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!

HO Fully Assembled Rolling Stock

2356 views
55 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December, 2009
  • 13 posts
HO Fully Assembled Rolling Stock
Posted by Triple B on Thursday, April 11, 2019 11:56 PM

Hi, 

I’m considering a move from N Scale to HO Scale due to the declining dexterity in my hands due to both peripheral neuropathy and rheumatoid arthritis.  I’d be sacrificing a lot of layout space but have been extremely intrigued lately by the shelf/switching layouts ala Lance Mindheim anyway.

My question is: what HO rolling Stock is ready-to-run, fully assembled right out of the box? I’m talking brand new also. I’m not interested in assembling a bunch of box cars, hoppers, etc. for a new layout in a different scale. I’ve assembled dozens upon dozens of different models over the years so I’ve got my fill of that. I’ve moved to a phase in the hobby where operation and prototypical accuracy, to a certain extent, suits me just fine. If I have to assemble a bunch of rolling stock in HO, I might as well stay in N. I don’t mind the weathering and tweaking of HO fully assembled rolling stock.(BTW, I don’t mind assembling a few new HO building kits. Those parts almost seem oversized for an N scaler. )

Please post your opinion of who makes good, fully assembled HO rolling stock. Rank the different manufacturers if you wish. I would very much appreciate your input and PLEASE let’s NOT get into an argument on what does and does not constitute model railroading. I’m simply looking for help. Thank You!

Brian, N Scaler since 1983

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 9,917 posts
Posted by mlehman on Friday, April 12, 2019 12:32 AM

Brian,

You'll have no trouble finding good quality assembled HO rolling stock. Mostly it's unbox and run it. Probably the most consistent quality, although a limited type of prototype models are offered, is by Kadee.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

  • Member since
    August, 2011
  • From: A Comfy Cave, New Zealand
  • 3,875 posts
Posted by "JaBear" on Friday, April 12, 2019 3:12 AM

Sorry if this is not helpful, Brian, but is there currently any RTR rolling stock that isn't a good runner straight from the box?

Cheers, the Bear.Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

  • Member since
    May, 2010
  • 5,429 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, April 12, 2019 5:35 AM

Triple B
My question is: what HO rolling Stock is ready-to-run, fully assembled right out of the box? I’m talking brand new also.

Pretty much any type of car you want.  Pick up any model magazine, go on line to any of the manufacturers, and any of the zillion on line stores, you'll find more RTR cars than you could ever purchase, or have room for.

RTR is getting to be more the norm, and kits are getting harder to find.

Happy shopping!

Mike.

  • Member since
    September, 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 18,053 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Friday, April 12, 2019 6:01 AM

I have bought, kept and/or sold a lot of freight cars, and based upon my experience, I now avoid certain manufacturers. 

Here is my list of good manufacturers.

Athearn

Atlas

Kadee

Kato

Roundhouse

Walthers

In my opinion, you cannot go wrong if you stick to this list.

Rich

Alton Junction

  • Member since
    April, 2009
  • From: Staten Island NY
  • 1,522 posts
Posted by joe323 on Friday, April 12, 2019 6:28 AM

Pretty much any manufacturer of Rolling stock is good these days but look for body mounted knuckle couplers, preferably kadee metal and metal wheels. This rules out Model Power in my experience at least for freight cars. 

Joe Staten Island West 

  • Member since
    April, 2017
  • From: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 1,585 posts
Posted by OldSchoolScratchbuilder on Friday, April 12, 2019 6:33 AM

Hi Brian,

I go for quality not quantity so I buy Walthers (Mainline, Platinum, Proto), Bowser (fully assembled), Rapido, Atlas, Broadway Limited, InterMountain and Overland. I also have a rule that all road numbers have to be unique so I often look for multipacks.

  • Member since
    October, 2001
  • From: OH
  • 16,836 posts
Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, April 12, 2019 6:52 AM

Sorry if this is not helpful, Brian, but is there currently any RTR rolling stock that isn't a good runner straight from the box?

