Who makes the best model diesel locomotives?

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NP2626

Well-Known Member
#1
Who do you feel makes the highest quality model Diesels? Has good detail and very strong and lasting operational capabilities? I am interested in transition era locomotives. Thanks!
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#2
The reason I ask, is I have a couple Bachmann Diesels and they seem to be lightly built and prone to failure a few years down the line. Sometimes I can fix, sometimes I have to return and pay money for them to fix.
 

bnsf971

AKA Gomez Addams
Staff member
#3
Transition era would probably be Athearn Genesis. Their GP7/9 and F units are very good. Atlas Alco RS models, Bowser for the smaller Baldwin diesels.
 

santafewillie

Well-Known Member
#4
I cannot directly answer since I have no experience with the transition era. If you ever get out of the transition era, ScaleTrains, Athearn Genesis and Kato have in my opinion the best running diesels.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#6
Since I also love steam, i will never leave the Transition era.
Walthers Proto 2000 are very nice locos, heavily weighted and smooth runners. They do an F7, but always look which box it's in like this, notice the reference to helical gearing.
1541457724360.png


They also do a very nice GP20, prototype first introduced in '59, ditto on the box it's in
1541458041122.png

Can't see anything in NP though.
 

migalyto

Well-Known Member
#7
No transition era here as well, all present day. I will echo Willies sediment on ScaleTrains being extremely well detailed, and excellent runners. I only have 1, but my Intermountain is a good runner, and very well detailed too. Setting those up against my Walthers SD70s makes them look kind of naked, but They run decent as well.
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#8
I have a few Life Like Proto 2000 locomotives, two GP-7s and an SW 1200 in N.P. Livery. They are very good runners; however, converting them to DCC is not very easy and adding sound makes the proposition even more difficult. Perhaps I should have qualified what I'm after, Transition era, DCC and sound equipped and if I could, would like the locomotives to have Capacitor Keep Alive already installed. Not asking for much, only the World, I know!!!

I have to say I think that both the Transition and Steam eras are "Going by the Boards"; or, at least the manufacturers feel they are not strong sellers. There does not seem to be much being offered in these two categories.
 
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tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#9
No transition era here as well, all present day. I will echo Willies sediment on ScaleTrains being extremely well detailed, and excellent runners. I only have 1, but my Intermountain is a good runner, and very well detailed too. Setting those up against my Walthers SD70s makes them look kind of naked, but They run decent as well.
The Walthers Mainline range are less detailed, but they have the same drive as the Protos.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#10
I have a few Life Like Proto 2000 locomotives, two GP-7s and an SW 1200 in N.P. Livery. They are very good runners; however, converting them to DCC is not very easy and adding sound makes the proposition even more difficult. Perhaps I should have qualified what I'm after, Transition era, DCC and sound equipped and if I could, would like the locomotives to have Capacitor Keep Alive already installed. Not asking for much, only the World, I know!!!

I have to say I think that both the Transition and Steam eras are "Going by the Boards"; or, at least the manufacturers feel they are not strong sellers. There does not seem to be much being offered in these two categories.
The newer Protos have DCC/sound installed as an option, but have been criticized for a lack of volume. I have my SD45, up at max and it still doesn't match the similar Genesis ones. It would probably be fine on a home layout, where you're not competing with others who love to run with them blaring. I did notice that the 2 GP60's, standard DC, as they now call their DCC ready locos, have the same chassis with speaker mount. The little GP20, on the other hand, does not, but has in my opinion, enough room to mount both decoder and speaker, in place of the electronics fitted.
1541465155763.png
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#11
The reason I am asking this question is I am only mildly interested in diesel locomotives. However, I have a few Bachmann Sound Value diesels that I feel the quality might not be the best! I have a Bachmann Alco S-4 that actually worked well up until last week; but, I always thought that it sounded like they recorded a chain saw for the sound. I also have an Alco RS-3 that has better sound. However, I don't care for how Bachmann picks-up power from the tracks. The little wipers are prone to bending out of contact and the solder joint at the wipers are tentative and easily fail.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
#14
I have two Altas Master Gold models (that level comes with DCC/sound). My first purchase was a Fairbanks-Morse Trainmaster H24-66. I can't tell you how impressed I am with that model. It has run like a Swiss watch since Day One, never once let me down in any way, and I think it's a fine looking and heavy locomotive. I love to see it run on my track system. The second was for last Christmas, an Atlas Silver Series RS-3, also with sound. Like the FM, it runs very well, is gratifyingly heavy, and looks like a decent scale RS-3 ought to.

If Trix made N. American transition diesels, I'd work hard to get at least one. I have a Trix 2-8-2 and a GG1. Again, Swiss watches.

I like the Genesis brand of diesel. I haven't compared them with Scale Trains, which seem to be popular, and I only own two SD70's. They sound good, look great, run pretty well.

I have two Proto 2000 diesels, one from pre-Walthers' purchase of Life Like, and the other just after. The first is an FA2-FB2 set, and they run just fine. Good quality. The other is a small SW-8 with sound. I had to swap out the traction axle to get better electrical connectivity, and Walthers shipped one to me when I called to ask if I could have one...for nothing.

