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Author Topic: American N Gauge  (Read 678 times)

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Offline Webbo

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Re: American N Gauge
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2017, 01:21:56 am »
It seems to me that Kato's reputation is built upon the reliability and smoothness of their locos not on their attention to detail or paint jobs. Kato locomotives are expected to run perfectly out of the box and to keep going thereafter. This has been the case with the 15 Kato locomotives that I own of differing shapes and sizes (4 x SD40-2s, 2 x SD40s, 4 x RDCs, PA&PB, 4-8-4, 2 x AC4400s). I like my Katos very much, but other manufacturers often do better paint jobs and details and run just as well.

One of the nice things about Spookshow is that it gives a rating A (excellent) to F (fail) for almost all locos manufactured in North American N scale right back to 1962. The locos can be sorted in a number of ways including by year of manufacture, by vendor, by manufacturer, by loco model and others. If sorted by year of manufacture, around the mid-1990s one can see a significant change in the majority of locos being below par (B grade or a lot worse) to the most common rating being an A. It seems that all the manufacturers have been lifting their game over the last decades presumably due to the adoption of 5-pole motors, flywheels, better pick-ups, and greater attention to loco detail etc.. I have some old (pre 1980) Minitrix and Con-Cor locomotives and the ratings that Spookshow supplies for these locos (Minitrix = ordinary; Con-Cor = good) are right on the money. Interestingly, these early Con-Cor models were manufactured by Kato, but marketed by Con-Cor.

If I were buying older locomotives from EBay say, I would have a look at what Spookshow has to say about them first.

Webbo

Offline Rich_S

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Re: American N Gauge
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2017, 01:34:14 am »
The Majority of my locomotive fleet is Atlas. All of them are Plug-n-play DCC ready. Kato does produce some very nice locomotives, but the majority of them do not fit into my operating era. I also own two Walthers / Life-Like GP38-2's and they are very good running locomotives, but they did need some minor surgery in order to install the TCS CN-GP DCC decoders.  As others have mentioned, stick with the current Bachmann locomotives, the ones that are DCC and sound value equipped. The pre-Kader Bachmann era saw a lot of locomotives with design and manufacture problems and are best avoided.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2017, 01:36:13 am by Rich_S »
Cheers,
Rich S.

Offline ngaugepaul

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Re: American N Gauge
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2017, 06:56:04 pm »
Thank you to those who have replied

Thank you once again to all of you who have replied. The information provided is greatly appreciated.

From the replies it is apparent that most people seem to have a high regard for Kato products.

Can anyone advise me what type of couplers Kato use and are they compatible with other those used by other manufacturers ? Can you change them as easy as you can with those used in British N gauge ?

At W H Smiths I came across Model Railroader magazine at 4.95 for 78 pages. It struck me as quite thin for what must be a large target audience. Are there any other magazines that are recommended and how do you source them ?

Offline texhorse

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Re: American N Gauge
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2017, 07:32:47 pm »
Hi Paul

I love Model Railroader Magazine!  I visited their offices in May.  However, not everyone feel as happy with it as I do.  The other magazines which can be recommended seem to be available mainly in America, but you may be able to get them through

www.spv.co.uk

They are N Scale Magazine :  http://www.nscalemagazine.com/

Also N Scale Railroading Magazine :  http://www.nscalerailroadn.com/

Both are worth a look, but also do feel a bit thin.  There are also online magazines for free.  The best one in my opinion is :

http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/  I warn you, there's plenty to look at!

Kato locos, and all the other modern ones use knuckle couplers.  They are all compatible, although Kato locos do need a little pursuasion in coupling to box cars.  It doesn't really bother me, I just lift the couplers into each other, but it drives some people crazy!  Replacing the standard "Rapidos" is simple enough as long as you purchase the "already constructed" couplers such as Microtrains 1015.

You have a lot to catch up on Paul, but it's all good fun!

Andy
UK
Montrose and Highland Railroad



Offline ngaugepaul

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Re: American N Gauge
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2017, 07:42:44 pm »
Thanks Andy

I made the comment regarding Model Railroader as whilst it is printed on thinner paper than say the Hornby or Railway modeller magazines I was expecting something more substantial for what must be a larger US market.

I will have a look at the online site you mentioned.

As you say a lot to learn.

Regards

Paul

Offline Rich_S

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Re: American N Gauge
« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2017, 12:03:39 am »
Thanks Andy

I made the comment regarding Model Railroader as whilst it is printed on thinner paper than say the Hornby or Railway modeller magazines I was expecting something more substantial for what must be a larger US market.

I will have a look at the online site you mentioned.

As you say a lot to learn.

