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Author Topic: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?  (Read 4798 times)

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Online BobB

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Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« on: April 29, 2012, 11:02:46 am »
On another forum there is a thread running asking about demographics and preferences for either steam outline or a move towards diesels and electrics.

As a recent returnee to N, I'm not sure about the running quality and reliability of N steamers compared to the modern image models. (In OO it's generally accepted that steam has more running issues and bits seem to fall off more often).

What do you guys who run both think ?

Offline Greybeema

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2012, 11:10:38 am »
It is the running qualities & level of detail (as well as space issues) that drew me to N Gauge in the first place.  At that time the running qualities of the Diesel/Modern image seemed better than Steam. 
Given that I am 50 I don't really remember steam mainlines - so naturally moved towards more modern locomotives...

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Offline silly moo

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2012, 11:36:58 am »
 Hi Bob,

I think diesel and electric locos are slightly better than steam models mainly because they are much easier to manufacture. You don't need to worry about complicated running gear, diesel locos usually have two bogies spaced quite far apart so they run better through points as well, it also seems easier for weight to be added in the centre of the loco helping adhesion.

I've never had to send a diesel back and have only had problems with split gears on the old Farish locos.

My first love is steam though, so I have mostly steam locos, it's just a bit more difficult to find a good one.

I wonder what the rate of returns are for diesel/electric vs steam?

Regards

Veronica.

Online Roy L S

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2012, 12:01:33 pm »
I model steam/diesel transition so have a fair number of both.

Inevitably in a general sense a diesel is a "box" within which it is relatively easy for a manufacturer to fit and configure a mechanism and I suspect prove less of a technical challenge. They are not without any faults/areas of weakness however, for example I have recently discovered my 108 DMU has a split gear on a driven axle (Spare on the way from Bachmann) my Peak is "in dock" with a driveshaft issue and my 24 only now runs as well as it should following disassembly and resetting of the pickups so that they all do! 

By comparison my experience with steam has been on a par.

From a technical sense they are more of a challenge and there are more moving parts to go "wrong". For me tender-drive is a more than adequate solution to issues of getting a mechanism in a loco body and my experience with Farish steam has been very good (17 tender driven locos to date I think). Others mention issues with the undriven loco wheels locking - I haven't at all, and put that down to taking great care when handling and using their own boxes to transport them. Another issue is traction tyres working loose. Again, not my experience and I apply only two simple rules to prevent it. The first is never to clean track with Rail-Zip, or similar, just a good old track rubber, the second is to NEVER push a "dead" loco along the track even for an inch - it loosens them.

We have even in recent times seen improvements like a move away from wiper-pickups to ones through axle-bushes (And therefore split frame chassis) and the next generation of Farish locos will revert to loco-drive with a tiny 7mm coreless motor. I am keenly anticipating these and think we may well witness a step-change in loco performance when they arrive...we will see.

Dapol steam I have relatively limited experience of. The 14xx's, their first releases are lovely little locos, mine have presented few problems. Some after that like the 45xx were less good. More recent models like the Brit and B1 are generally better engineered, bus some have been fraught with overheating motor problems. My recent A4 "Wild Swan" has thus far proved an excellent performer though.

My overall advice would be not to be put off steam locos. Yes the nature of mass production means some "lemons" but if you run them in properly and treat them with care and respect they are fine. My personal preference leans me towards Farish as I think they are better engineered and finished, but that doesn't stop me buying the odd Dapol steamer too. Others may have different views to this.

Sorry, turned into a long reply, I hope it is of some help.

Regards

Roy

Offline EtchedPixels

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2012, 04:34:04 pm »
Many of the steam locos have a lot more tricky stuff like fine valvegear so its not surprising there are a few more duds. It also seems that because of things like quartering and the fine valvegear a slightly misassembled steam loco falls to bits or doesn't run, while a slightly misassembled diesel loco just isn't such a good runner.

There are however N gauge steam locos that are practically indestructible. If you want solid reliable steam locos and don't mind doing any fine detailing work yourself (weathering, adding vac pipes/lamps, some additional handrails out of wire) then the Union Mills locos are worth a look. He sticks to inside cylinder tender locos, uses a very simple mechanical design and heavy die cast shells. The end result will not just pull the skin off the rice pudding it'll take the dish for a walk.

For outside valve gear and other fine detail you may well get a loco that needs more care oiling, a lot more care handling and a lot more running in than a diesel, but if you are willling to risk having to send one back now and then all should be fine.

Or you could pick up the cheap Minitrix ones as people "upgrade". They aren't such good lookers, they are not so accurate, but like a 35 year old VW beetle they still start first time 8)

Alan
"Knowledge has no value or use for the solitary owner: to be enjoyed it must be communicated" -- Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden

Offline PLD

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2012, 01:42:07 pm »
As Roy and Alan have said, there is nothing fundamental that makes a steam model inherently 'better' or 'worse' than a diesel. However by design they are more complex machines to represent in model form with more moving parts, which are exposed and therefore more vunerable to damage through misuse and rough handling...

A well cared for steam loco model will normally perform just as well as a diesel and last a similar life span.

Offline H

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2012, 03:47:14 pm »
My take is that in general two bogie D&E models have been better performers than steamies in N gauge for a number of simple reasons;

* firstly the motor is centrally located giving better ballance and weight distribution over all the wheels,
* with both ends of the motor being used to drive the wheels hence more efficient use.
* Plus the body is more boxy and provides more room for a better and heavier chassis block.
* Also they generally have all wheel electrical pick up,
* and all axle drive which kettles don't.
* And the tilt, twist and turn capability of bogies effectively provides compensation which rigid 6, 8 and 10 coupled wheel steam chassis don't have.
* Plus many kettles have spaghetti hanging on the outside of the wheels which adds extra resistance and drag.

