Missing Lifelike Locos

Dampfloko Mar 23, 2013

  1. Randy Stahl

    Randy Stahl TrainBoard Supporter

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    Those Erie builts command a high price on E Bay and else where , I would not make a practice of dropping them . I got a BUNCH of LL engines. The DL-109 is a fantastic model as is the Erie and the PA and the E-6, and the SW8/1200...


    When funds permit I will replace my E-7s with Precision ones , I think the sound units are neat, I might even buy the E-6s. I know the Milwaukee stuff is going for pretty high prices so I should be able to recover some cash from selling the LL engines.

    Randy
     
  2. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    I never tried to do it, because when I was in N, DCC was simply not wide spread enough, but you wouldn't have to cut any weights, because the weights were only mounted with tape. You MIGHT have to remove one of them, but even that is questionable given the small size of the decoders.
    I don't see why the wires would be an issue. There's enough play in both to strip back a few cm and solder it to the decoder leads.

    I suppose if you're allergic to the soldering Iron it poses a problem, but then you can always trade time, effort and practice for money. Still, it beats milling a frame or any of the other actually complex tasks needed to DCC some other N scale engines.
     
  3. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

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    Oh, I know... Except the prices of the Erie Builts seem to have dropped off on Ebay recently. After I paid unbelievable prices for mine, a friend got some completely at random at bargain basement prices.

    When I dropped it, it was one of those moments of totally irrational anger, where you even swear in front of the little kids. Made me want to build a time machine just to go back in time to find whoever invented clumsiness and assassinate them as a child. So if anyone has a suggestion to erase some hair-line cracks in a body shell, I would like that.

    I forgot to mention a set of FAs that I have, too.
     
  4. gd2190

    gd2190 TrainBoard Member

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    I have had great luck with LL engines. I have 3 GP-18s, 2E-8s, 2 F-7s, an Erie-Built, and a switcher. They are all smooth runners. I feel they are an excellent deal for the price.
     
  5. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

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    Inky,

    I'm not promoting DCC for these fine SD 7/9 engines. I really liked them, and ran mine for hours at a time. Under DC they were so consistent, I could run a consist of six of them without a problem. I just remarked they weren't the best candidates for DCC.

    YoHo,

    Without removing or milling one of the weights, where would a decoder go? Over a flywheel? I'm not averse to milling LL frames: let's see, I've got eight FA/B-1s, four FA/B-s, four C-Liners, and three Erie-Builts, as well as a host of GP-20s, all with decoders. Everyone required milling a spot, grooving the frame for wires, isolating the motor cups (more grinding), and lots of soldering. The dremel barrel bit makes real short work of milling soft metal.

    I believe the motor in all of the split frame models is identical. The architecture is similar, with many identical parts. The Erie should pull best because it's the heaviest; on my layout, with 20' runs of 2.5% grades, I felt they may have been too heavy. The FA-1s and -2s were just slightly stronger on these grades. I think most of the difference is probably just friction in individual models, and also the fact that I tore them apart to install DCC and may have varied in putting them back together.
     
  6. Pete Nolan

    Pete Nolan TrainBoard Supporter

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    Some of these rarer models seem to go in and out of favor, like old exotic cars. Prices go up, people offer more of them for sale, prices go down.
     
  7. RWCJr

    RWCJr TrainBoard Member

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    Miss the LL GP-20 that I had (sent it to a grandson along with a loop with spurs under-the-bed layout that I built for his birthday). The jeep was an early one painted in Santa Fe blue and yellow stripe, but it was one of the group that came numbered in the 3100 series, which was what they were when I was an engineer on the ATSF old Slaton (Texas) division. It didn't fit my transistion era but it was a neat engine to run on the prototype with its FT innards. Thought I would just buy another one, but no luck so far. LOL
    Post edit!! Just found one at a hobby shop online. Should get the confirm email tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.;)
    Robert
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2013
  8. Bob Morris

    Bob Morris TrainBoard Supporter

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    My layout has both DCC and DC so I get the best of both worlds. I've got an ABBA set of LV FA's, two LV PA's, two E-L PA's, and an ABA set of E-L FA's, and a D&H PA. They all run smoothly, are surprisingly evenly matched, and pull like crazy.

