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Discussion Starter #21
Yes, they are called knuckle couplers, and they are what most people use these day. of all the brands out there, Kadee is the best known and has the widest selection.

As for your spares, just from your description it sounds as though they may be Kadee #5's, which were probably the most widely used knuckle couplers until the whisker style (with the two 'arms') came into being.

The reason they get off to one side is that they don't have a built in centering spring. The springs are available from Kadee

They mount in the coupler box on top of the coupler. A small puff of powdered graphite lubricant helps operation. Don't use oil or grease in the couplers, it attracts dirt. Once installed, the #5's will work fine with the whisker style couplers.
Thank you! I did read the PDF, it just isn't setting in! This helps though.

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Which is why I'm looking for some reliable but inexpensive. I don't care about detail, just reliability. Someone mentioned missing horns and windows on one that I posted, those are exactly the details I don't really care about. I don't care if it's hot pink,I have paint. What I'm hoping to find is a used or lower end engine that still runs reliably and smoothly.

As mentioned previously, my Bachmann Hawthorne village F7 runs really well. I'm tempted to pick up another one of those for him, they can be had for $50. I just don't know if they are all the same locomotive. They usually don't say much about the locomotive ourself, just whatever theme it's painted in.

I'm not spending $150+ for his first loco. That said, I do agree with not buying a true "junker", I'm already saddled with two of those. But it seems used is a better way to get a quality loco over buying new. At least that's generally true, although there is some risk.

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I understand that you don't want to pay that much for a loco. But a good used one is still going to come in at 3 figures, or high 2 figures. My experience (through others) is that the Hawthorne Village ones are definitely hit or miss.

Remember what we said about getting frustrated with stuff not running. You will have to learn to manage the risk and not get a lot of unusable junk

At the end of the day, only you can decide what's best for you. Your layout, your rules. The rest of us are just trying to share the wisdom we have accumulated over our years in the hobby, which may or may not be applicable in your case. Take it or leave it as you chose.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
I understand that you don't want to pay that much for a loco. But a good used one is still going to come in at 3 figures, or high 2 figures. My experience (through others) is that the Hawthorne Village ones are definitely hit or miss.

Remember what we said about getting frustrated with stuff not running. You will have to learn to manage the risk and not get a lot of unusable junk

At the end of the day, only you can decide what's best for you. Your layout, your rules. The rest of us are just trying to share the wisdom we have accumulated over our years in the hobby, which may or may not be applicable in your case. Take it or leave it as you chose.
I do appreciate it!

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I guess something of a junker. I just want something that runs fairly well and won't give us fits. I'm not concerned with the kennel of detail or accuracy. This is an intro locomotive. If the hobby sticks then we can get into the nicer stuff later.

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vette-kid;

I usually advise newbies to this hobby to avoid Ebay, and old, used, Bachmann locomotives (read second hand a.k.a. on Ebay) Why? Because to get a good running locomotive from Ebay, you really, really, need enough experience to know exactly what you're looking at, and what the odds are of it running well. Or you need to just be very lucky.
I strongly suggest buying new from a reputable online dealer like www.modeltrainstuff.com or www.trainworld.com
A new locomotive will cost more than an Ebay "bargain" but it comes with a guarantee, and a decent dealer will replace, or repair it, if something turns out to be wrong with it. In my opinion, you are better off with one or two good locomotives than with a dozen junkers.
Even experienced model railroaders who have plenty of knowledge about model locomotives, get burned now and then on Ebay. So how much chance do you think someone with practically no experience, or knowledge of model locos, will have?
As for brands, Athearn is a good bet. They have been making decent locomotives for well over half a century. Bachmann's history is quite a different story. They have made junk for decades, and only in the last 10-15 years have been making better locomotives. I suggest going with the brand that has a very long, unbroken,history of making good locomotives, rather than gambling on a brand that has a long history of making junk, and a short one of making something better than their old stuff. Some of my first HO locomotives (45-50 yrs. ago) were Athearn. They were good back then, and the brand is still good today.

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #25
Well, to my surprise the old Bachmann pancake engineers I got in a eBay lot are up and running. Resoldered the wires and cleaned em up a bit. Now, these aren't fancy for sure. But I think this may be a good start for my son. We will run the pancake engines for most stuff, most of the rolling stock has older couplers that work with them anyway. If the hobby takes, we can get him something nicer and update the couplers on the rolling stock. Plus we have the Hawthorne village engine for newer stuff. That will be dad's train!


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Good for you...and him. I think it's very sensible. Let's hope this turns out to be a shared interest between Dad 'n Lad for decades to come. :p
 
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