BLI sells diesels well, and I don't read posts by people complaining about them or needing help. Same with Intermountain.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#15
Who do you feel makes the highest quality model Diesels? Has good detail and very strong and lasting operational capabilities? I am interested in transition era locomotives.
Assuming we are talking about HO scale my order would be as the following. However on a scale of 1 to 10 some would be only tenths of points above others. A list of value per $ would be quite different, and strictly strong runners would be yet a different ordering.
Trix
Atlas Master
Rapido
Athearn Genesis
InterMountain
Broadway Limited
Walther's Proto
Kato

Atlas Classic
Bowser
Bachmann Spectrum
Walther's Trainline
Athearn RTR

Bachmann
ConCor

LifeLike
Model Power

Ummm who am I missing? One might notice that Scale Trains and Fox Valley are not on the list - I don't believe they make any transition era locomotives.
 

bnsf971

AKA Gomez Addams
Staff member
#16
Ummm who am I missing? One might notice that Scale Trains and Fox Valley are not on the list - I don't believe they make any transition era locomotives.
Scale Trains did make a transition era locomotive, though everybody's already forgotten about it. Weren't the turbines built during the 1950's?
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#17
Scale Trains did make a transition era locomotive, though everybody's already forgotten about it. Weren't the turbines built during the 1950's?
I should have been more clear. Scale trains doesn't make any transition era diesels that I know of.
 
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#18
I didn't really know "JACK" about engines when I started buying them. Looking at various forums, magazines, & videos, there were a lot of opinions on engines and who liked and disliked what. For some reason (quality) the Bachman "make" was one that seemed like I should shy away from, so I did, except, for a Bachman Spectrum 44 tonner, and when I contacted Bachman, I was told that I could not put a decoder in it, so into the bottom drawer it went and has been there ever since. I found that no one manufacturer made everything that I wanted, so, I would get the motors that I wanted from who ever made it in my road name. I have 2 Atlas yellow box GP7's and a yellow box RS1. An Atlas classic EMD GP7 demontrator. A Proto 2000 FA-B in GN livery. Three sets of Intermountain A-B motors--- An EMD 103 demonstrator set, and two GN FT sets---and finally the Broadway Limited SD7. I figured buying from a variety of manufactures I would be exposed to the good & bad of each one.
The EMD 103 set, the Proto 2000 and the three yellow box atlas's are the only ones that I have run on the layout thus far. I am happy with the way all of them have ran, but, I will say this, before they hit the layout, I disassembled them (whether I had to put decoders in them or not,) and cleaned out all the old lubricants from the drive trains and put in new, paying particular attention to the electrical contacts to make sure they were clean and had good positive contact.
I am planning on picking up an Athearn F3 A-B set, but just haven't got there yet...........

Iron Horseman----were does the Stewart Hobbies engines fit in the list?
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#19
were does the Stewart Hobbies engines fit in the list?
I have not purchased a Stewart locomotive since Bowser purchased them. I am therefore hesitant to say. I am pretty certain they will be excellent runners but I know nothing about the detail. The first runs of Stewart, back in the day, had Kato drives and were second to none. I would have put those on the top of my "well running / silent running list". Even their second runs with the Buhler drive were great - and that might still be what they are today. However I would have never put Stewart units at the top of a "most detailed" list. None of the old ones had sound. So the old units would be probably be right there with the Atlas Classic.

But also remember this is my personal opinion on all of these locos, based on non-empirical data, just experience and observation of both mine and other folks units. I've always meant to run some real tests and come up with a detail rating system, just never found the time. You know, item #3473 on the to do list.
 
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#20
Your experience may vary, but not all early Stewart locos were KATO Powered. Their RS3, had a very crappy Athearn Drive similar to the Athearn SW1500, (SW7). Not sure about the Baldwin AS-16 variations. FWIW, I have a very small fleet of Stewart F units, all still KATO Powered and DC. They run extremely well, but the locomotive shells require detailing and glazing, and the couplers need to be replaced. They have been sitting in the box since I bought them new in the late 1980s. Last time I had them out, last sprig, they still ran well. The Stewart Baldwin switchers were initially built by Anjin of Korea. They run well, and have a level of detail not present in earlier Stewart Models. Performance wise, they surpass the contemporary Bowser Baldwin switchers, that come with greater detail, sound and DCC, because they are capable of pulling considerably longer trains.

Bachmann has a deserved bad name among those who entered the hobby via an entry level Bachmann set. Bachmann's old Spectrum line was intended to compete in the prototype modeling segment of the hobby, much as Proto 2000 did for Life Like, another manufacturer with a bad reputation among entry modelers. Current Bachmann products are hit or miss. Some folks have had good results, while others didn't. I picked up a few when they were selling in the $50 -$70 range, but haven't bought any more recently.

I can find fault with any of the manufacturers if I tried hard enough, but that really doesn't accomplish anything. Over all, I rate Athearn Genesis, Atlas, Rapido and Bowser at the top. I have also bought some of Walthers Proto Line offerings. I usually buy diesels in pairs, and frequently find differences in performance between the paired units. Again that's across the board with all manufacturers.

Boris
 





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