Model Train Forum banner

1 - 20 of 34 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My 18 y.o. son and I are starting a build from scratch. Other than owning a Life-Like HO beginner set 8 years ago, we are novices. We've been researching daily, for the last few weeks, about various topics of interest. We have about 75 square feet of space, but plan to start small (perhaps an initial 4x8) with additional sections when we're ready to expand.

Focusing on locomotives we've narrowed down our search to HO --> Steam (style only is fine, doesn't need to puff smoke) --> 2-8-2 Mikado --> Southern rail line --> DCC (preferably equipped).

I think I would like to stick with a new purchase (and warranty). In the new market I'm seeing 2 choices: Broadway Limited (#5555 and #5556) and Bachmann (#54403). BLI is at the top of my locomotive budget and costs about 25-35% higher than the Bachmann (depending on website availability). Looking at pics on the internet, the BLI appeared to have finer detail and overall better appearance in my opinion. Unfortunately you can't always trust pics on the internet. We saw one of the BLIs at a local train shop and it was quite attractive. They did not have a Bachmann on hand.

As far as performance, I didn't find many reviews about these 2 specific models. Summarizing what I did find, BLI seemed to have fairly high approval, while Bachmann was more "hit or miss" and needing more set up work straight out of the box to get them running smoothly.

Right now, BLI is sitting #1 for me. Would love some sage advice from anyone willing to chime in. Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
981 Posts
I've got a HO scale BLI 2-8-2 Mikado with Paragon 2 DCC & sound on my layout that I've owned for about 3 years now. It is my favorite locomotive and I've had zero problems with it. It performs great at slow speeds, the audio sounds good, and it doesn't derail on my layout. I don't have any Bachmann locomotives, so I can't help with any comparisons. Here's a picture of my Mikado with some weathering done to it.
547090
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Mark, thanks for the comments on your Mike. They are very helpful. Since you commented on the lack of derailments, I'd love to know what type of track you run on your layout? (Another decision in my near future)

What a fantastic picture! Can't wait to show my son. The weathering looks great.
 

·
Railroad Tycoon
Joined
·
23,876 Posts
I second that, a nice shot of your RR.
The weathering looks great. (y)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,389 Posts
That locomotive looks great. Really nice weathering job.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
981 Posts
Since you commented on the lack of derailments, I'd love to know what type of track you run on your layout?
I'm using all code 83 track. The flex track and turnouts are all Walthers products. I also used a section of MicroEngineering Bridge flex track for my steel viaduct bridge. I mainly went with Walthers turnouts because I needed a few curved turnouts, which only a few manufacturers make. I've been very pleased with all my Walthers turnouts, but they are a bit expensive. BTW, my minimum radius is 22 inches, so that might help too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Mark, you read my mind. I was just thinking about turn radius and my space/layout. BLI mentions 18 minimum, but I have good space and was planning for wider. 22 should be very doable in my open space. Thanks for the other info, you hit several get points I was after, especially the code 83. Having just a cheap starter set back in the day I didn't have to pick out the track. I didn't even know there were different "codes" until I read one of the "beginner articles" last week on this forum.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,862 Posts
All but four of my 20-something steamers are BLI/PCM. I have had to send back four steamers to BLI for repair, and have never had a plug come back. My first request for a repair was my own fault...I had installed a tender truck backwards, meaning it immediately shorted out the decoder. They sent it back free of charge, meaning the repair included a free decoder replacement and return shipping.

I feel that BLI is a serious product, a serious player in the hobby, and they offer a good warranty and repair if something goes wrong. Note that Bachmann has a greatly improved product line since about 2005, and their steamers are very popular.

PCM (BLI line 13 years ago) Y6-b Mallet:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Thanks mesenteria! Very helpful info about your experiences with BLI repairs and customer service. I had not seen "PCM" before. Just read about the BLI-PCM connection... interesting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
798 Posts
Disclaimer:
I don't own any Bachmann or BLI engines.

But from reading about others who do...

BLI offers more product detail, but it seems that lately a high number of owners have had defects/glitches and have had to send the engines back for repair.

