Brands you like the most and why?

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JamieM

New Member
My apologies in advance if this topic has been discussed before, this is my first submission!


I was into the hobby as a kid and now that I have young boys I've begun to introduce them. I've purchased an ESU Command Station and have 1 BLI steam locomotive and one Diesel that runs on a short line near our home.


As a newbie getting back into the hobby, what sets each manufacturer apart and which do you identify as being the best. I know this is a Ford vs. Chevy debate and everyone has their own opinions but from a high level overview does it come down to detail of the model, fit and finish, sound, operation or a combined overall score? Now does one gain quick knowledge of what manufactures to avoid and which to choose?

Clearly, I've done some homework already with the purchases I've already made. To me, I get enjoyment out of building, researching and affording the highest quality and I get as much if not more enjoyment out of that learning experience.

Thanks for your sharing your expertise.

~Jamie
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
The first question before answering will be What scale are we talking about here?
For me my best list is fairly easy.
HO Scale - Atlas Master Gold
HOn3 - Blackstone
N Scale - Kato
O Gauge - Lionel Scale
G Gauge - LGB

I don't have entries due to lack of knowledge for T, Z, S, or O scale trains.

I'll come to the "why" later.
 
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montanan

Whiskey Merchant
I am a DC operator, but do have a few DCC locomotives that I mainly run at my model railroad club. One is a BLI heavy Mike. I like it as I do model the transition era. Excellent running locomotive. I also have a little Bachmann 2-6-0 which is a decent running locomotive. Not really impressed with it as it can't pull much. I am not much of a fan of Bachmnn, but I did also pick up a Bachmann Alco switcher (it is in the video "Switching Churchill below) because it was decorated for the Milwaukee Road which I am a fan of. I was superised at how well it ran and it also has excellent detail for an inexpensive locomotive.

My last DCC locomotive is an Atlas Gold RS-1 with ESU LocSound. Also a fan of the northern Pacific. It too is an excellent running locomotive. Here it is running on DC on my home layout.

[video=youtube;p7u1TaUkXAw]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7u1TaUkXAw[/video]

I do like it going through the start up sequence and how you can hear the throttle changes with the changes in speed. I am also a big fan of the Atlas Alco RS line of locomotives. I have a dozen of them in DC that I picked up when they first came out years ago with the Kato drive. After many years of use, they still run like new. My only gripe with the Atlas DCC RS-1 is that it can't pull as many cars up the two and a half percent grades at the club layout and on my home layout. My DC Alcos can easily handle around 16 to 17 cars on the grades and the DCC version is lucky to handle 9. Here it is running on the club layout.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEuVbeJLQqk

I understand that Bowser also puts out some excellent locomotives. There are a lot of DCC operators who can probably give you a lot more info than I can.




 
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Selector

Well-Known Member
I like my BLI steamers. For the price, they're pretty decent. For about three times as much, new, painted, and lettered, and also DCC with sound, I could wait for the brass equivalents. Years, probably.

My finest would have to be the Trix Mikado and GG1 (Trix being a subsidiary of Marklin). All metal, smooth as silk, whisper quiet, very reliable, details about average.

Best diesel would have to be Atlas Gold. I have a Fairbanks-Morse H24-66 which is so smooth and reliable it isn't funny. It has a QSI decoder. Heavy, very nicely detailed for a whopping $160. Also, and I haven't been able to run it (just wiring new layout now), a Classic Gold RS-3 with LokSound. I expect it will be a very good runner. Details....average.

The newer (post 2004) Rivarossi steamers are pretty good, very nice detail on my Allegheny 2-6-6-6. The audio files on the LokSound decoder were all wrong.

I have one Bachmann steamer, a heavy mountain 4-8-2. It looks good and tracks well, seems to be a solid puller. It takes a LOT of voltage to get underway.

I have a beautifully detailed 0-6-0 switcher from Proto 2000. It's light, so can't pull much. It's chief failing, though, is that silly tabbed draw-bar with electrical pins. It gets sloppy with time and the running suffers from intermittent contact.

Athearn Genesis - two SD-75. They run okay, seem smooth, but very picky with rail heights on the outside of a curve. Very nice details.
 

JamieM

New Member
Great feedback, thanks for contributing.



I like my BLI steamers. For the price, they're pretty decent. For about three times as much, new, painted, and lettered, and also DCC with sound, I could wait for the brass equivalents. Years, probably.

My finest would have to be the Trix Mikado and GG1 (Trix being a subsidiary of Marklin). All metal, smooth as silk, whisper quiet, very reliable, details about average.

Best diesel would have to be Atlas Gold. I have a Fairbanks-Morse H24-66 which is so smooth and reliable it isn't funny. It has a QSI decoder. Heavy, very nicely detailed for a whopping $160. Also, and I haven't been able to run it (just wiring new layout now), a Classic Gold RS-3 with LokSound. I expect it will be a very good runner. Details....average.

The newer (post 2004) Rivarossi steamers are pretty good, very nice detail on my Allegheny 2-6-6-6. The audio files on the LokSound decoder were all wrong.

I have one Bachmann steamer, a heavy mountain 4-8-2. It looks good and tracks well, seems to be a solid puller. It takes a LOT of voltage to get underway.

I have a beautifully detailed 0-6-0 switcher from Proto 2000. It's light, so can't pull much. It's chief failing, though, is that silly tabbed draw-bar with electrical pins. It gets sloppy with time and the running suffers from intermittent contact.

Athearn Genesis - two SD-75. They run okay, seem smooth, but very picky with rail heights on the outside of a curve. Very nice details.
 
