MTH Ho Trains

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Scordicus

Member
I honestly don't believe what I'm reading here!

Fix/Tweak/Repair/Make good in order to run properly A BRAND NEW $300+ LOCO!! Are you totally mad?!?!?!?

It's not like were talking about a loco that has been owned for a few years or months even and has done quite a few miles, these are brand new ready-to-run loco's, not ones that are in need of a service because they've been well used.. Geesh..

I would definitely vote with your wallet - just return them as not fit for purpose & get your hard earned cash back & spend it on something worthwhile that doesn't fall off the tracks at the first curve!
 

MustangRockstar

New Member
I can see both sides here. I tend to be a "newbie" at fixing stuff ...so while I am ready and willing to enter the learning curve, I am a little hesitant to start tinkering with something that cost me $450. I think thats part of the hesitation with me. Perhaps thats the problem with buying such an expensive loco -- the fear you are going to make the problem worse.

But, a simple fix like throwing lead weights on the pilot (which, btw, I intend to try!) is an easily implementable fix which is passed on from expeirenced modelers to novices like me. And, thats part of the hobby in my opinion.

I wonder, did the Pennsy send their brand new locos back to the loco shop if they had minor issues out of the gate? I would think they would have fixed it themselves. But, if the thing plumb wont run, then def it was sent back. I guess its a matter of degrees.

I think Im going to buy a couple of Bachmanns 2-8-0s to "practice" on and run that MTH Mikado when I get my sea legs.
As someone fairly new to the hobby, I agree spot on with a lot of what you said. Frankly, I this particular thread highlights some of the best and worst aspects of model railroading.

On the one hand, the little tips that experienced modelers pass along are simply invaluable. And most of the time, they solve the problems that come up.

On the other hand, as an industry, there needs to be far better quality control. I can think of few other hobbies where there's so much deviation in quality, especially at such high price points. I've had to learn very quickly how to "tweak" trains and rolling stock. Simply put, that is unacceptable for a hobby that needs to rely on generating some fresh blood to stay alive. Right, wrong or otherwise, today's generation needs to be hooked quickly on a hobby or else they move onto something else. Say what you will about impatience, it is what it is. We're just not a particularly "handy" generation.

Having said that, model railroading is not a hobby for someone who wants to be "done." I've learned that you're never done. You're always maintaining, fixing or improving something. Obviously, you shouldn't be spending more time fixing things than using them, but these kind of issues are acceptable from time to time.

I can really see both sides of the issues here. Admitedly, there are times I wonder why I didn't pick a cheaper and easier hobby, but I still come back to it. My wife and I have had our share of lessons, some of them hard and not inexpensive, but we love model railroading together. I could probably write a book on what not to do when building a railroad. As I've learned what I'm doing I've put in wrong turnouts, torn up track, bought the wrong track code and generally spent more money than I need to. I've gotten so frustrated that I've wanted to give the whole thing up, only to find solutions to the problems I've encountered. And I don't disagree with people who are fed up. You're right, it's VERY frustrating at times. But message boards, conventions and people in your city with more experience are a wealth of good information. As a newbie, and by far the youngest person in my train groups, i've learned to just listen to anything and everything I can.
 

MustangRockstar

New Member
I honestly don't believe what I'm reading here!

Fix/Tweak/Repair/Make good in order to run properly A BRAND NEW $300+ LOCO!! Are you totally mad?!?!?!?

It's not like were talking about a loco that has been owned for a few years or months even and has done quite a few miles, these are brand new ready-to-run loco's, not ones that are in need of a service because they've been well used.. Geesh..

I would definitely vote with your wallet - just return them as not fit for purpose & get your hard earned cash back & spend it on something worthwhile that doesn't fall off the tracks at the first curve!
I hear you and can't say that you're wrong. The unfortunate thing is that almost every major manufacturer of every major piece of equipment has some kind of issue. Ultimately, you find yourself in one of two camps - you either work through it, even though you shouldn't have to, or you end up leaving the hobby.

I won't lie, sometimes the latter is very tempting.

