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1960’s – 1970’s Diesel Engine. Which Model and Manufacturer

Club member Daniel has this question for readers:

“I would like some suggestions to help me select my next locomotive to run on my 1960’s – 1970’s DCC HO layout. Any suggestions on the best manufacturer or model? I understand this is a very wide ranging question, so I’ve thought a bit about what I really want:

  • Price – maybe $150 to $250USD range.
  • Reliable performance needs to be a priority as I would would rather have fewer, better engines that can do the job and won’t cause me headaches.
  • Style of diesel is not so important. It just needs to fit the era of my US railroad.

Any ideas please?”

28 Responses to 1960’s – 1970’s Diesel Engine. Which Model and Manufacturer

  • Bryansays:

    Kato, Athern

  • Thomas Gerbecksays:

    The majority of my locos are Kato with a few Life-like models in use. I have never had an issue with
    them. I model in N gauge but they are excellent quality in HO or N.

  • David Breesesays:

    I can think of the F-7, F-9,SW-1500 switcher, GP-20,& GP-30. As for the manufacturers I would say that’s your choice.

  • Dante Fulignisays:

    The Also RS-3 road switcher is a ubiquitous multi-purpose loco built in the 50s and still in use today. Atlas makes an excellent, good-looking, smooth-running version.

  • Clifton Lintonsays:

    My vote is for an EMD GP38-2. A Chessie System unit was picked as the “All-American Diesel” by Trains Magazine in 1982. But the first ones rolled off the assembly line in 1972, so that matches your era.

    Athearn does make a model of this diesel — but it may be outside of your price range. Unless you find it on sale.

  • Mark Herlihysays:

    Sorry. Can’t help all mine are all steam era.

  • Billsays:

    Daniel;
    Today the quality of most manufactures has greatly increased over the last decade so that most any manufacturer should provide you with a reliable quality product. I am in the transition era but I would recommend Broadway Limited and/or Rapido. You should be able to find what you are looking for in these at your price range. I have never bought Kato but I hear they are solid diesels.

  • Alex. Lafarguesays:

    … I recommend Rapido or Bowser

  • andre tardifsays:

    athearn in the genesis but for the price you may go to direct factory you may have a large difference of locos for the prices between 150$ to 250$ or less if in sales or may be walther’s in sales —good luck my friend .

  • Don Jenningssays:

    DANIEL you are a club member of a railroad club?. Do you talk to the other members at all?
    Try that first. Then with that information you probably dont need to ask this question of other people on the internet. DUH!
    What railroad line do you model after? That has to be known first.
    Some railroads did not have certain locomotives. People like yourself
    must have fun asking questions like this== VERY vague with no real
    correct answer. GOOD LUCK with the answer.

    Get a dockside engine or get a BIG BOY locomotive.
    Apparently it does not matter.
    No hobby shop near where you live I guess.

    This is not meant to be a mean reply. But sometimes some thinking is required.

    “If you are lost and do not know where you are,==take any road it does not matter.

    • Matthew Daysays:

      yeah, dude that’s pretty snobby and mean…

    • Adam Youngsays:

      Don Jennings, you are the kind of asshat that makes people new to a hobby abandon it. You take the fun out of it by being too much of a rivet counter. If you can’t be kindly helpful, just say nothing at all.

  • Neil Renniesays:

    I like Athearn Genesis but as Clifton says they maybe outside of you price range, although I haven’t bought any for a number of years.

  • Jim Hallsays:

    When I was first buying Ho in the mid to late 1970’s I was buying F7 and GP35’s. The F ‘s were first produced in the early to late 50’s and early 60’s and from what I understand the Geeps were produced in the mid to late 60’s. The ones I purchased were Athern and Bachmann. Atlas and several other makers were out there as well, but some manufacturers were producing what I called at the time toy products. but then I live in New Zealand and you had o be “rich”to be able to afford good models.

  • philsays:

    GP7, 9, 18, 20, 28, 30, 35, 38, & 40. SD7, 9, 18, 24, 35 (P35) & 40 all F units were still running, albeit most were gone by mid-late 70’s. Alco RS, RSD, DL’s and early Century models. Most 539 powered Alco’s were gone early-mid 70’s, along with Alco cabs. GE Universal series B & C. EMD -2’s came in 72. GE -7’s came in 77.

