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To you?
This question is geared mostly to the HO crowd, since that is my scale, but anybody from any scale is welcome to comment. It is also geared to new from the manufacturer and not used locos.

So, with the costs of models always going up and probably going to continue my question is what is most important to you as far as the details/running qualities of a new model? More specifically what, considering the high cost of higher end models disappoints you most when you open a new model and run it?

The two most important things for me are first, silence of drivetrain( no motor or decoder hum, no gear noise etc) and smooth and slow running qualities. Lastly is details and prototype accuracy. I tend to always buy new locos, preferably with DCC sound factory installed. I also tend to buy mostly Bachmann, Atlas Gold, Rapido and Athearn Genesis and I have 1 or 2 Broadway locos also.

Obviously the Atlas, Rapido and Athearn generally have better detail and higher-quality decoders and sound than the Bachmann and sometimes quieter motors and gearing than Bachmann and higher pricetags also.

That all being said I have tended to be more disappointed in the Atlas,Rapido and Athearns straight out of the box than the Bachmann units. When I pay $300-$400 for a loco, or even more, I expect it to be silent in the motor and gearing departments and to run smoothly. If not then thats a fail....whereas for the price I pay for Bachmann I tend to expect less from Bachmann and more often than not I end up with better than from the other guys. So to me Bachmann are a much better value and better buy than the others.
 

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Aside from realism and livery, unless I buy it solely for display with no intention of running or eventually reselling it, reliability and quality control is my foremost consideration followed by slow speed capability, sound quality, and of course - cost. An engine having some type of remote or command control is also a big plus but an engine without it is not necessarily a nonstarter but almost any loco is a nonstarter unless it already is or can easily be repainted and relettered for either the Strasburg Railroad, New Hope & Ivyland Railroad (now known as the New Hope Railroad), or Polar Express! :)
 

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low speed capability

All I actually care about is low speed capability.
I run anything new or old unless it is a speed demon.

I can always improve on;
electrical pickup
detail
lights
weight

But I cannot easily slow down a speed demon.
Luckily most of the speed demons are the toylike locos.
 

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Let's see, near the top of the list would be reliability! I also like slow speed performance as I rarely get anything moving more than around 25-30 scale MPH. Slower speeds make a layout appear larger, and who doesn't want a larger layout. :)

Since I run O-scale, another important feature is sound. One reason I still put up with all the stumbles by Lionel lately, they still have the best sound.
 

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Many of us with experience buying new HO locos
have found that basically the 'innards' of every
brand in today's 'new' market' are about the same as to quality, dependability and smooth running.

So that, more or less, means that if you like the detailing,
if you like the 'livery', if you like it's looks overall,
and, of course, if you like the PRICE, you are likely
to find a dependable loco that you will enjoy.

There's a lemon in every product of the world, but
basically, we are truly fortunate in our hobby today to have a
comfortable choice of quality built models.

There are apparently some serious differences in
the quality of SOUND DECODERS. The more
experienced sound users can fill you in on their
opinions.

Don
 

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Origin of manufacture and quality control is high on my list. I also put a premium of slow speed operations, slow acceleration and deceleration from the decoder manufacturer, and most importantly from the decoder manufacturer, the sound fidelity and true to life sound of the decoder sampling.

If I'm buying a Roco or TRIX (Märklin's DC line) I don't have to worry about origin. Some ACME is still built in Italy and some in China so I have to watch those.

When the sound is off and I can't tell where on the layout the locomotive is, that's when I know it's going to be a good runner. I have one particular locomotive, a Roco, that I swear you can't hear it pass you if it weren't for the clicking of the wheels across the rail joints. It's that quiet.
 

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Good looking. A Garrat 2-6-0+0-6-2 or a Baldwin Centipede might be an interesting and important loco, but I have a model if neither because to me both are butt-ugly.