With that said, adding a little bit of lead seems like a fairly inexpensive and easy fix. It seems, in general, that most equipment requires a little extra weight. I'm wondering if it's not just best to add a little weight to everything, locomotives (trucks) and cars.
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
If you're just starting out, it's probably best to start with something a little less involved and a little less costly than a $500+ steam locomotive. Start with an old Athearn BB kit loco and cars, and some code 100 track, and see how it works. Learn to make it work as good as it can, then move up to something a little better. Eventually you'll be at the $500 locomotive level, and you will have learned how to take care of the basics. Now, a fried decoder is not basic, and I would seriously consider not buying a locomotive that will blow up a decoder by the simple act of derailing.
But it's always better to learn on a cheap piece of equipment than a brand new state of the art unit. Also, if you find out model railroading is not for you, you are not out as much money.
 

galaxy

Member
Hmm.
I steer clear of the expensive locos like MTH as frankly, they are not in my budget, and I am glad they aren't from the mounting complaints and venting I have seen about their products on the MRRing forums. Their expensive products don't seem to be any better built than an el-cheapo one. ANd I don't like that they don't want to "play nice" and make everything NMRA compliant instead of creating their own independent DCS operating system.

I agree that if I spend $300-$500 for a loco it had BETTER work and work right out of the box for a long while. I am not a fixer of things, that is why I don't buy kits of locos {or RR cars} to put together either. I don't want to spend that much for a paper weight in an ever increasingly paperless world.

I would expect better quality out of a Cadillac than I would a Chevy, but both had better run well off the lot. Unfortunately sometimes both cars can be assembled on the same manufacturing lines, so the quality is not always necessarily assured. ANd I dont expect to have to "tweak and fiddle" with the car to get it to run right. That is hte manufacturers or dealers job.

On the side line of the TV thing, when we recently bought our new and first LCD TV we were told by the store selling it that we should find a place to KEEP THE BOX IT CAME IN. WHy? Because if you have to send it in for warrantee repairs, the manufacturer likes to see them in the box they came in so they "know" that there was "no additional damage" in shipping it back to them in a foreign box without the proper stabilization materials they provided for it...go figure.

I am and have been very happy with all 12 of my Bachmann DCC OnBoard locos. They were in my budget and may be "cheap" to some, but they have all served me well with the only complaint being that one of them tends to growl at slower speeds. {The most expensive was a $125.00 Spectrum Steamer most were around the $50 mark}. Bachmann has worked very hard to improve its products quality and image, ANd As I have read here on the forums, apparently Bachmann has a super service dept. SHOULD something go wrong. Even if you broke it. Even if it's technically out of warrantee. Even if you worked on it first. Even if they can't fix it, they will do the best to replace it with a satisfactory-to-you new different loco. I have yet to have to test that out. ANd hope I don't have to.

Some guys enjoy tinkering and fixing problems. I am not one of them, as if I get it apart to even lube it, I am lucky if I can get it back together correctly, let alone tear it down and rebuild. I like to run trains, not tear down and rebuild.

Voting with our wallets doesn't always do the trick either. MTH will continue to design and build locos as there are those who swear by them, there are those who will buy a model from them as "no one else makes one", Those who can easily afford them and think it's no big deal, and so on. We will always be forced into buying what a manufacturer is willing to produce in the manner in which they offer it {the pre-ordering thing} and pay what they want, or we will be out of the hobby altogether or have to resort to total scratch-building. And if they want pre-orders with floating dates of delivery, then we will have to follow that too, or miss out, or the manufacturer simply will not produce it if "not enough interest in pre-ordering". SO where does that leave us? Perahps in a dying hobby? The manufacturer could just as well change and set up to manufacture refrigerators or washers {which EVERY household will want/need instead of what a few select hobbyists are willing to part money with.

Just my thoughts, experiences and opinions.
 

MustangRockstar

New Member
Frankly, these are major issues that the industry has to overcome if it wants to appeal to a new generation. You simply cannot charge the kind of money that these companies charge and put out a product that requires serious tweaking.
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
If you're just starting out, it's probably best to start with something a little less involved and a little less costly than a $500+ steam locomotive. Start with an old Athearn BB kit loco and cars, and some code 100 track, and see how it works. Learn to make it work as good as it can, then move up to something a little better. Eventually you'll be at the $500 locomotive level, and you will have learned how to take care of the basics. Now, a fried decoder is not basic, and I would seriously consider not buying a locomotive that will blow up a decoder by the simple act of derailing.
But it's always better to learn on a cheap piece of equipment than a brand new state of the art unit. Also, if you find out model railroading is not for you, you are not out as much money.
I have to agree 100% with this.