Bachmann products aren't quite up to the detailing standard of BLI (in most cases), but folks seem to have fewer operational problems with them.

Again, that's only what I gather from reading the posts of others.

ALSO...

I believe you're severely "limiting yourself" by narrowing your locomotive choice to such a narrow criteria.
If you "like Southern", look at ALL the various engines you can get in Southern paint schemes.

I'd be looking out for "new old stock" Proto 2000 diesels in Southern paint...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
I believe you're severely "limiting yourself"...
Thanks for your input, it is appreciated. You're certainly correct about limiting our choices, however my son and I both love the look of steam engines. His favorite steam engine style/look is the Mikado.

The Southern line was not must have, but it's available after meeting the first 2 criteria. We're happy it's available since we live in Raleigh, NC, which was on the Southern Railway line. We're not planning a historical re-creation, but we like the idea of having a train line that actually ran through our home town.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
626 Posts
Hi.
I strongly advise you to avoid the archaic, 75 year old concept of a flat, 4'x8' type and look into shelf/around the walls type layout, open grid, or L girder benchwork construction. Making and maintaining a MRR on a 4x8 is rife with headaches..But because you may be dead set on going 4x8 I'm not going to go into why that is unless you request it..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Hi telltale. Thank you for the advice. No, we do not want a 4'x8'. I shouldn't have mentioned that above... I was trying to indicate we would probably start with a small section and expand over time. I've since changed my mind. I don't want to go through the stages of building a layout and then start the whole process over for each new section.

I just put a tape measure on the available area and it's roughly 6'x17'. One of the 17' sides is against a wall. I don't know the terminology for track layouts, but I'm picturing a wide, shallow U-like shape with the bottom of the U running along the 17' wall and maybe ~3' deep. My son and I are both 6'5" with long reach. The bottom of the U would provide nice long straights with some turn outs. The ends of the table would expand out to 6' deep for turn arounds. The ends would have 3-sided access to easily reach all areas of the table.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
626 Posts
Except for some rapid transit and trolley systems real RRs do not form a huge loop. They are 'point to point' with turning facilities at one or both ends of the line...I mention this because instead of having trains continually running via a huge loop or loops you can build a MRR where you are forced to perform prototype activity to send trains from end to end to the other via a wye, or turntable..Some short lines and branch lines run in one direction spotting/retrieving cars at industries along the way and simply run in reverse back home if they are only, say, 40 Mi. or so..You can still design it to gain distance thru the way it might zig zag, go up and over, disappear in tunnels, etc..Similar to this you can build a 'switchback' RR..Some modelers frown on this as it requires too much work. I just happen to enjoy that extra work.
If you find you need to cut track I'd highly recommend your buying a pair of Xuron Rail Nippers now ($7). When you use them the flat side of the jaws goes against the good rail; the concave side produces the bad rail. And you cut top to bottom of rail, not side to side.
Good luck, M 🏬🏭 🛤🌄🌵
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,087 Posts
My 18 y.o. son and I are starting a build from scratch. Other than owning a Life-Like HO beginner set 8 years ago, we are novices. We've been researching daily, for the last few weeks, about various topics of interest. We have about 75 square feet of space, but plan to start small (perhaps an initial 4x8) with additional sections when we're ready to expand.

Focusing on locomotives we've narrowed down our search to HO --> Steam (style only is fine, doesn't need to puff smoke) --> 2-8-2 Mikado --> Southern rail line --> DCC (preferably equipped).

I think I would like to stick with a new purchase (and warranty). In the new market I'm seeing 2 choices: Broadway Limited (#5555 and #5556) and Bachmann (#54403). BLI is at the top of my locomotive budget and costs about 25-35% higher than the Bachmann (depending on website availability). Looking at pics on the internet, the BLI appeared to have finer detail and overall better appearance in my opinion. Unfortunately you can't always trust pics on the internet. We saw one of the BLIs at a local train shop and it was quite attractive. They did not have a Bachmann on hand.

As far as performance, I didn't find many reviews about these 2 specific models. Summarizing what I did find, BLI seemed to have fairly high approval, while Bachmann was more "hit or miss" and needing more set up work straight out of the box to get them running smoothly.

