What's 'wrong' with Tyco?

Hi everybody and happy new year, I'll start with my question and then explain what I'm talking about. Why are tyco trains considered toys (junk)?.......
Durability?........Realism?.......Servicability?........ I'm an E-bayer and this is how I started to get my feet wet in the train stuff. I've bought some tyco at local auctions that need fixing. I called a hobby shop and the responce was "we don't deal with that junk". I have fixed some engines by using parts off other engines and these repaired items sell good on e-bay. That is why I have the question of , what's 'wrong' with Tyco. Thanks in advance and may all your railways be clear. Don
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Toy like - almost Lionel selective compression - scaling. They are junk actually and mostly need work right from the factory.
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Tyco is actually how I started in this hobby. For Christmas, my dad built my brother and I an 8x8 layout using 2 tyco train sets. A CN 636 for my brother and a B&O Pacific for me. My brother was rather young so within a couple days of running his loco like a race car (full off and then toggle the forward/backward switch), he broke the couplers off both ends of his loco. Being engineering plastic and talgo trucks, the unit was without couplers from then on. The pacific was mine and I ran the train more 'prototypically'. The unit was so cool, I remember being able to spin the wheels from a dead stop for a few seconds before it rocketed off. (Guess I was a kid too). Went through some of the Tyco items. The stuff was toy train equipment, snobbed on by even myself once I got 'serious in the hobby'
some of the items I had played with grade crossing: both the one with the gate that snapped up and down, and the one with the signal man who popped out of the shanty at the speed of light
40' boxcar: had a hatch in the top you could plunk boxes into. Had a section of track you drove onto with a pushbutton. slide open the boxcar door and press the button and this little man flings the crates out the boxcar like popeye hurling cases of spinach
culvert flatcar: drove onto a little section of track, pressed a lever and this little bulldozer pushed the culverts off the flatcar
gantry crane: on a warf that you could use these little winch knobs on the crane to lift/lower a grasper down to a flatcar to pick up a giant wooden crate off a flatcar. The crate was big enough to hold a pickup truck (HO).
Was fun. I still have some of the cars. Some painted into CN colors, some left as were. Momentos of that Christmas.
Jb
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I think it is important to split the Tyco line into segments: 1) The former Mantua steam locos (B&O P-7 4-6-2, Wabashish 2-8-2, Booster 0-4-0T, Shifter 0-4-0, Little 6 0-6-0T, Big 6 0-6-0, General 4-4-0, and their derivatives) are IMO very good models (for their era) and I consider them better than MDC-Roundhouse and just a tad below Bowser. The Tyco sloped motor was undersized for the Pacific and Mikado, but that is easily altered. Some of my best steam loco modeling projects (not just opening a box of brass, P2K or BLI) are Mantua/Tyco mechanisms with Cary boilers, Mellor detailers (boy do I miss Mellor!!) and CalScale detail parts. 2) The former Mantua F-9 and GP-20 with a single power truck and just 2 wheel pick-up on each rail are marginal IMO and while the mechanical quality is not too bad, they suffer the pains of all HO diesels with less than all wheel drive/all wheel pack-up. Moving the GP-20 shell to an Athearn chassis yielded a respectable model (for the era). 3) The "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" 2-8-0 was junk IMO. The Rube Goldberg 2-4-2 tender drive with fake truck sidefames was shoddy on all counts. I do give some credit to the engine and boiler. The 2-8-0 chassis wasn't bad as a dummy and I used one under a tender shell to make a respectable dummy tractor engine for a Southern loco project. The boiler seemed pretty close to that of a USRA 0-8-0 and I long had one in my project box for that kitbash (but that got shelved when the P2K 0-8-0 was introduced). 4) The 4 axle and 6 axle ALCo diesels, the weird C-C shortened GG1, and their kin with their pancake motors and all spur gear drives are worse junk than the Chattanooga IMO. 5) Many Mantua/Tyco freight cars are good models, but suffer from the poorly detailed metal underframes. The wood side reefer had extremely crisp detail, comparable to Accurail, and I have repainted several as PFE to add variety to my reefer block. Same for the 2-bay hopper car. They also suffered from poor "talgo" trucks. Geezer