This is how many of us "older" modelers started out. We didn't have things like the internet, forums, and sometimes even a nearby LHS. There weren't any return to the manufacturer for repair. You had to learn to tweak, tune and repair on your own. You relied on the mags, and friends who had more experience.

I was fortunate in that after I seriously got into the hobby, there was a nearby brass collector who taught me a lot. Much of what he taught me was also applicable to any loco or car, brass or not. He also said something that I have found to be very true. There is absolutely no locomotives that can be taken out of the box, placed on the track and be expected to run flawlessly. This is true from the cheapest Athearn BB, to the most expensive brass on the market. Every layout is different and each new piece has to be "tuned" to that layout or it will never run right. This very thread is a great example of this. If your aren't willing to learn to do this, you will always be disappointed.

These are the rules that I have followed for almost 50 years in the hobby. I have never been disappointed.

1. Buy only quality. Quality is never indicated by price.

2. Buy only after a personal inspection, or by personal knowledge of the brand.

3. Never buy anything that can't be repaired by you or someone close to you. Always be prepared to have to tune, tweak, and lube at the minimum, no matter where its purchased from.

4. Never buy on impulse.

This last one is due to the practice of what the manufacturers are doing now.

5. Never pre-order. It will be available on secondary markets, like auction sites, train shows, etc. In over 10 years, I haven't seen anything that hasn't made it to these.
 
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bobh

New Member
Interesting discussion. I have a MTH dealer close to me and have looked at their offerings. They look fine and sound fine but I'm not familar with their operation.
I do agree that for the price they should work "as advertised"!

IF the front trucks can be fixed by the "any man" then certainly the manufacturer can fix them before they are sold..

Perhaps the root of the problem is deeper though. The MTH brand may be owned by a US firm and produced off shore some where. That arrangement is frought with problems of quality control, mis-communication, different culture influences etc.

I have years and years of experience dealing with the Orient and their products and producers. There is no easy path to get things "right".
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
How many of us would buy an iPad that probably needed some 'tweaking' in order for us to enjoy its claimed utility? How about a toaster? The better ones cost at least $40. If you knew you would have to take the cladding off it, remove the bottom, and then do some adjusting, would you buy the toaster? I sure as aitch wouldn't. How about a coffee perk. Say it could be had, new, never opened, for a mere $15. Would you buy it if it needed the same type of tweaking? And the more expensive ones, the next needing $50 to pry it from the retailer, also needed the same tweaking? I guess that $15 dollar one is looking pretty good....ain't it?
 

Scordicus

Member
How many of us would buy an iPad that probably needed some 'tweaking' in order for us to enjoy its claimed utility? How about a toaster? The better ones cost at least $40. If you knew you would have to take the cladding off it, remove the bottom, and then do some adjusting, would you buy the toaster? I sure as aitch wouldn't. How about a coffee perk. Say it could be had, new, never opened, for a mere $15. Would you buy it if it needed the same type of tweaking? And the more expensive ones, the next needing $50 to pry it from the retailer, also needed the same tweaking? I guess that $15 dollar one is looking pretty good....ain't it?
My point exactly! But you just said it sooo much better lol...
 

