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    This page is set up so I can express my opinions of new locomotives to my collection.  They might not be new to the industry but they will be new to me and my collection.  As well as Loco's I may also do reviews on detailing supplies and other miscellaneous supplies.  The Pundamentals of model railroading as it were.  :-)

In the beginning there was..

    The first Loco I had any reaction to was the Athearn Genesis SD-70.  The Genesis line is Athearn's high quality limited edition line that is to compete with Kato in regards to included details and quality.  I got the CN unit just before Xmas.  I got it on a trade-in deal and only paid $50.00 for it.  I am glad that is all I paid.  While it is a nice Locomotive and has very nice workmanship on it I don't think it was worth that much.  I have it sitting with a $70.00 Athearn GE C44-9W in CN.  I added all the usual detailing to it and made a few modifications to the railings.  I have explained to people that one of the two is a $150.00 Locomotive and the other is $70.00.  No one so far can tell the difference.  So it doesn't look like an expensive Loco then.  So it must be in the running right?  Well I have my SD-9043MAC that I built with Athearn drive system and trucks in it and it runs as nicely and as quietly as the SD-70 does.  So why is it so expensive?  Oh there is all the talk of the production costs and all that.  But really.  I had a ball adding all the details to my c44 and it looks great.  I had to replace the Ditch lights on the Genesis because they were the wrong design for CN.  There were 2 features of the Genesis loco that really got me excited.  A). The Cab Interior.  WOW.  I loved that.  So much so that I requested another one from Athearn to go in my MAC unit.  B).  The Circuit Board.  What a brilliant IDEA!!!  I wish there were a way for those to be put in all their loco's.  To sum up,  My biggest gripes were; The railings.  I don't like the material they were made from.  Hard to get paint to stick to them, and the cost.  More along the lines of Cost vs. Value.  I don't think it's value is $150.00.


    After Xmas the long awaited Fairbanks Morse C-Liner was released in CP's Tuscan and Grey Scheme.  This Loco is one that is very popular up here in Canada.  Both CN and CP had them in there roster.  This unit was produced here in Canada for Proto 1000.  The model is actually between a Proto 1000 and a Proto 2000.  The drive train of the loco is equivalent to Proto 1000.  The body has the grab Irons as separate details that have to be added.  I may be jaded as I have been wanting one of these Loco's for a long time now, but I loved it!  The price was great, $100.00 .  This Loco is a work of art, with the railings being fine and molded in yellow.  I was a little let down with the instructions for the details.  They made no mention of the fact that some of the irons have to be installed in a certain direction.  I also found that super glue wasn't doing a good bonding job on some of the irons.  But these are minor things.  The only major thing is the headlight.  I found it to be lacking in intensity.  I haven't discovered a fix for this yet.  I am hoping I will find one.  It runs like a Swiss watch.  Great speed control through out.  I liked the fact that it comes with the extra detail parts for the steam generating plant found on the Passenger version.  CP used both versions in each role so having it on and pulling freight is still prototypical.  I am looking forward to the impending release of the CN units and am hoping that the 5 axle version will be available.  It is really nice to have something so Canadian available.
    Model Railroader has a fine review of this loco in the June 2000 issue.

All Steamed up...

