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I am looking to add an affordable steam-type loco to my ho train/slot car mix layout that my grandkids and I love to play with. My track radius is 18". What would be a good, inexpensive loco to buy? I want to pull 5 or 6 cars and have a small incline to climb. 0-4-0? 0-6-0? 2-6-0? Any brands to avoid? Any help is much appreciated. Thanks.
 

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Your options / choiced really depend upon what "theme" your looking to model ... vintage, rural, industrial, etc.

If affordability is key ...

One of the HO "pros" here on the forum (Shaygetz) recently wrote some thumbs-up comments about a Mehano steamer for around $35. That said, Mehano has recently lost its US distributor, so you may have to hunt on ebay. See 3rd post in this thread:

http://www.modeltrainforum.com/showthread.php?t=3605

Bachmann's are somewhat low end, though quite affordable. A few guys have really praised the tech and warranty service at Bachmann.

You might consider buying used on ebay, rather than virgin new. Big cost saving many times.

Lots of other options, too. I'm sure other guys will chime in here.

TJ
 

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Ironically, HO in slot racing cars is not the same scale as HO in trains. The equivalent to car HO in trains is train S scale....naturally. TJ, you are welcome to smite your forehead.:D
 

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Reck,

I never knew that ... you are absolutely right! :thumbsup: According to wiki, modern HO cars are typically 1:64, with some +/- margins. Older HO cars were closer to true HO 1:87, but the cars evolved larger as engine technology grew.

So ... you might have another S 1:64 buddy on your hands. New victims lurk.

Gordonzo ... be forewarned ... we cut these S-guys on the forum very little slack! :laugh:

TJ
 

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I like the fact that TJ didn't believe you Reck and checked it on Wiki
 

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Back to topic. As always, and especially with model steam engines, you get what you pay for. I like Bachman Spectrum steam engines, but for the price, I like IHC better. The offerings from IHC seem to be a bit sturdier, though with any steam engine, care must be taken when handling the units. A bent side rod or driver could be devastating.

And being steam engines they will be a tad more expensive that conventional diesel models as there is more tooling and more parts involved.

My favorite steam engines, other than my brass engines, are the offerings from Rivarossi(Red Box) and Broadway Limited(BLI). But,with grandkids playing with the trains, I wouldn't recommend them.

If you are looking for something a bit more "bulletproof", look at the Mantua or Mantua/Tyco offerings. The latter is built a bit more for kids to enjoy. The former is for older operators, most being cast metal.

A word of caution. These engines, steam engines, cannot tolerate a "cornfield meeting" with the floor or rough handling. Their drivers are totally exposed and WILL bend if dropped.

Bob
 

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Stationmaster, I thought I read here that IHC is no longer in business. I haven't seen their ad in Model Railroading lately. Would appreciate some information on this, if true.
 

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Old Bob,

Athearn isn't making Blue Box kits any more either, but the tremendous back stock keeps them available for years to come. I just bought a Light Mountain by IHC Premier Series NIB from a shop in Indianapolis. Going tomorrow to buy the other 6 engines the guy is holding for me, a deal I can't pass up. There are even to Berkshires in the group!!!! I'll have to re-badge and renumber them, but that's an easy fix.

As suppliers and shops deplete the inventory, they will still be available. But there will come a time when all is not so well and they will be hard to find. And, of course, there is always the good used engine on the market on eBay or at train shows.

Bob
 

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I think I read about them closing in November of 2009, though I could be misinformed. Still, there are plenty of available units still on the shelves. It could be a few years before all of the backstock is sold off. Just got to find them. And, as I mentioned, there's always eBay............

Bob
 

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I would say that over half of my Steam roster is IHC/Mehano. I have converted most to DCC now and they seem to really like the addition, and run much smoother with it.
If you search on eBay on any given day you will find lots of IHC Steam engines for very reasonable prices. I wouldnt worry about the wheel configuration as much as the price. Most of the IHC ones pull with 1 driver and the side arms take care of turning the rest. A good IHC Premier series 2-6-0 would more than pull the few cars your looking to do.

If you have any questions on them, feel free to PM me.

Kevin
 
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