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Anyone here have the new athearn challengers?
Got a little side work and I would make enough to get two. I kind of got a deal with the wife I call it my noah's ark program " two of each wheel configuration" although I will want more eventually.

So how do they run, good pullers, my track plan is all flat so I am not worried about it being able to pull up a hill. any comments?


M.E.S.S. Maker
I have the "Clinchfield" version. At first I was a little dismayed as I wanted the double stack UP/Rio Grande version but what I had quickly grew on me.

It's a wonderful engine, which can negotiate 16" curves while going up an 8% grade. When traction tires are on it can haul 70 cars up a 5% grade with ease. It runs smooth and is a really good looker.

Now the down side. The Whistle is not prototypical and clips off abruptly at the end, saying that it's not bad in fact it's reasonable and if I were to put it on a scale of 1-10 I'd give it a 6.5 compared to the BLI C&O 2-10-4, which would rate a 10.

The only other issue I have is the Headlights. They are ORANGE and when I get a chance I will be changing them out to white.

For the money it's a good engine and one of my favourites, definitely my most versatile.

I'm not sure if mine's one of the newer ones, but I like it. I also have two Lionel Challengers that I also like quite a bit. The Athearn seems to run a little smoother than the Lionels, especially at extremely low speed. On the other hand, the Lionel seems to have much better sound than the Athearn, but that's not to say the Athearn is bad. As Fergie said, the whistle leaves a little bit to be desired, but otherwise the sound isn't too bad. There are a few things that I think are silly, but others may like them. For example, there is a conductor yelling "All aboard" on one of the functions. This is a standard feature of MRC's sound decoders from what I've seen. Fergie also mentioned the orange color of the headlight. Mine's the same way. It's not so bad that I plan to change it right away, but it would look somewhat funny next to some of my other engines.



Coal Shoveler
I got one of the older ones at the NMRA convention last year. It's an Undec UP version; I was really looking for an Undec single stack version so I can letter it for the NP. But, I'm using mine in excursion service.



Big Boy 4013
I've got an Athearn Challenger and think its great. The detailing and performance are way better than the late model Rivarossi Challengers I have. The detailing is right up there with my Trix Big Boy. Plus it has DCC and sound already installed! All this for about the same price as a Riv on Ebay!

Since it is my only sound equipped loco, I think the sound is great. I have read other's posts about poor sound quality, but I'm happy with it. It handles my 22" radius curves and less than perfect trackage very well. I have had it since Xmas and have yet to have it derail, unlike my other steam locos, Trix Big Boy included!

It's a good puller on my 4% grade, out pulls my Trix Big Boy, but of course the Athearn has traction tires and doesn't slip like the Trix.

I am highly considering another Athearn Challenger and perhaps the Athearn Big Boy too! For the price, I think it is a bargain in today's market. Especially considering that you can nearly buy 2 Athearn Big Boys for the price of 1 Trix! (Retail $450 vs $800)

Hornby/Rivarossi is supposed to be re-releasing a Big Boy soon, but unless it has new finer detail tooling with DCC and sound, I wouldn't even consider it anymore.

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