New BLI F3 and F7 - Read this review before purchasing!

kverdon Jun 11, 2018

  1. EMD F7A

    EMD F7A TrainBoard Member

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    Almost a week and no actual response from that big shop back east. I’m done with them. Gonna return these dinged up sad cases and let them know my thoughts. Absolute rubbish.

    I don’t mind weighting my locos and shimming some gears; if we don’t support new models we will stop gettting new models.

    In fact, I don’t give half a rat’s patoot about the reversed grille printing and otherwise, these are sharp models with lovely paint jobs. I’m gonna build an ABB or ABA powered set and just make it work! Like we used to do, before manufacturers got good enough that people started forgetting where we came from with Roco, Rowa, Model power and more haha...

    Same as I’ll buy a pretty car knowing I might need to fix the brakes or reupholster the seat... in a way, I almost prefer things that require me to apply my skills and engage (N gauge lol) with that thing to make it perfect for me.
     
  2. NorsemanJack

    NorsemanJack TrainBoard Member

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    Those of us without skills still need to rely on complaining and demanding better quality from the factory. :LOL:
     
  3. arbomambo

    arbomambo TrainBoard Member

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    I would damn well give a rat's patoot about something as major as reversed molded details; all the free standing detail and paint jobs in the world can't make up for so glaring a basic error.
    i would much rather use my modeling skills to add free standing detail to a beautifully painted, accurate in shape and molded detail Kato unit, which will run smoothly for years to come.
     
    SP-Wolf and Thomas Davis like this.
  4. Traindork

    Traindork TrainBoard Member

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    I always get the feeling that 99% of us have no idea that a grille or other minor detail is wrong, but when someone mentions it, the torches and pitchforks come out. We're like a gang of bullies picking on some kid just so we can be associated with the "in" crowd. Thankfully it's not too bad on this website, but there's another that's very bad about it.
     
    EMD F7A likes this.
  5. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

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    Doesn't that error make you wonder what else they might have overlooked?
    The gearing in the trucks, for instance?
    Or, does the $200 selling price for these locos amount to mere pocket change for you?
     
  6. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

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    The errors seem to be a common issue regardless of the manufacturer. The amount paid for an item doesn't always give us the comfort that the models were carefully researched or accurately reproduced at the factory. Certain manufacturers are better at getting thing right the first time... others are more hit or miss.

    We've had these discourses before from other manufacturer/importers... from major and minor detail flaws, bad paint, faulty mechanical performance and combinations of them. I can't fathom these manufacturers/importers are so aloof that they would simply allow something to be created without some scrutiny. There has to be some breakdown in the communication internally or between the factories that produce these items which ultimately are an embarrassment to the manufacturer/importer.

    Our attacks on their performance, due to our perception of incompetence, cuts with a double edge.
    We do want to reprimand them that their products do not meet our approval... but too much admonishment can instead cause them to bow out of the scale or hobby altogether.

    While I agree that we have to have these threads on the hobby forums to call out the 'bad actors', let's also give them a chance for redemption.
    I've spent a lot of money on this company's E6, E7 and PA units. They are nice looking... have DCC and sound installed which saves me time.
    Other companies are following suit with DCC/Sound equipped units and they have had troubles in the past as well... no doubt there will be more to complain about in the future.

    We will ultimately 'vote' with our wallets by shunning the 'bad actors' but any of the current manufacturer/importers can become the next one to incur our displeasure.
     
    EMD F7A likes this.
  7. NorsemanJack

    NorsemanJack TrainBoard Member

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    I'll be a bit harsh here. I would rather the marginal producers get squeezed out of the market, so that those who reliably produce high quality, accurate products can achieve a bit better economies of scale. I'm not sure competition has a great deal to do with pricing in N scale these days. If we wind up with only two or three high quality manufacturers, I doubt we'll see monopolistic price hikes. Put a different way, I think too many companies are producing F units. If we ultimately wind up with only Kato and one other, I would welcome that. As it is, high quality GN Kato F units sit in the KatoUSA warehouse while people are spending their money on BLI units which, reportedly, have a problem even running for more than a couple of hours. I know that the "bells and whistles" of sound equipped DCC (no pun intended) are the attraction here but, at the end of the day, maybe Kobo or modeler installs are a better option.

    Also, if companies like BLI had not released E6s and E7s, we might have Kato versions by now.
     
  8. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

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    Part of the problem is that the manufacturer/importers cut into each others margins by repeating the same locomotives and rolling stock. Why would Broadway Limited Imports even bother with doing F units... at least 3 other companies are doing them (Kato, Intermountain & Bachmann). We might not be as critical about the BLI blunder(s) if not for the other choices available.

    That said... I only bought one set of the F units, D&RGW A/B/A from them, because I have other Northern Pacific Lowey two-toned (NCL) from Intermountain... and am hoping for Kato to do the NCL passenger set with their own F7's. I also have ABA sets of F3 units in SP black widow from Kato as well. Kato has set a high bar for other manufacturers to beat... which surprises me when another company competes against them for the same model.

    In-so-far as the E6 & E7... Lifelike beat Kato to the punch before BLI did... Kato had plenty of time to step-up... they left the door open for others to walk through.
     
