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Any high quality HO scale Steam Locomotives under $300?

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Any high quality HO scale Steam Locomotives under $300?
Posted by Jake101 on Sunday, October 9, 2022 1:53 PM

Hello, I am searching for some HO scale mid-sized steam locomotives (such as the 4-4-0 or 2-8-0) that are under $300. It does not matter if it is DCC or not.

Locomotives I have already tried:

- Bachmann 4-6-0

- Proto 2000 2-6-2

Please keep in mind I don't have to much money to spend so thats why I have a $300 limit.

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Posted by Steven Otte on Monday, October 10, 2022 9:07 AM

This is a reminder that while it's OK to recommend brands and stores in response to this post, direct selling (user to user) is prohibited.

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Posted by crossthedog on Monday, October 10, 2022 9:58 AM

First, I think it would be useful to know what your idea of quality is. Do you mean that it runs quietly, smoothly and reliably? Or that it has a high degree of detail? Or that it is made of brass instead of plastic? Or that the brand has the imprimatur of recognition and good reputation?

Also, you said you "tried" Bachmann and Proto locos. Did they not suit? If so, why not?

I like 1990s-built Mehano 2-8-0s and 0-8-0s made in Slovenia. They don't have a lot of exterior detail but they are always smooth and quiet, and I find them on eBay for less than $100 and at swap meets for as little as $40.

I'll post a photo later.

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, October 10, 2022 10:04 AM

Welcome to the Model Railroader magazine discussion forums. We are very glad that you have found us. Your first few posts will be delayed by the Kalmbach Media moderators, but that ends soon enough, usually after just a few posts. Please stick around through the delay and become a permanent part of the discussions.

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Jake101
Hello, I am searching for some HO scale mid-sized steam locomotives (such as the 4-4-0 or 2-8-0) that are under $300. It does not matter if it is DCC or not.

If you are comfortable with brass, I would suggest that.

I have bought about a dozen brass locomotives in the last few years, all unrun, new in box, but 25-40 years old. After a cleaning they run just fine, and they are easy to repair.

DC only, but I didn't pay over $250.00 for any of these.

-Photographs by Kevin Parson

I would stay away from brass 4-4-0 locomotives. They are very small and tend not to be good runners.

crossthedog
I like 1990s-built Mehano 2-8-0s and 0-8-0s made in Slovenia. They don't have a lot of exterior detail but they are always smooth and quiet,

These are under-rated locomotives for sure. I bought a couple to use as props for pocket change, and they ran just fine.

-Kevin

Living the dream.

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Posted by snjroy on Monday, October 10, 2022 10:29 AM

I assume you are looking for something new (or new in box). I own copies of the following and I am very satisfied with them:

-Spectrum steam engines (except logging engines) post 1990: The 2-8-0 is a very good engine. The Richmond 4-4-0 is also very good. The new, retooled civil war era 4-4-0 is also great (look for the model with the motor in the engine, not in the tender). The retooled 2-6-0 is also excellent. 

-Athearn 4-4-0 is also a great little engine. I also like the Athearn 2-8-0, but it's an early 1900's model.

I don't own one, but I would bet on the retooled Bachmann 2-8-2 and 4-6-2. Nothing negative on the 'net about these yet.

BLI :  I can only speak for the 2-8-2 because one of my friends has one. It's a great little engine. 

Simon

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, October 10, 2022 10:55 AM

I don't have any 2-6-2s, but Bachmann's site shows several that are listed at $189.00

I'm not sure why most of their other steamers are in the $300.00-plus category, other than the fact that they're pretty-well all DCC-equipped.

Several years ago, I bought two Bachmann 4-6-0s (don't recall the price, but they were not DCC, and were under $200.00 each).

When they arrived, I wasn't overly fond of their in-person appearance....a little too old-fashioned for my layout, which is set in the late '30s.

They were, however, pretty decent runners, so I opted to scrap the locos' metal body shells and replaced them with old Varney cast-metal bodies from their 10-Wheelers

I also modified the Bachmann tenders, which were actually wider than the locos, and a lttle longer than I thought suitable for the Varney locos.

A couple of photos, as delivered, with slide valves....

...and with the cylinders updated to piston types...

Here's the updated version with the Varney boiler, a Bachmann cab from one of their 2-8-0s, and a bunch of detail stuff from my locomotive "parts department"...

...and the pair of them in-service...

The Bachmann 2-6-2's look like they're more modern than my originals, shown above, and since they're under $200.00 you might be wise to grab a couple of them while they're still affordable.

Wayne

 

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Posted by Tin Can II on Monday, October 10, 2022 11:12 AM

I bought an IHC 2-6-0 off of ebay for less than $80.00 a couple of years ago.  A friend installed DCC and sound for me.  Total cost less than $300.00; and a nice looking loco that runs well.

 

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Posted by wjstix on Monday, October 10, 2022 11:34 AM

I don't believe Proto (either Life-Like or Walthers) ever made an HO 2-6-2??

The Bachmann 2-6-2 is essentially their 0-6-0 with extra wheels, it's not really an accurate model of real 2-6-2s. It's also pre-Spectrum, from their "toy train set quality" era. Bachmann's more recent engines, like the 2-10-0, 2-6-0, etc. are in my experience very nice reasonably priced engines - if you shop around. Trainworld often will have some engines on sale for good prices, both DC and DCC or DCC/Sound.