  • David Stokessays:

    Although I am not going to be as brutal as Don, you do need to do some real thinking before psending any money. Do you have a current layout? If so, does it have a theme? Do you just run trains around your layout, or do you make up trains and move “stuff from A to B or does it represent the end of the line depot or wharf? Do you have a favourite railroad? The answer to these questions (and many others) should lead to to your next loco purchase. I know a number of guys (and girls) who have gone out and spent a fortune on building a model railway only to walk away and play golf or such because they rushed in, and because of lack of thought and planning didn’t get out of the project the enjoyment or satisfaction they craved. Don’t be one of these poor souls.

  • Perry monziettisays:

    How about a walthers sw1 switcher. They were in service from 1933 thru mid 70’s. Some still in service at present. Its a nice locomotive

  • W Rusty Lanesays:

    Broadway Limited makes some very nice DCC engines with sound. You might want to try looking at them as well as Walthers, Atlas or Athearn. They are all very good manufacturers and depending on what era you model, you may have specific needs or wants. I model the Central of Georgia and have done enough research to fine out what engines were on their roster since it is a defunct railroad at present. I did some research on-line that provided me with a complete roster of early steam up to and including earlier diesels that they used. Have fun and happy railroading.

    • W Rusty Lanesays:

      I have Atlas, Athearn, Life Like, Tyco and Mantua locomotives and several Bachmanns that I DO NOT like. The life expectancy of the older Bachmann locomotives is only about 2 years. I´ve had to scrap several Bachmanns that gave up the ghost so I absolutely WILL NOT buy another Bachmann. Rapido makes some very nice detailed engines but are out of my price range as well as Broadway Limited.

  • Perry Monziettisays:

    Here’s a photo of a walthers sw1, i left it out of my previous reply.

  • Donsays:

    Nobody has mentioned Austrains and Auscision loco’s. Far superior to most American brands.

    • Poworkersays:

      They may be superior BUT maybe not in his price range! Not a bad suggestion though.

  • Wayne Normansays:

    Hi Daniel,

    So many choices out there today, most are good quality.
    I run an EMD GP38 by Atlas and find it trouble free and very dependable.
    Atlas and Bachmann both supply this Diesel in your price range.
    You should be able to find something there.
    Good Luck and happy railroading.

  • Davesays:

    So when I started I had the same question and a lot more. Here’s what I did 1. Made sure my track was good – no matter how much you pay for a loco if your track isn’t good it won’t make a difference. 2. Start off with a switch engine for your time period. It won’t go out of style, you can keep it even if you change your mind by a couple of decades. Lots of old switchers working yards. That plus a few cars to switch around will give you lots of operating opportunities.

    We all have to start somewhere – and there are snobs in every hobby. Most locos are pretty reliable these days. For that matter after almost 20 years I’m still running the old Chessie that came in my son’s first Life Like train set. I’ve been told a couple times to “Get rid of that piece of junk” Does it fit in with my layout scheme – no – but it has a lot of sentimental value and I like it. I’m of the firm opinion that hobbys are supposed to be fun, within our budgets and take our minds of the things that grind us down. It’s not supposed to be work. If you want to become all anal retentive about things and that’s your choice so be it. If you just like running trains and you don’t mind having things a bit skewed from the ideal – go for it. I ran my current layout for a few years just operating – no scenery except for a couple of little dioramas I built to pop in for seasonal changes.

    By the way – the only stupid questions are the ones that you don’t ask

  • craig l giovinazzisays:

    I have 7 Bachmann engines

  • Jaysays:

    These days, there is so much good stuff being made by all makers. Attention to detail, quality, sound, road names, there is a plethora of Loco’s to choose from. To select your loco, I would start with knowing what road you are modeling, and do a search on that road. Chances are there is a locomotive for that road, in the era you are looking for. When you decide on a loco, you can also do a search for reviews online that people have put together, like on You Tube. I have owned (bought and sold) so many locos, from all makers, and they all have their perks. Most of the latest equipment has can motors, flywheels, all wheel pickup, fine details, knuckle couplers, great sound, smoke units, mars lights etc. What really appeals to me are die-cast shells and frames for better weight and pulling power. The manufacturers are doing all they can to meet the needs and demands of us modelers, and it’s only getting better all the time.

  • Leslie Foransays:

    Like Thomas, I model in N. But I agree with him that Kato and Life-Like (in the past few years) are very good. To them, I would also suggest Intermountain and Atlas.

    It is hard to make specific recommendations without knowing exactly what era and railroads he is modeling. My railroad is based on the Denver Colorado Union Station operations in the early to mid 1960’s. This gives me a wide latitude of railroads and trains to model, both streamlined and standard, with a good assortment of first-generation passenger Diesels.

  • SpecialEdsays:

    Kato. Wont disappoint. They run well, detail is very good and adding DCC to newer offerings is as simple as plugging in a decoder.

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