N scale switcher advice

Curto Jun 15, 2011

  1. Curto

    Curto TrainBoard Member

    Hi all,
    I'm making good progress on my switching layout, and now have realized that all I have are larger diesels (GP38's and bigger) and would like a small switcher to run around on it.

    A bit of trawling and I've come up with a Bachmann MDT Plymouth Switcher for about $29

    Can anyone comment on this loco? Or recommend something better? Used is OK (anyone have a decent one they want to part with? :))

    I'm only running DC for the foreseeable future, and cheap is good... but I would like something that runs decent at slow speeds for switching. Oh, and very specific on looks... modelling anywhere between oh 1950 and present, no specific location and I prefer diesels ;) Rapido couplers are a must... I have lots of old rolling stock, and no $$ to convert them all at this time.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 16, 2011
  2. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    A few issues:

    1. The short wheelbase causes it to stall on some turnouts
    2. The size prevents it from pulling many cars
    3. It might come with Rapido couplers - not sure

    1. Pickup: Hard wire it to a freight car with electrical pick up. This car could be a "transition car with a "knuckle" coupler on the other end.
    2. Pulling: Run hard wired to another MDT which fixes the pickup issue as well
    3. Couplers: Should be an easy swap out though I don't know which one
    Hope this helps.
  3. 7acflyer

    7acflyer TrainBoard Member

    would go with the minitrix FM OR THE CON COR SWI500 both came stock with rapidos.
  4. Sierra117

    Sierra117 TrainBoard Member

    I have that very loco and I did a little tuning up on it including changing out the couplers. It runs great but I am strictly DCC so I have actually been thinking about getting rid of it. When I took it apart, I found that the clips that attach to the motor were loose so i bent them in and i made sure the rest of the electrical pick ups had good contact. There really is no need for more work or an electrical car if you want to put some time into it. It's a good little design, I just think they were poorly assembled and a little time and energy is all they need. The couplers were an easy swap. I used a pair of Bachmann dummy knuckle couplers and they fit right into the same spot that the crapido couplers sat in. I did have to grind down the shank just a hair, but 3-4 seconds and a dremel tool later and they were ready. Anyway, I can give you more info later or if you want mine just send me a PM and I will be happy to let it go.

    P.S. Steve was definitely correct when he said that they will stall out in some turnouts. If you are creeping through a turnout with a larger insulated frog, they will stall. And the most I have pulled with this little switcher was 6 cars. I haven't tried to pull any more.
  5. Curto

    Curto TrainBoard Member

    1) I'm using atlas #4 remote turnouts, would these cause the same issue? They seem to work OK with a little 0-6-0 steam switcher I have (on my other layout)
    2) I don't plan on moving more than 3 or 4 at a time with it
    3) The one I linked to does come with rapidos.
  6. Curto

    Curto TrainBoard Member

    That's encouraging on the electrical side of things. Any other info I'd be happy to take :)

    On a side note, I see on your blog that you have a Thomas engine... is that one of the tomix ones? Where did you get it from? I've only found them available on ebay. It's a possible christmas gift for my 3 y.o. ;)
  7. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

    I have a Kato NW2 that I like for a switcher. Not much bigger, not a whole lot more expensive, runs great and looks great. Just an option.
  8. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    I do not have that particular model, but I do have some experience with other switchers.

    For that money, I'd maybe steer clear of the Plymouth and go for a Lifelike SW9/1200 model. They are plentiful in the used market, in fact I think someone is selling some here on TrainBoard in TrainStore. They have good slow speed running, and if you get one that comes with Rapidos you can swap them out fairly easily with 1015 couplers if you later decide to switch. DCC conversion is a little more of a pain, but if you can solder a bit it can be done.

    Kato's NW2 switchers are very good and come DCC drop-in decoder ready in case you ever want to convert them. I cannot recommend them highly enough. You may be able to pick up a used one. I do not recall ever seeing one with Rapidos, so you'd have to convert one if you picked one of these up.

