HO locomotive quality ranking

Joe Daddy Jun 30, 2006


Highest quality locomotives (multiple selections ok)

  1. Broadway (BLI)

    39 vote(s)
  2. Athearn

    54 vote(s)
  3. Bachmann & Spectrum

    25 vote(s)
  4. Trixx

    8 vote(s)
  5. Atlas

    91 vote(s)
  6. Kato

    88 vote(s)
  7. Mantua

    6 vote(s)
  8. Walthers Trainline

    7 vote(s)
  9. Proto (1000, 2000, Heritage etc)

    56 vote(s)
  10. Other (poll limit is 10 choices)

    22 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Joe Daddy

    Joe Daddy TrainBoard Member

    Please select the locomotives that provide the best quality and performance on your layout.

    The names of voters is marked as hidden, so lets vote and see who we choose as the best loco manufacturers. HO please
  2. Matthew Roberts

    Matthew Roberts TrainBoard Member

    Shouldn't this be in the HO-scale forum???
  3. Scott R. Vantine

    Scott R. Vantine TrainBoard Supporter

    My engines rate from the top:

    1) Spectrum Shay
    2)Life-Like SD-7
    3)Atlas RS-1

    Other engines on the layout-not mine
    1)BLW Pennsy M1
    2)Atlas Trainmaster
    3)PS Y6B
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Could be an interesting topic! This would probably be best viewed in the HO Forum. So will move it over there.


    Boxcab E50
  5. SP 8299

    SP 8299 TrainBoard Member

    This type of poll is at best subjective, since it depends upon models that the responders own. Even among the same brand, locomotive "quality" (which in itself is debateable, depending upon the tastes and expectations of each individual modeler) can vary; for instance, while I'm not overly wild about Athearn's ex-RPP offerings in their RTR line, I've got nothing but praise for their newer RTR offerings, in particular their SD50/60 and SD45T-2. How is one supposed to vote on such a far-reaching subject?
  6. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Supporter

    I made my choices based on what I have now. Haven't bought a BLI locomotive as yet, so have no knowledge of their product. I haven't owned a Mantua/Tyco since my first days in HO (1964-1969), so am not up to date on them either.

    Since I mostly run diesel (got to have at least one 2-10-0), it is so good that units from the different manufacturers run together so well. Am a big fan of multiple unit lash ups so this is important to me.

    Have just purchased my first InterMountain units and am happy that they fit right in with the Kato, Stewart, Life Like, Atlas, and Athearn "Genesis" units.

    Have also bought Athearn's new GP-35's and while they are smooth runners, they're a little "quicker" to start than my other units. But in m.u. with two or more of the other units, the slipping is not so noticeable.

    I'm certain that if I found the right rated resistor this wouldn't even be a problem - any of you Tesla/Edison types have a suggestion?
  7. Joe Daddy

    Joe Daddy TrainBoard Member


    Putting all the different possiblities in a poll like this is not possible due to technical limitations. But I do think you are making it too hard. Either you have had excellent, reliable performance out of Athearn or you have not. By what you have said, the answer is no, and yes. Well, you will have to pick which way you want to vote on that one.

    I am a once burned dude, the only good Ford has a Chevrolet engine in it. See my proof on off topic RailImages. :shade:

    Please know I am not intent on being mean spirited or personal here. Your point is well taken, but yes and no are the only choices we have with the polls.

    Best reagrds,

    Joe :angel:
  8. dingoix

    dingoix TrainBoard Member

    My Stewart F3 runs better than my Atlas engines. Atlas is good, tho- just a step down from Stewart. For cost, reliability, and durability, you can't be an Athearn BB. My GP38-2 is going strong after 12 years. I've got a GP35 thats pry 20 years old and still runs fine- but I picked it up one time and the shell fell off- as a result, it broke one of the truck mounts. One I get new trucks it'll be "back in the game".
  9. friscobob

    friscobob Staff Member

    I have Atlas with the Roco drives (three GP38s), Atlas with Kato drives (four RS3s and an RS1), and Atlas/China drives. All run really well, with the Kato chassis number one, China second, and the old ROco last (but the field is really bunched together).

