LifeLike F7

Inkaneer Apr 3, 2024

  1. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Going through my stuff and came across four LifeLike F7a's. Two were in the white, red and black 'circus' paint while the other two were in the more traditional black with the gold pin stripe. Still had Rapido couplers on the front but Unimates on the rear. Could not remember when I last ran them but I was thinking it was maybe forty years ago or so. That resulted in a visit to Spookshow's website where I learned that they were manufactured in 1990. But the road names listed were UP, PRR, B&O and GN. No Western Maryland was listed. Further investigation revealed they were marketed by Bev-Bel, a name which I have not heard in a long time. Anyway, I had to see if these things would still run so down to the test loop and fearing the worst (not really) I plopped them on the track and lo and behold they just took off nice and slow like I remembered they did "back in the day." Going to keep these as analog units. These and the GP18's and the GP20's made by LifeLike were my favorite engines to run at train shows. Had great pulling power with no traction tires and could run all day.
     
  2. jwaldo

    jwaldo TrainBoard Member

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    One of my earliest regrets in N scale is avoiding all of Life-Like's locos for many years. At the time I associated the brand with un-runnable toy store HO crap on par with Tyco and the worst of Bachmann; garbage to be avoided like the plague. I was amazed when the fantastic new GP20 I saw at a local train show years ago turned out to be Life-Like. I was even more shocked by the fact that the price was actually something my teenage self could afford. Nowadays if I see a neglected LL loco at a train show I still grab it, but folks have caught on and good deals are fewer and farther between.
     
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  3. brokemoto

    brokemoto TrainBoard Member

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    The LL plastic frame FAs and FP-whatevers were excellent pullers. One unit could pull every piece of rolling stock that you owned up a fifty per-cent grade on a six inch radius curve.

    The FP-whatever that Original Poster cites was the first hint that LL was going to step up its quality. The plastic frame BL-2 and FA-2 were such improvements that MT considered them deserving of a special coupler conversion kit. the plastic frame GP-18 was also good. Someone even sold a conversion kit to turn your GP-18 into a GP-20.

    LL subsequently did the FA-2 and BL-2 in a split metal frame. It introduced the split metal frame GP-20, as well.In fact, the GP-20s were going very cheaply at one point. Many modellers were buying them to use as power chassis for B-mann PLUS F-units, as the B-mann PLUS had those white gears that cracked.

    If there is any complaint that I have bout those plastic frame B-B diesels it is the flexing wires soldered to pivotting trucks. Eventually, the solder joint breaks. I have had this happen to more than one unit.

    For their time, those LL B-B truck plastic frame diesels were pretty good. I sold all but one of mine many years past. The one that I didikepp (it was a gift; I do not sell gifts) still runs well when I put it onto the track.
     
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  4. MRLdave

    MRLdave TrainBoard Member

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    I have several ABC sets of C-liners that I like to use at train shows because they will run all day and other than an occasional wheel cleaning they need little maintenance. I also have a number of chop nose GP9s that are built on GP18 LL chassis with Atlas GP9 long hoods........they fit right on. And the later C-liners, RS2s and GP18/20 were all DCC ready.......nice to see Atlas bringing some of these old timers back.

    Hey Brakemoto.......get your wired truck complaint ready........they are making a comeback. Both Atlas and BLI are using them.
     
  5. brokemoto

    brokemoto TrainBoard Member

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    Many of the manufacturers have been doing this for several years, especially with DCC ready or factory decoder equipped power. Atlas and BLI are, in fact, among them.

    I had some BLI Centipedes that were that way. I sold those. I have some of the BLI USRA light steam. The tender trucks have those wires. I had an Atlas S-2 that I later sold. It had them. It is a less expensive way of dealing with the need to isolate the motor. Only B-mann and Kato seem to be able to figure out how to use split metal frames on DCC equipment without needing to solder wires to trucks. Another possibility would be to use something similar to the power chassis on the LL A-1-A plastic frame diesels or C-C truck SD-units: On those, the trucks contact bronze strips affixed to the plastic base. Wires that do not move run from said strips to the motor. Thus, the motor already is isolated.

    The thing about the B-manns, though, is that after some time of running on DC, the alleged "dual mode" or"smart" decoder fries. Erie Chris (I forget if he posts here, or not) posted a brief demonstration of how to re-do the wiring on the 44 tonner and have it run on DC only. I figured out something similar for the F-7, the doodlebug, the mogul and the ten-wheeler. funny thing about the B-manns with the decoders removed: the slow speed control is the best that I have seen. If you want a pair of smoothly creepy-crawly 44 tonners, take the decoder out of them....and this with no flywheel.

    I had a decoder fry on an MP/MRC eight wheeler, as well. I wired around it similarly.

    Only the BLI decoders seem to hold up against DC.

    One thing that I did forget to mention is what someone posted about how those LL plastic frame units would run all day at an N-TRAK setup and show no signs of being worse for The wear. The thing about the FP-whatevers is that even when the solder joint did come undone, you were out only the twenty or so dollars for which you could get them. I actually did solder a few of them back onto the post but generally I shy from using a soldering iron around plastic as I am clumsy with one. I either got someone to solder it for me who was a bit better than I at it or sold them on FeePay with a starting price of five and five: five for the locomotive and five for postage. One or two of them actually got bid up over thirty dollars, DESPITE my stating several times in the text of the auction (and at least once in CAPSLOCK) that the item was defective. Further, I described the defect. Only once did someone complain. FeePay actually took my part and pointed out to he complainant that I had stated several times that it was defective, had described the defect and stated several times that it was "AS-IS".
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2024
  6. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Good soldering skill requires practice along with having a hot iron and clean the items to be soldered so no oxide is present. It is a doable skill if you invest the time. At least that is what they tell me. One of these days I will get there.
     
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  7. jwaldo

    jwaldo TrainBoard Member

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    In my experience it's also very easy to partially disassemble the plastic-frame LL locos enough to move the wiper and wire a very safe distance away from any plastic while you re-solder them.
     
  8. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    Time was when I didn't think twice about soldering wires to the tabs on those old Mehanotehnika (Atlas, Life-Like, Model Power, etc) trucks. Now, with my deteriorated dexterity and feeling in my fingers, I have resorted to disassembling, pulling the wheels and wipers, soldering the wires to the wipers, reinstalling them. and reassembling everything.

    Same with the second generation Atlas (RoCo) stuff.

    It's relatively a pain but wadda ya gonna do?

    Doug
     

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