    I am more into modern diesels than I am steam.  But when I saw this Loco on the shelf of The Great Canadian Super Store before Xmas of '97 I fell in love with it.  I had a good close look at it trying to see if there was a really good reason that it was only $80 with track and 4 Minnesota Ore cars in CN markings.  I could see no reason for it.  I took one out and had a close look at it and on the bottom was "MEHANO" and "Made in Slovenia".  These are also on the bottom of the IHC Steam Locomotives that I have seen so I figured it was safe assumption that this was an IHC Steam Locomotive.  I have seen adds for the 482 Mountain in the train magazines for between $139.95 and $180.00 american, but not in CN.  So being able to buy one for so cheap was a blessing that I just couldn't pass up.  I won't talk much about the ore cars beside the fact that the sell for $8.00 in the store each.
    So, it appears I got a good deal right...  Well the test of any good deal is how the loco runs.  This one is beautiful.  It is quiet and looks outstanding with all the rods and valves working.  I didn't like it pulling freight so I purchased some Athearn Heavyweight Passenger cars and did them up in the CN Green and Black with the gold striping for it to pull.  I have six of these cars and they make a very impressive train.  The locomotive required a few touchups on it.  Most notably was the painting of the railings.  They are bare shiny metal when new so i painted them gloss black  I dry brushed the cab interior grey and gold to bring out eh excellent detailing inside.  I also mounted a seat with driver from a Proto 2000 Loco that I removed him from.  Actually he was the second crew man in the SP SD-7.  I also dry brushed the side of the Firebox to give it that heated burnt look.  I am sure that there are tons of fine details that apply to the prototype that are lacking on the model itself.  But as I mentioned in the page on detailing an AC4400.  If I can't see it I don't add it.  That and the whole thing is black so it isn't readily evident what is or isn't missing.  Summing up, finally, I am sure that it isn't on the same level as Rivarossi or brass.  But I like it and it looks great with its passenger train.  I would definitely recommend IHC, particularly the Premier Series line to anyone wanting a decent steam loco at a fair price.

A Couple of Couplers???

    Couplers are probably one of the most important details on a train.  With out them we wouldn't have a train.  There are two different types.  Knuckle Couplers, and the other kind.  Anyone who is detailing a locomotive can't really do it without having realistic couplers sticking out of the pilots.  Knuckle couplers Are a close to real as you are gonna get in HO.  Until recently we have only had Kadee couplers available to us.  Now there seem to be as many manufacturers of KC's as there are Loco companies.  Kadee is the only company that offers completely metal couplers.  There are pro's and con's to this.  The biggest pro is the strength they have.  I think they also look alot better than any of the plastic ones so far.  But....  (Always a but in there somewhere) On a Locomotive this metal can be a problem with short circuits occurring across the couplers.  I have never had this problem myself though.  The other con's for Kadee are, the knuckle spring, and the strength.  Wait a minute didn't I just say that the strength was a good thing?  Well both.  The metal coupler gives good strength for pulling with.  But a lack of flexibility is a problem when the cars or Loco's take a dive off the shelf or the layout.  You usually will end up with either a draft box that is destroyed or Pilot damage.  Kadee also offers the widest range of  Knuckle couplers of anyone.  If  Kadee doesn't make a coupler that is specific to what you need there is one that will substitute very nicely.

    The First non Kadee couplers I tried were Intermountain.  A very nice coupler.  Install easily and can be used with Kadee Centering Springs.  This is a nice little feature.  On the Con side.  The plastic is a stiffer plastic that will snap before it bends.  This has lead to many replacements on my collection.  A final Pro.  They can be purchased with draft boxes and mounting screws.  I love their draft boxes.  Very easy to install and the screws only need to have a hole drilled because of their really nice threading.

    McHenry's were the next I tried.  They have become my favorite couplers.  The fit into any draft box that is out there.  They even come in six different styles.  Short, Medium, and Long Shanks and High, Centered, and Low Coupler Head.  They are the best couplers to go into anything that Athearn makes.  in Fact Athearn provides McHenry couplers with there Loco's now.  The plastic is softer and has more flex to it.  This helps prevent snapping of the shank in the event of accidents.  I have only had one McHenry loose its Coupler head from the shank.  The centering spring is very flexible and can be trimmed down if needed with out losing much effectiveness.

    All plastic couplers suffer from one problem.  If the couplers are left in an open state for as short as time as overnight the knuckles are in risk of not closing properly.  McHenry offers couplers with a metal knuckle spring.  I haven't had an opportunity to try these yet so I can't speak on them.

The July 2000 issue of Model Railroader Has a comprehensive review and comparison of the different Knuckle Couplers available.

I would like to thank Piers Anthony, Spider Robins, and Barry Yoner for there punning.  Life would be no pun without them and others like them.

Thanks....  :-)

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