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Hey I'm still in diaper's in this arena. I am taking delivery of the Lionel SF 6-84719 O scale (Santa Fe FT Super Chief) starter set next week that I purchased from ModelTrainstuff.com. I wanted to know your thoughts on a second purchase. I remember riding the GM&O out of Chicago in my youth and saw a Bachman WM FA1 AB diesel set. I'm not familiar with their mechanics, reliability, etc., and wanted to know your thoughts. I'm drawn to the nostalgia behind the GM&O memories. Should I go for it and add the Chicago Western passenger cars, or steer clear? Your thoughts.
 

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Williams, and—after it was sold to Bachmann—Williams by Bachmann (WBB), is a well-regarded manufacturer, but with some caveats. Many years ago, they imported brass locomotives, then they switched to selling conventional locomotives using postwar Lionel molds, but modern can motors, reverse boards, and a basic horn/whistle and bell sound board and speaker (True Blast & True Blast II). If you run conventionally and are OK with overlooking the postwar molds' lack of detail and other inaccuracies, these are fantastic engines. They are often called stump-pullers due to their power. The can motors are, however, geared high, so many of us change them from being wired-in-parallel to wired-in-series.

Several years ago, WBB, upgraded to a polyphonic sound system—it can make multiple sounds at the same time—called True Blast Plus, which for diesels includes the prime mover sound. It's generally thought of to be not as good as MTH's Protosounds or Lionel's RailSounds. I have a WBB 70-tonner with True Blast Plus and have been pleased with it. In my view the only weakness is that the sound cuts out when you change direction (similar to LionChief).

WBB, have also started selling locomotives with new, scale, more detailed molds. The GE 70-tonner is one and the FA-1/FB-1 that you are looking at is another. I think the WBB FA-1 looks much better than the Lionel LionChief Plus FA. (The Lionel is, I believe, still based on a postwar mold.) They're not at the same level as Lionel Legacy and MTH Premier engines in terms of detail and accuracy of paint scheme, but they are a great improvement over the postwar molds, and the motors remain as strong as ever.

The bottom line is that if you're OK with conventional control only, Williams and WBB can be a great choice.
 

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If, as you say, you're still something of a "newbie" in the model train arena, then W by B with the newer 16-bit sound system gives you a really nice engine, and to be a GM&O fan and run one of their engines with these options should make you feel great!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Williams, and—after it was sold to Bachmann—Williams by Bachmann (WBB), is a well-regarded manufacturer, but with some caveats. Many years ago, they imported brass locomotives, then they switched to selling conventional locomotives using postwar Lionel molds, but modern can motors, reverse boards, and a basic horn/whistle and bell sound board and speaker (True Blast & True Blast II). If you run conventionally and are OK with overlooking the postwar molds' lack of detail and other inaccuracies, these are fantastic engines. They are often called stump-pullers due to their power. The can motors are, however, geared high, so many of us change them from being wired-in-parallel to wired-in-series.

Several years ago, WBB, upgraded to a polyphonic sound system—it can make multiple sounds at the same time—called True Blast Plus, which for diesels includes the prime mover sound. It's generally thought of to be not as good as MTH's Protosounds or Lionel's RailSounds. I have a WBB 70-tonner with True Blast Plus and have been pleased with it. In my view the only weakness is that the sound cuts out when you change direction (similar to LionChief).

WBB, have also started selling locomotives with new, scale, more detailed molds. The GE 70-tonner is one and the FA-1/FB-1 that you are looking at is another. I think the WBB FA-1 looks much better than the Lionel LionChief Plus FA. (The Lionel is, I believe, still based on a postwar mold.) They're not at the same level as Lionel Legacy and MTH Premier engines in terms of detail and accuracy of paint scheme, but they are a great improvement over the postwar molds, and the motors remain as strong as ever.

The bottom line is that if you're OK with conventional control only, Williams and WBB can be a great choice.
Thank you for the info. The responses have convinced me to pull the trigger and go with WBB on this next purchase. When you say conventional mode, you refer to the use of controlling the WBB set with a transformer such as the MTH 40-Z1000 correct, as there is no separate remote, etc?
 

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If, as you say, you're still something of a "newbie" in the model train arena, then W by B with the newer 16-bit sound system gives you a really nice engine, and to be a GM&O fan and run one of their engines with these options should make you feel great!
Thanks. I intend to make the FA-1 my next purchase.
 

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All but one of my Williams's engine's have been great runners. I still haven't quite figured out why one of the steam locomotives from them I have seems to have some minor operating issues, but I bought it used so I can't complain too much about the company. Every other one I have has a ton of runtime on it with no issues to report.

As mentioned, they are conventional locomotives so you'll need to acquire a traditional transformer of some sort that allows you to vary the voltage. Your lion chief set will still work with that style of transformer with the power turned up to 18V, but the Williams set won't work with the supplied wall power supply since it just puts out a constant DC voltage (Lionchief runs on AC or DC).
 

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All but one of my Williams's engine's have been great runners. I still haven't quite figured out why one of the steam locomotives from them I have seems to have some minor operating issues, but I bought it used so I can't complain too much about the company. Every other one I have has a ton of runtime on it with no issues to report.

As mentioned, they are conventional locomotives so you'll need to acquire a traditional transformer of some sort that allows you to vary the voltage. Your lion chief set will still work with that style of transformer with the power turned up to 18V, but the Williams set won't work with the supplied wall power supply since it just puts out a constant DC voltage (Lionchief runs on AC or DC).
Thank you.
 

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When you say conventional mode, you refer to the use of controlling the WBB set with a transformer such as the MTH 40-Z1000 correct, as there is no separate remote, etc?
Yes, "conventional control," often just referred to as, "conventional," means that you are controlling the speed of the train manually by varying the track voltage with a transformer. Whistle/horn and bell sounds are controlled by either buttons on the transformer or placed in series between the transformer's variable voltage outlet and the track.

"Command control" refers to systems such as Lionel's Legacy, Lionel/ERR's TMCC, MTH's DCS, and DCC. The voltage to the track is fixed at 18 volts and the train and it's features are controlled by signals sent from a controller to a circuit board in the locomotive or accessory, e.g. a command controlled gantry crane.

The various versions of LionChief—LC, LC+, and LC+ 2.0—are typically just referred to as being LC, LC+, or LC+ 2.0 controlled, but I think that they are technically a form of command control.

Edit to add: In its catalogs, Lionel distinguishes between Bluetooth, LionChief (using a LionChief remote, and command control.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yes, "conventional control," often just referred to as, "conventional," means that you are controlling the speed of the train manually by varying the track voltage with a transformer. Whistle/horn and bell sounds are controlled by either buttons on the transformer or placed in series between the transformer's variable voltage outlet and the track.

"Command control" refers to systems such as Lionel's Legacy, Lionel/ERR's TMCC, MTH's DCS, and DCC. The voltage to the track is fixed at 18 volts and the train and it's features are controlled by signals sent from a controller to a circuit board in the locomotive or accessory, e.g. a command controlled gantry crane.

The various versions of LionChief—LC, LC+, and LC+ 2.0—are typically just referred to as being LC, LC+, or LC+ 2.0 controlled, but I think that they are technically a form of command control.
Thanks for the education. Great info.
 
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