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Looking for a decent HO scale Pacific

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Looking for a decent HO scale Pacific
Posted by Pruitt on Saturday, March 11, 2023 12:16 PM

Can anyone recommend a manufacturer who makes a decent running Pacific loco in HO scale? I've checked BLI and Bachmann (still can't believe I'd list Bachmann as a maker of possibly decent steam - I grew up in the pancake motor era). The Bachmann K4 Pacific is not suitable - I need something without the Belpaire firebox. Not sure who else to check.

I have one IHC I inherited from a friend, but it's a Mehano that isn't satisfactory in either detail or running qualities.

Needs to have RP25 wheels - no pizza cutter flanges.

Not looking at brass right now.

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Posted by bmtrainmaster on Saturday, March 11, 2023 1:56 PM

I know you want something thats RTR, but you could buy one from a trainshow or ebay. I think buying a mantua pacific could be a fun project to detail and add a can motor.

I think bachmann spectrum might have made one. I think for something RTR you should look for something used on ebay.

-bmtrainmaster

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Posted by Water Level Route on Saturday, March 11, 2023 2:14 PM

Pruitt
I've checked BLI and Bachmann

Does that mean you are ruling them out?  I have two BLI Pacifics and they look and run good.  The paragon 2 decoders will get replaced someday, but that isn't high on my list as they otherwise run fine.

Mike

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Saturday, March 11, 2023 3:05 PM

Here's my HO 4-6-2 knowledge, not counting custom brass or any K4s:

Varney - Freelanced diecast and brass kit, but very old and expensive due to rarity.

Athearn - Generic heavy, mostly plastic construction, decent detail for their day.  Late productions had all plastic drive wheels (including the flanges), and the chassis isn't what I would call great.  Expensive due to rarity.

Mantua/Tyco - USRA-ish heavy, all metal construction for early ones or plastic cab and tender body for later ones.  Usually sold as a kit, smooth running (usually after some clean-up and tuning since they're old) and reliable.

AHM/Life-Like/IHC - USRA Light, basic model by Mehano, molded on railings and not very heavy.  Decent runners, but the motors have no low speed control.

IHC Premiere - Same Mehano model but with separate railings, skewed armature motor and a flywheel.  Smoother runner and better looking than the earlier version.

IHC Premiere Gold - Same as Premiere but with RP-25 flanges, blackened railings, DCC socket and better paint.

Bowser - USRA light, all metal kit with Cary boiler and brass details.  Lasts basically forever when built correctly and has almost zero cast on details, but they're hard to find and take time to build.  Cab is somewhat freelanced.

DJH - USRA light, all metal kit made from white metal and etched brass.  Includes NWSL or DJH gearbox and a Mashima motor. Detail is decent but has a lot of cast on piping, and Mashima motor choice is a little slow and weak, but they look nice and run great if built correctly.

AHM/Rivarossi - USRA heavy, mostly plastic and have large flanges and a cab mounted motor.  Runs nicely with some tuning, and the molded details are sharp.

Rivarossi - Upgraded with RP-25 flanges and a boiler mounted can motor as well as blackened metal details, but kind of hard to find.  Very smooth running.

Athearn Genesis - USRA light, very nice looking with detail a step above the DJH model and super-smooth running with a Samhongsa-made chassis, but you might have to replace a cracked gear with a part from NWSL.  Traction's not the best.

BLI - USRA light, just about the best you'll get outside of brass.  Excellent detail and a very good chassis, but I've heard of the reliability being a little hit and miss.

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, March 11, 2023 4:53 PM

Water Level Route
Pruitt
I've checked BLI and Bachmann

I have two Paragon 2 steamers, including the K4 Pacific, and they are both excellent.  

The Paragon 2 decoder is fine. It is the Paragon 3 decoder that has exhibited problems.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by Water Level Route on Saturday, March 11, 2023 5:45 PM

richhotrain
The Paragon 2 decoder is fine.