    The "bottom-drawer" diesels on my roster are my Walthers Trainline GP15-1s and GP9, and they still work quite well. The GP9 uses the recycled Cox wide-shell GP9 which dates back a few decades, and the GP15-1s are scale-width. Their details are a bit clunky, which is why I've got 'em stripped to bare palstic for new details and a better paint job (their Frisco red is too red). However, the drives are OK, and since I'm not a bigtime remotoring type, I'll run 'em together on locals or with branchline jobs with my Front Range GP7s or Athearn GP38-2s.

    I'm grateful for Walthers' intro of the baby Tunnel Motor, so I won't kick 'em too hard. However, with some work and better details, I should have a kick-a** locomotive when I'm done.
  10. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    For my money I have found Athearn and Atlas locomotives are hard to beat for years of trouble free operation with routine maintenance..My 2 Genesis NS Spartan cab SD70s are real jewels but,the headlight bulbs blew but,still I like 'em.

    I have 3 Walther's GP15s as well and think they are ok but,not among my favorite units.
  11. Martyn Read

    Martyn Read TrainBoard Supporter

    I voted Atlas and Kato as my #1 and #2 (not in any particular order). Their current models are excellently engineered and very well presented, i'd have no hesitation buying one if it was something I wanted. :)

    I didn't vote for:

    BLI - They seem very changeable, some models look excellent, some seem to suffer from poor research and the tooling generally doesn't seem as nice as Atlas & Kato. I've not seen one I want to buy yet, after deciding that I didn't like their SD40-2.

    Trix - Don't make anything of interest to me. What i've seen is good, but pricey.

    Proto - I wanted to vote for these guys, but assorted QC issues, plus them having a ridiculous interpretation of 'DCC-Ready' knocked them off my list. They do some good loco's, and the P1K range is stunning value for money, they aren't bad, but they aren't consistently good like Atlas and Kato. Would have been #4 overall if i'd have given that much of a vote.

    Athearn - Like others, they make products that vary so much it's hard to rate. I'd put these guys as #3 overall, most of what they do has some merit. Some of it is stunningly good quality and value, some seems to be warmed-over vintage tooling that doesn't stand up at all well.

    I'd also give Stewart an honourable mention - not voted for as they don't do huge amounts for the era's I model (and not on the list so I didn't think of them!) :embarassed: but Atlas/Kato-quality mechs and usually good tooling makes them worth a look in my book. If they gave in and did a C636 they would cause my bank manager heart trouble... :D

    Any of the others? Mostly not worth mentioning. The Walthers GP15 is probably worth a look if you want a GP15, but that's mostly because it's the only game in town :(

    Bachmann? Well, they make some nice steam and electrics.....I don't have a need for steam or electrics. If they felt like making some nice diesels some time I might give them a look. The frustrating thing is that we know they are capable of making some good diesels, they just haven't done it yet!
  12. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Supporter

    Martyn - Don't know perhaps I'm not as particular as some, or am more willing to moderately tinker with a new engine, but I have three of Bachman's H-16-44s and am quite satisfied with them.

    I had minor problems with the handrails and am not enthralled with their radiator screens, but these are easily fixable items. They run very smoothly and m.u. well together, though have to admit that as of this date, haven't attempted to m.u. them with other makes.
  13. Joe Daddy

    Joe Daddy TrainBoard Member

    My 25 Cents on my locomotives

    I have 5 bachmann locomotives, an On3 Christmas Trolley, a G Christmas Trolley, an HO Doodlebug and two HO F7 powered b units. Only the Doodlebug has been reliable enough to stay on my layout. The two trolleys run for a minute or less and stop, nudge them forward and they start again only to stop in a minute or two. The two F7 B uints are so noisey and unsmooth I am sure to retire them to EBay. The two trolleys are headed back to Bachmann for repair. When I found out they will warranty them, I decided not to tinker. . .:angry:

    My BLI (4-8-4) and P2K (E-8, 0-8-0 and 2-8-8-2) locomotives are smooth, quiet and realistic. Yes, they cost 3 times the bachmann, but they do as promised. Kato/Steward (they seem almost inseperable from what I see) I have a Steward F3 with soundtraxx and am thrilled with it. Mostly because of the superb Soundtraxx sound I suspect!

