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Author Topic: Tyco: one of Bachmann's oldest rivals  (Read 28107 times)
jward


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« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2013, 11:08:13 AM »

rp25 contour, plastic wheels. not sure if they are plastic axles or not, as I've replaced them on the few mantua cars I have.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
jbrock27

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« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2013, 11:09:16 AM »

Thanks again.
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Brewman

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« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2013, 02:22:07 PM »

There was also Lionel HO in the mid 70's although probably not as popular as they were only made for a few years. That was my first HO set in 1977. Five years ago I bought a set just like the one I had back then, still need to set it up. I have read that some of the locos were Athearn. My GP9 supposedly has an Athearn shell but the chassis may be related to Bachmann? I actually bought another GP9 on E-bay this year. Added LED lighting, DCC, and knuckle couplers. I love it for the nostalgia if nothing else Smiley  
« Last Edit: September 29, 2013, 02:28:15 PM by Brewman » Logged
Desertdweller

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« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2013, 03:51:02 PM »

Tyco didn't disappear when it stopped manufacturing trains.  They became a high-tech medical supply company featuring disposable devices that in previous years would have been sterilized and reused.  With our third-party payer medical system, why contain costs?

Then followed an investment scandal that resulted in people going to the clink.  Better they stuck with model trains.

Be that as it may, I remember Tyco HO products as being the lowest-cost equipment that still performed well.
The integrated power truck/motor drive was smooth and quiet, if not particularly powerful.  If you needed more power, it was easy to dual-power some Diesels by snapping in another "power assembly" and adding jumper wires to smooth out power feed between them.

On my little HO layouts of the time, a single Tyco Diesel was more than sufficient power.  The biggest problem I had was integrating Tyco freight equipment with Athearn: body-mounted couplers mixed with truck-mounted ones.  It took me awhile to figure out why: either builder's products would work fine until mixed.

Tyco did have some nice, shorty passenger cars (much like Athearn's) and had some really nice paint jobs.
I had a really nice Tyco E7 I had bought for a gift.  It was painted in the "City of San Francisco" scheme of 1946.

Les
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Doneldon

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« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2013, 04:14:45 PM »

Dd-

I'm pretty sure that Tyco the hobby company and Tyco the
high-tech company are two different entities.
                                                                           -- D
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Desertdweller

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« Reply #20 on: September 29, 2013, 08:52:54 PM »

Don,

I've been told that before, but I have trouble believing that.  The company logo for all three "Tyco's" looks the same to me.  That is a pretty good indication, as those things are copyrighted.

These big companies tend to grow in all directions and re-invent themselves.

Bachmann and Life-Like have really improved their products and image since those old days.  Back then, there was enough market for low-end trainset stuff to support Bachmann, Life-Like, and Tyco.

AHM belongs in there, too, but I'm not counting them as manufacturers because they were really importers of products of varying quality from European manufacturers.  They did compete in the low-end market, but sold a lot of upscale stuff too.

Athearn competed in the train set market at a higher price level.  They were the "industry standard" for a couple decades.  They had a good range of products, priced about 50% higher than the cheaper lines.

Bachmann and Life-Like competed in N scale.  Tyco did not.  Athearn did not enter N-scale until decades later.

Con-Cor came out strong in N scale.  They were to N scale what Athearn was to HO.

Of all the early manufacturers, I think Life-Like has shown the most improvement.  They had the most room to improve, and the shift to China for their production has brought their products to the state they should be.
Bachmann has gotten better, too, but then, it never really was all that bad to start with.  I think their products have improved with Chinese production.

Les
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Catt

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« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2013, 09:34:53 PM »

LifeLike no longer makes model railroad items.Walthers bought out that division of the company at least 5 years ago.
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Desertdweller

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« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2013, 09:56:23 PM »

Catt,

I'm aware of that.  But they are still marketed as "Life-Like", and are greatly improved from what they once were.

