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. :-)
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.
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.
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
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.
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