What are Good N Scale Engine Brands?

Discussion in 'N Scale' started by jocatch, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. jocatch

    jocatch TrainBoard Member

    I am a transplant from HO where I built a layout back in the early 90's. I stopped back around 2000 when I had to leave the layout. Back then Proto 2000, Atlas and Stewart were well respected, quality brands.

    Today I am thinking about doing my first N scale. I am looking for CSX engines, non-DCC. What brand are around today that are of the same quality that I am use to?

  2. OC Engineer JD

    OC Engineer JD Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Kato, is the best by far. Then Atlas, Intermountain, Life Like. :)
  3. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    Kato and Atlas are widely accepted as the "best of the best". Kato, particularly has some excellent modern CSX. Athearn probably comes in close behind, followed by pretty much everyone else.

    Run away, fast, from any standard line Bachmann and older Spectrum. I hear their NEW stuff (within just the last couple years) is finally getting on par with everyone else. I still would not buy until you test the model you'll take home though.

    Happy modeling, :)
  4. OC Engineer JD

    OC Engineer JD Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    How did I forget Athearn! LOL Yes, very good models! :)
  5. EMD F7A

    EMD F7A TrainBoard Member

    IMO, Intermountain is a step above Atlas these days on their F7 and FP7 locos, and I hear their SD's are to die for.... perhaps we need a side-by-side comparo? But really, any Atlas (1996 and later) and Kato engines will also be a great investment. Life Like is somewhat hit and miss but the right models will be on-par operationally with most 90's Atlas locos! I am wiping my slate clean and selling all the low and mid grade, you may not regret it at first but you will eventually if you're really into this hobby :) Above all else, don't settle! Find what you really want, even if you have to kitbash! Cheers-
  6. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    I also think Intermountains run better than Atlases, but as far as the construction of the frame and shell, at least on my SD40T-2, I've seen eggshells that are sturdier. But yeah, Kato, Intermountain, Atlas and Athearn are the way to go, no need to hesitate with the Big Four. And now what's this I hear about Fox Valley Models coming out with locomotives? :) (more choices are always good for the hobby and especially the scale!)
  7. sundowner

    sundowner TrainBoard Member

    For CSX only Kato and Atlas make locomotive worth buying amd most will be correct or closed to correct for CSX and all run great.

    IM, Athearns and Walthers/Life Like have made CSX model but they are all subpar and overprices, so I stay away from them.

    FVM is the new player in town but has not release there loco yet, so I will not comment on its running quality.
  8. MRLdave

    MRLdave TrainBoard Member

    There really aren't any "bad" engines out there anymore......but some ARE better than others. And unfortunately EVERY manufacturer throws a clunker now and then.....I've had bad Athearns (1), Intermountains (1), Katos (2), Atlas (1), and Bachmann (3). That's out of about 80 engines.....but that's still 10%. If I throw in our club, the percentage stays about the same......although the number of high end engines seems to go up.....we've had dead out of the box Big Boys, Challengers, GS4's , ect.

    My point is don't worry about WHAT BRAND you're buying. Find the engines you want........some will only be made by one manufacturer.......and go for it. If possible, test run the engine you're going to buy at the store. And here's a link to a really good site that's tested A LOT of engines, old and new. http://www.visi.com/~spookshow/locos.html
  9. CSXDixieLine

    CSXDixieLine Passed Away January 27, 2013 In Memoriam

    I also model modern CSX in N-scale. I think Atlas and Kato are by far the kings of the hill in N-scale locomotives. I would rank them in a dead tie for #1, with Atlas having a slight edge in looks and Kato having a slight edge in performace. Can't really go wrong with either, and both have a good selection of CSX locos in both YN2 and YN3 paint (Atlas also has some locos in the stealth scheme). Fox Valley Models is also releasing GEVOs in N-scale in CSX paint, but they are a new player in the locomotive game so will be a while before we have a verdict regarding the quality of thier product. Jamie

    EDIT: Sorry, I got caught up in the loco evaluation and forgot to say "Welcome to N-scale!" and "Welcome to TrainBoard!"
  10. Richard320

    Richard320 TrainBoard Member

    You would hav e to toss that CSX qualifier in there...