Regards

Paul

Hi Paul, Yes Model Railroader magazine as shrunk over the years. It seems the magazine peaked page wise in the 1980's. When I first subscribed to Model Railroader in the early 1970's, the magazine was well over 125 pages with well over 200 model railroad companies advertising in the magazine. My current November 2017 issue of Model Railroader only has 84 pages and 58 model railroad companies advertising in the magazine. Even the actual size of the magazine has shrunk by about a quarter of an inch. Personally I think there are several reasons for the decrease in size. Back in the late 1960's when I became involved with the hobby, there were only two magazines available, Model Railroader and Railroad Model Craftsman. Today you still have Model Railroader and Railroad Model Craftsman, but you also have many specialty magazines like "N Scale" and "N Scale Railroading", plus the Online magazine like "Model Railroad Hobbyist". There are many more magazines for S scale, O scale, Narrow gauge, all of these magazines are vying for advertisers. The model railroad companies try to be thrifty on where best they spend their advertising dollars. This is why I believe Model Railroader has shrunk in size over the years.  I also subscribe to "N-Scale" magazine, it is a quality magazine specializing in every thing N scale. I then to purchase "N Scale Railroading" at my local hobby shop if I see any articles of interest, but I'm not a regular subscriber.   
Cheers,
Rich S.

Offline scottmitchell74

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Re: American N Gauge
« Reply #21 on: September 30, 2017, 10:13:45 pm »
Allow me to add my two cents:

Yes, Kato and Atlas are deservedly highly rated, but I want to put a plug in for Life-Like. If there's one brand that has consistantly exceeded my expectations (based on price), it's Life-Like.

But! You must get the right ones. That's where I will echo those who say: study Spookshow's website. That site is Gold. I've spent countless hours there.

What Life-Like lack in detail (and that's not always the case, I usually like how they look) they make up for it with almost obscene pulling power.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2017, 10:15:12 pm by scottmitchell74 »
Spend as little as possible on what you need so you can spend as much as possible on what you want.

Offline Rich_S

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Re: American N Gauge
« Reply #22 on: September 30, 2017, 11:22:26 pm »
Allow me to add my two cents:

Yes, Kato and Atlas are deservedly highly rated, but I want to put a plug in for Life-Like. If there's one brand that has consistantly exceeded my expectations (based on price), it's Life-Like.

But! You must get the right ones. That's where I will echo those who say: study Spookshow's website. That site is Gold. I've spent countless hours there.



Hi Scott, I agree 100%. I own two Walthers / Life-Like GP38-2's that run very well and in my opinion are just as detailed as Kato and Atlas locomotives.



They did require some minor surgery to add the TCS CN-GP decoders, but nothing serious.

Cheers,
Rich S.

Offline Webbo

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Re: American N Gauge
« Reply #23 on: October 03, 2017, 12:48:53 am »
My two Life-Like locos (GP9 & RS-18) are also 100% in looks and running. At least the equals of Kato and Atlas.

Webbo
« Last Edit: October 03, 2017, 09:10:17 pm by Webbo »

Offline Jon898

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Re: American N Gauge
« Reply #24 on: October 03, 2017, 05:26:20 pm »
+1 for Life-Like.  Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, now out of business (but you can still find new "old stock" at very nice prices if you look carefully - for example the GP20 below cost me USD32.50 brand new, unused).

Here are my two:

A GP20


and a FA1/FB1 pair (both powered)


Jon

Offline Malc

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Re: American N Gauge
« Reply #25 on: October 04, 2017, 01:34:54 pm »
Another vote for Life Like. My E7A & B
I'm not sure if life is passing me by, or trying to run me over.

Offline anaes20

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Re: American N Gauge
« Reply #26 on: November 20, 2017, 04:46:49 pm »
North American N scale is truly fascinating with a huge range of equipment available.  As mentioned, be aware that many products are made in limited runs.  On this note also be aware that some people merely collect models without running them on layouts.  Many Micro-Trains Line models in particular tend to be snapped up by collectors and they have responded with many collectable sets of cars.  The flipside of this is that you can often find second-hand equipment in virtually perfect condition.  I will join the band of satisfied customers singing the praises of Anoraks Anonymous.  They attend many shows throughout the year.  Plus Daughters are also excellent and sell a range of both new and pre-loved stock. 

The consistent quality of Kato locomotives is hard to beat in my opinion and so I would recommend starting with one or two of them in the first instance.  Freight and passenger cars are made by many companies with Atlas, Kato, Athearn, Walthers and Bachmann being the most readily available in the UK.  Intermountain, Fox Valley Models and Rapido issue very detailed stock but are not always as easy to find here and are a bit pricey - they are worth looking for though if one can get a bargain. 

If you need inspiration, YouTube can be your friend.  There are several companies with livecams at various railroad hotspots in North America.  While some like Railstream operate on a subscription basis they nonetheless have one camera available for free for a week or so as a "taster".  The taster rotates among the various webcams.  Other livecams are free throughout.  Have a look and be inspired!  DVDs are also excellent bets especially if you have a specific area in mind.

Omar / anaes20.

 

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