ranking loco's quality by manufacturer...

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if someone could just give me a qick crash course here on the various manufacturers quality levels from bottom to top, bottoming at athearn BB's and topping with, lets say overland brass models, and a quick couple or few reasons why on each... for instance, here is my experiance as of now...

athearn BB's... first step up above toy loco's. dual flywheel drive, ok details.

athearn rtr... don't own any, but look to have slightly more detail than the BB's, including partially modeled cabs, grab irons. don't know about the drive, but assume it to be as good or slightly better... perhaps someone could clarify?

athearn genesis... to rtr what rtr's are to bb?

bachmann spectrum... seem to be somewhere between athearn RTR and genesis.

Proto 2000... bought an E6A at the amherst show and it is the best model I have owned. details amazing, great drive mechanism, mars light modeled on DC. just nice.

so, really, how do all of the above rate against Kato units, the various Atlas models (silver, gold?) and various brass imports out there? anyone feel like breaking it down for me?
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
I'd say:
Athearn BB
Bachmann Spectrum
Overland
Athearn RTR tied with Athearn Genesis
Proto 2000
Kato
Atlas
BLI & Tower 55

Personally I think Athearn with 50% better on the RTR Dash 9 then the Genesis SD70 series! My rating range is based on detail mostly, with Kato & Atlas topping higher because of the drives, and BLI & Tower 55 for the sound. The new P2K & Genesis offerings with sound can push up there now too.
 
josh, thanks a ton... I'm interested as to what others have to say here too... and curious... why does it seem athearn BB command a price above the bman spectrums even though there is an obvious quality difference? maybe I'm just nuts, but I see bachmann spectrum loco's all the time for less mula than thier athearn bb counterparts.
 
Well I will rate it at my thoughts. From the above mentioned makers.and on my experience.

Lowest-Bachmann Spectrum, Overland diesels, steam, a different story
Good- Athearn BB
Better-Athearn RTR tied with Athearn Genesis, Proto 2000
Best- Kato, Atlas

As for the Athearn BB the more you run them and tweak them, the better they are. I have more of them than any other brand. I love them and know how to tweak them out to get the most you can from them. but this list is IMHO only.
 

jeffrey-wimberly

Dr Frankendiesel
The bottom ranked locomotives in my collection are the 2 Model Power Hustler's that I have.

Next are the Bachmann's of which I have 10, of those 4 are DCC.

Next are the Athearn BB's of which I have 14, 1 is DCC.

Athearn Genesis a 4-6-2, great detail but it's always had problems.

Next up, Proto 2000, of which I have 4 An E6, E8, GP30 and a PA1. None are DCC, yet
 

Brakie

Member
Well ranking locomotives is always base on a modelers givens and taste.Sadly some is solely base on bias thinking..
So,with deep thought based on my observations at the two HO clubs I am a member of..The pecking order from bottom to top.

The newer Bachman locomotives such as the GP30 and GP35 seems to be nice runners and fair lookers for the low prices.These are DCC equipped as well.

Athearn BB and P1K..Both are good models and runners.. Some BB locomotives are getting hard to find.:(

Athearn RTR/P2K/Atlas Trainman.Great medium price range locomotives.

Stewart Great locomotives with limited locomotive selection.:(

Kato-Same as Stewart.Great locomotives but limited locomotive selection.:(

Genesis..Top of the Athearn line..Limited locomotive selection.:(

Atlas.Atlas sets the industry standards and has a medium selection of locomotives.:cool:

As far as brass locomotives at the club they are nonexistent except old brass steam locomotives from the 50/60s.

Looking over the selection of different locomotive types being offered Atlas,Athearn(RTR) and Walthers P2K seems to have the widest selection and the most popular brands by choice.:cool:

Another line of locomotives is Walthers Trainline..Not bad-no selection.

BLI doesn't have a large following in this area.

