want or thinking I know better what is good for them than what they know themselves.

My brain does not have time to worry about what others might be happier doing......

I'm sorry if my choices in motive power are not up to your high standards......

But I am very happy with my fleet of DC powered Proto2000 first generation diesels that on average only cost me about $35 to $45 per powered unit back in 2002-2008.

They still work great, they still look great. They would bring little on the used market, but since they are what I WANT, that means nothing.

2002 I paid $200 each for two Proto 2-8-8-2's, likely the best plastic steamer ever built. I have 9 Spectrum 4-8-2 Heavy Mountains, some C&O, most ATLANTIC CENTRAL, no more than $100 in any one of them. Never had any problems, all run great.

When all those bargins were out there, I knew what I wanted and I scooped them up........

I can replace a few Proto gears, or make a few adjustments, no worries......

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by PRR8259 on Friday, May 19, 2017 8:19 PM

Once again you completely misunderstand me and my intentions.  

The market is actually being driven by the loudest and most vocal 10 percent or less who are loudly clamoring for what they think the rest of us need.  Read some posts on other forums like the Atlas Rescue Forum if you dont believe me.  They are not posting flattering words about older Proto engines.

And yes it is factually true that many in this hobby accumulate but never build the layout.  That includes my friends who are now dead and gone, including another one just recently.  I was by more than 15 years the youngest member of the group...

I am merely telling it like it is.  If you dont like it, fine, we need to agree to disagee. This battle of words is getting a bit old, no????

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