    Bachmann's 44-tonner and 70-tonner are also very nice models and come with DCC decoders already installed. Some do not like the decoders, but I have had no trouble fiddling with the settings on mine to get them to run more like I want them to run. You may be able to pick one of these up on sale. I don't recall any of these having Rapidos, either.
  9. Kevin M

    Kevin M TrainBoard Member

    Ill second the LL SW's. I have several and for the most part they run good. There are some electrical conection issuses that I think they are fixxing with the next run.
  10. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    There are better switchers out there with the Rapido coupler.

    Here's my thoughts.

    I would forget the MDT switcher.

    I would shop around for a used Atlas RS1 equipped with Rapido couplers they are out there for around $40.00-some times less.
  11. Curto

    Curto TrainBoard Member

    I'm not having luck locating a used RS1... any tips?
  12. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

    I think someone here on TB has one for sale on TrainStore. Failing that, check that auction site every now and then.
  13. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

    you never mentioned track, code 55 will rule out the CC SW's, the Minitrix FM's and Arnold S2's. I would also look at a GP15, it is posible to backdate to Rapidos.

    The trouble is "what IS a switcher"? The Southern Pacific used SD39's as heavy switches and all three of their RSD15's were switchers. They also used GP9E's and SD7E's as switchers, and I havewatched SW1500's out on branches. I have even seen film of the Norfolk and Western using 2-8-8-2's as switchers.
  14. Espeeman

    Espeeman TrainBoard Member

    I've got a Minitrix FM but it's not good at slow speed. Too herky-jerky. The VO-1000 is good at slow speed but may be a bit more than you want to pay (thou there is currently a Lehigh Valley going for $48 on fleabay)
  15. Curto

    Curto TrainBoard Member

    Sorry, code 80 track.

    In my mind a 'switcher' is a engine smaller and lighter... 2-3 fixed axles or 2 trucks with 2 axles each max.
  16. Curto

    Curto TrainBoard Member

    I've looked at that VO-1000, but they don't come with rapido's and I'm not familiar with changing couplers.
  17. jnevis

    jnevis TrainBoard Supporter

    I have the MDT and plan on using it captive in a small wharf terminal. It runs ok and will pull half dozen cars slow enough. It hesitates on the Atlas #4s if going slow enough but is OK. I've been looking to get at least one, probably two LL SW's eventually.

    Most roads now seem to have a lot more GP switchers than dedicated SWs. My last few trips out West I only saw GP15s an 38/40s switching in Fresno and Sparks.
  18. johnh

    johnh TrainBoard Member

    GP7s or 9s make excellent switchers and a lot of railroads used them as such. The problem with using smaller lighter switchers is that they typically don't travel well through switches with un-powered frogs and don't tolerate less than very clean track very well.
  19. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    Well depending on what era you want to be in can make a determination on switcher model, or maybe just freelance. Small units out there are the Alco RS1,2, or 3. Both Atlas and Kato made the RS-1 and RS-3. Smaller yet would be the S-1, S-2, SW600, and SW-900 along with the Bmann 44 and 70 tonners. The S-2 and SW units can be found with rapidos along with the older RS-1s and RS-3s. Far as I know all I have named will not have pick-up issues through switches. For a little bigger unit the GP and SD 7s and 9s come to mind. For a more modern switcher I would think about the GP-15,20,30, and 35. The MDT, while a good little runner, does have a tendency to be a speed demon and has difficulty with pick-up through some switches. I would run two back to back and would think about running flexible fine wire between them to keep the power flowing to both units. There is a newer run of them out there a few years old now that have better performance than the older first run units. In my critter collection I have three of them with one unit converted to a B unit that are run as a A-B-A set.
  20. Curto

    Curto TrainBoard Member

    Wow... thanks for all the input! I'm not doing any specific era... but the layout is small which is what has me leaning towards the smaller mdt/sw type engines rather than the gp or sd's.

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