N-scale locomotives:

Best detail:

• ScaleTrains
• Broadway Locomotive Works
• Fox Valley Models

Good overall:

• Kato
• Atlas Master Line
• Athearn

Good value:

• Walthers

Certain Kato and Atlas Master Line locos are nearly as detailed as the premium brands first listed. Kato tends to have very good quality control. Atlas has their new slow-speed motors (Katos take off like rockets; though, their slow-speed performance under PWM or DCC is similar to other brands'). Some items, like Athearn's Bombardier and Kato's Nippon Sharyo passenger cars are unique to the brand (i.e., they're the only manufacturers which model those prototypes); however, both are excellent, and Kato has available accessory LED lighting kits for their passenger cars, while Athearn does not.
 
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bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
My "favorites" are colored by my past experiences, as well as my personal relationships with the manufacturers. In reality, there is no single "best". Some have better rolling stock, some have better steam, some have better diesel. Some have better attention to detail, and fidelity to prototype, and some have smooth-as-glass operation. Some are just plain horrible.
For prototype-specific details, Athearn Genesis seems to be the best. For diesel operation, Atlas or Kato. Many Atlas mechanisms are derived from Kato products, so the two being very good should be no surprise. Their shells don't have as many fine details, and the details that are there are generally generic in nature.
Kadee used to be the gold standard for freight cars, but other companies now have surpassed them, in many cases by a lot. Intermountain and Exactrail are two of those. For steam, there are several companies that have extremely good products, including some Bachmann (gasp!) models, though you need to make sure what you are getting with them. Stay away from Model Power, MRC, and Mantua.
 

new guy

Active Member
Agreed, for an HO steamer you want BLI, I would recommend HO Bachman with a straight face and HO Athern Genesis for DCC Loco's.
 

dave1905

Well-Known Member
Roundhouse and Bachmann because they are the only manufacturers that make anything even close to my era (1900-1905).

For kits, Westerfield, Central Valley, RDA, LaBelle, because they make kits for my era.

For parts, Tichy, Grandt Line, Tahoe trucks, Kadee and Intermountain wheels, Kadee couplers and Evergreen styrene.
 

wombat457

Well-Known Member
Staff member
This is a can of worms question :)

For HO Engines though:

BLI (Broadway Limited
Athearn Genesis

For N Scale Engines:

Kato

For HO Rolling Stock:

Intermountain
Athearn
BLI

N Scale Rolling Stock:

Micro TrainsIntermountain
Kato

G Gauge:

LGB

The "why" part of your question is the hard part to a degree. I have engines and rolling stock from all of the manufacturers I have listed and have found them to be all very solid, good reliable engines and rolling stock. Some are a little more detailed perhaps than others but I place reliability above virtually everything else.

Engines can be diverse, making some better (much better) than others. Some of the things to take into consideration are:

1. The type of motor used
2. The type of decoder used
3. The couplers and trucks used
4. The amount of detail

Rolling stock is not as big an issue as the engines though. Most rolling stock seems to be much of a muchness in terms of appearance and detail. What (I think) sets one aside from the other are the trucks and couplers that are used with them more so than the physical item.
 
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Stadawim

New Member
I'm exclusive to HO scale, so all answers pertain to it.

I have a newfound love for all Accurail rolling stock. They're relatively inexpensive, they have the two kit styles (RTR and BTR), and come out of their boxes with an already aged look due to the paint process Accurail uses. Love those. But Bowser and Kadee put out some nice stuff too. Just more pricey. Oh! And old Tyco stuff. Just can't get over the brightly colored boxes that got me into the hobby when i was a wee lad. (of course i'd tone them down now, but still)
Atlas and Kato are probably my favorite locos brands. Nothing too over the top in the detail department so i feel like i can barely touch them, and run smooth at all speeds while being pretty quiet.
 
N

NP2626

Guest
Stadawim, To me the word "Kit" means whatever it is, needs to be built and I've never heard of the term BTR, what is that?

As far as what are my favorites, I am HO and I like Atlas and Stewart diesels. I've had problems with both Broadway Limited and Bachmann. For rolling stock, I like kits, only, so any producer making kits will be my favorite and today my favorite would be Accurail.

The fact is for me, almost all of my favorites no longer exist! I liked the old Mantua, Bowser and MDC Roundhouse steamer kits. I also liked Intermountain, Branchline Blue Print, Lifelike Proto 2000 and Red Caboose KITS!
 
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Boris

Beach Bum
As the Wombat said, this is a can of worms question.

Locomotives:

Athearn Genesis - Superior performance and Detail

Bowser (contemporary) - Well detailed Baldwin Locomotives as used by the PRR and Reading

Atlas - Superior performance

Rolling stock:

Kadee - Superior quality and domestic production

Tangent - Superior Detail

BLI products are interesting, but have performance issues related to their proprietary DCC / sound electronics. Bachmann has detail and performance issues, nothing that can't be fixed, buy why bother?

I also have a bunch of Bowser, Accurail and Walthers kits to assemble.
 

riogrande

Active Member
For my late 1970's thru 1980's interest:

Engines: Athearn, Athearn Genesis, Atlas (mainly they offer the EMD engines I need), and have one BLI (RSD15) and one Intermountain (Cab Forward)

Freight cars: ExactRail, Tangent, Moloco, Intermountain, Athearn, Athearn Genesis, Fox Valley, Walthers, Trainworx (Trailers), Bowser, Trix

Passenger cars: BLI (California Zephyr), Palace Car Company (Brass comines for RGZ), Walthers (Prospector chair cars) Walthers (Superliner I cars)
 




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