Scale size and great detail. 1:48 scale (American) or 1:43 (European) O Scale, with lots of detail, see through grills, and hopefully lots of hatches, doors, etc that open and slide, etc.

Runs smoothly in conventional.

Good operating lights that vary foward and back and in when stopped as they should.

Good sound and smoke. In particular ideally this means smoke and sound in all units of a multi-unit diesel set.

Price isn't that important if the quality is there. Neither are "gimmick features like smoke blowdown or a disappearing coal load - although I must admit a swinging bell syncrhonized to the bell sound is quite nice!
 

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I don't see any running gear. Do they pack it under the boiler or under the tender?

Seems you can't get anything today with all the parts that are supposed to be there. I bought a Logitec wireless USB mouse yesterday and the USB dongle was missing. WTH?!

Package was factory sealed. Those kind you can't get open without a pair of cable cutters and a lot of cussing.
 

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I want value for money. My Athearn genesis engine had a kink in the railing near the cab. I had to gently over time “massage” it into shape ( still not 100%). My beef with that is that I paid a premium for that engine, and they slipped up on quality control.

I think Walthers mainline and Bachmann do very good work in there engines, and provide the best value for money. Are they 100% accurate, most likely not, but I’d have to spend to much time gathering information and correcting minor issues for it be worthwhile. Bachmann is easy to deal with parts on-line as well. The one thing I try to do is stay era appropriate. Great topic, cheers...
 

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My criteria, in order:


Electronic reliability and quality;

Fit 'n finish, realism and fidelity to the prototype;

Reliability of the drive train;

Running characteristics; and

Weighted reasonably.
 

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I want value for money. My Athearn genesis engine had a kink in the railing near the cab. I had to gently over time “massage” it into shape ( still not 100%). My beef with that is that I paid a premium for that engine, and they slipped up on quality control.

I think Walthers mainline and Bachmann do very good work in there engines, and provide the best value for money. Are they 100% accurate, most likely not, but I’d have to spend to much time gathering information and correcting minor issues for it be worthwhile. Bachmann is easy to deal with parts on-line as well. The one thing I try to do is stay era appropriate. Great topic, cheers...
I'm not a real stickler for detail, but I do want the loco to be appropriate to the place and time (Mid 1950's New Haven power; although I fudge my timeline a little to allow some late-model steam, because the real New Haven was fully dieselized by 1953).

My one demand in a new loco is true DCC-readiness. I don't want a factory installed decoder, because more often than not that means sound, and I don't want sound. But I get a little annoyed at locos that have a plug for a decoder, but then say "oh, but you have to wire resistors here and here for the lights". I thought the whole point of "DCC ready" was NOT having to fire up the soldering iron....
 

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I don't see any running gear. Do they pack it under the boiler or under the tender?

Seems you can't get anything today with all the parts that are supposed to be there. I bought a Logitec wireless USB mouse yesterday and the USB dongle was missing. WTH?!

Package was factory sealed. Those kind you can't get open without a pair of cable cutters and a lot of cussing.
Under the blue plastic shell, but I haven’t inventoried so parts might be missing yet.
 

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My top priority is do I like how it looks. Not details but appealing in general. Second is cost. Third is smooth running, both slow and fast.
 

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I want a smooth running and reliable locomotive whether sound or not.
Reasonable price providing good value.
Road and colors I want.
Reasonably quiet when no sound in use.

I don't care about detail.

I find the Bachmann sound equipped to be the best value, followed by MTH (the recent ones that are DCC compatible).
 

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I would like to go back to "some assembly required". I have my own paint scheme, most locos now days come with everything glued on and are very difficult to disassemble for painting. I often revert back to the good old Athearn BB for ease of disassembly. I re-power them and add decoders.
 

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My top priorities are that it works well and that it is steam. While the working side is pretty obvious, my last couple of used buys of EBay have been pretty disappointing despite the listings saying that they were in good running order.
As for steam, that’s just my preference


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