I suppose Walther's wanted to keep the LL brand because of name recognition.  If they didn't feel the product line had a good reputation, it would have made sense to dump the name entirely and begin again fresh.  The two-tier "Proto 1000" and "Proto 2000" lines offered two levels of detail at two prices.  Not a bad strategy.

I've found the quality of their paint jobs to be especially attractive.

Les
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jbrock27

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« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2013, 10:42:38 PM »

No mentions for ATLAS or COX?

I agree with what you say Les about the variance in AHM's stuff.  There is some of their rolling stock I really like and some, the Taiwanese stuff, I don't care for. 

Brewmaster, I think I read that too at one time; maybe on Tony Cook's train resource site.  I have a LIONEL 3 dome DOW tanker that I put knuckle couplers and new wheels and trucks on.  It is a neat looking car.
Today, I was putting in some LED lights (directional) in an ATHEARN locomotive of mine.  I would not be able to do this, w/o the help Mr. Ward and Les gave me some time ago.
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Desertdweller

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« Reply #24 on: September 30, 2013, 01:24:26 AM »

jbrock,

Atlas products competed in the price bracket of Athearn (and still do).  It has been a long time since I was in HO, but I remember Atlas as being quality products.  Atlas products in N scale are still very nice in both performance and appearance.  Most of my depot switching is done by an Atlas passenger GP9.  And I make extensive use of Atlas electrical components.

Cox made some great flying model airplanes and the engines for them, but I don't think they made their own model trains.  I think they were repackaged Athearn items.  Their big introduction into HO, the SP Daylight train set, was 100% Athearn cars and locomotives.

I never could afford any of AHM's brass steam locos, so I can't comment on them.  In their plastic trains, the best stuff they sold was made by Rivarossi.  I think the best HO Rivarossi products were their streamlined passenger cars.  Full scale length, complete interiors, beautiful paint jobs.  They were ahead of their time.
Rivarossi made a nice range of Diesel and steam locos, too, but they suffered from deep wheel flanges and underpowered motors.  The Diesels tended to drive through only one truck, and had plastic frames.  On the other hand, their die work was very good.  The N scale Rivarossi stuff mirrored the HO.

When Atlas began in N scale, they sold Rivarossi equipment, too.  They soon switched to more substantially built stuff.

I'm glad you found my comments on installing directional lighting helpful.

Les
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Brewman

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« Reply #25 on: September 30, 2013, 09:48:14 AM »

jbrock27,

I will be putting LEDs in an old blue box Athearn this week too along with a DCC decoder. I have found some decoders that have resistors built in for the LEDs. Not that adding a resistor would be hard, I just like the cleaner installation. I kind of enjoy upgrading the older locomotives. I am still debating adding DCC to my old Bachmann N-scale SD40-2.
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Woody Elmore

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« Reply #26 on: September 30, 2013, 09:56:28 AM »

If my memory serves, Mantua went into the RTR market using the Tyco name - John Tyler being the owner of Mantua. The family sold the train line and then later bought back the Mantua tooling.

I remember 60s and 70s era Tyco to be very cheap and toylike. I also developed a strong dislike for Life Like. Life Like, apparently, took over the Varney tooling as they made a Life-Like GG-1 which had as an ancestor the Penn Line GG-1. There was no comparing the two.

I don't actively model in HO anymore but I see from going to train shows that Walthers has really rejuvenated the Life Like brand.

Today there is plenty of really nice RTR rolling stock. The trains have to be well done because they wouldn't be competitive.
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raveoned

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« Reply #27 on: September 30, 2013, 11:00:24 AM »

Our family had a hobby shop from the early 70's into the mid-80's, and the Tyco sets were incredibly popular.  I think the one thing they had going for them at the time was the marketing and the packaging.  The sets always looked cool: Comin' Round The Mountain, Silver Streak, Golden Eagle, Chattanooga Choo-Choo, Clementine, Durango, tons of them! 

We did recommend Bachmann over Tyco if someone was just starting out, because the locomotives were built a lot better and seemed a good amount more durable overall.  We had a lot of returns on the Tyco locos, because the motors were cheaply assembled, and frequently would start hesitating and squeaking while running, no matter if the gears were lubed or not.