Bowser,Hobbytown of Boston(Bear Locomotive Works) have their place as well and shouldn't be overlooked..:)
 
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Smoke

Southern Railway lives on
Athrearn BB-Never had one but i've heard stories....
Bachmann spectrum(diesels)-them seem to be getting better.
Athearn RTR-Never had one but I like the details, never seen one run.
P2K-Like the weight of thier models, but don't like the plastic grabs.
Athearn Genesis-Like mine so far, haven't put the details on yet.
Atlas-great details-good drive.
Kato-Never had one but I have seen some, Great detail, and Great drive.
Tower 55......I NEED one of those ES44AC's:cool:

Smoke
 

rock4329

Member
I have around 100 diesels in H.O.

Of that 100, about 85 are Athearn BB models. Not the "top of the line" models, but i love them anyways!!!

About 4 or 5 of the remainder are Proto 2000, They are good looking loco's, but I haven't run them yet.

The rest of the roster is Atlas, and I gotta tell ya, If I could replace all the BB and Proto units with Atlas units, I WOULD!!!

I never had a Kato, or anything equal to those, so I can't rate them. As far as I'm concerned, ATLAS RULES!!!!!!

Thats my take
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
I just got my older run, Atlas SD35, and the bugger runs better then some Athearn BB's I own!
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
I think I'll go with Smoke's ranking list except for the Tower 55. Mainly because I haven't done much with mine yet, and I don't necessarily think they're better than Kato.

Kennedy
 

jacon12

Member
I'd say:
Athearn BB
Bachmann Spectrum
Overland
Athearn RTR tied with Athearn Genesis
Proto 2000
Kato
Atlas
BLI & Tower 55

Personally I think Athearn with 50% better on the RTR Dash 9 then the Genesis SD70 series! My rating range is based on detail mostly, with Kato & Atlas topping higher because of the drives, and BLI & Tower 55 for the sound. The new P2K & Genesis offerings with sound can push up there now too.
I like Josh's lineup to a T.. well, I might would have to nudge Atlas up neck and neck with BLI.. :)
The only Bachmann I've ever considered buying was their Shay and everybody says they're good.
Jarrell
 
Rating quality of locos

I just got my older run, Atlas SD35, and the bugger runs better then some Athearn BB's I own!
Hey gang,

Since some rate the looks (aesthetics) and some rate running qualities, it would probably be a better idea to have two lists for each person!

For example, Bachmann SPectrum seem more detailed than Athearn BB or Athearn RTR in many cases, but I will not buy a Bachmann diesel because I have heard many a horror stories over running quality.

I have owned 3 Bach Spectrum steamers and all have problems (but look absolutely gorgeous). But I rather have a medium-detailed engine that runs GREAT than a gorgeous looking engine that makes me mad when its on the track!

So....My .02:

A. Good Running (poorest to best that I have tried)

5. Regular Bachmann/Model Power/IHC
4. Bachmann Spectrum/IHC Premium
3. Athearn (BB/RTR/Genesis...don't see much diff) & Rivarossi & P1K
2. Atlas/Kato
1. Trix/P2K w/Quantum sounds

I am sure Tower 55 and BLI , from what I have heard , probably fits around in slot #2 or #1 above.

B. Great looking (forget about how fussy they are to run!):

7. Reg Bach / Model Power/ IHC
6. Athearn BB
5. Athearn RTR / IHC Premium
4. Athearn Genesis / Atlas/ Kato / Rivarossi FEF & Allegheny
3. Bach Spectrum (steam)
2. P2K
1. Trix/ Precision Craft/ Tower 55/BLI (from the stuff I've seen)


NOTE: In my point of view, a diesel locomotive is more track-friendly in most cases, while a similar sized steam engine may be trouble-provoking. Steam engines must be made to a better standard and can stand much less tolerances in HO scale. This is why Bachmann Spectrum steamers, although fantastic looking, fall short of running good. The pony trucks derail quite a bit, the whole loco (esp. on a dcc layout) short circuit,etc. Thus, I will no longer be purchasing Bachmann spectrum in HO.