Cheers, the Bear.Smile

 

Bear,My Bachmann's "Silver Series" 50' boxcar is a good runner from the box.

My favorite list of RTR cars in no order of preference:

Atlas

Athearn

ExactRail

Scale Trains

Fox Valley

Walthers

Intermountain

Red Caboose 

 

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
    February, 2001
  • From: New Jersey, a founding member of the USSA
  • 2,242 posts
Posted by Pruitt on Friday, April 12, 2019 7:01 AM

Be prepared to pay way too much (IMHO).

  • Member since
    February, 2008
  • 1,205 posts
Posted by kasskaboose on Friday, April 12, 2019 8:08 AM

Might I suggest going on the the HO swap site for model trains?  The list others mentioned is what I follow.  I also consider Atlas Trainman.  Once you have what you want, consider using the below site.  I do for any freight cars. 

https://groups.io/g/HOswap

Moderator
  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 14,726 posts
Posted by tstage on Friday, April 12, 2019 8:50 AM

Except for resin, Accurail is probably the only "kit-only" manufacturer of rolling stock around anymore.  Everyone else has gone RTR - minus a few outfits like Tangent that make a handful of undecorated kits.

With HO being pretty much ubiquitous, you should have no problem finding what you want to model.  As mentioned already though, RTR comes with a price.

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 6,732 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, April 12, 2019 9:02 AM

RTR can range in price from about $20 to mid-fifties (Moloco) and higher for auto racks.

Asside from Accurail, and the affore mentioned Tangent (undec kits), Intermountain also offers undec kits - see the top of the list at the link:

https://www.intermountain-railway.com/newshocomingsoon.html

Athearn and ExactRail has also offered undec its but limited and few and far between.

Note, Accurail is one of the few, if not the only manufacturer still producing decorated kits, BUT, you can find lots of OOP kits on Ebay or train shows, including MDC, Walthers, Intermountain, Proto 2000 and more.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

  • Member since
    February, 2008
  • 1,205 posts
Posted by kasskaboose on Friday, April 12, 2019 9:12 AM

riogrande5761

RTR can range in price from about $20 to mid-fifties (Moloco) and higher for auto racks.

You can find RTR for under $20, but it supply/demand certainly are factors. 

 

  • Member since
    May, 2010
  • 5,429 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, April 12, 2019 9:36 AM

kasskaboose
You can find RTR for under $20,

From ????   Auction sites?  HOSwap?  from the manufacturer?  tell us more.

Mike.

  • Member since
    February, 2015
  • 394 posts
Posted by NHTX on Friday, April 12, 2019 9:37 AM

     Brian,

     Being over 70, I know what you are up against so, welcome to HO.  If you will be downsizing as to the amount of railroad that will fit your available space, having a roster of accurate, quality rolling stock becomes doable.

     By quality, I mean free-standing, not molded on ladders, grab irons, etc.  Kadee semi-scale couplers, narrower, closer to scale draft gear boxes, no sliding doors with hideous, oversize claws.  Hopefully we will one day have accurate code 88 wheeled trucks.

     Quality, fully ready to run rolling stock may be had from:

        Athearn Genesis

        Kadee

        Moloco

        Rapido

        Red Caboose

        Scale Trains (Rivet Counter)

        Tangent

        Wheels of Time

     These manufacturers produce some quality, accurate cars but they also produce some NKP (No Known Prototype) as well as purely fictitious roadnamed equipment:

        Athearn  Ready-to-Roll

        Atlas

        Broadway Limited

        Intermountain

        Walthers

     Knowing your prototype will make it possible to purchase wisely and avoid the foobies and plain junk that is also out there.  Again, welcome aboard.

    

  • Member since
    August, 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 8,308 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Friday, April 12, 2019 12:20 PM

mbinsewi
From ????   Auction sites?  HOSwap?  from the manufacturer?  tell us more.

