First Diesel??

Sumner Apr 10, 2019

  1. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    I'm looking for what would be a good first diesel to buy that could be used to test track and switches as I build.

    Would a RSC-2 be a good choice since it has the A1A - A1A wheel arrangement. I've seen used ones for sale and I've found a couple sources that mention they are DCC ready. I would for sure want a DCC loco.

    I also considered a passenger diesel like an E9 but don't see passenger cars on the layout until way down the road. Mainly I'm looking for something that would give me a good indication if the track work is good.

    I'm open to suggestions. Would like it to be available as Union Pacific.

    Thanks,

    Sumner
     
  2. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Any four axle locos made by Atlas or Kato would be good. Altas tends to have more 4 axle selections but decoder installation are a bit easier to do on Kato as you don't have to split the frame open.

    The four axles are better to start with as they can negotiate tighter turns and better for playing around with in smaller spaces.

    Since it seems like your like the E style locos, why not a F3/7? The ones made my Kato are great runners and pullers and don't have anything fragile like railings, etc. (other than the horn) so it can survive a lot of handling. You can often get them for about $65 new and they do make them in UP livery. But any of the GPs by Atlas are also good too.
     
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  3. Sharky_McSharknose

    Sharky_McSharknose TrainBoard Member

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    I think a switcher could make for a good test loco. The short wheelbase and light weight make them more sensitive to track imperfections.

    Bachmann's Alco S4 has a basic dual mode DC/DCC decoder installed from the factory. Atlas makes a S2 and a MP-15 in N scale that are both DCC-ready. Arnold's SW1 is excellent and very easy to convert to DCC. The Life-Like SW8/SW9 and Micro-Trains SW1500 use the same chassis - they are more difficult to convert to DCC but TCS makes a specific decoder for them. All are available in UP colors except the Arnold SW1. Arnold did make a C&NW SW1 if you're interested in that road.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
  4. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    My favorite 4 axle units are the Atlas GP 30 and 35's and the Kato and IM F's. There are several versions of most of these, and some require some frame modifications for DCC, But that sort kind of thing should be no problem for a person that is serious about modeling, but too difficult for a toy train runner.
     
  5. BNSF FAN

    BNSF FAN TrainBoard Supporter

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    Depends on what you want to do in the long run but I'd say try a Kato 6 axle of some sort. I really like Kato locomotives and the Kato 6 axle trucks are slightly more rigid than Atlas trucks so they will find more flaws and also let you know if your radius are tight. I mean that in a good way as it will help you develop good trackwork skills. Just my $0.02 cents worth and you are probably feeling over charged about now. :D
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    If wishing to just test track work, then I would say a larger diesel, such as having six axles, previously suggested.

    If wishing to look for electrical flaws. one with fewer axles to pick up power. A switcher fits this well. Kato NW2, LifeLike SW, Bachmann S4...

    Also, watch out for that RSC2. Be certain you do not accidentally buy one of the old, OLD Atlas versions. :)
     
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  7. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Great replies guys, keep them coming and I'll look into all of them. I like the idea of a short switcher and also something with 6 axles to help evaluate my skill at laying track and switches.

    Are there any of the Kato 6 axle trucks that are in my time period, pre '75? If so which ones.

    I'm still working at knowing all the different locos UP had in that time period. I've found a couple lists of their rosters during the time period of post WWII and '75. I'm working through them looking for the availability of N scale locos that are available that match the rosters.

    I do like the F series and remember them from my time living in Laramie, WY in the '60's. I would end up with at least one of them in the long run just didn't know if that was a good choice for what I'm trying to accomplish,

    Sumner
     
  8. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    ^^^^^^^
    This. If you plan to run passenger trains some day down the road, may as well have the best track waiting for them instead of having to go back and fix things later. I use a Kato PA for all my testing. If it can make it through, about anything will. It has a little longer truck wheelbase than the E8 making it just a little more unforgiving.
     
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Kato has done E8/9, SD45, SD40-2.
     
