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Discussion Starter #1
Good morning n scalers!

One of the advantages to N scale that I see/hear about a lot is the ability to run long trains. Put me in the "me too" camp, so I'm looking for suitable candidates. While I'd love to run double or even triple headed steam, I can't afford that so I'm looking at diesels.

Since, for now, I'm running strictly DC, they don't need to be dcc equipped but the ability to add it later would be nice. Also from what I understand since they can't be speed matched through programming they need to be mechanically pretty close.

I have an ABBA set of Kato F7's that all run at darn near identical speeds but I realize that may have just been a lucky fluke. (I'd rather not use these for any duty other than pulling the Super Chief)

I've ruled out Bachmann, not for any reason other than I'd like to try a different brand, and am looking at a pair of Atlas C420's. (pic below)

They're relatively inexpensive, good looking to my eyes, and get good reviews. Plus they're actually AVAILABLE, something I'm finding out is a rare thing in this scale.

Does anyone have experience with these? Can I expect 2 units to run at fairly close speeds?
 

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Two identical units from the same manufacturer and of the same vintage should be pretty close in speed, yes. Of course, being able to actually match the speeds is one of the big advantages of DCC.

Availability of stuff is frequently due to a change in the structure of the hobby. Manufacturers make limited production runs based on the preorders they get. That way no one gets stuck with unsold inventory.
 

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Good diesels

Good morning n scalers!

One of the advantages to N scale that I see/hear about a lot is the ability to run long trains. Put me in the "me too" camp, so I'm looking for suitable candidates. While I'd love to run double or even triple headed steam, I can't afford that so I'm looking at diesels.

Since, for now, I'm running strictly DC, they don't need to be dcc equipped but the ability to add it later would be nice. Also from what I understand since they can't be speed matched through programming they need to be mechanically pretty close.

I have an ABBA set of Kato F7's that all run at darn near identical speeds but I realize that may have just been a lucky fluke. (I'd rather not use these for any duty other than pulling the Super Chief)

I've ruled out Bachmann, not for any reason other than I'd like to try a different brand, and am looking at a pair of Atlas C420's. (pic below)

They're relatively inexpensive, good looking to my eyes, and get good reviews. Plus they're actually AVAILABLE, something I'm finding out is a rare thing in this scale.

Does anyone have experience with these? Can I expect 2 units to run at fairly close speeds?
gimme30;

I ruled out Bachmann many years ago when the name Bachmann was synonymous with "JUNK", in terms of N-scale locomotives. I read here that they have improved a lot in recent years, but the memory of all the old duds I had, lingers on. Years later I tried some Bachmann "Spectrum Series" F-units. These were still "old Bachmann", as opposed to current production Bachmann, but not as old, or truly awful, as my even older Bachmann lemmon collection.
Somewhere along my decades of N-scale modeling, I discovered Kato, and I've never found a Kato product I didn't love! If you want a great quality diesel (or steamer, or passenger train, or whatever,) you can't go wrong with Kato. In my admittedly prejudiced opinion, Bachmann has never made anything nearly as good as a Kato.
Kato also makes some of the drive mechanisms for other brands. I have several "Atlas" diesels (though not the C420s you're considering) that have "Kato" stamped on the bottom of their fuel tanks. Atlas also buys from other suppliers, besides Kato, so there's no guarantee that those Atlas C420s were actually made by Kato, but it is possible. The Atlas, and other brand, stuff coming out of China these days, is generally pretty good too.

good luck;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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I own 6 Atlas C420s, and they all run great together. The C420 is a fairly new loco from Atlas and all have there great scale speed motor. Some of the older Atlas locos have a different motor and will not run together with a newer loco with the scale speed motor. The Atlas locos with Kato stamped on the fuel tank all have Kato high speed motors and don't run that great at real slow speeds.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Well you can't beat that kind of recommendation!

Decision made, trigger pulled!

I just hope two are enough!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Quick update....

My C420s arrived yesterday! That deep blue looks even better in person.

They're a little far apart, speed-wise, unfortunately. On it's maiden run #224 required 3/4 throttle before it would start moving, and is significantly slower than #226. Subsequent runs required less starting voltage so I'm hoping it just needs to be broken in.

Consisted the two seem to run fine together and don't exhibit the jerky pushing/pulling I've observed with the Bachmanns. (Which admittedly are geared quite differently)

If they can manage 20 +/- cars around my little layout I'll call it a win.

Initial impressions: They are both very quiet at creeping speeds, possibly quieter than my Katos. And boy do they creep! Sloooooow and steady! Of course the noise increases with speed but thankfully neither rattles it's shell.

The lighting is great and stays bright down to very low voltage, but oddly the lights at the trailing end flicker, on both engines and in either direction. As these are my first Atlas loco's I don't know if it's a quirk of the brand or just these particular models but hopefully it's nothing to worry about.
 

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Speed difference

Quick update....

My C420s arrived yesterday! That deep blue looks even better in person.

They're a little far apart, speed-wise, unfortunately. On it's maiden run #224 required 3/4 throttle before it would start moving, and is significantly slower than #226. Subsequent runs required less starting voltage so I'm hoping it just needs to be broken in.