I have four P2 locomotives (2 Pacifics, 2 Mikados) and they all demostrate the same issue regarding programming momentum (more like failure to retain the setting) that BLI confirmed was an issue with them.  They don't sound as good to me as a Tsunami or TCS.  Those two reasons will see them replaced someday, but like I said, not anytime soon.  And yes, they do not have the problems reported like the P3's do.  I have two of those that have otherwise behaved so far.  We shall see.

Mike

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, March 11, 2023 6:20 PM

Bachmann has a nice USRA light, not currently in production, but offered just a few years ago.

https://www.trains.com/mrr/news-reviews/reviews/staff-reviews/bachmann-ho-scale-soundvalue-usra-light-4-6-2-pacific/

https://www.ebay.com/itm/266012794352?hash=item3def991df0:g:iZAAAOSwwGNjm5Wm&amdata=enc%3AAQAHAAAA0LGRbwglvOuOLpEQV%2B27NSYw5eF5%2FpAerd4O91cx3KLv%2B0ymMR9%2FeD6FrbZkNbpuScGl2p1XH7IIhY0k7qEfkbZiNOEe%2B2YOIQ%2FYOeyaiJ3DFljZA%2B8m8vQxJklfSm5yiFoPU18jeSNxQjdNV5Q19P%2Br7IeGbNrsuNWEuVYPp9ax1fwOvIb6fjkshj6Ylrmd2VsyVG%2BSijFa2n1q8stNQa3QDrrKXafDKQIl3KFTxweHNp1S%2B8HURR3lbtlgVW3fRjYcSutMxuakM2Pbe155keU%3D%7Ctkp%3ABk9SR97gurLaYQ

A quick scan of Ebay only produced this one offering.

So I,m going to say it again, if you are going to judge Bachmann, or any of these companies, on some product they made 40 years ago, you are going to miss out on a lot of good stuff.

I have 34 Bachmann steam locomotives, all good runners with great detail, most are Spectrum or recent upgraded regular line locos.

They include multiple copies of:

USRA Heavy Mountain

USRA Light 2-10-2

Baldwin 2-8-0

Baldwin 4-6-0

USRA/C&O 2-6-6-2

LIMA Berkshire (converted into freelanced modern heavy 2-8-2's similar to the DT&I 800 class)

B&O EM-1 2-8-8-4

All the Bachmann locos I have look good, run nice and have been trouble free in regular operation. Out of 34 locos, I did have two with issues - Bachmann replaced them with perfect runners - more than I can say about the seven BLI steamers I have.

I do not have the recent Bachmann USRA 4-6-2, but have not heard anything bad about them or their newer USRA 2-8-2. I have considered getting a couple, but it has not been a priority as the loco roster is pretty full.

I have a BLI heavy Pacific, it runs nice and detail is OK, just OK as it has lots of cast on details and they are completely generic details. DISCLAIMER - it has been converted to true DC operation and has a Bachmann tender.....

My other Pacifics are older brass.

So if you can find any, the Bachmann USRA Pacific seems to be a nice model, with better detail than the BLI.

Hopefully Bachmann will make some more soon.

Sheldon

 

 

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, March 11, 2023 6:46 PM

Micro Mark apparently still has some Bachmann USRA Pacifics in B&O, UP and NYC.

https://www.micromark.com/Bachmann-HO-Scale-USRA-Light-Pacific-4-6-2-Steam-Locomotive-B-O-No-5213-DCC-Sound-Value

And TrainWorld has some listed for Preorder? So maybe Bachmann dose have another run in the works?

Sheldon

    

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Posted by snjroy on Saturday, March 11, 2023 6:47 PM

My vote would be: BLI, Bachmann and Oriental Powerhouse (but with another tender). Mantuas run well but are crude with respect to details. Mehanos are poor pullers but run OK. 

Simon

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Posted by Pruitt on Saturday, March 11, 2023 9:02 PM

Thans for all the feedback!

Water Level Route
Does that mean you are ruling them out?  I have two BLI Pacifics and they look and run good.  The paragon 2 decoders will get replaced someday, but that isn't high on my list as they otherwise run fine.