    I also use them for our NTrak shows when locos need to be running for an hour or sometimes much longer. I didn't want to burn out my "better/more expensive" Atlas and Intermountain loco's, but the LL's just run and run with no issues. Other than having to clean off the wheels on occasion, I have yet to have any fail.

    Best of all, I haven't paid more than $25 for any of the LL locos I have. Just waited for bargains on that auction site.
     
  9. RWCJr

    RWCJr TrainBoard Member

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    Got the LL GP-20 that I ordered from a hobby shop. Was able to get one in blue/yellow warbonnet and numbered 3102. Which is a big deal to me, even though I model transistion era ATSF. As an engineer for the Santa Fe in the 70's, we didn't get many GP-20's on the old Slaton (Texas) division. I had 3102 when working the Seagraves branch job. Slaton was one of the "step-child" divisions, and during the 70's that meant consists of 6-10 F units (many with some of their traction motors cut out due to wore out generators, and others running DIC, dead in consist) on the drag freights. To get a newly painted GP-20 was quite a change. BTW 3102 moved to Arkansas with me. She is in the paint of the Ft Smith road doing the industry switching there. Was glad to be able to get the model. Guess I will have to build a RIP track so I can hide it in there when the camera comes out.
    Oops....check out the background to the left of the roundhouse under construction. Robert
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

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    Jumping into this thread... head first... risking a concussion... LOL

    For me... when money was very tight in the 1990's to early 2000's... LifeLike was the main source of model train locomotives I purchased. Even most of the early plastic-frame... lead slugged versions were very reliable considereing the under $30.00 MSRP. In the late 1990's LifeLike began to re-tool the models with split-frame mechanisms and kept the prices low as well... what a wonderful time for N scalers... first rate mechanisms at a bargain price. Sadly it didn't last long... and when Walthers stepped in to acquire LifeLike... that was the end of that era.

    Around 2003 I managed to acquire several GP-20's, SW9/1200's & BL-2's for $15.00-$20.00 and A/B sets of FA-1 and FA-2 for about $30.00... just incredible... and looking back wished I had been less picky and acquired more of them. At that time I was not buying ANY Union Pacific or eastern railroad items... but... at those prices I was willing to buy some. The problem was... I didn't understand that it was just a temporary 'blow-out'... and when model railroad companies changed to the 'pre-order' system.. that was the end of those days.

    When my finances were best in the mid 2000's... I sold-off all of my LifeLike F-5n'7/8th(LOL.. not sure what they were)... to upgrade to Intermountain units which were being released. Over a dozen of LikeLikes exchanged for a handful of IM units. Not such a great deal in retrospect even though I'm generally happy with the much more prototypical IM units. I bought pretty much whatever and was willing to pre-order whatever struck my fancy. I miss those days now.

    Finances are a major ruling force in any avocation (hobby)... good times and low prices are a big boon for model railroaders in particular. It's been a long time now for many in our hobby since we've had the combination of good wages and bargain prices. There is no mistaking this... REGARDLESS of scale modeled... you will have far more buyers of model railroad products priced at $40 or less... than at $200 or more.
     
  11. bumthum

    bumthum TrainBoard Member

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    All of this nostalgia makes me think back a little more about Life Like locos.

    My first N scale locomotives were the A-A Santa Fe F9s that came with an older version of the freight Explorer set (I used that set to build my first layout). Those F9s were neat but they were no good for switching the two spurs on my layout. My Dad made the decision to upgrade my motive power and we were off to the only game in town with N scale locomotives... a camera shop. There were a few choices, all Life Like and Bachmann, so I settled on an Undec Life Like GP38-2. That loco ran like a top and really made N scale worth being involved in (I spent my childhood in HO). I still have it, it still runs great and has been repainted more times than I can count. That Undec GP38 is the reason I stuck with N scale and it started my love of Life Like locos (esp. the low cost plastic frame models). It led directly to the locos I posted earlier in this thread and many more I have stored because they aren't appropriate for my current B&M layouts.
     
  12. Backshop

    Backshop TrainBoard Member

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    Soooooooooooooooo ... what everybody here is really lamenting is they can't buy brand-new LL locos for $15 any more? Because there are brand-new LL/Walthers locos for sale at e-tailers. Not for $15, tho. PAs, FAs, GP20s, RS-2s, lots, tho limited road names so you might have to strip and repaint. Some like BL-2s, Es, and Erie-Builts are no longer at retailers.
     
