Who makes the best model diesel locomotives?

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
#21
I agree with Iron Horseman's list of locomotives and there's a very slight difference between some of the manufactures. I however disagree with the Bachmann and Life Like not being a bit higher on the list.

Recent Bachmann locomotive are greatly improved over the older ones Bachmann offered. I purchased a DC Bachmann ALCO S-4 and installed a decoder in the locomotive and it runs like an Atlas. This little switcher can pull 13 heavy ore cars without a problem. I don't any have experience with the quality of Bachmann's sound DCC locomotives. My Bachmann Shay has an after market DCC SoundTraxx system.

Some of the Life Like locomotives are great runners, but lack somewhat in detailing. I have a pair of C&NW GP-7's (the same number #1663) and one is a Life Like and the other is a Proto. Both run great and I installed DCC in the Life Like without any problems and the Proto had an updated Tsunami DCC system and LED lighting done by Engine House Services.

The fact that I have two C&NW #1663 locomotives is the reason I now have a spreadsheet listing all my locomotives so I'll never purchase duplicate numbered locomotives again.

Also, I believe that some of the Walther's Mainline locomotives have Roco motors and drives. Lacking in detail, but also good runners.

I just started running an Atlas Dash-8 and it's so quite and smooth.

Steward locomotives are missing from Iron Horseman' s list. The are great runners, but have two minor problems. DCC isn't too easy to install in the F7 models and many of their model lack details or the modeler must do the install of the details provided by Steward. The F7's can pull like Percheron horse.

I have some early Walter's DC locomotives and the two H10/12's I have require milling of the frame for DCC and the SW-1 models are a little hard to install DCC, but next time I would use a N DCC decoder to install in the SW-1's cab area. Some of the early SW-1's had drive shaft problems. Walther's replaced the plastic shaft coupler at no charge. (Also have two of the same number SW-1's).

My two cents worth.

Greg

PS: For those looking for hard to find Northern Pacific locomotives, Model Train Stuff has two different locomotives on sale. One is a S-4. Walther's is also offering Northern Pacific EMD F7's in A and B units.

Greg
 
Last edited:

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#25
I can't believe I left out an important tid-bit of information on my wants/needs and that is that I am only be interested in HO Scale! However, posts can be read by anyone and some model in different scales and gauges, so if you have recommendations for Diesel Locomotives in another scale/gauge, by all means post them here!
 
Last edited:

trailrider

Well-Known Member
#26
I have some of the older Walthers Proto2000 E-6's and some of the newer Walthers E-7, E-8/9's. The E-6's run well...after I replaced the gears with NWSL or Athearn gears. The latest edition of MR shows the Walthers lower line F-7's, which the MR tests seem to indicate they are good runners. Details are not as great as on the top-of-the-line models, but that can be fixed. (My only nit is on the C.B.&Q. F-7A. The "Q" used passenger pilots on their F-3 and F-7 freight diesels, whereas the model has the freight pilot. This is understandable from the manufacturer's standpoint, as the same model is offered in other roads, and they used freight pilots. It would not make economic sense for the manufacturer to make a separate body for the limited market for "Q" units. The 2018 Walthers catalog lists Cal-Scale passenger pilots, which, if still available, could be used to replace the ones on the "Q" units. BTW, The FTA units did have freight pilots. Walthers lists the Cal-Scale 190-442 Passenger pilots. Not sure how difficult it would be to modify the new units, but probably could be done. I've done it on older Athearn F-7A's with little trouble.)
 
Last edited:

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#28
Yes, installing decoders is easier now; however, wiring up and changing the head and back-up lights is the real pain in the butt for me.
 

Rico

BN Modeller
#30
Unless I missed it mentioned, Rivarossi released a U28c with DCC and sound that is totally awesome!
Great runners, great detail, great sound.
 