Regards,

Thomas P. Metzger
MetzgerTrains@aol.com
 
Another point I would like to make, is that I think what Bachmann has done in On30 is fantastic and I just love their engines and cars in that scale. I still buy Spectrum products, just not in HO. The On30 size is a much better size because the larger wheelsets and drivers mean that there is a greater degree of tolerance for the steam engines. Bachmann in On30 is really amazing stuff.

Regards,

Thomas P. Metzger
MetzgerTrains@aol.com
 

Steve B

Firefighter
I don't have many but here goes,

Model Power, not a lot to say except cheap

Bachmann, cheap one's had no fly wheel so they stalled then raced off then stalled then raced off again and so on going down grades

Athearn genesis SD75, de railed no matter what i did to it, sold it.

Athearn BB, Dated, but still very robust in my book, i love them.

P2K, Atlas and BLI joint top place, they all have there good points, and mine have sound
 

CP9302

Member
99% of the time, you get what you pay for. So comparing Athearn BB and Kato is a waste of time. I'll break it down into entry level stuff and high end stuff.

Entry level:

1- Atlas Trainman: same great Atlas drive with less detailed shell
2- Proto 1000: nice detail and a good drive system but a very limited lineup
3- Athearn RTR: detail is generally better than trainman, but drive is not as good. Still much better than Athearn BB.
(the three above are really quite equal in my experience and it comes down to who makes what you are looking for)
4- Athearn BB: the drive and detail are not as good as other entry level stuff
(I have many Athearn BB and with some work they will run and look as good as anything else out there. They are a great deal if you want to take the time to improve them)
I don't consider Tyco, ModelPower or Bachmann to be model trains, they are more toys as far as I'm concerned. So I would avoid them.

High End stuff:
1- Atlas: Hands down the best out there. The detail is outstanding and the drive system is top notch. The only drawback is a GE dominated line up :)
2- Athearn Genesis: Amazing detail with a nice drive system The SD70 series is great but it's their F-Units that push them into the number two spot. If you want an F-Unit, buy a Genesis one.
3- Proto 2000: Their detail is almost as good as Genesis and the drive is very nice now (original run GPs had gear issues) Their large diesels are excellent and will pull anything. I'm not sure how the Walthers take over will affect them in the future.
4- Kato: This will surprise alot of people, but I think Kato has dropped the ball in the detail department while the other manufacturers have caught up in the drive department. Kato still has one of the best drives out there, but the detailling is Athearn RTR. Moulded on brake cylinders? Moulded on fans!? What the heck!
5- BLI: I have not been impressed with the BLI stuff I've seen. Their SD40-2 was a Kato model with a bad paint job and their Switcher is a Proto 2000 with a sound decoder. But if you want an AC6000 this is it.
10- Bachmann Spectrum Diesel: JUNK I would take Athearn BB over this any day. They shouldn't even be on this list except for their price.

As always, the unit you are looking for will usually determine what brand you buy as there is not a lot of overlap.

As far as Steam goes I can't say much as I don't have any. But I will say this, if you want a steam engine, look at Bachmann Spectrum. For some reason they do steam engines very well.

And that's my .02
 

Alcomotive

Grandson of ALCO Bldr
here is my rough opinion

Before I start my list...I must say that every loco I have owned with an exception of a small % I have either added details or re-vamped the drive system or added lights. This does not includ DCC.

