Will Life-Like be as good as KATO/ATLAS?

SD75I Mar 24, 2000

  1. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Speaking of Atlas being scared of others, I think that is why Atlas stopped makin HO locos for awhile back in the 80's (I have no clue what they offer in HO now). Atheran was taking the HO market in a huge way. My HO relics say it all. I have one lone Atlas BN F7 left compared to 8 Atheran BN, GN and NP locos with one AHM 2-8-8-2 and a Mantua Mike. I think Atlas is a fine company with good products. However, I think you are right Atlas and Kato are only producing limited models to inflate their value. I hate to admit it, but we are partly to blame as well (myself included) by contining to purchase at current prices. Example, I just paid $76.00 for a Kato SD45. That is alot of cash for a non DCC loco. But, I wanted an Kato SD45!! I paid more for it becuase I can not go to my local hobby shop and buy it. Kato is not currently producing it. So now we have another problem. We have a short window of opportunity to aquire of loco of choice or pay inflated prices for it later. As a colletor with the only interest in value of the collection, this may be ok. However, model railroaders do enjoy the collecting but I think we are more interested in operating a variety of locos as opposed to have them sit in a box on a shelf (like art collecting). Here is the way I see it. Kato is top dog based on operation and detail. Atlas is a close second based on good operation and slightly less detail (still very good though). Lifelike is the 3rd based on operation and detail (I do not currently own one to know for sure). I plan on running mainly Atlas and Kato. I am planning on using LL for "play time" operations...as of now anyways. This is how I felt about Atherans. They operated good and looked decent. But over time my Atheran's had more trouble with corosion and staying clean. The wheels and frame were a much lower quality metal compared to Atlas. I suspect the same will hold true to LL when compared to Atlas and Kato.

    By the way, does anyone know why Atheran has never gotten into N scale?

    Thanks for reading Novel 2.0 [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  2. Gats

    Gats Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Guys, this is starting to stray into grey areas. Design and production is a long-term exercise. It takes a lot of up-front investment to tool up for a new design. To have the same model in design and production as someone else is an exercise in ensuring a very limited market for your product. The 3 PA's is a good example - all became available within months of each other. It’s a very good reason to be 'scared' of producing a product the same as, or similar to, your competitor. Brent’s comment about F’s bears this out. The F’s saving grace is they were everywhere, in their time.
    Limiting production guarantees a near sell-out of your product and the angst for those who missed out but I think the reasons behind limited production go somewhat deeper. Reserving an order at your favourite supplier is one way of gauging the demand. Historical figures can be factored in. The SD40 sold well (though very limited production) but the SD45 was slow. Expect, say, a 20% drop-out rate but picking that up with ‘off-the-street’ purchases and then add 30% for those who couldn’t be bothered to pre-order. It either sells well like the SD 40 or slowly like the SD45. Which way does one go? Turn around the proceeds for more re-investment quicker? There is no simple answer to the limited production theories.
    I believe the manufacturers are in contact and aware of each other’s plans. Atlas has taken a different route to Kato in producing the 4-axle Geeps up to the -40's (except the 38/38-2, but that's another matter [​IMG] ) and the SD60 whilst Kato was working on the SD40, SD45, and ultimately the SD40-2. I suspected near 4 years ago that Kato would produce the -2 after a short email discussion with Paul Graf of Atlas, regarding a ‘decent’ SD40-2, where he stated they would not consider producing a model another is considering. It is a waste of limited resources to do so.
    Life-Like is in a difficult situation in trying to produce a model that hasn't been made, or is in the pipeline somewhere else, that will have good turnover. The GP20 was a pleasant surprise, indeed. I have 8 of them, 4 of which are the drives for a batch of Paducah rebuilds using Atlas bodies. If they produce 'replacement' drives for their existing range, then that's a bonus. If they bite the bullet and produce those missing ALCo’s and GE’s, then they will have a boom on their hands, unless the other 2 beat them to it. If LL’s new models come in at a price close to which the current retail at, all the better!
    As for detail, LL’s latest are up there (though the missing handbrake on the 18 and 20 is annoying) and their SW is gorgeous. Running-wise, the SW and GP20 have to be a good indication of where they are heading.
    Will Life-Like be the new N Scale Athearn? Let’s ask that again in 10 years time. [​IMG]

    ps. The tooling for Atlas is done in the US, from what I have heard. The production is done in China in the same building as Life-Like.
     
