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New Member
I am sure this question is almost entirely opinionated but it begs to be asked either way. I am looking to buy some rolling stock for my layout and I am wondering which manufacturer(s) I should look towards. I am looking to get some open and covered hoppers. Probably 40' but I may mix some 50' in there as well. Any opinions (and a backed up explanation) are greatly appreciated!

On a side note, metal wheels vs plastic wheels. Is there a huge difference, I'm leaning towards metal but I've no experience or knowledge to back up my hunch.


You are right that this is very much a personal preference, but it is usually based on one's experience with the model. I have had very good luck with Atlas, Athern, Branchline, Bachmann Silver series. Now, the big question is how much do you want to spend on rolling stock.

Some brands are very expensive and have very good to excellent detail, but as the price goes down...usually the detail does as well. Another consideration is if it has metal wheels...does it have knuckle couplers (most do)...will you want to add I want a "Ready to Run" or a kit. All of this determines the price. One thing that I finally learned that you can take a moderately priced piece ($8 - $12) and with the addition of metal wheels and a little tweaking here and there have a car that will give you good service. It just depends on how detailed you want.

Yes, metal wheels is the best way to go. Some plastic wheels have a tendency to deteriate and leave a residue on the track over time. This was backed up by a thread in another forum where the poster had a link to a site that had data to prove it. Also, metal wheels will wear better and IMHO run smoother and easier. They are louder, but heck...this is a train.


Drum Driver
RexHea just added allot of great items, one he just mentioned, which I just bought Friday to try, was the Bachmann Silver Series...For the price this is one awesome series!!..I bought an oar car at the shop when he just unpacked them. ($9.95) I LOVE IT!..Metal blacken wheels...nicely weighed...rolls like a dream!...I really liked the NS and PRR hoppers he had but they were too new for our clubs layout...tho I'll probably buy a couple just for me...The Proto Series is another great line. There is some great stuff out there at a good price. And as far as plastic over metal?...Buy one of the above brand of cars and compare it to a train set car...You'll figure that one out for yourself easily! And if you want to keep the set car because its a favorite road name...You'll be buying a set of metal trucks! Some metals are even detailed with the cooling spirals inside! I really like these!


I have found in order to have a rounded freight car fleet I had to buy cars from Athearn,Accurail,Atlas and Walthers.
I am not to sure if metal wheels stay any cleaner then plastic wheels..I use both and it appears both picks up gook easily.
I am looking to buy some rolling stock for my layout and I am wondering which manufacturer(s) I should look towards.
Are these cars going to be highly used with many people handling them? If so I do not recommend the top of the line highly detailed cars. All those nice detail parts get broken off by inconsiderate or clumsy people operating with them. This for this use the the Athearn blue box kits are wonderful. There is also Accurail, Roundhouse, and Atlas Trainman.

On the other hand is you layout going to be a photographed show case? If so then you probably want the highly detailed cars like Intermountain and Kadee.

Then there is everything in between too like the Proto 2000, Walthers, normal Atlas, Branchline. Of course cost is usually an issue. If you need to fill a yard with 100 cars the Athearn blue box at $5 do so much easier than a Kadee at $30 a car.

The only things you want to avoid are things like Mehano, IHC, Industrial, standard Bachmann, standard Lifelike, etc.

On a side note, metal wheels vs plastic wheels. Is there a huge difference,
Yes, there is a huge difference in the amount of noise the metal wheels produce, the number of short circuits they cause, and now well they roll. Our club switched to metal wheels in order to keep the track cleaner. HA! They didn't help at all in that regard, so now there is a big movement to switch back to the plastic. The noise issue is probably not nearly as big a deal on a smaller layout, but at the club with 10 trains going simultaniously it is a dull roar. As for how well they roll we have found that most locomotives have so much power compared to the trains we pull it is a moot point (our biggest siding will only do a 20 car train). On the other hand if you need the same locomotive to pull 45 cars instead of 30, metal wheels might be the way to go.
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I have 2 Accurail ACF covered hoppers built from a kit and they are VERY nice IMHO! Also, not too badly priced either with! I like to go with kits for the price being better and they are much easier to customize before even being built!

Definitely, Walthers, Athearn,and Accurail. But don't forget Intermountain. Only problem with Intermountain, way to pricey.

Steve B

I use a mix of Athearn older Blue box cars but add KD metal wheel's and couplers, this transforms them into nice reliable rolling stock, i also like the Bachmann Silver Series don't confuse these with the standard Bachmann stuff, The silver series cars roll like a dream and are weighted just right so they are very reliable runners, the quallity of finnish is not top notch but the price more than makes up for that. I love em all;)

my top two list of must have's OR will have soon irelevent of manufacturer

1. Metal wheels, either KD or Proto 2000
2. KD couplers,,, there are other plastic imitations out there but they are crap

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