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Discussion Starter #41 (Edited)
CTvalleRR,

Thank you for responding. yes we know there is a lot to "unpack" in our post. It was our intent to try and keep each question or subject confined to its own post. That way a responder could say "in reference to your question in post #7" In much the way you referenced post #15 & #16

Yes we are very well aware Model Power and tyco are at the bottom of quality. This was not a planned thing, our son got the Model Power set as a gift, it just grew from there because Dad can not leave anything alone or "stock". We should point out that this is all for a 4 year old to play with, to explore his imagination, and to learn new things. So we have no idea if a year from now he will be bored with it and it's a dust collector. As he is so young, things are bound to be played with and possibly broken, For example the other day he was playing by himself with it. (It was not plugged in at the time) when Dad went to see what he was up to, son came and blocked Dad from going into the other section of shop where track was. Instantly as a parent you know your child is up to mischief. But dad played this game of cat and mouse several times over the next 30 minutes or so until he eventually "got past" the little tyrant What he found is many of the temporary mounted trees had been removed as was the little outpost shack. The bucket loader, bulldozer, and scraper had been removed form train cars and apparently helped in this deforestation construction project. Now a mess was made and some of the trees had broken branches Now it would be easy to get upset and yell at him and say no that's not how you play with it. But you know what, it is HIS toy, he was having fun, using his imagination and that is what this is about...for us...so what if a couple of trees worth mabey 2-3 dollars have broken branches, it actually makes them look more realistic. yes the little plastic construction equipment could have been broken, they were not, but again who cares, they are plastic material items. Listening to your little boy play and make "sounds" and the cat and mouse game of "what i'm not doing anything wrong" and the little mischievous look on his face are all priceless moments in his young life.

So with that all said you can probably see why we are shopping at the bottom. The irony is it's not the cheap cars giving us the problems, Not sure where they rate but we would guess mid level cars.
The AHM likes to derail at the trailing axles. Moving it from the rear of the train to just behind the locomotive helped take care of 90% of it. Based on what we thought and from a reply in here we'd guess it's just a weight issue of the car.
The Roadhouse car is picky what it will connect to.
And the still unidentified silver rail car with the Kadee couplers only likes the Lionel car and Roadhouse car...sometimes. But thanks to this forum we have now been pointed in the right direction to solve those issues.

As for track, the initial Model Power set was new but was old stock. We took some 220 grit sandpaper and lightly cleaned the surface then wiped it all down with a wd-40 soaked rag and then let it sit for 24 hrs. Having slot car tracks in past we know the importance of rail maintenance. The real issues was the joiners were very loose fitting. Crimping them helped a lot but not 100%. it wasn't until we got the tyco track pieces in a lot purchase we learned the tyoc joiners were much better.

As for the mounting surface and climate, we are good there. The shop stays the same temp and we live in area of the country with little to no humidity (finally lol),,,side note it's nice to not need a million water separators on our air compressor lines lol. The 3/4 particle board is actually glued and screwed (as opposed to nails that can loosen and lift over time) down to a 2x4 frame. warping is not a problem.

With all that said we took a lot from your post and learned even more and for that we thank you for taking the time to reply.

While we appreciate all the dedication, determination, and expense many of you go to for you superb layouts and the efforts you go to, in this case that is not us. We do that in our business and hobby (one in the same) and in this case it's nice to go low key...something Dad is not capable of doing most of the time. We just need a reliable train to circle our slot car track And therein lies the real problem. Mr cant leave anything alone, mr attention to realism and detail just had to buy more cars He just had to get cars that said Santa-Fe on them because that's what the locomotive and caboose said. Mom had to have cars that look cool by color or other. Son just wanted cars with construction equipment so he could wipe out the forest lol But all that led to Tyco, Lionel, Bachmann, AHM, Roadhouse, Marklin, and still unidentified car came into play and we asked a cheap Model Power locomotive to pull it all on a oval confined to a 4x8 surface. We are probably asking it to do more than it was designed to do. Especially when all cars are attached the entire train takes up about 50% of the entire track. Now that we have more track we are working on fitting in a second loop, its proven challenging based on limited surface space. We already have several ideas but more problems come with more ideas....lol...you solve one issue but it creates another somewhere else.