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  10. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    You wrote the same thing as I was thinking! For sure, some of these might still be available somewhere somehow. :eek:
     
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  11. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The biggest "gotcha" on Kato PA units is wheel gauge. A few of mine were a bit narrow and needed minor adjustment. Easy to fix with an NMRA gauge on hand (which you should have, anyway, if laying track)
     
  12. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Okay I am confused here. Are you hand laying your track and switches or are you going with manufactured track and switches?
     
  13. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Some of both. At this point the track will be either Atlas or ME code 55 flex track. Leaning towards ME. I plan on buying Fast Track's code 55 crossover fixture and using it to build #6 RH LH turnouts and a couple crossovers later.

    If you got a chance to read my introduction post I've got the summer pretty well filled up with projects and we are currently on our sailboat in the Bahamas waiting on weather to cross back over to Florida (hopefully the first of next week). I'd like to order the Fast Tracks fixture when we return home and start building some turnouts over the summer and hopefully be starting on the layout mid-fall.

    Doing lots of research at this point and for the past 5-6 months. This thread has really helped me narrow in on some diesels to start with and I'll try and get those ordered when we get home. Keep the ideas coming though as I like lots of options,

    Sumner
     
  14. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Are you new to model railroading? If so, jumping into the deep end of the pool with Code 55 track and diving even deeper into handlaid 55 may warrant a caution, only because of the precision and time investment required for success. Like your sailing, reading about it and actually doing it are quite different. :)

    I mention this not to discourage you, but to note that most new N Scalers begin working with Code 70 snap track so as to make progress and run trains while learning about other complexities like benchwork, wiring, locomotive maintenance and the vast array of products available. With Code 55, you'll need to stay clear of older N Scale with its outsized wheel flanges.

    Welcome to TrainBoard and happy sailing.
     
  15. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the input and yes I do tend to jump into 'the deep end' on things. Never have had any sailing lessons and my wife did worry about that the other day when things got pretty rough for a while :(. I've done the same things with building houses and car projects and sailboats. I really like the planning and building aspects of new challenges.

    I'm sure there will be some 2 steps forward and 1 back but don't mind that. After building 3 of my houses and store and owning a computer store for some years the building and electrical/electronics parts of the hobby shouldn't be to bad for me. I did build some scratch built structures in N scale back in the late 60's early 70's and still have one small loco that won't be on the layout and a few cars that cost about $1.50 then and a bunch of track and switches that will end up in the trash. I'm 75 and need to move to a hobby that is less physical than what I've been doing in the past and have always believed I'd return to model railroading at some point in my life and now is that time. Being realistic I'll never achieve the results I'm seeing in so many of your layouts. I can't believe what you guys are accomplishing now. It is just unbelievable and the bar now is very high. I don't have expectations of getting very close to the bar you guys are setting, but will have fun with what I am able to accomplish.

    Thanks again for everyone's insights,

    Sumner
     
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  16. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    On switches: It seems that some people think handlaying them is something like home watchmaking, but it's not that big a deal. And there were quite a few of us handlaying ours before Fasttracks existed. The best piece advice I can give, aside from telling you to read the magazine article on this that I wrote, is to buy a resistance solderer. It makes it easier to build the switch, and it's a dream to reguage it when it's installed using the tweezer tool.
     
  17. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    If you are getting into hand laid switches, your first purchase should be a very nice Weller soldering iron. :)

    Next up is the NMRA gauge, and learn how to gauge locomotive axles. ALL locomotives are assumed to be out of gauge, unless they’ve been checked recently.
     
  18. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, I was unaware of resistance soldering. I just looked at some of the videos on them and can see where one would be a big help in making the turn-outs. I think the TIG, MIG and arc welder I have might be a tad large ;).

    Where can I find the magazine article that you wrote. I'd be really interested in reading it. Thanks,

    Sumner
     
  19. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    The SDSoNS layout in San Diego is completely hand laid code 40 track. The vast majority was soldered using the old Radio Shack irons (before they sucked). My friend got a resistance solder unit for hand laying, and hasn’t seen any real difference between the iron types, beside the unfortunate tendency to vaporize a tie with the resistance unit... :)
     
  20. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

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    On the Fast Tracks, be prepared to use the first few attempts as abandoned track. Usually the 4th one is a keeper! From the lessons learned dept.......

    And good to see another sailor here too!
     
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