a
fixed
sell
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There are several schools of thought on this subject, or rather the subject of model railroading. Three of them are fine-scale modelers, tinplate/semi-scale collectors and toy train collectors. Fine-scale modelers are further subdivided into several categories, but generally they are the ones who strive for realism and fidelity to prototype in the models. For them, it is highly desirable to have all the correct proportions, correct grilles and hatches, properly scaled trucks and so on. Right down to the smallest detail. The semi-scale stuff, such as made by MTH and Lionel, while not being exact and faithful reproductions of the respective prototypes, are well made for the most part and do have a very nice- if not exactly correct- appearance. The Tyco products of which you speak do not satisfy any of these criteria. They are not faithful reproductions of their prototypes; they do not have correct details and proportioning and so on. They do not look like models of real equipment that actually operated on the railways and they are not well made. In short, they are nothing more than toys. Grossly overpriced toys at that, which is why they are no more. Some people collect Tyco. Why is beyond me, but people collect everything imaginable, so why not? Tyco collecting and trading has its place, but there is no place for Tyco in any "serious" discussion of scale model railroading or scale model building. Within the hobby of scale modeling, Tyco is generally disdained as junk across the board. If one does not understand the difference between fine-scale modeling and toy trains, then the concept may be difficult to understand, but it is there all the same. Bringing Tyco to a scale model forum is like bringing a six-pack of Iron City beer to a fine wine tasting. Froggy,
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I disagree!
When hobby magazines like Railmodel Journal can still have articles such as "C&NW 43-foot gondola from Tyco's model," their contribution to this hobby still has relevance to this day.
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Disagreement is one of the great spices of life. If we all agreed all the time, we should all soon die of ennui. But I was speaking in a slightly different vein. Once you have taken the toy and transformed it into a scale model, it isn't a toy any more and it isn't "Tyco" any more. It has metamorphosed from the caterpillar. You can't do that with a Tyco F unit or a Tyco GG1 and it won't work on the last of the stuff Tyco produced. It applies to only a select few items of "vintage" Tyco. I'm sticking to my beer story. There's a place for beer, and there's a place for fine wines. They just usually are not the same place.
Froggy,
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On 8 Jan 2006 10:09:43 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You mean the one with the Tyco "Vampire" trucks? LOL!
Froggy,
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Just to add my 2 worth to thisdiscussion, I think Tyco was oriented to the train set mentality that wanted to sell to parents of small children for Christmas presents... They never understood that dad would like the present more than the 8 year old, and happily spend big bucks after getting hooked. I wonder how many dads and grandads have taken up model airplanes after going thru a Tyco train set debacle... I fully agree, Mantua has made some excellent models that with a little work will perform very well and while not rivet exact, be a reasonable scale representation. Alas, that era is over.

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Don:
Tyco used to be no more than a name for Mantua's RTR line, I think. After it got sold to Consolidated Foods it gained its reputation of making stuff with the unique combination of badness, weirdness, and wide distribution to become a pop-culture collectible.
The worst mechanical feature of the line was the Power-Torque Drive. This one-truck sidewinder drive was quiet, smooth, cheap to make, easily adaptable to any length of locomotive, and easy to reach for service. It was also cranky, tiny-motored, hungry for carpet fluff, loose spikes, dirt, dust, cat hair, and any loose debris, underpowered, slippery without its gummy, out-of-round, dirt-collecting, wobbly traction tires, unwilling to swivel easily with the track, ugly when installed, and impossible to upgrade. DCC'ing it would be a near-impossibility, and please don't try to prove me wrong; I'd cry. Need 6-wheel trucks? Got 'em! Well, the drive was a bit short, but don't worry. Tyco gave us shortened, bizarre sideframes. Need 4-wheel trucks? Got 'em! Well, the truck was stretched a bit so it would work as a 6-wheeler, so Tyco gave us lengthened, slightly less bizarre sideframes. Oh, and the center axle with its gear is mechanically necessary so it's left in...as a flangeless dummy. Need a steam engine drive? Ohhh boy. Same old power truck, fixed in the center of a chunky tender, with 1-axled AAR-style trucks pivoted beside it, their unwheeled ends nestled over the sideframeless diesel truck, as camouflage. This pushed a dummy 0-8-0 or 2-8-0 steam engine with a mechanical smoke unit worthy of American Flyer -- the good old 'CHATTANOOGA' engine.
All that said, those drives do run quietly and smoothly when in working order; they just don't run very long, especially on the carpet. Their speed range is also somewhat better than the old Botchmann / Lifelike sidewinder trainset-line power trucks, so if you can find one for a couple bucks, what the heck. Run the wheels off it. If you want to stock a whole rail line with them, so be it. It takes all kinds to make the Usenet, mostly the wrong kinds, too...
Now, the old MU-2 power truck is also found in Tyco diesels, of older vintage, and is quite a bit more serviceable than the Power-Torque drive. It is also down by the trucks and out in the open, where it should not be, so it eats a healthy diet of loose spikes, dirt, dust, paper scraps, and dead spiders. Clean 'em out, and usually the thing keeps running. It's a bit fast (but Bud of www.geocities.com/budb3 succeeded in fixing this; read how) but makes up for this by sounding like a different 1950s-era small appliance at each speed range. Open the throttle and it will go from Singer sewing machine through Mixmaster, Kitchenaid mixer, Waring blender, and Norelco razor to a screaming Skil circular saw with worn and sparking brushes. An amusing contraption indeed. Everybody should have a few.
Cordially yours: Gerard P.
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WOW!! Bud's web site is full of super ideas!! Great link; thanks!! But in a half hour of browsing, I could not find a listing of sources for the replacement super magnet material. Can anyone help? Geezer
snip

