Which RS3 H0 model would you recommend ?

Hi --
I am working on a smallish switching layout (11.5' x 6.5') set in 1963 where I plan to mainly be moving around cuts of up to seven or
eight 40/50 foot cars at at a time in a yard using a yard switcher.
I plan to save money by buying fairly cheap road engines,which mainly will be pulling trains into or out of the arrival/departure tracks.
But the yard switcher will do most of the work and should be of decent quality.
For the period I am modelling, appropriate models for yard work on the RR I am modelling (Minnesota Transfer RR) would be Alco diesels - S1, S4 or RS3. I will be using DCC.
I've been looking around at various places - ebay, walthers, atlas, various online shops, Model Railroader Magazine ads etc.
What brands and what stores would you guys recommend for getting a decent S1, S4 or RS3 - preferably DCC-ready (just plug in a decoder) ?
Anything in particular I should look for, or be careful not to buy ?
Smile, Stein
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ATLAS!

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Stein, If my experience in N scale are any indication, You should be happy with Atlas. I have 4 Atlas/Kato RS1's and RS3's. All run well.
216.196.109.146:

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The Atlas S-1's, S-4's, and RS-3's are the best runners. However, I don't think any of them have a DCC socket. Tony's Train eXchange does make and sell a special decoder just for the S-1's, -2's, -3's, & -4's, and Digitrax and Atlas both make a drop in replacement for the RS-3's. All that aside, the S-units are better pullers than any other switchers around. I routinely move cuts of 20+ cars around with my S-2 with ease. It's like a road engine, it has that much power. However, both the S-units and the RS-3's from Atlas are seriously lacking the in accuracy dept. of model railroading. The S-1's and S-3's are not the correct length, none of the S-units have see through grills or even seperate grab irons. And the RS-3...It's the wrong length with a poor exhaust stack without a heckuva lot of detail for the price. Still, they are the best operating models for S-units or RS-3's. Life-Like Proto 2000 (now Walthers) makes an excellent S-1 and S-3 model. It's finely detailed, runs well, and quite accurate. It also has a DCC socket, IIRC. However, it's a lightweight compared to the Atlas. My P2K S-1 can only move around 10 cars or so with ease. Much more than that and you're spinning your wheels. Athearn now makes an excellent RS-3 model using the old MDC/Roundhouse tooling. This is easily the most accurate plastic RS-3 model, and is loaded with options, details, and accuracy. It has a 9-pin DCC plug that fits a Digitrax DH123 easily. It is a little noisier than the Atlas, and doesn't pull as much. Still, I was able to move 20 cars on the flat with my Athearn RS-3, and I got 10 up a 4% grade (the Atlas is easily double that). BTW, if you get the Undec. Athearn, it comes with all the extra detail parts. All of that and it's only $89.98.
If running quality and power are your main concerns, go with Atlas. If modeling accuracy and detail is more imporant, then get the P2K S-1 and the Athearn RS-3.
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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Thanks for the comments...

... is the 9-pin plug pretty much the DCC-ready standard now? My DCC-ineptitude is probably showing through, but I throught 8-pin sockets were pretty standard (or were at some point)? What are some of the other competing standards for DCC-ready pin arrangements?
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Paul A. Cutler III wrote in message

Is the 9-pin plug pretty much the DCC-ready standard now?
My DCC-ineptitude is probably showing through, but I throught 8-pin sockets were pretty standard (or were standard at some point)? What are some of the other competing standards for DCC-ready pin arrangements? ____ Mark
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Both the 2 x 4 8-pin connectors and the 1 x 9 9-pin connectors are pretty standard. Depends on the manufacturer. Athearn seems to be using only the 9-pin, while Life-Like only appears to use the 8-pin. Fortunately, Digitrax and others make all kinds of harnesses...some of which go from 9-pin to 8-pin, so it's really not that big a deal...
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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Hi Paul --
Thank you for a *great* review of the advantages and dis- advantages of various model brands of H0 Alco S1, S4 and RS-3 switchers.
I think I'll go for accuracy over pulling power for now, since my layout is so space constrained that it is extremely unlikely that I will ever pull more than 10 cars.Here is a link to my layout track plan:
http://home.online.no/~steinjr/trains/modelling/mtrr /
So I'll go for the Walthers Proto 2000 S1 (and/or the Athearn/ MDC/Roundhouse RS-3).
But I'll certainly keep it in mind that if I ever get a bigger layout the Atlas really is a giant among switchers when it comes to sheer pulling power.
Again - thank you.
Smile, Stein
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Once upon a time, prior to all the mergers and acquisitions, MDC offered their RS-3 undec through their website for about $35. It was a great bargain. I bought three and painted and detailed them for the PRR. I don't know if they are still available that way, or even if MDC still has its own website.
regards, Andy Miller _______________________________________________

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You could take the road less traveled and go with the Proto 1000 RS-2 instead.
Or here's another path. Try one of the Bowser Stewart baldwin switchers. IIRC Minnesota was a baldwin diesel stronghold.
Eric
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switchers.

A source (Frank P. Donovan: "Gateway to the Northwest, The Story of the Minnesota Transfer Railway", Iowa City 1954) describes the motive power of Minnesota Transfer in 1954 as "eighteen Alco diesels, of which eleven are 1000 hp, five 660 hp and two 1600 hp".
I've found pictures on the Internet of MTRR Alco S1s, Alco S4s and Alco RS3s at various stages around the time I am modelling - 1963 / early 1960s,
Haven't seen any RS-2s yet. Don't think they had any Baldwins in the early 1960s.
Mmmm     1000 hp = ?     660 hp = ?     1600 hp = ?
Stein
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Oops. I thought you were doing a freelance railroad.
Obviously you need to go with Alcos since that's what was used.
Eric
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I have purchased two Alco switchers for my father, both Atlas. Both good looking and smooth running, particularly at yard speeds.
I personally have an Atlas RS3 - also a good looker and runner.
Bad news - no DCC..
I bought the RS3 from Trainworld and S's from Discounttrainsonline No problems with either.
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?
"Pac Man" (Paul Cutler) noted in an earlier post in this thread that Digitrax and Atlas apparently make a "drop-in decoder" for the Atlas RS-3.

Okay, good to know.
Looks like the final choice is between:
Atlas S1, S4 and RS-3 and Life-Like/Proto 2000 S1, Atheard/MDC RS-3
Apparently the last two have the best likeness to the prototype and adequate (for my purposes - less than 10 cars, flat terrain) pulling power, whereas the Atlas models are less accurate in detailing, but are better and smoother pullers.
Guess it is time to have a quick look at prices before making the final decission - according to Paul the Athearn/MDC RS-3 goes for around $90.
Thanks for the tip !
Smile, Stein
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