A good way to look at this, right now we are not prepared to spend a lot of money on higher end stuff. We just want to make what we have work consistently enough we can let the train run on its own while the race is on, slot car race that is. If we have to spend a little money on upgrades and or repairs we will.
 

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My youngest son started into HO scale when he was about 4-1/2 years old. They can learn how to properly handle delicate models surprisingly quickly. My son rarely broke anything serious.
 
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Discussion Starter #43 (Edited)
He can drive the Slot car track pretty good, This track even requires you to pull into the pits every few laps and if you don't it will rob your power. He can do that pretty good. He's driven the train to but the Model Power transformer was not that responsive to anything other then 3/4 throttle and up. The Tyco one we got works much better and he's learning how sensitive it is. Although it does have some issue with reverse.
 

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Discussion Starter #44
Looking at metal axles to 1, repair the car missing one, and 2 upgrade some others while at it. We found these
for 12.00 for 12.00 axles. Made by Walthers.

Questions,

1. Is this a good price deal?
2, will they work on bachmann? This is the car missing an axle
3. will they work on the other brands, Tyco, Lionel, AHM, Roadhouse, and Model Power

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I have purchased bulk packs of wheel sets for $65 for 100 (although that was several years age), so not a great price, but not out of the ball park.

They should work on the Roundhouse cars, because I have done so. For the others, pop a wheel set out and take a look. Unless the wheel is a hub arrangement where the axle protrudes through the side of the truck, they will work.

Intermountain is also a good brand.
 
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Discussion Starter #46
Thank you CTValleyRR, someone else mentioned Intermountain so we will give them a look. These just came up when looking for something else.
 

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Discussion Starter #47 (Edited)
Good news, We decided to take another look at the unidentified silver car and since we cannot currently use it, decided to experiment and see if one of the axles would fit the Bachmann car currently missing one. Sure enough worked like a charm. Plus after looking at it closer, taking more detailed pics and blowing them up on computer, we discovered the make of the car...ROCO out of Austria. It has the kadee couplers so someday we will add some to others cars, at least one in front car and one car behind it, so it can be used. But as it sits now it was a good source of parts


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That and the Märklin car you purchased are probably the two best cars you have.
Definitely agree.

That car, BTW, will take the Walthers or Intermountain wheelers just fine. And Kadee couplers should be your default standard as well. They will give you much less trouble over the long run than the others. Walthers ProtoMax couplers are also metal knuckle couplers, comparable to and interchangeable with the Kadees (although Walthers doesn't make nearly as many variants). Other couplers (McHenry, Bachmann EZ Mate, etc) may look similar, but are made of plastic and don't hold up nearly as well.
 
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Discussion Starter #50
MichaelE and CTValleyRR thank you,

Of the cars we have where would you guys rank them 1-10 with 1 being worst and 10 being best. (not insinuating any of them are a 1 or 10 )

Model Power
Tyco
AHM
Bachmann
Lionel
Roadhouse
ROCO
Marklin
 

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Discussion Starter #52
MichaelE,

We kinda figured that from previous post, just curious to how the others rate. It will help us when looking at purchasing other cars.
 

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I've ordered them from worst to best.
Tyco
Lionel (Varies a bit as they never made their own. some is basically cheap old Bachmann, some is Athearn)
ROCO
AHM
Model Power (model power and AHM may change places depending on what piece your looking at)
Bachmann (varries, some early stuff is cheap like Tyco, some new stuff is as good as Marklin
Roadhouse (I assume you mean Roundhouse
Marklin
If you're feeling patient, but still on a budget, I'd look for good deals on Athearn and Roundhouse cars and Athearn locomotives. They are sturdy, already have pockets on the body that will accomodate any coupler you want. They still have plastic wheels, but they are on metal axles and in my opinion generally don't need to be upgraded to metal. The trucks are mounted with a screw so you can adjust the tension. They are a bit more expensive than Tyco/Roco/AHM, but you can still find them at shows for 5-8 bucks. Athearn diesel engines are great pullers and -equally important- are easy to service and repair.