  3. Hi There, April 16th,

    Re the LL Units. I have several of
    the LL GP 7/9s and some of the SW 1200s
    and like what I got. I'd like to see some
    Compatable A & B Units to go with them,
    Say UP or NP., or Cdn Roads like CN or CP.
    Like like is good for the Money and
    just as good as Atlas as I see it. I'll
    consider the Sharks Comming out later if
    they are reasonable and good running.

    Andrew, grandtrunkent@RRmail.com

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    Best Regards,

    Andrew,
    Calgay
     
  4. BC Rail King

    BC Rail King E-Mail Bounces

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    Now, LL may of jumped ahead of Kato in my opion, look at how many screw ups have been present on all the last Kato models, for the amount of $ they charge that is not acceptable.

    Dane N.

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    TAMR2860-AKA BC Rail King
    TAMR2860@hotmail.com
     
  5. BC Rail King

    BC Rail King E-Mail Bounces

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    In conclusion, yes LL will be as good as Atlas, and with recent events may produce a higher quality product. I hope if a Kato designer sees this post you made it will knock some sence into them.

    It brings up the point that Kato has done alot for N, but with the quality they are starting to produce its really a step back.

    Dane N.

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    TAMR2860-AKA BC Rail King
    TAMR2860@hotmail.com
     
  6. sd90ns

    sd90ns TrainBoard Member

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    Twenty years ago we were discussing whether LL locomotives were getting as good as Atlas or Kato and today we are mourning the passing of Life-Like.

    Think we will ever see a new release of the Gp20 or Alco C-424?
     
    acptulsa likes this.
  7. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Didn't Atlas purchase some of their tooling (e.g. GP20)? They should be coming out with at least new road #s, if not new road names. And perhaps DCC-equipped or -ready?

    I have three of the LL GP-20s in ATSF livery, and they were a great trio! But I've transitioned to DCC now. They are still in their boxes.
     
  8. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    Atlas has a new run of GP20's in the works. Don't remember the expected date right off hand. Price is way different from the old Life Like ones too.
     
    Doug Gosha likes this.
  9. sd90ns

    sd90ns TrainBoard Member

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    I'd like to see Atlas release a Gp20 high-nose in Western Pacific and the C-424 in SP&S.
    Yes, I know LL did the SP&S but apparently they produced about 25% of the number people had reserved.
    I know I never got mine and I know others who didn't as well.
     
  10. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    I also have 3 and will be putting decoders in them. Just went and looked at one that is in line for a decoder swap and has the body off. Looks like a Digitrax DZ 126T will go in with no frame milling other than routing wires. Maybe I'll do it after I finish the one I'm working on now.

    I put it up on my DC test track for a reminder on how it runs and yep it is a really good runner down to very slow speeds and I haven't cleaned or oiled it at this point.

    Consider making the three you have DCC. Only going to cost about $24 each,

    Sumner
     
    locomcf likes this.
  11. Dogwood

    Dogwood TrainBoard Member

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    Why doesn't anyone actually build B-units, slugs in N scale ????
     
  12. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    They do. Its just not the particular unit you want. There are F7B's, FB1's and FB2's Shark B units as well as E and PA B units as well as others. But no GP7 B units or GP9 B units. As for slugs, when you think about it, all of our models are a type of slug in that they have no prime mover.
     