Right now, BLI is sitting #1 for me. Would love some sage advice from anyone willing to chime in. Thanks!
OkiPirate; Sorry for the duplicate response. Traction Fan

The other guys have handled your original question. Through the thread it seems that other thing have come up, as they do for every new model railroader. You are lucky to have plenty of space, and a son who shares the hobby with you. The Files below have lots of information on several model railroad topics. look through them if you like. I also recommend the book "Getting Started in Model Railroading" by Jeff Wilson. You can order a copy from Kalmbach Hobby Store or www.amazon.com

Good Luck & Have Fun

Traction Fan 🙂
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,087 Posts
My 18 y.o. son and I are starting a build from scratch. Other than owning a Life-Like HO beginner set 8 years ago, we are novices. We've been researching daily, for the last few weeks, about various topics of interest. We have about 75 square feet of space, but plan to start small (perhaps an initial 4x8) with additional sections when we're ready to expand.

Focusing on locomotives we've narrowed down our search to HO --> Steam (style only is fine, doesn't need to puff smoke) --> 2-8-2 Mikado --> Southern rail line --> DCC (preferably equipped).

I think I would like to stick with a new purchase (and warranty). In the new market I'm seeing 2 choices: Broadway Limited (#5555 and #5556) and Bachmann (#54403). BLI is at the top of my locomotive budget and costs about 25-35% higher than the Bachmann (depending on website availability). Looking at pics on the internet, the BLI appeared to have finer detail and overall better appearance in my opinion. Unfortunately you can't always trust pics on the internet. We saw one of the BLIs at a local train shop and it was quite attractive. They did not have a Bachmann on hand.

As far as performance, I didn't find many reviews about these 2 specific models. Summarizing what I did find, BLI seemed to have fairly high approval, while Bachmann was more "hit or miss" and needing more set up work straight out of the box to get them running smoothly.

Right now, BLI is sitting #1 for me. Would love some sage advice from anyone willing to chime in. Thanks!
OkiPirate;

Your original locomotive question has already been answered well. I just wanted to pass on some general information on model railroading via the files below, since you said you are both novices. I would also recommend the book "Getting Started in Model Railroading" by Jeff Wilson. It covers a wide variety of model railroad subjects in simple text & many color photos. You can order a copy from Kalmbach Hobby Store or www.amazon.com You are lucky to have a son to share the hobby with, and plenty of space.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
telltale... interesting ideas. You've given me some new things to investigate. Even as an old dog I enjoy learning new tricks.

traction fan... thanks for the attachments. I read several of them last week and found them to be very-well tailored for the novice modeler. Look forward to checking out the ones I missed!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,862 Posts
...The bottom of the U would provide nice long straights with some turn outs. The ends of the table would expand out to 6' deep for turn arounds. The ends would have 3-sided access to easily reach all areas of the table.
I hope you won't mind me jumping in so late. Aesthetically, long tangents are undesired on our model layouts. The rails like them because they're the least costly in terms of engineering and infrastructure, but on our layouts they look....unimaginative. Instead, fashion a long sweeping curve, or make the 'tangent' follow a contour around a knoll. The knoll's design and construction will be an important element in your learning of how to craft realistic terrain.

In reality, the real railroads are curves connected by tangents. Since nature's contours are curved, from above, the rails follow contours in an attempt, usually a vain one, of maintaining, and not losing or gaining, altitude. While descents aren't necessarily bad, having to gain elevation again costs a lot of fuel because it requires at least doubling the horsepower if the train is to maintain a schedule of some kind.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
I hope you won't mind me jumping in so late.
Not at all. Now is the perfect time for all the input I can get. We're not in a rush... we want a hobby, not a project to start, finish, and be done with.

We're about to clean out the space today and cover the floor with pieces of card board (if I can find enough in the garage). This should give us a better visual of the actual space and we can even pencil in some ideas. We found some old track pieces and rolling stock from our previous HO starter set. Not using them in this build, but they should help for a little size guestimating at this very early stage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,770 Posts
There are two sticky threads here with lots of track plans. Poke through those and see if anything inspires your creativity.
 
1 - 20 of 34 Posts
Top