Highest Quality HO Trains

This is a matter of opinion, of course, but what is the general take on the quality of the various manufactures of HO scale locos and rolling stock?
I'm not even aware of many of the vendors. Bachmann, Athearn, Model Power, Life-Like. None other come to mind at the moment. But I haven't been looking long either.
Currently I have a Bachmann #50440 USRA 0-6-0 (Smoky Mountain Express). I bought this in a rush to get a train under the tree since the Lionel Polar Express sets were all sold out at the time (I eventually got one on December 23rd, and 25% off to boot.) It was the only smoking steam loco the hobby store had, so I grabbed it. (I love smoke...)
The Smoky Mountain Express is cute, but seems kind of weak.
The other is a Bachmann #11322 GS4 4-8-4 Southern Pacific (War Baby). This has performed very well. On about 60"x70" layout it can pull a line of cars nearly long enough for the engine to couple with the rear of the caboose.
Which reminds me. I asked a while back about how many cars a loco can pull. Someone was kind enough to give a technical explanation about tractive power.
But what about speed? Is the speed of the loco limited purely buy it's design? Can a larger power supply make the loco run faster (given the same size layout), or are larger power supplies just for the purpose of powering larger layouts?
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Spender wrote:

You have the "ordinary" Bachmann locos. Their Spectrum line is better.
IMO, the manufacturers of quality locomotives rank as follows:
1) Kato, Marklin Trix (grade 10) 2) Athearn Genesis, Atlas, LifeLike Proto, Intermountain (grade 9) 3) Atlas Trainman, Bachmann Spectrum (garde 8) 4) Athearn, Bachmann, IHC, Walthers. (grade 6-7) 5)
I don't have experience with Broadway limited, Mantua Classics, MRC, or retooled Roundhouse, etc, but judging from reviews they probably rank in category 2 or 3.

The speed of an engine is determined by its motor and gearing, and the voltage available to it. Its pulling power is determined by its weight on drivers, and its factor of adhesion. The engine will draw as much power as it needs, to the limit available from the powerpack. Most HO powerpacks, even the cheapies supplied with some train sets, have more than enough power for one or two HO engines.
At the nominal 12V maximum produced by most powerpacks, most model engines run at way too high a top speed. The cheap engines actually run faster than the expensive ones (guess why :-)), sometimes at well over 200 scale mph. Athearn's "Hustler" diesel of sainted memory clocked over 400 scale mph!
60 mph is 88ft/second. In HO (1:87), 60mph equates almost exactly to 1ft/second. In O scale (1:48), it's almost exactly 22" per second. A full scale length streamlined passenger car is about a foot long in HO, and about 22" long in O. So that should give you an good idea of how to estimate the speed of your trains. Few freight trains, even today, run faster than 60mph.
HTH
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Wolf skriver:

Mrklin and Trix ???
No thanks.
No flywheel, only motor on one bogie, wrong gearbox layout following to high speed at max power. Metal worm gear onto plastic cogwheel (wears out fast).
No, give me Roco models or Mehano in their professonal line.
Klaus
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Klaus D. Mikkelsen spake thus:

So, about that last, Mehano: are they still made in the Czech Republic (formerly made in Czechoslovakia)? I've got several Mehano models from yesteryear, and all of them are pretty well made. Are they only available in Yurp? Haven't seen any here (US) for a while.
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David Nebenzahl skriver:

Slovenia - Yes http://www.mehano.si/?PID '
Amonst a lot of other things, they make trains. Prestige is high quality. Hobbyline/train line is toys.

Dunno' http://www.mehano.si/?PID4
Er got a model of the Thalys and one of the Blue Tiger. Theey have been running continously for the last 6 years without any problems.
A have a model og the Blue Tiger and one of a MaK G2000 - very excellent running maschines.
Klaus
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Klaus D. Mikkelsen spake thus:

Ah, yes, Slovenia: thanks for that correction.
Keep in mind that Slovenia is the most affluent of the former Yugoslav constituent republics.
So from that page, it appears as if all the models in their "Prestige" (as opposed to "Hobby") line are European models. Any US models in their high-quality line?
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David Nebenzahl skriver:

Yes
AFAIK - no.
Klaus
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"Klaus D. Mikkelsen" wrote:

There is/was a Mallet, probably sold in the US under someone else's brand.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

I'm referring to their models of Big Boy, GG-1 etc. I saw a GG-1 at the Toronto Train Show last spring - absolutely first rate. And diecast, too: capable of hauling prototypical trains IOW - you know, 18-20 heavyweight passenger cars.... Just couldn't justify the $700CAD the dealer wanted. :(-
And it's not Marklin and Trix. I should've written Marklin's Trix, I guess.

Many of IHC's locos are still made by Mehano. But even IHC is dealing with Chinese factories now.
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Wolf skriver:

What is this facination with diecast ?
It is not possible to get af many detalis as with plastic. And the "plastic trains" of goog quality is "die cast" inside.
Klaus
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Klaus D. Mikkelsen wrote:

Well, it's true you can't cast as much detail into a diecast shell as into a plastic one, but since most of the detail these days consist of separate add-on pieces, that's become an irrelevant consideration. Diecast surface detail, eg rivets, weld lines, etc, can be as sharp in diecast as in plastic. Etc.
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On Wed, 17 Jan 2007 16:53:17 +0100, "Klaus D. Mikkelsen"

I would think you can get even better detail with die-cast models than with plastic. Like anything else, it all depends on how far the manufacturer wants to go with the process. Doesn't it depend on how detailed the dies are?
Personally I like the weight of die-cast locos.
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If done correctly (with the additional fine detail added) diecast engines can generally look as good/better and pull more than plastic ones. Some engines are now (again) using lead for weights which helps in pulling. Also the technology of die casting has advanced from the old Mantua days!
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Spender skriver:

You can't

But the weight of the diecast is not much higher than on those with an outer plastic shell.
Klaus
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On Thu, 18 Jan 2007 06:32:04 +0100, "Klaus D. Mikkelsen"

You can if you try. It depends on how far the manufacturer wants to go in producing detail.

Yes, I suppose the train can be weighted the same by other methods. I guess I meant to say I like the feel of the die-cast weight. Rapping on it with your knuckles and feeling how solid it is, etc.
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Klaus D. Mikkelsen spake thus:

Why do you say that? I think that's an unsupportable proposition; I've seen some diecast (meaning metal) models with incredible detail. Depends, of course, on the detail in the mold masters and the care taken in casting.
I think plastic is inherently not quite as "crisp", as corners tend to get rounded just a little bit in plastic, but not in metal.
Not that plastic models can't be pretty damn good, though.
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Spender wrote:

Yep. I have a personal fondness for the Roundhouse metal kits and the Ulrich hopper cars from years ago.
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"Klaus D. Mikkelsen" wrote:

The real Trix loks (Diesel and electric outline) of the last ten plus years have had center motors driving both bogies. Of course Maerklin also labels their 2 rail versions of their coffee grinders "Trix" to ensure the brand never gets the credit it deserves.
Regards, Greg.P.
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Greg Procter skriver:

With metal worm gear....
Klaus
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"Klaus D. Mikkelsen" wrote:

I'm into Era II - the only double bogie Diesel I have is the VT858 railcar. I haven't even opened it in the twenty years I've owned it.
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