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Author Topic: Recommendations for a new loco  (Read 3070 times)

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« on: January 19, 2011, 03:21:29 PM »

I am new to HO scale model trains and just getting started.

I had ordered my first loco a couple of days ago (an Athearn) -- which I am now told is back-ordered / may not be in stock anytime soon.  Sad Fortunately my tracks and DCC controller are shipping soon!

Which brings me to my question: any advice on a new loco -- am looking for my first loco here -- which meets the following criteria:

-- HO scale
-- should be able to run with DCC right out of the box (not DCC-compatible)
-- high quality replica (i.e., good level of detail)
-- power pickup and traction on all wheels
-- good quality motor with flywheel
-- at least 6 axles (OK, I can live with 4)
-- sounds NOT important at all
-- color/design/logo not important
-- available (i.e., not a future release)

Would be great if you could give me 2 recommendations: 1. as low priced as possible while meeting those criteria; 2. price no constraint

Thanks in advance! I need to buy something quick to go on my tracks!!!

Ken G Price

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« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2011, 04:28:43 PM »

I know that some Atlas and Bachmann Spectrum engines come with decoders installed. Most of the others have to have a separately bought decoder put in them. You will just need to look on line to find which engines a retailer has in stock that have a decoder in them.

I can not give you any brands or rail roads names as what a retailer has in stock will very from week to week. My self I have UP, Missouri Pacific and Southern Pacific.

Some of mine came with decoders and others I had to buy the decoder and install it my self.
I have N-scale, but for all practical purposes the engines are the same. Of my engines the KATO are the easiest to install decoders in. I have no Bachmann at this time, but a 44 ton switcher may very well be in my future as a switcher at the mine site. Even though they were a little before my modeling era I only have good about them. As well as the prices are very reasonable.

Good luck and have fun.

Ken G Price N-Scale out west. 1995-1996 or so! UP, SP, MoPac.
Pictures Of My Layout,

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« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2011, 04:32:23 PM »

A excellent steam loco as far as price and quality goes is a Bachmann 2-8-0. The second question depends on if you like brass or all metal locos, if you like sound, etc..., it is too broad.
Ken G Price

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« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2011, 04:38:26 PM »

Oh, also what ACY wrote. Grin It is to broad.

Ken G Price N-Scale out west. 1995-1996 or so! UP, SP, MoPac.
Pictures Of My Layout,
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2011, 04:40:56 PM »

There are several online retailers ( comes to mind) who can help you.  Their websites give good descriptions of what they actually have on-hand.  Since you're looking for six-axle units, begin by looking at units that begin "SD" (like SD40).
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2011, 06:35:41 PM »

I will only advise on Bachmann products. Look thought the diagrams page and see which ones have a flywheel as it sounds like you want a diesel. Bachmann does not have them with sound and you did say lowest price. You might want to replace the on board decoder with a better one from NCE. It cost about $20.00 and has better slow running characteristics.

Below is one company who sells the Bachmann and I buy from them.

Another company I buy Bachmann from. I just bought a Spectrum 4-6-0 with sound from them.


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« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2011, 08:01:45 PM »


Micro Mark has Bachmann 70-tonners with DCC for
$50 and GP-9s with DCC for $55. I don't know what
era interests you but if it's the 50s and 60s, the
Geeps were found almost everywhere.
                                                    -- D

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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2011, 05:43:26 AM »

If you buy an Athearn that is DCC-ready AND quick-plug equipped you can just buy the decoder, take off the engine shell, take out the DC plug and plug the DCC decoder right in...

...and then your Athearn engine is a DCC-equipped engine.  It really is very simple and I would recommend the Digitrax 123D basic decoder.  They cost a less than $20.00 and I get mine from Tony's Trains.  They will walk you through the process.

If you buy the DCC decoder from the same vendor that you buy the train from, you could ask them to install them for you and many of them will...

...or you could ask them to show you how to do it.  They will tell you how to install a DCC decoder in an engine that is equipped with the quick plug no problem. 

Don't be intimidated by this.  It is very, very simple and it will expand the range dramatically of the engines that you can convert to DCC.

After you do this the first time, you will laugh at how easy it is.

Atlas does have engines that have DCC decoders installed, but they can be a bit pricey ($100.00-plus).

Converting an Athearn engine that is NOT DCC ready and quick plug equipped is a lot more involved and I won't go into that.  There are several outstanding threads on this subject and you should consult them if you ever want to do that.  I was intimidated by that for a year or so, but now I do it all the time.

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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2011, 12:06:00 PM »

for low cost, excellent detail i would highly recommond the bachmann gp7 or gp9. you can find them online under $60, and i got mine at a train show for $45. i know it's a 4 axle diesel, but it runs well, looks great and will pull 12 cars on a 4% grade.

if cost is not an option, any of the 6 axle diesels by athearn, atlas or broadway limited will do. many have sound as well.

you didn't ask about steam, but i like the roundhouse old time 2-8-0. a very small locomotive that runs as well as it looks, and it will pull at least 7 cars on a 4% grade, yet will fit on an atlas turntable. you need to install your own decoder though, but it is a plug in installation.

Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA

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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2011, 12:41:54 PM »

choose,,,,,this site has real time inventory.
Just scroll down a bit,,7 pages of 40 per page DCC diesels to choose from, i am sure you will find something.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 12:47:12 PM by jbsmith » Logged
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