galaxy

Member
How many of us would buy an iPad that probably needed some 'tweaking' in order for us to enjoy its claimed utility? How about a toaster? The better ones cost at least $40. If you knew you would have to take the cladding off it, remove the bottom, and then do some adjusting, would you buy the toaster? I sure as aitch wouldn't. How about a coffee perk. Say it could be had, new, never opened, for a mere $15. Would you buy it if it needed the same type of tweaking? And the more expensive ones, the next needing $50 to pry it from the retailer, also needed the same tweaking? I guess that $15 dollar one is looking pretty good....ain't it?
RIGHT ON Crandell! Just what I was saying....
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
How many of us would buy an iPad that probably needed some 'tweaking' in order for us to enjoy its claimed utility? How about a toaster? The better ones cost at least $40. If you knew you would have to take the cladding off it, remove the bottom, and then do some adjusting, would you buy the toaster? I sure as aitch wouldn't. How about a coffee perk. Say it could be had, new, never opened, for a mere $15. Would you buy it if it needed the same type of tweaking? And the more expensive ones, the next needing $50 to pry it from the retailer, also needed the same tweaking? I guess that $15 dollar one is looking pretty good....ain't it?
I think you are forgetting one thing here. How many thousands or millions of these things are produced versus a model train. Ipads are manufactured by a robot, and have no moving parts. Toasters don't have to assembled to the clearances required by a moving object, like a model train. There are infantile failures with all manufactured goods. But the numbers of failures can be mitigated by the number of "good" ones when you're talking millions produced versus hundreds produced. This means in effect, you're not comparing apples to apples.

Model trains are not produced in dies that can last for a million castings. You're lucky if they last 5000. (Anyone still have any Athearn BB cars? Most of those dies were produced in the 1950's and 1960's. They were just now in the past few years discontinued. Some are now part of their R-T-R line.) These new dies start deteriorating with the first cast. Which means that you'll have products with problems in a higher percentage than what would be considered normal. So you either learn to correct these "problems", or wait, sometimes months, for a loco to be "repaired". I go with learning to correct these problems yourself. Its cheaper and faster.
 
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Ericsauto

Active Member
Everybody talks about adding "lead" strips to weight down things such as the pilots. Where do you find them , at least thin lead strips? I can get all the tape weights that I want but where do you guys find these heavy , thin strips at?
 

diburning

AlcoHaulic
Get them at Home Depot or Lowes. They're sold as sheets of lead flashing for waterproofing window frames.

They come in thin sheets and you can cut them to size and stack them up.
 
After reading about all of this im scared to send in my SD70-M2, in fear i might not get it back lol. I am getting a little annoyed because i havent heard from them in 5 months just to see if i can send it in. I emailed them in december because my DCC engine doesnt do a normal start up. They never responded, so whatever, I let it go because we were occupied with other things. I decided to email them again about a month ago to see what I could do with the engine or see if i could get it repaired, and nope, no response. The hobbystores I have talked to that deal with them say they are normally good at responding to emails but....5 months? i think ill just deal with the odd engine instead of fearing i wont get it back for 6 months. (That is if they ever email me back....)
 

diburning

AlcoHaulic
First of all, I agree, call them over the phone. With email, anyone can claim that they haven't received it. Over the phone, they're less likely to tell you off or hang up on you, or ignore you since they're talking to a person, and not typing through a computer.

Second, if it needs to be fixed, find the solution FAST. Once it's out of warranty (one year), MTH won't do diddly squat for you. A member at the club I belong to had that problem. The ProtoSound board blew out, and it was out of warranty so MTH told him tough luck. He took it to an MTH authorized repair center to get the ProtoSound board replaced. They charged him $180 for repairs. He said that if he knew that it would cost so much, he'd get a new one for $30 more and rewire the old one for no sound!

If MTH is ignoring you, then it's possible that it's a widespread problem and they're trying to make it go away by making people wait until the warranty expires.
 
Ok I will have to call them, but If i remember right i couldnt find an actual number (maybe I just didnt look hard enough) But the problem has been around since I bought it (brand new in december 2010) I thought the problem might be that the train sounds for engine and stuff was turned off, and I didnt have a controller with enough functions to access it (I had an old bachmann dcc controler, just to 10 functions) After a while we got a new digitrax system but the problem was still there. I took it to my local hobbyshop and he said it was a programming problem he couldnt fix. Its not that big of a deal, its just annoying i have to do listen carefully when i hit f3 to make sure its on, then do f22 to reset it, then f3 to turn it back on everytime I take it off the track or unplug my system in order to get the engine sounds back on.
 

diburning

AlcoHaulic
Ah, the club's president had that problem with one of his SD70ACes. That problem primarily affected the CSX SD70ACes. It's a software glitch. MTH is offering a free software upgrade to fix it. You can either send it back to MTH, or you can find an MTH authorized repair center and they can do it for you, free of charge.
 




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