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I love trains!
I fell in love with a Mike's Train House 4-6-2 loco at the hobby store. I nearly walked out with it, but the guy helping me was concerned about its DCC capabilities. Apparently MTH does their own thing with regard to digital control and although they support a subset of DCC, they haven't seemed to embrace it. It will also require some programming to get it to work on DCC as none of the basic settings that all other DCC loco makers use work.

But oh my, this loco was beautiful. It has large drivers, great detail, and sound at least as good as QSI's. And smoke.. not just smoke spewing out without reason, but synchronized smoke that puffs with the chuffs, which in turn were synchronized with the drivers.

Clearly a lot of attention to detail on this entry in to HO scale.

But I didn't walk out of there with it because I was concerned about their lack of complete DCC support and also about the MTH philosophy of "Our ideas are better so NMRA standards be damned." At least that the feeling I got from reading a bit about them.

What are your thoughts? Have any of you seen/experienced this train? Is there anything out there that compares? And the price was good too, less that $300 if I recall correctly.

[Edit: URL MTH 4-6-2 in HO
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Diesel Detail Freak
MTH uses a DCS system, is similar but different. If I remember right it talks back where DCC does not.


I love trains!
So, I picked one up yesterday and here's my 1-day review:

Beautiful. Its the nicest looking HO in this price range by far. I'm no expert however, but from comparing the locos at the LHS, this one is quite nice! Also, the draw-bar between the boiler and the tender has the two leads hidden in it making for a wireless look. This looks sooo much better than compared to the ungainly (and turn hindering) wires on the Spectrum 2-8-0 Consolidation.

Lots of sounds, including lots of voice and such. One neat touch is it simulating the conductor shouting out the next arrival, then shouting out all-aboard, etc. Meanwhile you hear the hustle and bustle of passengers disembarking and embarking. Chuff sounds are awesome, and synchronized (4 chuffs per rev). Sound quality is high as well. I'd say Tsunami has it beat as far as realistic no-load vs. load sound but not by much. This one has more sounds, and they seem to be at good volume relative to each other as well.

The smoke is the real seller for me and my kids. The smoke puffs in sync with the chuffs. Its way cool. The only draw-back - its smelly of course. I am told they make scented smoke oil - I may have to try that. The smelly smoke really is a big drawback but it soooo worth it.

DCC Function:
I use DCC with an NCE PowerCab. I had some problems (I was told I would from the LHS). Actually, I have yet to properly set the long address. But, using the short default address (3) I was able to fire it right up. The light, whistle and bell use the default functions (f0,f1, and f2 respectively (I think)) but all the others are different. You have to do a short start-up (toggling F3) to get it running. Then you're ready to go. They (and I) recommend 128-step, and they claim its accurate to SMPH, at least up to the max speed. They also claim many other functions above F12 that I haven't figured out how to trigger yet with my PowerCab. I'll work on the DCC specifics this week. All in all though it hasn't been as difficult to get working out of the box on DCC as the LHS had suggested.

On-track performance:
She comes with traction tire equipped road wheels that you can install if you desire. I currently have no grades so I've not bothered. She pulls all my cars on a level plane with no problem.
She is very smooth at low speed. Even does well at 1 smph setting (again, on 128-step).
However, she 100% reliably fails to cross Bachman EZ-Track turn-outs that are turned-out. Right at the spot where the rail is plastic and there is a gap, the front trucks derail every time. I know that Bachman EZ-Track is probably the worst track in the hobby so I'm not too surprised. But, I do not have any good turn-outs to try it on to see if it has problems on them as well. This is a big downer really. My kids and I love operating the turn-outs and changing the path so this a disappointment.

Looks awesome!
Sounds awesome!
Pulls great.
Smooth action.

Smoke stinks.
DCC mysteries yet to be solved.
Poor operation on EZ-Track turn-outs.

That's it, my Day-1 review. I love it despite its flaws. And for just under $300 I think its a good deal considering its quality and features.

Off to do more playing and getting the DCC stuff worked out. Going to investigate different turn-outs as well.

Take care!



I love trains!
I went home at lunch today and figured out how to activate some of the higher function keys on my PowerCab. :) I had to configure my OPTION button to be a toggle between standard F1-12 and the upper ones, up to F24. I don't mind so much but I was getting use to having the option button be my full-stop. Ah well, I guess i can program a shift key to do that, at least I think I can. (NCE PowerCab newbie)

BTW, while I was messing around I noticed that running the steam takes quite a bit more amperage (almost double) to run the train. And at full speed there is a noticeable drop in top speed and volume when the steam is on vs. when its off. I attribute it to my crappy track and crappy power taps though. YMMV.
Very interesting review, Eric. I've had my eye on those to see how they'd sell, and in 3 years since it's debut, you're one of the first I've seen who has one, and THE first to review it on a forum. *(that I've seen)

Even your nicest locomotives will derail (along with ANY car you have) on EZ-crap turnouts. The rest of the track system is very nice, however their most crucial part, the switchpoints are made of cheap non-Nickel Silver, or of they are, they're bent, too thick, or a host of other problems, unfortunately. I have a beautiful layout that I ended up destroying because the EZ track got SO bad...change to standard Atlas, Shinohara, or Peco switches before you get frustrated..Trust me, it'll save alot of time and frustration. ;)

Anyways, I'm glad you really like it! Does it have a glowing firebox?


I love trains!
No glowing firebox. Man, that'd be nice!

I think I'll take your advice on the turn-outs. I might hit the LHS sometime this week and pick up a different turn-out and see how it works out.

What I've discovered is that there is some serious animosity between MTH and everyone HO. Some lawsuits with QSI and others I think didn't help, plus MTH does things the MTH way. For instance, don't bother with this loco under DC power unless you have 20+ quality volts. They also have their proprietary DCS system that gives more features than DCC...


Very interesting review, Eric. I've had my eye on those to see how they'd sell, and in 3 years since it's debut, you're one of the first I've seen who has one, and THE first to review it on a forum. *(that I've seen)

From the extreme rarity of any mention of actual purchases of these HO locomotives on this, or for that matter on any forum, sales of this item apparently have been downright dismal. Considering that BLI's identical engine is decidedly cheaper and that they have much greater acceptance than MTH in the HO marketplace, perhaps that comes as no real surprise (and BLI has standard NMRA-compliant DCC).

Under the circumstances, I really have to wonder if MTH will attempt any further serious ventures into HO.



Yes, there are a lot of bad feelings towards MTH from model railroaders and with good reason. However, you seem very happy with your purchase and that is what counts;) . I thank you for your review, as I have been curious about the performance of their HO products on standard DCC. It is a shame that with the quality of the detail, Mike decided to fight the standards and go his own way.:)

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