Athearn Blue Box Great runners and reliable after some motor rebuilds for smooth operation & always add more detail. I have some locos that have more run time than any other with out a lick of trouble.
Athearn RTR Nice detail & good drive lines.
Athearn Genesis Excellent!
Atlas Silver Excellent!
Atlas Gold Excellent!
Atlas with Kato drives Awesome and these are hard to come by. In particular are the ALCO RS series and EMD F series. The others I could care less about.
Bachmann Not so good more or less toy like. Although I have chopped a few up for scrap and scrap yards in diesel shop areas with heavy weathering...:D
Bachmann Plus I like some of these nut have canibalized their drive train. I do like some of their units particularly the GEs. With a a lttile TLC they can go a long ways.
Bachmann Spectrum Great steamers! and some diesels.
BLI (Broadway Limited Inc.) No expireince here as of yet
IHC (International Hobby Corp) I love their steamers. Diesels lack a lot.
IHC Premiere Series I love their steamers.
Kato What can I say...excellent drive system & most cases details are great.
Mantua Some of the old steamers are still worth looking at and working with. Diesels scrap.
Model Power Mostly scrap but I do own a few FAs that are really good detail for a start but since have placed new can motors in them with DCC.
Proto 2000 Excellent!
Proto 1000 Excellent! I love their ALCOs RS and even the DL109...wish UP had a DL109
Proto/Walthers/Life-Like No expireince here as of yet
Rivarossi Great steamers and they did do a nice run of the Aligator style ALCO diesels that I like very much...:p
Roco No expireince here as of yet but have some nice MOW stuff.
Stewart Hobbies Superb locos and really hard to come by.
Walthers Trainline Intereting enough solid runners and low detail though.
 

Steve B

Firefighter
a couple of my Athearn BB loco's have had nasty falls to the floor, recently one of my boy's accidentally knocked one off, it was in a lot of bit's but it went back together spot on except for a broken step which had to be gluod back on, and it ran very well, just like before it's 700ft scale fall.
 
99% of the time, you get what you pay for. So comparing Athearn BB and Kato is a waste of time. I'll break it down into entry level stuff and high end stuff.



As far as Steam goes I can't say much as I don't have any. But I will say this, if you want a steam engine, look at Bachmann Spectrum. For some reason they do steam engines very well.

And that's my .02

Hmmmm....well, you don't own any steam engines...no wonder you recommend HO Bachmann Spectrum! I have owned three HO Bach Spectrum steamers, sold one off and still own 2 of them and all 3 have been serviced (still waiting for one to return from Bachmann) within less than 3 months of owning them. They look gorgeous I will admit (thats what made me buy them). But if they don't run well forget it! What is really painful is one I had installed a top-line Tsunami decoder and the thing everytime it gets put on the track will short-circuit (this is the problem I have had with all 3). And my local hobby shop techs can't tell where the short is coming from.

My .02: I will gladly take a Trix Steamer over a Bachmann Spectrum anyday!

As the Master Model Railroader Barry Boggs says (pp) "The disappointment of poor performance will be around long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten!"
 
Yes that is actually a harder question than it sounds. There really needs to be several lists, separated for steam and diesel, for looks and running, for good and bad electronics. But here goes my short list worst to best in running quality:
standard Life Like
new Model Power
standard Bachmann
Tyco
Cox (rebranded Tyco?)
IHC deisels
AHM (Rivarossi)
Mantua
Bachmann Plus
older Model Power
older Athearn
IHC steam
Walthers
New Athearn
Atlas Roco
Bachmann Spectrum Diesel
Proto 1000
Bachmann Spectrum Steam
new Lionel
BLI
Proto 2000
Atlas Classic
Proto Heritage
InterMountain
Athearn Genesis (except for electronics - gag).
Stewart
Atlas (Master, Gold, & Silver)
old Stewart Kato
old Atlas Kato (the original Kato drive from 1984)
Kato
Trix

The top six are way too hard to call (five of them are probably identical tooling). This list of course ignores the Brass vendors. Then there are, of course, exceptions to every rule. I think of the dud Kato GP35 (about 1999), and the stellar IHC Premier 2-6-0. I've had a couple Bachmann Spectrum Diesels I'd put up against the Athearn Genesis while others are meat grinders..... The list of course would be totally different if I was going on looks. Athearn Genesis F units would be at the top of the list with their high-liner shells along with W&R brass models. The same Athearn Genesis would be at the bottom of the list if one is going on quality of imbedded electronics.

I have never been impressed with the BLI like other folks have. Especially the new set of F7s I just got. I think the nose isn't quite right, I can actually hear the gear noise over the overly loud sound system which happens to be the wrong sounds too! Most discouraging especially after the way some others rave about them. I have no experience with the Tower 55 or the Atlas TrainMan line so I am unable to rank them.
 
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