But, Tyco had the marketing and packaging.  I even remember getting the Tyco GG-1s in, and we kept selling out of them, despite them having incorrect wheelsets! 

My first train, the one I could call mine, was the Tyco Spirit of '76 diesel freight set.  My parents set it up under the tree the Christmas after it first came out.  Then we had the 1860's style steam set with the same bicentennial colors.  I guess it led me to my current desire to collect some of the bicentennial trains!

Back to point, when we had customers that liked what they bought in the Tyco set, we'd then upgrade them to Bachmann and then to Athearn.  This was before Spectrum and all.  We were still selling to customers for mail order for a short time after the store itself closed, and the Spectrum became our best selling products, especially because of the K-4.
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Desertdweller

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« Reply #28 on: September 30, 2013, 11:35:19 AM »

Woody,

I remember back in the 60's, Mantua sold easy to assemble steam loco kits, and the same locos ready to run.
I didn't have any, but would have liked them.  They used substantial open-frame Pittman motors, and electrical pick-up from both loco frame and tender.  Gear trains were simple worm and gear, so gear lash adjustment was critical to smooth operation.

Back in those days, there was good availability of cast-brass detail parts.  So a basic loco could be built out of the box and detailed to suit the builder.

I credit Bachmann with raising the quality of the entry-level sets.  If you have an entry-level set on the market, and your competitor (Bachmann) comes out with products in the same price range, but with a lifetime warranty, how can you compete?  The only way is to raise the quality of your product.

You simply can't beat a lifetime warranty.  

I think Bachmann forced Life-Like to improve their quality.  Woody wasn't the only one to have developed a strong dislike for LL.  Back in the 60's and 70's, LL designs seemed to be based on the cheapest possible way to build model trains.  When confronted with Bachmann's lifetime warranty, they were forced to improve or drop out.

To their credit, and the benefit of the hobby, LL chose to compete by building quality products.  In their N scale locos, I have seen them move from pretty basic plastic frames, to more sophisticated plastic frame designs, to all-metal frame designs.

I also think N scale is a more demanding scale to build operating locomotives in than HO.  Questionable designs that are marginal in HO (pick-up from one truck, drive through the other) won't cut it at all in N.


Les
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Johnson Bar Jeff

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« Reply #29 on: September 30, 2013, 11:50:21 AM »

I never could afford any of AHM's brass steam locos, so I can't comment on them.  In their plastic trains, the best stuff they sold was made by Rivarossi.  I think the best HO Rivarossi products were their streamlined passenger cars.  Full scale length, complete interiors, beautiful paint jobs.  They were ahead of their time.

Rivarossi made a nice range of Diesel and steam locos, too, but they suffered from deep wheel flanges and underpowered motors.  The Diesels tended to drive through only one truck, and had plastic frames.  On the other hand, their die work was very good.  The N scale Rivarossi stuff mirrored the HO.

I agree with you on the Rivarossi passenger equipment sold by AHM, and I would include the "heavyweight" cars, too. Also--and I know they are oversize for scale--I still think the Rivarossi "old-time" Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0s are the nicest engines of their type around. Beautiful locomotives! The matching "old-time" passenger cars with duck-tail roofs and interiors are very nice, too.

I remember back in the 60's, Mantua sold easy to assemble steam loco kits, and the same locos ready to run.

I didn't have any, but would have liked them.  They used substantial open-frame Pittman motors, and electrical pick-up from both loco frame and tender.  Gear trains were simple worm and gear, so gear lash adjustment was critical to smooth operation.

The first locomotive kit I built was a Mantua/Tyco 0-4-0T, the side-tank engine with the entire superstructure one solid piece of metal. It was easy for a kid to build (with a little help), with all that weight on the drivers they will pull anything, they're easy to maintain, and I doubt you could kill 'em with a sledgehammer.  Grin

JBJ
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