Mike, it means they don't have anything currently in production that's suitable.

Darth, I have an IHC Mehano, and it's just not a smooth enough runner. Detail can be fixed (though this would take a LOT of fixing!), but I'm s stickler for good performance. It needs to be able to creep like the Life-Like Proto Heritage units do, and that would be a real feat to make happen. Plus the flanges are too deep, which is an automatic rejection. Mantua - I had one many decades ago (like half a century). Guy at the club has one that runs very nice. Cetainly a possibility, but I haven't seen one in years. Haven't ever seen the IHC Premiere or Gold units, so I don't know if they're suitable or not. Based on your comments I wouldn't rule them out. Bowser - I'd love to get my hands on one of those kits! DJH - never even heard of them! AHM/Rivarossi - Nope. Flanges. Upgraded Rivarossi - certainly a possibility. I'll eep an eye out. Athearn Genesis - NO WAY IN H...ECK! I just spent hours fixing cracked gears  and flywheel couplings in one, and gave it to a friend. Very stiff and problematic - even Athearn people admit that Pacific and the Mikado were both turkeys. BLI - Just bid on a Paragon2 unit on ebay.

By the way, I tremendously enjoy your videos. I learn a lot, and am very impressed with your skills.

Rich and Mike again, Yeah, I saw a BLI Paragon 2 on ebay and bid on it. I'm a fan of BLI, so we'll see.

Sheldon, I know my Bachmann prejudice is way out of date. I have a couple of their Spectrum Ten-wheelers and a Doodlebug, and they're all great. I'm a bit leery of their regular line, even though I've heard they're generally good runners. I'd have to see one in operation before plopping down $300 for one. The Micro Mark listing shows discontinued and only has a "Add to Wishlist" button, so I don't think they have them in stock anymore.

Simon, Hadn't looked at Oriental Powerhouse. What's the issue with the tenders?

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Saturday, March 11, 2023 10:27 PM

Pruitt
 

Haven't ever seen the IHC Premiere or Gold units, so I don't know if they're suitable or not. Based on your comments I wouldn't rule them out. Bowser - I'd love to get my hands on one of those kits! DJH - never even heard of them!

The purple box Premiere uses the same chassis as the old ones, but the skewed armature motor makes low speed control at least decent for the price.  They do have somewhat deep flanges (small enough for Code 83 at least), but the Gold series ones fixed that.  The tan box era was basically just as-is rereleases of AHM units (IHC was AHM's reboot after all!), but once they brought out the Premiere series with improvements and did away with the tan box, they became much more liked in the community.

DJH tried for a few years to get into the US, but I don't think they quite understood the market around here and pulled out in the late 80's.  I've gotten some of their recent UK based kits and they're top-class.

The Genesis 2-8-2 and 4-6-2 seem to be hit and miss with a lot more misses than hits, but I managed to get one of the 2-8-2s from the good end a while back.  It's so smooth it makes butter seem like sandpaper, and so far no cracked gear!Big Smile

Thanks for watching!  I'm glad you like my videos!

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, March 12, 2023 12:05 AM

Darth Santa Fe
The Genesis 2-8-2 and 4-6-2 seem to be hit and miss with a lot more misses than hits, but I managed to get one of the 2-8-2s from the good end a while back.

I have six of those Genesis 2-8-2s, and five of them seem to be pretty good runners.
The sixth one does not run at all...it has no current pick-up on the drivers, and all of the wheels on the tender trucks have plastic centres, with metal wheel rims too narrow to accommodate wire wheel-wipers.

I did replace the wheelsets on the tender, and added pick-up wipers on one side of the lead truck, and the opposite side of the rear truck, then connected one wire from each to the locos' motor...it ran for an inch-or-so, then went dead.

I'm on the verge of scrapping it, because I can't see any way to supply sufficient track power to the motor.  I'm pretty sure that this one is a more recent model, as the other five have always run with no current collection issues at all.