A couple other things I'd add..
-How long are you looking for your trains to be? If you're going to be running trains over 15 cars or so, then metal wheels might be an advantage. If you're not running 20 car trains, then you're probably fine with the wheels you have if you have a "truck tuner" and have tuned your trucks.

-Buy a Truck tuner and tune your trucks.

-If you want more pulling power simply buying another of the model power locos you have and running them together will give you more pull. I know a guy with alot of locos like that for cheap. PM me and I'll put you in touch.

-The purpose of a dummy loco is simply to look good. If the loco you have is a strong puller then you might not need the second loco to be powered. My athearn locos are generally strong enough to pull on their own, but putting a dummy in there sure looks good.

-I second the recommendation for KD #148. Way easier to install than #5's and almost as cheap, especially in bulk packs.

-Body mounted couplers is best, but if you'd like to quickly swap over to proper knuckle couplers you can pop #148's into the truck-coupler pockets you have now and snap a #212 "Talgo truck Adapter" over the opening on top of the coupler pocket. With 148's and 212s ,you can swap your whole collection over to knuckles in an hour or so and then do other upgrades (body mounted couplers, trucks, etc) at your leisure. I've got a number of cars like this and they work well. When you get around to body mounting the couplers you can pop the coupler out and reuse it.

-Have you located a replacement wheel/axle for the Bachmann? If not, send me a PM and I'll send you some.

-If you're going to stick with basic DC operations -as it sounds like you are- then you may still find it advantageous to go with nickel silver (NS) track. The basic Atlas Nickel Silver "code 100" track affordabel is completely compatible with what you have and though it isn't the most "accurate" it is sturdy and works well. I would ditch any steel track you have. You will know if it's steel if it is magnetic. Brass will actually conduct better than NS but gets dirtier faster, hence the recommendation for NS.

Good luck and welcome to the hobby.
 

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I'll put a somewhat different take on it:

Marklin
Roco
Roundhouse (this is actually Athearn's "budget" line, although it used to be a separate company.
New production Bachmann
New Model Power
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AHM
Lionel
Old Bachmann
Old Model Power
Tyco.

Really, I wouldn't purchase anything "below the line" for my layout. Sometimes you get lucky with a Lionel HO or AHM model, but quality was very inconsistent.

With paint, replacement parts, and tuning, you can sometimes make those cheap cars presentable and operable, but in my opinion, the cost of the materials and effort involved isn't worth it. Better to spend a little more and get something a little better.

Of course, there is a level of, I don't know, pride in appearance (for lack of a better term). I'm not a stickler for detail, but I also don't want anything that looks too toy-like, either.
 
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Discussion Starter #55
Eilif,

thank you for your reply.

Really surprised to see Lionel so far down on your list. If as you say they are outsourced, we must have a good one because it's quality and performance are right up with the Bachmann and Roundhouse (yes sorry for "Roadhouse" typo)

We would like to get some Athearn. Especially with your vote of confidence in Locomotives as well.

Currently we are at 15 cars (plus caboose) with two on the sidelines till we figure out what to do with them...ROCO and Marklin. At this point the locomotive is starting to struggle a little. In fact we really don't run all 15 90% of the time because of this. We usually keep it to 10 or under. We are definitely getting metal axles. Dad saw that and being the tech guru his is says, "yep i can completely see the benefit"

Truck Tuner...and the previous mentioned "coupler height gauge" i think they called it...oh boy....going to need another tool box...as if the 12 we have isn't enough lol.

Getting an identical Model Power loco was our first thought, then we read if one is slightly faster than the other they will fight against each other. So that was a question we asked and were concerned about. Guess it can't hurt to try it right?

