Returning to Hobby got questions about locos - HO

Been out for a while, started back again 5 to 8 years ago had to put it on hold agin. Now the time may be right.
So:
How about a rundown of loco makers?
I bought an Athearn Genesis Mikado. Wow!
Than I looked at another older Mikado a Mehano in another brand's box and instead of a backhead when I lloked in the cab I saw, a can motor? I expected this on a smaller 0-4-0T I have but on a larger engine?. I can live with a lot, external detail can be soft or missing - scale distance reduces what you see anyway (as a military modeller you realize that aircraft panel lines aren't visible at actual viewing distances) - or I can fix what I think is missing. But no backhead, but rather the can motor in the cab. I actually had a backhead I could have copied in resin but there just isn't enough room.
Presumably newer steam engines won't have this problem, or will they? Can anyone give a general guide to this situtation. Opinions on different makers and maybe different lines in each.
I saw bacjmann had FT A/B combos and I found a really good price on them with a DCC decoder inside (not a great issue as I'm not commited to DCC, yet!, but still) and Walthers has Proto F3 a/b powerd combos for $62. Are these good units?
Is there maybe a review site where these compariosns are made for HO? I found a site with reviews of N scale engines that was pretty well done. And plastic moderls have plenty of review sites.
Anything for HO engines? And it's not like I haven't googled either, I have several times with differing keywords.
Thanks in advance
Frank
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Gray Ghost wrote:

[...]
Ah yes, the old rating game. Upon your head be it! ;-)
On a scale of 1-10, my appraisal based on my experience and occasional discussions with other people. Rating based on scale fidelity and detail, and quality of mechanism. 5 = acceptable. 6-7 = good, 8-9 = very good, 10 = excellent. The main reason for downrating is durability of mechanism, which won't matter unless you run your locos 8 hours a day every day. NB that all the makers listed below make accurate models, but some of the roadnames offered may not be correct for some particular engine. Lately, variations of one model to match different roads have become quite common, so that prototype fidelity is better than ever before.
Kato: 10 Atlas: 8-10 (some Atlas is/was made by Kato) Athearn Genesis: 6-8 Proto (Walthers, formerly LifeLike): 7-8 Bachmann Spectrum: 6-8 Bachmann: 5-6 IHC: 5-7 Rivarossi w/ RP25 wheels (available used or old stock): 6-7
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On Tue, 25 Sep 2007 11:20:24 -0400, Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

Kato makes models of steam engines?
--
Steve

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On 9/25/2007 9:14 AM Steve Caple spake thus:

Nope, just "diseasals", as Greg Proctor calls 'em.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

DN:
Yes, he does, as is right and proper.
OP, don't forget to try some of the less-traveled roads. Why not pick up a Mantua engine or two (see Phil's recent "Mighty Mikado" post) to fiddle with? They're not so high on Ebay, and Model Power is reissuing some of them. One of these days I should order one, but at the moment I am saving up cigarette money for a Bowser kit (saving it up by the simple expedient of never having been a smoker :D ) while I s l o w l y manufacture a layout.
One thing to avoid, by the way, is buying too many locos. I think all of us do this, but it's not really necessary to have many. You can run a great small layout with one or two, and I would venture to guess that those with large layouts actually rely on a favored fraction of their motive power to keep up operations - the old adage that 20% of the crew does 80% of the useful work comes to mind. Locomotives take a lot of maintenance, and run best when run often, and both of these are easier to do when the roster is small.
Cordially yours: Gerard P. President, a box of track and a legless table.
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snipped-for-privacy@gannon.edu wrote:

Mantua locomotives had excellent smooth running drive mechanisms and solid heavy cast Zamac boilers. Mantua made a can motor conversion kit to fit most Mantua steamers. This kit will make an already smooth runner even better. The solid boiler is easily drilled to accept detail parts. As a basis for a super detailed or kitbashed project a Mantua is easier to rework than any of the newer plastic steamers. One of my favorite steamers is a Mantua Pacific I reworked into a B&M P4. Bowser kits make up into steamers as good as anything you can buy. Building the kit is fun. The job only requires ordinary hand tools. Spray cans will give a flawless paint job. Strong point of the old cast Zamac boiler models is weight, giving good traction. As a rule the modern plastic steamers aren't heavy enough to be good pullers.
David Starr
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snipped-for-privacy@gannon.edu wrote in

I have been accused of excess in my other hobby pursuits. I have far to many plastic models of all sorts of things, which I think are going to be turned out to ebay soon to make room. But I read on a newsgroup not long ago a fella saying he had bought his 73rd!!! loco. I think perhaps that may define excess.
I already have some older locos I'm restoring. (Tinkering is something I really like, and I hate to see something with life in it discarded.) 4 F9A (which are really to modern for my layout plan but which I'm going to freelance for the time being, I doubt I'll get all 4 running, 3 most likely they've all showed great promise even after a simple cleaning, some new parts, more complete cleanings, resoldering of wires, some external details, maybe some fun practice with light wiring, a coat of paint and decals, couplers and looking good. 2 0-4-0T the Varney and a older Lifelike that runs good but doesn't like the frogs on switches to much, was orginally going to use them as switchers but now maybe MOW and/or local deliveries. 1 Mikado, the Genesis, and a handful of small period diesels for switching. I figure one more Mike and 1 or 2 Pacifics really ought to do it until the layout is on it's way. I think I might see an articulated in the future for the big coal drags over the mountains. But yeah I think you can way over do it. You can only really run just so many trains at a time.
I'm thinking early mid 40's. Eastern seaboard, coal, freight, military trains including flats with vehicles. I already have a set of the Troop Pullmans - 3 + a kitcheb car from Walthers. Eventaully some passenger service. I see two yards, an interchange for 2 to 3 majors allowing variety in motive power and a military base (possibly dockside but I think that may be stretching it) with a yard. I found a book on the Military Railway Service and the Army was into Plymouthe, Porters, SW-1s and S-1s big time for thier own use.
The real problem will be cars. I'm looking at 50 coal hoppers, half empty, half full for loaded drags down the mountains and then off to the factories and empties for the return trip. I'm already knocking on to many cars for my practice/temporary/play layout. But I'm getting it wired so I can 2 or more locos on it at the same time.
But bottom line is you're right I do not want to overload on locos, if I can't keep them on the layout there are to many. Roundhouse, running or staged, they should all fit comfortably.
Frank
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Gray Ghost wrote:

Definitely not!
My collection, started in 1959 has around 120 locos, not counting junkers held for repairing others. I divide the 120 into 3 collections: - Odds and ends collected for show, such as 3 rail, tinplate, 1930s/40s, my first ever loco etc. - Locos _I like_ that don't match my layout's region and era. (these tend to get sold when I want the new xxxxx) - Locos _needed_ for layout operation. My layout doesn't need the 80+ locos in that category, but given a main line with a huge variety of trains passing through I want to be able to run most types that ran on that stretch at the time I'm modelling.
Regards, Greg.P.
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Gray Ghost wrote:

For hoppers, loads are easy enough to make, and cheaper than the purchased sort. A bit of wood (ordinary construction pine will do) sawed to a drop in fit. Once it fits, round it over with a whatever you have, swiss army knife, plane, drum sander, spokeshave. Paint it black, cover with Elmers white glue, and sprinkle with HO gauge coal.
David Starr
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Dang, that's clever. Thanks!
Frank
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Gray Ghost wrote:

Instead of wood, you can also use extruded polystyrene insulation. In the States, that would be the pink or blue stuff. It's easier to work with and when you get to a 25 car unit train you won't build up excessive weight. Don't use expanded polystyrene (the beaded white stuff), only because it's messy to work with and too soft to hold up under repeated removal/reinstalls.
I've also seen such loads with steel fender washers glued to the bottom side of the foam. Easily removed with a magnet without handling or otherwise jostling the car, and then one set of cars will suffice for both empties and loads.
HTH, Stevert
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Gray Ghost wrote:

I put kitchen cling film in the wagon body, add the (wooden) block, and then pva glue coal on top. That way the glue doesn't stick to the wagon but the added coal fits perfectly while being readily removable. (I take the clingfilm out after the glue sets :-)
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Gray Ghost wrote:

Try foam plastic instead of the wood. Wood may make the hoppers too heavy. Make sure all the hoppers, loaded or empty, weigh the same. Should be about 4 oz per NMRA recommendation on car weight, but consistent weight is more important than any given formula.
HTH
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Try this for a coal load....... o cut a block of wood to just fit inside of your hopper. o Shape the top of it to look like a coal load... either one or two humps, you get the idea. o Take heavy duty aluminum foil and repeatedly crumple it then flatten it. Do this four or five times. Pretty soon, it eill take on the texture of a load of coal. o shape the wrinkled foil around the wood block. o cut away the excess foil. o spray with an inexpensive black paint from a spray can. I use flat black then add a little glossy black as coal is sometimes shiney.
You can crank out a ton of these kinds of loads with only a small investment in foil & paint. And, there is virutally no additional weight involved. The hardest part of the project is creating your wooden pattern but once that is done, you can use it forever.
I plan to use this in my blog some day soon; you guys just got a sneak preview. I'd appreciate your visiting from time to time by going to www.thecourier.com, click on Virtual Village then check me out at "Along the Right of Way..."
Thanks!
dlm
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Excellent idea, thanks!
Frank
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This takes advantage of a wonderful part of the brain the a lot of us modelers don't use... If it kind of looks like coal, 99% of the people will accept it as coal and move on. I'd lke to know how you like the finished product...
dlm
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Exactly. I've done some military modelling and am aware of how people can way over do stuff. I think personally that it is not possible to superdetail every bit of rolling stock, motive power, structures, track etc and still have time to finish it in a reasonable time period and have it useable. I am a devotee of the if it looks good at scale distances than it's good enough. Particularly if it's moving. I will eventually post pictures, I'm still working on the overall design and acquiring equipment. I am sorely tempted to go big this forst time, though I have already started breaking things down into distinct areas (yards, mainline, staging, etc) for design purposes. The main yard will probably go first and then the military yard with the mainline filling in as I go along.
I have some N stuff and I'm considering doing a much smaller layout with that first (or in parallel) to test myself.
I'd looked at the powered/granular coal at the store. It looks great but frankly I already see the pitfalls with that.
Frank
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Yep, yes they do.
http://www.katomodels.com/product/nmi/ho_d51.shtml
(I have two of these now, they are far and away the best steam loco models I've ever owned.)
They also make a number of steam lcos in N scale, including a USRA heavy 2-8-2.
Cheers,
Mark.
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On 9/25/2007 3:11 PM marknewton spake thus:

Hmm; I wasn't aware at all of those. Interesting.
Do you know if these are available in the US?
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Sorry David, I don't know. I imagine there must be somebody there who imports models from the Kato HO range. failing that, there are a number of Japanese suppliers who sell online, and who can respond to enquiries and orders in English.
Cheers,
Mark.
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