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How Do Old Locomotives Compare With Today’s Locos?

Colin T wants to here your thoughts:

“I have seen an old HO blue box Athearn EMD SW1200 locomotive that I can buy really cheap. I like it because it’s nicely detailed but heard that older locos like this are not as good to run, being more noisy, not so smooth, and less reliable than their modern counterparts? Is that generally the case? Are they hard to service? I am not so worried about the cost (about $30 to buy) but don’t want to waste loads of time fiddling with it to keep it operating. I know how frustrating that can be. Does someone have old and new locos who could comment? If you have experience with the same Athearn ever better.”

Add your comment below.

10 Responses to How Do Old Locomotives Compare With Today’s Locos?

  • Garthsays:

    I had a stock of old locos and they were all wiped out in a garage fire. Insurance paid for new ones and there is no comparison. Smooth, reliable etc. And I only buy Kato!
    Having said that, there is nothing wrong with old locos in the background, behind the loco shed or where ever, even if they never run. Put some grass/weeds around them to add to realism.
    Cheers, Garth

  • Peter Saunderssays:

    You get what you pay for. That said blue box athern run forever if you keep the wheels polished and you hard wireall electrics etc bogies to mpotor .don’t rely on original set up

  • phil johnsonsays:

    I have Athearn BB, RTR, and Genesis. The detail on the BB was and is lacking (super detailers dream). many of the older BB’s hoods were too wide and the motors were crappy. Most of the above was changed in the mid 70’s. The RTR’s have better details added on some. On others predrilled holes. Plastic handrails, better lighting? and nickel wheels. Genesis improved RTR with/without DCC. My old BB GE C44-9CW’s and SD40-2 will out pull my early GenesisSD70M’s. Now, my SD45T2’s, FP/F45’s are close in power but have a better slow speed. I added details on my BB to match UP units back in the 70’s. Comparing Athearn’s GP40X to UP pics The only thing I needed to change was a horn location on one. My Athearn BB’s are 40+ y/o and still going strong with just routine maintenance. I’ve already lost one SD70M @12 y/o.

  • Frank Bsays:

    Old locos (of good quality) will run fine if they are properly maintained (contact & wheel cleaning, lubrication). All DC locos will run better with a PWM controller (better & controllable slow running).

    As Peter says, you can do things to improve electrical contact if you have a basic knowledge of electrics and a soldering iron.

    As Phil indicates, many modern products have far better details than the older trains (which were originally intended as children’s toys).

    • Sheldon Clarksays:

      I believe pulse width modulation controllers are not good for the coreless motors frequently found in modern N Gauge locos, but I doubt if it’s a problem with H0.

  • Stevesays:

    Hi I have a couple of old locos that I use on my lay out, they run without a problem. in fact one of the old locos I use a lot I consider to be the most reliable

  • Jaysays:

    I have many old loco’s I love the old die cast stuff. I will take them and modernized them with DCC & Sound, new motors and lights, it brings life to them. I also have many of the newest loco’s on the market, and they are great. The newer ones do run much better than the older ones, however, the newer ones are so much more delicate to handle, with the fine details etc. My biggest focus in the hobby, is on locomotives, and collecting them.

  • Timothy Morloksays:

    I have an early ’60’s GP9 that still runs. I like its pulling power and it will start to creep at a very minimum throttle setting. It can be a quieter than the newer models because it has no gear train. It has rubber band drive to all four axles from a long center shaft extending from both ends of the motor.The bands need to be replaced as they age or dry out. This is easy to do since the band are the only things holding the trucks onto the center pin. I just remove the body from the frame and slip new bands over the ends of the shaft. Then I pop an axle one at a time out of the truck’s side frame and stretch the other end of the band over the drum shaped axle making sure that the 90 degree twist is in the same direction on all four rubber bands. The rubber bands must all be the same length with just enough tension to firmly hold the trucks in place,turn the wheels without too much stretching and that they don”t bend the shaft.

  • W Rusty Lanesays:

    I have a DC HO scale layout and all my engines are old ones. Mantua, Ahtearn, Life Like, Tyco, Atlas, AHM, IHC, Mehano and perhaps a few others. They all run amazingly well. I have changed out the magnets in the open frame motors to use the rare earth neodymium magnets. Now the motors have less current draw and improved slow crawl momentum. Most of the Athearn’s have the fly wheel motors in them and I use a MRC controller with selectable pulse width modulation. Only the old Bachmann ones are troublesome. Most give up the ghost after a few years of running and I’ll never buy another Bachmann engine. I’ve had several that only lasted a couple of years and I have only one left and am waiting for it to give up the ghost. Of course, I’ve heard that the newer Bachmann locos are okay, but my experience with Bachmann left a bad taste in my mouth and I doubt I ever purchase another one. The Atlas engines and Athearn are the best runners especially the Athearn SW 1500 and SW 7 which I have several of.

  • Raysays:

    Certainly don’t waste your money as there is no comparison.Dual fly wheels, beautiful details,DCC decoders,huge range now available [and now with N gauge you can fill a whole room with a lifelike model world]. The old stuff is OK for just the background but don’t bother running them they are nothing but hard work compared to the new engines [especially KATO.]

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