I looked at MB Klein, out of curiosity, and out of 50 pages of HO freight cars (some kits mixed in there) I got to page 17 before the price topped $20.

https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/trains/freight-cars/#/filter:custom_scale:HO/sort:calculated_price:asc

TrainWorld might be another source and the Walthers Sale Flyer and Bargain Depot. Bowser does a weekend sale where there are many RTR bargains, too. Deals are out there, you just have to look around.

https://www.walthers.com/products/on-sale-today/bargain-depot-all-on-sale-the-warehouse-sale


  

It doesn't hurt to get on the mailing lists of a few of these higher volume sellers and when they have a "closeout" sale you can reap the savings.

Good Luck, Ed

  • Member since
    May, 2010
  • 5,429 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, April 12, 2019 12:42 PM

I had to check out your links, Ed, I have to chuckle, OK, but I guess time period has everything to do with it.  Model Train Stuff took me right to page 17, and went backwards.

If those fit your time period, your in luck,  possibly the 2 bay ACF hoppers on page 12, might fit mine, as I would be removing the lettering, and "patching", and just maybe a couple of 100 ton hoppers on page 12? might fit, once again lettering faded or gone, with a patch, but that's about it.

But I get your point, OK, yep, you can buy new cars for $20 or under, and I have no idea what the OP's time period is, but I'm guessing, that any one of those cars would fit his bill.

Thanks,

Mike.

  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: Culpeper, Va
  • 7,877 posts
Posted by IRONROOSTER on Friday, April 12, 2019 2:20 PM

riogrande5761
Asside from Accurail, and the affore mentioned Tangent (undec kits), Intermountain also offers undec kits - see the top of the list at the link:

Other non resin kit manufacturers include

Tichy Train Group

Bowser

LaBelle Woodworking (they also have the Ye Olde Huff n Puff line - not yet back in production)

B.T.S.

And probably some others I missed.

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: west coast
  • 4,711 posts
Posted by rrebell on Friday, April 12, 2019 2:30 PM

The best RTR with better details are Atlas (there are many grades of Atlas so be careful), Intermountain, proto 2000, Ertl (limited pain schemes and you have to change out the wheels but can be had cheap at times), Kadee. There are others but they can be pricy or hit and miss as to quality. All the ones I mentioned can be had at times for as little as $10 especially the Ertl and the Proto.

  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 9,305 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, April 12, 2019 2:34 PM

Unless they've discontinued the practice, Rapido offered a limited number of their releases as kits, both decorated and undecorated. 
The reefer shown below was built from one of their undecorated kits...

Wayne

  • Member since
    May, 2010
  • 5,429 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, April 12, 2019 2:54 PM

We have to remember the OP is asking for RTR, out of the box, and on the track.

Ed's links were all fine, if that's your time period.

What we don't know is the OP's time period.

Mike.

 

  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 9,305 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, April 12, 2019 2:58 PM

mbinsewi
We have to remember the OP is asking for RTR, out of the box, and on the track.

Yeah, I'm well aware of that, but I like to wander with the rest of the herd once in a while, too. Smile, Wink & Grin

Wayne

  • Member since
    May, 2010
  • 5,429 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, April 12, 2019 3:01 PM

I get that!  Laugh

Mike.

  • Member since
    June, 2018
  • From: Chicago, IL
  • 123 posts
Posted by Eilif on Friday, April 12, 2019 3:16 PM

kasskaboose

Might I suggest going on the the HO swap site for model trains?  The list others mentioned is what I follow.  I also consider Atlas Trainman.  Once you have what you want, consider using the below site.  I do for any freight cars. 

https://groups.io/g/HOswap

 

Brian,

I'd second this.   I like that site quite a bit. You can find a good amount of quality RTR rolling stock for under $20 there. You've just got to keep an eye on it and jump when you see what you want. I bought a Trio of Atlas Evans boxes for around $10 each though they were the equivalent of their "trainman" cars. Nice paint, metal wheels, etc but they didn't have the separately applied ladders and such.   