#32
Only one brand beats out models with a Kato drive, and that is newer Overland Models brass diesels. However they are a bit salty price wise. But, the fully loaded plastic models are getting closer to the second hand prices for many of the older green box era models
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
#33
I have one major "complaint" about Kato trains! While they have beautiful trains for The Burlington Route, (I have no idea how they run), they are in N scale, and I model in HO! They did make some nice HO scale Northwestern bi-level commuter cars awhile back, and I have two. No offense, Kato, but it would be great if you put out some of these great models in HO!
Happy New Year!
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#34
I have one major "complaint" about Kato trains! While they have beautiful trains for The Burlington Route, (I have no idea how they run), they are in N scale, and I model in HO! They did make some nice HO scale Northwestern bi-level commuter cars awhile back, and I have two. No offense, Kato, but it would be great if you put out some of these great models in HO!
Relating this off the top of my head... I believe Kato has tried a few times to enter directly big time into the HO market and seems each time they have hit at least one stumbling block. I heard from somewhere that each of these incidents has made them wary of the HO market.
  • I recall they rushed out an SD90 only to find so few real railroads purchased the real thing it greatly limited the market for the model (this was before the days fantasy schemes had gotten popular).
  • Around 1997 or so they came out with several different models. I think it was supposed to be their break out year. I got the GP35s and and RS-2s. The GP35s ended up getting a warp in the shell. I don't remember if they recalled them or not. Many folks ended up discarding the shell and using them as an upgrade chassis for the Proto-2000 GP30s that had the cracked axle issues in the same time period. I never had the gumption to do anything about it, so my two GP35s (GN Simplified scheme) are still just sitting there all warpy in their original boxes. They fixed that problem with the later releases but the damage to the reputation was already done.
  • There was an attempt at the SD40-2 (1999) for which I don't remember the exact problem other that poor choice of which paint schemes they produced and the models ended up on the clearance racks of the hobby stores, and bargain bins at the traveling train shows. I picked up a few in Santa Fe Yellow Bonnet scheme at a huge discount, but was just not impressed and they never made it into my frequently operated roster.
  • Seems they produced some other model right after DCC had really taken off and didn't offer a DCC option or even DCC-ready option for it, once again greatly limiting the market and killing their sales. Seems like they were also the last to move away from horn hook couplers and provide Kadee or equivalent on their locos.
  • Then personally, I rushed in to get their SD70s when they first came out only to find they had gotten the BN exectutive paint scheme colors wrong, sigh, so I ended up getting the Genesis brand instead. I think they also corrected that in future releases, but by then many who wanted them already had the others like me.
While I love and have heavily used all my Kato/Atlas and Kato/Stewart models, and even though I listed them in my list, the stand alone Kato brand doesn't even get my attention in HO scale anymore.
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
#39
Iron Horseman:

I have that exact locomotive and I dropped in a Digitrax DCC decoder once the locomotive's break-in was completed. The decoder install was a ten minute project....just remove the front and rear couplers and then slide off the shell. Install one Plug 'n Play decoder and replace the couplers. As simple as that.

The locomotive is a sweet runner and has the improved Bachmann quality and attention to detail that was lacking in Bachmann locomotives in prior years. I would recommend purchasing one at the price they offer.

Greg
 
Last edited:

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#40
Iron Horseman:

I have that exact locomotive and I dropped in a Digitrax DCC decoder once the locomotive's break-in was completed. The decoder install was a ten minute project....just remove the front and rear couplers and then slide off the shell. Install one Plug 'n Play decoder and replace the couplers. As simple as that.

The locomotive is a sweet runner and has the improved Bachmann quality and attention to detail that was lacking in Bachmann locomotives in prior years. I would recommend purchasing one at the price they offer.
Thanks, but the real reason for the hesitation and thinking isn't the locomotive itself but the model railroad budget. Not only do I officially not model the NP anymore, I just purchased a full set of the Lionel scale size Polar Express train, a set (20) of HO Pullman heavyweight cars off e-bay, and a few other things. The well is empty so to speak for more MR purchases.
 



ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Top