Consisted the two seem to run fine together and don't exhibit the jerky pushing/pulling I've observed with the Bachmanns. (Which admittedly are geared quite differently)

If they can manage 20 +/- cars around my little layout I'll call it a win.

Initial impressions: They are both very quiet at creeping speeds, possibly quieter than my Katos. And boy do they creep! Sloooooow and steady! Of course the noise increases with speed but thankfully neither rattles it's shell.

The lighting is great and stays bright down to very low voltage, but oddly the lights at the trailing end flicker, on both engines and in either direction. As these are my first Atlas loco's I don't know if it's a quirk of the brand or just these particular models but hopefully it's nothing to worry about.
gimme30;

Glad to hear you like your new locomotives! If they run that smoothly and quietly, you bought yourself some winners! :appl:
At my old club, way back before DCC even came out, we used to run whichever unit was faster in the front. Things just seemed to work better that way. Running in of the slower locomotive may narrow the speed gap too.
I think you mentioned that your Kato locomotives were F-units, F7s maybe? If so, that would explain why the C-420s are quieter than your Katos. The Kato F-units look good, and pull well, at any speed, from a crawl, up to "way too fast", but they are a good deal noisier than any other Katos I have (and I have a lot!) Have you checked the bottom of your new Atlas loco's fuel tanks to see if they were actually made by Kato? They won't necessarily be, "Katos masquerading as Atlas Locomotives." Another tip off is the plastic case they come in. If it looks identical to a Kato case, you probably have Kato C-420s, despite the Atlas label.
Atlas, and others, buy many off their locomotives from Chinese manufacturers, and some of those are very good locos.
Two diesels should have no problem pulling 20 cars. At the club we sometimes pulled 50 cars with two locos. Of course they had 12 scale miles of mainline, :eek: so they had room for 50 car trains.:D

Have fun;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
TF I checked the bottom and they're both Chinese. Just to make sure I didn't have one old unit and one with the "scale speed motor", I pulled the shells, and they're identical. The Long Island scheme isn't currently showing as available at Atlas so I'm guessing these may have been sitting around for awhile but I can't determine the exact vintage.

Hopefully you're right and running them in will make a difference!

As for pulling power...on level ground they'd probably pull a good deal more than 20 cars, but unfortunately they've got to deal with steep grades and tight curves on my little layout. The best they could manage is 17 cars before wheel slippage. Guess I'll bite the $20 bullet and pick up some Bullfrog snot.

And you were right about the Katos, they are F7s! Those things are great...in their ABBA configuration they'll pull the entire Super Chief set (12 cars) plus as many freight cars as I can fit until the whole train is nose-to-tail!
What's interesting is I bought the first pair roughly 20 years ago, along with the A and B 4 car sets, but never had the chance to run them. When Kato released the C set of cars this year I picked them up as well as another A/B set of engines. ONE B unit will slowly catch up to the other three, but it takes a couple of laps. Amazing how well matched they are without being, well, matched!

On the noise subject...here's a (stock) pic of my absolute quietest engine, Kato naturally! I haven't tried Broadway, Fox, or Intermountain yet, but they'd have to be pretty darn good to top what Kato can do.
 

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Kato hasn't made any Atlas locos for a long time. The C420s are fairly new for Atlas (2007), and all have the latest Atlas scale speed motor. I would break in the locos and also do a good lube job. I would not use Bullfrog snot, you will lose electrical contact with those wheels. Add another loco, I run three units pulling 30-50 cars up a 1 percent grade with sharp curves. I have quite a few BLI locos and mine run IMO better than any of my 75+ Kato loco.
Been in N-scale starting in 1971.

Go here to find out when locos were made and were.

http://www.spookshow.net/locolist.php?diesels=6&nonbrass=3&sortby=4&Submit=Submit
 

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Discussion Starter #10
RRjim1 thank you for that link, what a great resource! If he hasn't covered every engine ever made he's surely got to be close!

Re:BF snot, from what I understand it only needs to go on one wheel. I'll admit putting liquid plastic goo on those tiny things isn't something I'd like to do. I'd be afraid of gumming up the works and making matters worse.

Sounds like a legit excuse to buy another engine to me!

As for BLI, they do make several models I'd love to get my hands on. I don't know if it's the way they photograph them or what but they always look so good.

The mixed reviews have prevented me from actually buying one though, so it's good to hear something positive. Maybe someday that T1 will wind up in my stable!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Another quick update...

I went ahead and bought a 3rd engine, but it arrived DOA.
Lights on, nobody home!
So...
Click click, see ya later, back to the store you go!

I really like Atlas's rolling stock, it seems just a bit sturdier than the Micro Trains stuff. And it's generally priced better. I'm definitely not having the same kind of luck with their engines!

Breaking in the slower engine has improved it's running somewhat, but there's still a pretty big speed difference between the two. Not that it seemed to matter much. Hopefully the (replacement) third will be close!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The replacement arrived yesterday and works well enough-hopefully it will get a little smoother after break-in. It's speed is somewhere in the middle of the other two so I expect all three will work well lashed up together.

Btw, I don't know if the retailers read this forum but a big THANKS to Trainworld-first time I've had to return anything to them and the process was painless w/quick turnaround.

Today we'll see if they can get my target 20 up the hill.:thumbsup:
 
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