  13. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

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    My LL GP20 in SP may actually have the best shell relief detail out of any of my locos. The paint and lettering is top notch as well. Every time I look at it I can't get over how good it looks. Simply stunning! Runs flawlessly as too. Well, it did on DC anyway....still need to figure a way to convert it to ESU (sound, preferably). Hoping the upcoming Nano board may help.
     
  14. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG]

    I just went out and looked and took the picture above. Looks like the 5 DCC Micro would fit with very little trouble. The speaker might be another thing though. The 8 X 12 pretty easy and the 9 X 12 probably. One problem I just had on my first install is that you want an enclosure/baffle on one side. They can't be very high or the combination of the thickness of the baffle and the speaker is not going to fit in the fuel tank area.

    On the recent install I tried a Digikey 8 X 12 and wasn't happy with the volume and ended up with a 9 X 16 that I got from Streamlined Backshop. Very happy with it. I also got the 8 X 12 from there (shown above) but haven't tried it yet. The loco I just did was not with an ESU decoder so the volume results might of been different with an ESU vs. the XL I was using. I'll get the 5 DCC Micro on my tester soon and will try it with the 8 X 12. The reason it would be easier to use is the GP20 has those contact strips on the side and the 9 X 16 with a baffle might be a very close fit.

    All in all though I think the ESU decoder is very likely an install that might not be that hard. Be interested to see if someone else has already done it. Surely someone has. I might soon put a non-sound decoder in one but probably not a sound at this point. Looks like ESU does have some sound files that would work or that are very close...

    http://projects.esu.eu/projectoverviews/search?cat=18&q=gp20

    Sumner
     
    tehachapifan likes this.
  15. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Patience, Mr. Taylor. Just wait. It's inevitable.
     
  16. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, Sumner! Yeah, what you have there is essentially what I have in-mind. Hoping that the Nano board will allow a little less frame milling than the current smallest boards do. But, as you've mentioned, the speaker may be another story. No way around milling the tank area, unless an 8x12 speaker can be shoehorned where the light shield is (I have some 8x12's that, when combined with a custom enclosure, perform pretty nicely when a 9x16 won't fit). I've had success utilizing at least part of the light shield itself when building speaker enclosures on other locos. Done this on a few Atlas 8-40B's with great results.
     
  17. Dogwood

    Dogwood TrainBoard Member

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    An example of how to install the speakers. It is not an LL frame, but similar.

    20180426_205530-1280x960.jpg IMG-20180521-WA0024.jpeg
     
    MK and tehachapifan like this.
  18. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    What's the white stuff, latex caulking?
     
  19. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the post. Do you have an enclosure/baffle/sound chamber glued to the other side of the speaker? If not are you also filling the split frame on the other side to seal that side of the speaker off for better sound?

    Sumner
     
  20. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    I went and measured with calipers and a 8X12 speaker where the light shield is. It wouldn't fit in it but if you make a speaker and baffle that would be the same size as the light board it looks like it would just fit. You can't take much off the front of the frame there without running into the forward mounts for the motor cradle.

    The baffle can't be too tall overall. Maybe .080" depending on speaker thickness. I just did another baffle that tall for the XL install I'm doing using a 9X16 and it sounds good. I'm designing them with Fusion and then 3D printing them. This way I can make them as tall as possible for the space. With a .030 wall thickness on the bottom of the baffle that leaves a .050 deep sound chamber (not much but it still seems to work well).

    I wish this thread would of come up a week ago :(. I looked and I could of gotten the 9X16 speaker in the U28C where the light shield is in it. That would of saved me milling the tank area and saved the weight that was lost there. I might consider still moving it and putting some other weight back in the tank area.

    For the U28C and if I did the GP20 I'd design the speaker enclosure to replicate the lower part of the light shield that is going to be removed. Once the speaker is glued to the top of it they would replace and fill in for the light shield. One is going to have to replace the forward light with a thin SMD LED or some other very thin LED that would sit on top of the speaker but looks like there is room there since the cab is taller in that area.

    Thanks for making me more aware of where the light shield is as a possible speaker location,

    Sumner
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2021

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