    I have 2 PK1 F3's and love the look, but they don't run as well as my E-8 P2K.:sad:

    Athearn, well, I have not gotten over the Hustler. Enough said.:thumbs_down:

    Atlas, had a Geep 30 years ago, and it was the first locomotive I owned that was anywhere near the quality I expected. I'd have more, but these days they are a bit skimpy on the 50's era.

    My personal opinion here, no intent to inflame or defame anyone. Best regards,

    Joe Daddy
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2006
  14. Martyn Read

    Martyn Read TrainBoard Supporter

    Don't know much about that one Dave, but I'd played with their dash 8, and thought that was decidedly mediocre, their SD45 has 'issues', their F40 and GP35 are just bad...I guess the GP30 was okay if a little clunky, and the 44t and 70t are quite nice, had forgotten about them.

    Not inspiring from a company of their calibre though, that can produce 'class leading' steam at a good price when they put their mind to it.
  15. dingoix

    dingoix TrainBoard Member

    I forgot to mention the IHC steamers are pretty good. A bit weak on detail but they run good and are affoardable.
  16. Joe Daddy

    Joe Daddy TrainBoard Member

    Bachmann treated me nice!

    Joe Daddy's got nice things to say about the Bachmann warranty. I have two 'Christmas Trollies/Street Cars' and neither of them ran worth a crap from the very git go. Both would stop intermittently, were noisy and were the definition of smooth not! Terribly disappointed as they pretty much screwed up my Christmas diorama's last year.

    SO, off to the factory warranty plan and about 4 weeks later two new street cars show up on my front porch. Wow is all I can say, what a difference. These two are smooth, quiet and reliable. IT did cost me 9 pr 9 bucks in postage but it is better than some of the other thoughts I had entertained!

    Certainly the same company that treated me nice also built the two lemons, but I am thankful they made it right! Thanks Bachmann!

    And, my new Bachmann 2-8-0 consolidation is one day away from a new Tsunami decoder and it will graduate from my desk test track to the Parkdale Mainline for a few trips around the train room, yahoo!
  17. verse2damax

    verse2damax TrainBoard Supporter

    I buy Atlas Silver/Gold and P2K locos like crazy. I particularly like P2K equipment because the run and pull exceptionally well of the box.
    Kato locos for me is ‘aw-hite’ but details and weight don't match the P2K ones. I need good pullers on my layout to drag some long trains up the steep and sinuous lines.

  18. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

    If it has the D&H Logo it must be good... :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
  19. alexbnfan

    alexbnfan TrainBoard Member

    Quality can mean different things to different people

    to some people "Quality" may mean Durabilaty. To others, Quality means Detail. Yet, some people value means Having a good drive.]

    I identify with the second and last ones, as they are the most important to me. You may agree with me, or you may dissagree. So, this poll is rather subjective, as quality is perceieved. Another thing is, when i went from LL Standard Line (NOT Proto series) i thought that Athearns were the best thing on earth. Now, while i still hold them in high regard, i know some locos are different/better/worse in some areas. But, when i had my first Athearn, it was like as if i had the best loco in the world. Now i know otherwise


    WHOPPIT TrainBoard Member

    I have Atlas as #1, purely because ive never had any problems with their diesel locos and the finish and detail is usually to a high standard. Kato would have been a higher vote but their bias towards western roads doesnt help my modelling much. Proto 2000 again are great locos, although the walthers price increases havent helped in the value for money area and the range seems to have come to a slow run with very few new loco models being released. Athearn, some old blue box models seem to go on forever and are that solid im sure in thousands of years archeaoligists will be carefully excavating someones blue box geep! The RTR and genesis ranges are a great step forward. Bachmann spectrum, now heres a mixed bag! Personally i love the little 44 tonner, the h16-44 is quite passable too. Quality control issues seem to be the biggest headache with these, some bachmanns are well finished and run sweetly, others have hazy paintwork without crispness and run awful. Stewart, well i only own a few but they run like swiss watches, added details (handrails, horns etc) seem to be a little on the coarse side and my biggest let down is the paint, it positively shines!
    At the end of the day its all down to personal choice, we should be thankful unlike some hobbies that we have so much to choose from!

    paul kray

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