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I've always found Tyco trains to be interesting. They're colorful and inexpensive. Here's a great website: Tyco Trains Collector's Resource:
http://tycotrain.tripod.com/tycotrains /
http://tycotrain.tripod.com/Model_Trains_Resource_Main/
Enjoy your treasures!
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad: http://www.billsrailroad.net Brief History of N Scale: http://www.billsrailroad.net/history/n-scale Model Railroad Bookstore: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bookstore Resources--Links to 1,100 sites: http://www.billsrailroad.net/bills-favorite-links
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There's nothing wrong with Tyco. True, they weren't to scale. But some of us as kids loved to run them as realistically as could be done, build layouts as best we could, and have as much fun as was possible. One hobby shop I went to, Amer's Trains (it was listed in the back of the Lionel service centers list from the 50's and had repairman Bob as a guy whose job we wanted when we grew up), sold from Tyco to PFM brass and catered to the low budget boys and to the high budget men. I still have my Tyco and will someday, Lord willing, get it out and start the fun again.

If there is a secret, Bill just told it to us.
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dmtaurus wrote:

[...]
Most of their cars seem to have been "generic" models, but all AFAICT were within prototype dimesnions. They are decent moldings, and with redetailing some (eg the gon) can be made into decent versions of some prototypes. If, that is, you like detail-bashing a rtr car, which most people don't like to do.
Just my 2C (Can) worth (= 1.7C US).
HTH
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Let's put it this way...take everything you know of that makes an HO model train "good". Now take the opposite, and that's Tyco (and yes, I had them growing up, and I've always wondered just how many people were driven from the hobby due to a bad experience with Tyco).
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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Let me throw a curve in here. I started with Canadian Triang and used to envy anyone who had Tyco. At least they made stuff that looked like trains. Triang looked awful, you couldn't run it with anything else because of the couplers, and "Triang Railway?"... come on. What was THAT?
Triang's British stuff was not bad - I had some of that too - a Princess class with coaches, Electra, some goods wagons, and so forth - but the Canadian stuff they sold through HBC totally sucked.
Mac B.
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"polar bear"

I on the other hand had Hornby trains starting when I was 12 years old. Hornby were the 'up-scale' toy train and many of the 'fine-scale' (for the time) modellers kit-bashed Hornby into very acceptable (for the time) models. Tri-ang suffered from really over scale wheels (Hornby were slightly better) with sintered iron wheels on locos (Hornby were plated IIRC) and Tri-ang used split wheels on a steel axle for their goods (freight) wagons where as Hornby's were solid.
-- Cheers
Roger T.
Home of the Great Eastern Railway http://www.highspeedplus.com/~rogertra /
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Which was, of course, one of the major differences. Triang was two rail DC, whereas Hornby was three rail (centre track pickup). Hornby only switched to two rail in 1959.
Strictly speaking, Hornby was the clockwork O scale, the OO was Hornby Dublo.
--
Bob Small

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"Robert Small"

Yes Bob, you're correct. I started with Dublo two rail, I was 12 years old at the time. Got my first model railway equipment on Christmas Day 1960. Think I said I was 12 in my previous post. Ah well.
The Dublo two rail track looked much better than Tri-ang with it's big ugly grey ballast (rather like Bachmann E-Z track of today looks). In fact, Dublo track looked a lot like Peco track of the time. The new plastic Dublo goods rolling stock looked much better than the Tri-ang with see through fretted brake gear on Dublo Vs the solid casting of Tri-ang etc., etc.
-- Cheers
Roger T.
Home of the Great Eastern Railway http://www.highspeedplus.com/~rogertra /
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