We understand the dummy looks cool, Just not sure why it's so heavy. It free wheels and even says dummy on box. But, if we have it hooked up, the powered loco can only pull about 6-8 cars and then its fighting to even move. Remove the dummy and the loco flys and pulls twice as many before struggling. Seems the dummies could be lighter.

Thank you, we are going to get some of those couplers.

Thank you for the generous offer. As the ROCO car will not play well with others, we robbed an axle from it for the Bachmann. Fit right in and it rolls nice and smooth. Once we get our metal axles we will give the ROCO its axle back.

When we layout the second section we will need more track and we will probably go with the Nickel. Just out of curiosity what makes track more or less accurate?
 

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Discussion Starter #56
CTValleyRR,

How do you tell the difference between old bachmann and new Bachmann, same with Model Power?

We are really surprised to see Model Power so highly regarded. The stuff we have works fine but just has that cheap plastic look. The attention to details is not as good either. Most of our stuff came in white boxes, although one came in a blue and white box and the other in a black and red box.
 

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Discussion Starter #57
Update,

Ok so while browsing ebay we came across this box car listed as a Model Power. If it truly is a Model Power we can definitely see the difference between old and new. This car has better attention to some details than most of our others. The ladders are separate and not molded in for one. It was 9.98 with free shipping. That inexpensive could not pass up.
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A couple of notes:
1) When you get the metal wheelsets, you will want insulated ones (so they don't cause a short across the rails. Also, get the 33" (scale) versions. I don't see anything in your collection tha would use the bigger 36" versions.

2) New tools: you can never have enough tools.... you'll want a truck tuner, a coupler height gauge (both of these together can easily be concealed in a closed fist). And get an NMRA Standards Gauge. This isn't much bigger, but all three are amazingly useful.

3) Dummy loco is probably heavy because it's a production loco, without the motor and drive train in it. You can probably remove some weight fairly easily, either by removing a section of the installed weight, or cutting it down. Open it up and have a look.

4) Not sure what your last paragraph means in post #55. Nickel silver track is a gimme. Accuracy... what exactly do you mean? Most prototypical looking? Basically, all track is supposed to be accurate in the gauge (16.5mm for HO). Size of the rail and size / spacing of ties is trickier. Most sectional track has funny looking "loop" ties at the end to allow fitting of rail joiners, that's not very realistic. Nor are black ties. Flex track with brown ties, especially MicroEngineering and Walthers, which have thinner, more tightly spaced and more detailed ties. Rails are an issue too. Code 100 rails (code is the height of the rails in thousandths of an inch) are huge compared to the real thing, even larger than the largest rail ever used. Code 83 is a good choice for "heavy", mainline rails, while code 70 looks the most like lighter rail. No real difference in performance, though.
 
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CTValleyRR,

How do you tell the difference between old bachmann and new Bachmann, same with Model Power?

We are really surprised to see Model Power so highly regarded. The stuff we have works fine but just has that cheap plastic look. The attention to details is not as good either. Most of our stuff came in white boxes, although one came in a blue and white box and the other in a black and red box.
By appearance, as you noticed. Model Power has been through a number of owners over the years, which accounts for the different packaging. For a while kit was owned by MRC (power pack, DCC, and RC manufacturer) and put out some good stuff, but then Lionel acquired them, so we'll see.
 
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Discussion Starter #60
CTValleyRR

1. Thank you, that was a questions we had been meaning to ask but kept forgetting. Now we know 33" scale.

2. tools are a sore subject around here after a ex wife emptied out 6 Snap-On tool boxes full of passed down from grandfather to father to son, as well as many tools purchased through Snap On and MAC. Although not in this case with HO train tools, it sucks having to buy a tool you once had at much higher prices.

3. Sounds like a good idea, Thank you

4. In post #53 EilIif was talking about Atlas NS track


Anyway to tell who was the manufacturers for each of the Model Power? Like X company did the White boxes, Y company did Blue, Z company did the Red
 
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