At train shows you can find a ton of good RTR styff for $10 or less, but generally that's going to be more of the Athearn Blue Box level of detail and I don't know if that's what you're is looking for.  Look hard though, bargains abound if you look hard.

Best of luck with your foray into HO!

Visit the Chicago Valley Railroad for Chicago Trainspotting and Budget Model Railroading. 

  • Member since
    December, 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 18,324 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, April 12, 2019 8:39 PM

I have built lots of kits from Accurail and Tichy and Bowser, but that's to get specific car types in specific roads or road numbers.

RTR cars are fine with me, most of the time.  But, I would advise checking wheel guage and coupler height and alignment, even new and out of the box.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 4,694 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, April 12, 2019 11:45 PM

Since EVERYTHING in my fleet must be painted and lettered for fictional railroads, I have very little experience with ready to run equipment.

.

I do have one RTR freight car, a Fox Valley boxcar that came factory painted for the Midland Road (Allegheny Midland), and I can tell you it was very high quality and honestly could be taken out of the box, set on the rails, and it looks as good as any of the custom built equipment I have.

.

I did apply some lighty weathering.

.

.

-Kevin

.

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

  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: Culpeper, Va
  • 7,877 posts
Posted by IRONROOSTER on Saturday, April 13, 2019 5:48 AM

MisterBeasley
RTR cars are fine with me, most of the time. But, I would advise checking wheel guage and coupler height and alignment, even new and out of the box.

I agree.  Also check the rolling quality of the trucks and operation of the couplers.  More than once I have had to work on the axle ends or even replace wheel sets.  Couplers might need some graphite or even replaced.

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 6,732 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Saturday, April 13, 2019 6:49 AM

So the $20 lower end fake news has now been fully fact checked by NPR, any one want to take on the $55 upper end?  Kisses   

I forgot to have my attorney review my earlier post.  So very sorry.

Now that the feeding frenzy is subsiding, where is the OP to steer the school of sharks in the right direction?  What does he really want? Era? Detailed cars or just something cheap under $20? Wink

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

  • Member since
    January, 2009
  • From: Maryland
  • 7,972 posts
Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, April 13, 2019 12:34 PM

It is always interesting to see the bias in each reply.

Those who are little more "fussy" about accuracy or fine detail (not always the same thing), can't imagine the less than $20 freight car, since nothing that fills their requirements is in that price range.

Others who are less fussy about that can no doubt find some good running stuff for $25 or less.

As mentioned above, high/fine detail and prototype accuracy are not automaticly the same, and one does not require the other.

Then there is that word "quality". Quality of what? Running quality? Every piece of Athearn RTR has that, even if they don't all pass other quality tests for fine detail or prototype accuracy. 

Then there is that question of era modeled, and how that plays into price, detail and accuracy.

I have nearly 1000 freight cars, many are just $2 Athearn Blue Box kits from the 1970's, but many are highly detailed craftsman kits, or highly detailed recent RTR pieces. 

I model the mid 50's, and I would submit we are all "experts" on what we model, to whatever level it is important to us.

But few  of us have extensive knowledge of every type of car in every era. Prove to me it is not reasonablely accurate. Just because you can't find a picture on the interweb, that does not prove it did not exist.

I buy new RTR cars and often change the trucks and couplers. 40 year old, $2 Athearn Blue Box, or recent $40 RTR, I refit most with Kadee sprung trucks, Intermoutain wheel sets, Kadee brand couplers.

That adds $10 to every car........

It is the RTR age, and the op has been given good advice on brands here, should he return......

Sheldon

 

    

  • Member since
    December, 2009
  • 13 posts
Posted by Triple B on Saturday, April 13, 2019 2:21 PM

That does it! I'm officially making the jump from N Scale to HO Scale! Thanks to all who responded in this post.

BTW, my 16 year old son starts out with a pretty decent N scale collection he’s been wanting. He can build his own layout, however.Yes 

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!