Nonetheless there have been recent design developments in kettles, advances in construction and better more modern materials used, that have improved performance significantly; although you do still find kettle fans and manufacturers failing to agree over the best propulstion design method - tenders drive, tender mounted motor driving loco wheels or loco mounted motor.

H.

Offline dodger

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2012, 04:57:54 pm »
Apart from a Bachmann 4-CEP, which runs well but is still new, my fleet is entirely steam.

The majority are Poole made Farish and thew newest is now 15 years old and many are over 20 years old.

I have had relatively few problems apart from regular cleaning and brush changes. With a fleet of about 12 locos I have probably spent less than 25 in spare parts and never returned one.

The same cannot be said of my 5 Dapols where it was necessary to return 2 for relacement, one for valve gear falling apart and one for very poor pick-ups. Saying that they do run well, but are far more difficult to service.

Offline EtchedPixels

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2012, 07:05:09 pm »
* with both ends of the motor being used to drive the wheels hence more efficient use.

Motors and torque don't work like that. I agree with the other points on the whole but there's a laws of physics issue on this one 8-P

It's not just the new ones that dealt with problems of pickup on steam locos - old Farish had tender pickups and ran beautifully on dirty track. Minitrix tender locos likewise (doubly so because of the weight).

I've now idea how many pennies/loco it saved Farish dropping tender pickups but in terms of damage to the scale and their reputation for quality I bet it was an overall huge loss.

Sanity it seems has finally prevailed on the new designs.
"Knowledge has no value or use for the solitary owner: to be enjoyed it must be communicated" -- Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden

Offline dodger

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2012, 07:37:10 pm »
EP, I agree that the old Farish steam locos run better than modern locos when dirty and it is not entirely due to tender pick-ups as i have removed all of mine as they proved difficult to adjust correctly. Fortunately i always use live frog points so they will crawl over points.

Most of the locos I bought the pick-ups were so tight they prevented the tender wheels turning reducing the haulage capacity considerably. It was only when I bought 2 locos 2nd hand that were so old they had the original tender chassis without pick-ups and the wheelset running in the axle boxes that I realised the problem.

Dodger

Online Roy L S

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2012, 09:13:44 pm »
EP, I agree that the old Farish steam locos run better than modern locos when dirty and it is not entirely due to tender pick-ups as i have removed all of mine as they proved difficult to adjust correctly. Fortunately i always use live frog points so they will crawl over points.


Hi Dodger

Have to disagree that old Farish runs better than new even when track is dirty. it simply is not the case at all in my experience. Remarkably well though the old Farish does compare, the new mechanisms are smoother quieter an more controllable. The new Farish B1 I have just been running a case in point, I have had it running round my layout at a consistent scale speed of about 30-40mph with 25 wagons on the back and all you could hear was the chatter of the wheels on the track...lovely. The loco is a powerful beast too, it would comfortably pull double the number of wagons if I had room.

As to tender pickups, properly adjusted they should cause little drag at all. When I fitted them to my A4 "Falcon" yea years ago it would still mange 14 coaches! I would also always advocate the more pickups the better and like EP I think it was sheer folly when Farish stopped firtting them. Thankfully manufacturers these days take the same view.

Regards

Roy

Offline longbridge

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2012, 11:46:31 pm »
I can only judge by my own experiences but I had nothing but trouble with British N gauge steam locos, brand new locos that did not run properly and in some cases only lasted a few months before breaking down completely.

I found the diesels ran a lot better and were pretty close to being perfect but because I grew up in the British steam era the modern diesels did not suit my purpose.

I tried twice to get into British N steam but gave up and made the switch to American N Scale, I have found the American N Scale locos to be far superior with reliable smooth running trains, this also gave me the opportunity to learn about a new and very interesting rail system.
Keep on Smiling
Dave.

Offline davieb

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2012, 10:28:33 am »
hi all  :wave:

just a thought, but is there a great difference between American steam locos Vs American diesels as there appears to be with british locos

and if so is it down to the design of the valve gear, etc

and i would also be interested to know if the american steam locos are better that british steam locos and if so is this down to the
manufacturers designs or QC issues with british makers

its just me being nosey as i've not heard that many reviews of American steam locos

dave  :thumbsup:

Offline H

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2012, 10:58:03 am »
* with both ends of the motor being used to drive the wheels hence more efficient use.

Motors and torque don't work like that. I agree with the other points on the whole but there's a laws of physics issue on this one 8-P

Although it is turning two worms and two lots of gearing (which doesn't happen on kettles) and therefore more final drive so more efficient use of one spindle.

H.

Offline H

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Re: Are steam models worse than diesels and electrics ?
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2012, 11:18:41 am »
EP, I agree that the old Farish steam locos run better than modern locos when dirty and it is not entirely due to tender pick-ups as i have removed all of mine as they proved difficult to adjust correctly. Fortunately i always use live frog points so they will crawl over points.

Have to disagree that old Farish runs better than new even when track is dirty. it simply is not the case at all in my experience.

Yep, have to agree there. Plus, of course, the new motors are five pole (so less cogging/stalling than the old three pole one) and run better. But it's always best to try and keep track clean as the dirt will eventually get on the wheels and in to the loco.

H.

 

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