Who makes the best model diesel locomotives?

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Section Hand
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.


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.

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Well-Known Member
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!
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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.)
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