Wayne

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Posted by snjroy on Sunday, March 12, 2023 7:36 AM

Pruitt

Simon, Hadn't looked at Oriental Powerhouse. What's the issue with the tenders?

 

The tender trucks just don't perform well, from all perspectives, because of the way they are connected to the tender. I replaced mine with a Bachmann.

Simon

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, March 12, 2023 8:32 AM

Mark, two last thoughts.

Not sure how to read what that means on the Micro Mark website, but I have never known them to leave a page up when the product is gone. They may just be refering to the fact Bachmann is not making them right now and does not have them listed on their site anymore?

Regular line vs Spectrum. That is not a firm definition. My Bachmann 2-8-4's that I have converted to 2-8-2's (five of them) are in the regular line. Mechanically they are of the same constuction and similar design as any of my Spectrum locos.

I had them completely apart to do the kit bashing project and I did add a lot of weight to them. Lack of weight would be the only shortcoming in my view, easily fixed with about 5 oz of lead.

They are well detailed, but not quite to the level of older Spectrum models like the Heavy 4-8-2 or the USRA 2-6-6-2.

They are loaded with prototype specific variations for the three roads offered, C&O, NKP and PM. To the point of different cabs, tenders, sand dome placements and more - unlike some more expensive versions of those locos offered by others.

The Bachmann 2-8-0, originally a Spectrum model, is now in the regular line  - BUT it is EXACTLY the same as when it said Spectrum except the box is not fancy.

The newer USRA 2-8-2 and 4-6-2 seem exactly comparable to the 2-8-4 - I think this is their new marketing approach for most products - drive lines as good as Spectrum with a little less detail and way less expensive packaging.

And the Pacific and Mikado can be found in the $250 range with DCC/sound.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, March 12, 2023 8:50 AM

Darth Santa Fe
Here's my HO 4-6-2 knowledge, not counting custom brass or any K4s:

Thank you for putting all of this together. That was an amazing compilation of information.

As I have said before, I also find yout videos very informative and worth watching.

snjroy
Oriental Powerhouse (but with another tender).

That would be my vote also, but I was not going to mention Oriental Powerhouse because they are similar to brass which the OP said he had not considered.

Pruitt
Hadn't looked at Oriental Powerhouse. What's the issue with the tenders?

The tenders are all-brass construction, but worse detailed than most plastic tenders. The trucks are terrible, don't roll well, and don't pick up electricity very well. They also look boxy, and there is something off about the truck mounting.

I replaced my tender trucks on two Powerhouse Mikados with trucks from a BLI boxcar and added power pick-up.

On one Mikado I replaced the entire tender with a "Clear Vision" oil tender from Tenshodo, that worked well.

This is my Oriental Powerhouse USRA Light Pacific still with the stock tender.

-Photograph by Kevin Parson

I could not find one that was undecorated, but the GM&O version is mighty close.

-Kevin

 

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, March 12, 2023 9:26 AM

I too have an Oriental light Pacific, mine has a Bachmann tender now. In fact a large percentage of my non Bachmann steam now has Bachmann tenders - it gives the roster a family look.

I don't have photos handy, but this list all have Bachmann tenders:

BLI Heavy Pacific

(2) BLI Heavy Mikados

(2) BLI N&W 2-6-6-4 (lettered ATLANTIC CENTRAL)

Powerhouse Light Pacific

Mantua 4-4-2

And lots of my Bachmann locos have different Bachmann tenders than what they came with....

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Lakeshore Sub on Sunday, March 12, 2023 10:03 AM

Hi Mark.

Having recently purchased a Bachmann sound value 2-8-2 I can confirm that the quality of the new Bachman standard line locomotives is vastly different than the pancake motor era locomotives that so many of us are familiar with.   I too own several Spectrum model with the great detail and drives so I compare this new model favorably.  

The Mike that I purcahsed has great slow speed control(starts move at speed step 1) and has reasonable sound.  I would not hesitate to get another one.

The problem of course as you pointed out is that only the Bachman K4 models seem to be available and BLI isn't much better.