    My best running locomotive is a Tomix Thomas the Tank Engine. No kidding. It just purrs - always has, right out of the box. And even though it has like a 1" wheelbase, it doesn't stall anywhere.

    If Kato has what you want, just buy it.
  11. jocatch

    jocatch TrainBoard Member

    Thanks everyone for your input. I was hoping Atlas and Kato would be in the list but I wasn't sure as I went to my local train store and he like only 2 CSX engines so I was worried that they weren't that popular.

    Upon looking at the possible track plans that I may build, I am thinking more and more that maybe I should go with DCC as they all seem to have reversing loops and 20 or more blocks. I have never used a layout with reversing loop but it sounds like a pain in the neck as I like to have trains running all by themselves without constant input from me. So now I am on a mission to learn all I can about DCC (I know almost nothing about it) and to find engines that have DCC already.

  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Store inventory can be misleading. Kato has essentially been number one for the entire time they've been active in N scale.

    Boxcab E50
  13. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    Atlas and Kato make the best stuff I have. My Athearn Challenger is very good. My Athearn FP45 I would rate as very good, also. I have two LL SW 9/1200 switchers (I guess they didn't want to dictate to us which SW they modeled) and I think those are good switchers. I have a Bachmann Spectrum 44-tonner that I would rate as very good once you swap the stock coupler for something that actually couples and decouples.
  14. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    Another thing I do in evaluating whether to buy a specific model is to check N Scale Locomotive Encyclopedia and also ask here on this board what people think of X brand's model of Y locomotive.
  15. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    While Kato is a excellent brand they don't offer much in CSX.

    Your best choice for CSX is with Atlas.Now IMHO Atlas is equal to Kato..Walthers(former LL) is another good brand-stay away from the cheaper LL locos..
  16. jocatch

    jocatch TrainBoard Member

    Is this some kind of sick joke or what ? :cool:

    I went to Walters and Trainworld.com looking for CSX N scale engines from Kato and Atlas and I found almost nothing! I saw a couple models available but most offerings were DISCONTINUED, OUT OF STOCK or due in 2010 (some as far as July 2010)!!

    What gives? Has there been a mad rush for CSX engines? Did a factory somewhere burn down? :cool:

    I guess I'll have to keep looking...

  17. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    Model railroading has been moving toward this reservations system (topic of several other threads) that people love and hate. The problem with this for someone in your position is that everything seems to be out of stock when you're starting up. If you're looking for something that was released two years ago by Atlas, for example, the search can be quite difficult sometimes.

    Try some of the TrainBoard vendors here, and then there's always used stuff on that auction site and other places. Also, check out TrainStore here periodically as there are other CSX modelers who may be buying and selling. Sometimes it pays to check the inventories of shops nowhere near your roadname's area, as they may have bought a few for stock and they may still be sitting there. Sometimes, when looking for SP locos, for example, I will check shops on the East Coast.

    Good luck,
  18. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    Joe,I model CSX and they are easy to find on line..

  19. sundowner

    sundowner TrainBoard Member

    Kato has or will make for CSX G38-2, C30-7, foobie CW44-9, SD40, SD40-2, SD70M, SD70mac, SD80mac, AC44CW, and coming soon SD70ace and ES44AC. KATO has made plenty for CSX, is the only eastern road they know, sorry NS guys.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 18, 2009
  20. N-builder

    N-builder TrainBoard Member

    I think Atlas is the best because of all the variety they offer form locos to rolling stock to track, Kato is good too but they make more or less the new era diesel locos. Intermountain is also great if you want any F units, Walther's purchased Life Like and I think they're locos Proto's came a long way also. These are all good manufacturers that I really recommend.

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