Stix
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Posted by selector on Monday, October 10, 2022 12:23 PM

I have no arrangements, interest, or financial relationship with any of the following.  When I'm bored and want to see what's available out there, especially for a song, I spend some time at:

Factory Direct Hobbies

Hog Trainz

Modeltrainstuff

Toytrainheaven

Micro Mark

trainworld

[Edit-added] Oops, I forgot a BIG one.  Broadway Limited Imports website, in the index at left, near the bottom, has a 'refurbished' section.  You can get fully warranted locomotives and rolling stock for at least 30% off, usually it's 40%.  There's a Paragon 4 Santa Fe 2-8-2 at this moment for $299, regularly $499.  There is also a GG1, diesels, and so on.  Definitely worth a visit.

Broadway Limited Imports: The Cutting Edge Leader in Sound Equipped Model Trains (broadway-limited.com)

 

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Posted by Jake101 on Monday, October 10, 2022 2:08 PM

I mean something that has a good amount of detail and runs well.

 

The reason the locomotives I tried didn't work for me because:

1. The bachmann train had trouble pulling more than 3 or 4 cars

2. The proto train just didn't run at all (I bought it used so thats probably why)

 

Luckily, I was able to return both of them.

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Posted by Jake101 on Monday, October 10, 2022 2:18 PM

Sorry, I meant to say the 0-6-0

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Posted by Jake101 on Monday, October 10, 2022 2:22 PM

I am going to look into those. I always doubted Bachmann but that 2-6-2 looks very nice.

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, October 10, 2022 3:16 PM

So you are the SOB who outbid for the Ma & Pa Consolidation! You'd better watch your back. pal! My dad fired for the L&A in the late Thirties to earn money for college (Granddad was a machinist at Hunt Yard Roundhouse in Greenvile, TX - where I got my first cab ride at the age of 3 on a switcher in the yard. They even let me ring the bell and blow the horn! Heck of a thing to do to a child, I became an instant train nut and never recovered) ) running between Dallas and Shreveport. He didn't mention specific classes he worked besides the Russian Decapods  and the "New" Mikados they bought in the late Thirties    . But he did mention they dragged out everything that could turn a wheel for things like the onion harvest down in "black dirt" territory near Farmersville, so he may have fired your loco's (a Class 502).prototype.     

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Posted by BEAUSABRE on Monday, October 10, 2022 4:23 PM

I would recommend going online and seeing if you can snag a Mantua Consolidation.Consolidation (tripod.com) You might want to get a Bowser 32 foot tender to replace the " Mantua "Long Haul" version the kit comes with. With some basic tools and a bit of patience you'll get a nice model. Mantua engines have a reputation of being bullet proof and working for years without trouble. So do Bowser locos - they can pull the paint off the wall. Consider the seeking out the 4-6-0 "Casey Jones" bowser460caseyjones1011001994pg01.jpg (740×888) (hoseeker.net) or the 2-8-0 "Old Lady" OldLadyRef (bowser-trains.com) You can find both kits and RTR versions

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Posted by NVSRR on Monday, October 10, 2022 7:53 PM

I am going to say thta proto probablh has the split gear issue.  They are good runners and ha ve a good rep.  Except that dreaded gear issue that plagues a lot of enines from that time frame. 

 

shane.  

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An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Monday, October 10, 2022 8:17 PM

crossthedog
  I like 1990s-built Mehano 2-8-0s and 0-8-0s made in Slovenia. They don't have a lot of exterior detail but they are always smooth and quiet, and I find them on eBay for less than $100 and at swap meets for as little as $40.    -Matt   

Also the Mehano 4-4-0 and 2-6-0.  I own both and love 'em.  Both usually on eBay, often at about $40.

Jim

 

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Posted by mobilman44 on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 5:05 AM

You might find some nice pre-owned BLIs on Ebay in your price range.  Also, Bachmann Spectrum has had some nice runs of steamers (esp. 2-8-0s) over the years that would well fall into your price range.  

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

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Posted by crossthedog on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 1:34 PM

hardcoalcase
crossthedog
  I like 1990s-built Mehano 2-8-0s and 0-8-0s made in Slovenia. They don't have a lot of exterior detail but they are always smooth and quiet, and I find them on eBay for less than $100 and at swap meets for as little as $40.    -Matt   

Jim

Yes, I have one of the Mehano 2-6-0s as well and it's a sweetie:

    2-6-0 by Matt Fleagle" alt="" />

Altogether I have four of these Mehano steamers. I paid $40, $38, and $26 for the larger ones (two Connies and a "shifter" -- the shifter is exactly the same chassis without the pilot wheels) and this little 2-6-0 I paid $50 for. The only thing I like better is my Atlas yellow box Kato road switchers.

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by snjroy on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 5:05 PM

Mehanos run nice and quiet but they are not the best pullers, in my opinion. 

Simon

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Posted by crossthedog on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 5:38 PM

snjroy
Mehanos run nice and quiet but they are not the best pullers, in my opinion.

Simon, I've heard that, too, but my longest freight train can only be about 14 cars long if the conductor in the caboose doesn't want to have his own locomotive's headlight shining in the back door at him, and all of these will pull 14 cars just fine.

My branchline has a pretty steep grade but that only takes about six cars because the loco has to runaround them to get out at the end of the line. So they are sufficiently strong for my needs. On my budget, they're perfect.

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by Water Level Route on Wednesday, October 12, 2022 5:53 AM

snjroy

Mehanos run nice and quiet but they are not the best pullers, in my opinion. 

Simon

 

Bullfrog Snot does wonders for this.  I've used it on each of the steamers I have that didn't come with traction tires.  I have overly demanding grades that require this on steamers in order to pull more than 4-6 cars and it works beautifully.

Mike

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