Scott Sonntag

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, March 12, 2023 10:06 AM

The problem with discussing the Oriental Powerhouse Pacific is how it just continues the conversation to real brass.

I would not buy another Oriental Powerhouse right now. The price of brass has fallen enough that I bought this Sunset USRA Light Pacific for less than I paid for the Powerhouse locomotive, and it is a better model.

-Photograph by Kevin Parson

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Sunday, March 12, 2023 10:15 AM

I just purchased a Bachmann K4 Pacific before Christmas. I has factory DCC, sound, and Keep Alive. I found this listing on Amazon.

Bachmann Trains - K4 4-6-2 Pacific - DCC WOWSound Equipped Locomotive - PRR #612 Post-WAR with Modern Pilot - HO Scale, Prototypical Colors (84407) (amazon.com)

That's an excellent price. I paid over $400 for mine at the LHS. The Keep Alive was a selling point for me as my BLI K4 Pacific tends to stall going over unpowered frogs. 

The quality of Bachmann steamers has improved immensely since the pre-Spectrum days. Back then I considered Bachmann junk. Their newer releases are of much higher quality. Kind of like Domino's pizza. That used to be awful but since they changed their recipes, it's become my go-to place for carryout pizza. 

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Posted by dennis461 on Sunday, March 12, 2023 10:57 AM

I just sold one, Mantua can motor, DCC, sound...
https://i.imgur.com/f9rxFyM.jpg

Mantua

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Posted by rrebell on Sunday, March 12, 2023 11:01 AM

I have a bunch of Bachmann sound value and never had a problem with the steamers, once got a lemon from the sound value diesels though, tried to get that one fixed by Bachmann and they should have just gave me a new one.

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, March 12, 2023 5:56 PM

Pruitt
Simon, Hadn't looked at Oriental Powerhouse. What's the issue with the tenders?

The truck arrangement is the all-time worst that I think has ever been -- you could imagine the wrong ways to do trucks and these would still be worse.  And there is no way to fix them other than replace them completely and adapt the tender floor to suit.  We have had a number of discussions on various aspects of this Lovecraft-grade horror.

If you are willing to buy or make the appropriate superdetail parts, I also recommend the Mantua Pacific.  I can still remember getting one at age 3 and being impressed by the proportions; I find, looking at it in storage a couple of weeks ago, it's still attractive.  

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, March 12, 2023 8:39 PM

Overmod

 

 
Pruitt
Simon, Hadn't looked at Oriental Powerhouse. What's the issue with the tenders?

 

The truck arrangement is the all-time worst that I think has ever been -- you could imagine the wrong ways to do trucks and these would still be worse.  And there is no way to fix them other than replace them completely and adapt the tender floor to suit.  We have had a number of discussions on various aspects of this Lovecraft-grade horror.

 

If you are willing to buy or make the appropriate superdetail parts, I also recommend the Mantua Pacific.  I can still remember getting one at age 3 and being impressed by the proportions; I find, looking at it in storage a couple of weeks ago, it's still attractive.  

 

The Mantua loco is proportion wise, and detail wise (what there is) a very credible P7c as many of them appeared after the post war modernization.

They did reach a point where none of them were really the same, so the Mantua maybe best reflects 5317 as she looked around 1950.

https://www.rr-fallenflags.org/bo/bo-s5317bhn.jpg

The cab is a little small, but other than that they do measure up pretty close.

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by Pruitt on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 7:51 AM

I just won an auction on a BLI Pacific (Paragon 2). Should arrive Monday. Hopefully it will at least begin to address my needs.

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Posted by snjroy on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 10:29 AM

Hey, that's great. Keep us posted!

Simon

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Posted by CNCharlie on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 2:47 PM

Mark,

I had a BLI P2 Pacific that ran great. I only sold it as I wanted a CNR speciic loco and that meant buying  brass. If you need to do a decoder reset there is a small button in the tender but you have to press it and power up your system at the same time. It won't work if you press it when the power is on. Just found that out with a mike I have.

CN Charlie

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