  13. bumthum

    bumthum TrainBoard Member

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    I think we a lamenting the lack of low price/entry level locos in general, but also the wider variation of diesel power Life Like used to make before Walthers bought the line. A handful of road names for the GP-20 and the RS2 is not a real product line (I guess GP60s show up from time to time too). A lot of Life Like's line is not, and never has been, available from other manufacturers so pretty big holes are left for people to try and bid on the secondary market. I also think we lament the fact that Walthers doesn't seem to be taking the N scale market seriously even though they were handed a great product line with a broad market and a lot of potential... I think we can all agree that nearly $30 bucks for the old Life Like caboose is out of line and, even on sale, they still cost as much as a more detailed Atlas.
     
  14. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    Lifelike was the athearn bluebox on N scale. It's not just price we lament, but attitude.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2013
  15. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

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    Well... no... not really. The good 'ol days of ultra-cheap LifeLikes were only a product of extreme overproduction that was neither good for the manufacturer nor the retailer. It was great for those who were willing to buy the LifeLikes whether they fit their era, roadnames or other factors. I bought 10 Union Pacific GP20's... not for UP... but because they could be stripped and altered into Highnose GP20's that the Western Pacific and Great Northern had. I bought SW9/1200 in roadnames I didn't model to convert them to D&RGW SW1200s.

    Also... it was a great way to introduce new modelers to the scale because these were good quality locomotives at VERY REASONABLE (okay cheap as dirt) prices. The excuse of not being able to afford motive power was basically a non-issue. The loss to the manufacturers/retailers was a great motivator to grow N scale participation. Now... its not as easy to overcome the price-shock threshold by potential new modelers.

    I'm certainly not expecting Walthers to offer any of these models at those ridiculously low prices... but.. they aren't even re-releasing the old tooling at an entry level price. Bachmann is the one that most closely fits the entry level products right now... and they've been upping their prices towards the premium brands by including most of their models as DCC on-board.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2013
  16. Pete Steinmetz

    Pete Steinmetz TrainBoard Member

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    I have a few old Life Like C Liners and FA-B-B-FA UP set. Great models all, but I'm doing DCC now and haven't converted them. But I haven't sold them either. They were the best pullers, didn't seem to need cleaning as often as others, and had good detail.

    People are looking at Life Like prices a few years ago and calling it "Entry level".


    With LL no longer a factor at all, much less entry level, what is entry level now?
     
  17. Tred

    Tred TrainBoard Member

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    Back in the early 80s, while I was on my 2nd hitch in the Navy, I worked part-time at toy store down in San Deigo. I first learned of N Scale. I have cars that are still in those plastic cases marked for $1.29, and $1.99, NEW! I have a locomotive, in it's case from Bachmann marked for $12.99. It never rally hit me how much these little toys had risen in price till my wife asked me why those cars were so cheap. LOL
     
  18. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Same here. Atlas is today still making the same 90 ton hopper cars they made in 1980. The only difference is that in 1980 I bought them for $1.99 or $2.25 each. Today they are retailing from $12.95-$16.95. My IRA didn't appreciate in value that much!
     
  19. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

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    Whats even more interesting... though I haven't look at my old Altas stuff carefully... is that the pre-1980's models may NOT have been imported from China, Taiwan or Japan. I believe all of the pre 1980's rolling stock and locomotive were from Europe. So we have an even lower production cost from China... and increased prices through the 1980 to present. Scary part is... if China is the bargain basement manufacturing concern... what would these models cost if they were made in another country... or dare say... in the USA? Wouldn't we be 'kvetching' about $25.00 Atlas ore cars, beer tanks and 90T hoppers instead?

    BTW.... in 1984... there was a lot of overproduced Atlas cars which were 'blown-out' by several mail-order (Pre 'e-tailers' back then) vendors. I got lots of my ore cars, beer tanks and other rolling stock for under a $1.00 and shipping was about $4.00. I used to buy about 20 cars at a time. Of course... todays models come with better graphics, knuckle couplers and in multiple road numbers.... but limited availability will prevent most 'overproduction'.

    No more LifeLike overproduction discounts leading to 'feeding frenzy' for N scalers.
     

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