  9. Thomas Davis

    Thomas Davis TrainBoard Member

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    I am going to second Arbomambo. Drawings for these units are readily available, and there are thousands upon thousands of photos- so no excuse for getting major details wrong. And on F units- grills and body filters are major details- indeed the whole "phase" nomenclature is build around filters, screens and grills (granted, there are some internal differences, but we can't see those)- so getting those right is a big deal. As is the nose/windshield contour- and frankly, from photos I've seen, the BLI does not impress me on that score, either.
     
    arbomambo likes this.
  10. NorsemanJack

    NorsemanJack TrainBoard Member

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    Perhaps. Fortunately, Kato doesn't seem to rush into anything. They do their research and, when a model is a new design, get it down right before rushing into production. If that means that somebody else occasionally "beats them to the punch," then so be it.
     
    mtntrainman likes this.
  11. SF Chief

    SF Chief TrainBoard Member

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    Well, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I bought an A-B-A set of B&O F7s and have been very happy.

    Yes, they are expensive. But, so far, they are running fine and looking great. And with two engines they pull 45 40 foot cars on a flat Ntrak layout--as many as I'm likely to run. And they will pull even more because I'll be putting a spare Kato mechanism under the B unit--the BLI shell fits comfortably, almost perfectly, onto the Kato mechanism.

    Kato makes good looking, great running engines, but they have not made a B&O F unit since they produced the passenger F3s 20 years ago. And the mechanism on that model is obsolete, not being DCC ready, while the paint on mine (and others I've seen) is sloppy with stripes not lining up.

    BLI's B&O paint, on the other hand, is absolutely beautiful--very sharp. And as far as I can tell, very prototypical, (though the first batch of B&O F7s--like #180 and 182--lacked the eyebrow and cheek grab irons and did not get them until B&O freight equipment seemed to become perpetually filthy).

    I figured BLI would use Plano-style grilles on their F7s like they do on their E8s and E9s. They did not, but I'll planning on putting the Planos on--the ones for Kato locos seem to align nicely and should look good. We'll see.

    Intermountain also makes nice looking, decent running F7s in B&O, but I never bought them. Frankly, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to make the IM body-mounted couplers couple closely enough to be even semi-prototypical.

    So, I'll be running my BLI B&O F7s as long as they will run. And I'll be very, very disappointed if they start stalling, or die soon. But, like I said, so far, so good.

    Rick
     
  12. NorsemanJack

    NorsemanJack TrainBoard Member

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    It's very simple. Red Caboose (i.e. Fox Valley/Unimate) body mounts in a MT coupler pocket.

    51060

    http://www.foxvalleymodels.com/NParts.html
     
  13. SF Chief

    SF Chief TrainBoard Member

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    Not really. Still a huge distance with the IM engines using the Unimate/RC/FV couplers. These couplers work very well on the BLI and Kato engines, however, including my new BLI B&O set.
    Rick
     
  14. NorsemanJack

    NorsemanJack TrainBoard Member

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    Not "huge," but maybe more than we would prefer. Certainly an improvement over how IMR delivered them. I know they advertised "body mount" as a feature, but I see it more as a liability for this very reason.

    How are you retrofitting your BLI units to use the unimates? Are you mounting the 51060's in the MT1015 draft gears? Can you post photos?
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
  15. brokemoto

    brokemoto TrainBoard Member

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    I did not buy these because i already have more F-units than I can run: Kato, Bachmann and Intermountain. When you add the sharks, the FAs and the Es (plus the one or two PAs), I already have more cab units than I can run.

    I would buy the Rapido FPA-2s if Rapido did them in N. I would buy PA-2s if BLI did them in P&LE.

    Other than that, I would not buy any more cab units.

    Now, if someone were to come up with a Baldwin road switcher..........................................
     
  16. SF Chief

    SF Chief TrainBoard Member

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    I'm out of town at the moment, but when I get home I'll see if I can post photos.

    For what it's worth, I just replaced the front coupler on the lead unit with a Microtrains Z coupler, then screwed in the Unimates in the other coupler housings where the 1015s were. Same thing works well on the BLI E units and Alcos. Too close together to use both diaphragms, but if you leave in one diaphragm it looks fine, fairly prototypical.

    Rick
     
  17. EMD F7A

    EMD F7A TrainBoard Member

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    Brokemoto "I would buy the Rapido FPA-2s if Rapido did them in N. I would buy PA-2s if BLI did them in P&LE."

    I have a set of CN green/gold FPA-4's and good lordy, they're two of my favorite locomotives I've ever owned! What a cost ($400+) for the pair, but the detail and sound/DCC (and comparatively immense pulling power) have the bar set HIGH. Even with their quirky lighting.

    http://spookshow.net/loco/rapidofp.html
     
  18. JBrown

    JBrown TrainBoard Member

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    I have a A-B-A set of the FP4's and they are great! Great running and great sound. Well worth the money!
     
    EMD F7A likes this.
  19. EMD F7A

    EMD F7A TrainBoard Member

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    Gotta second the idea that the rivet counters make a stink about stuff most of us don't give a hoot about. The side grills ain't a deal breaker here. Wanna know something I just found out?

    Run these puppies without sound. They are nearly deadass silent. I got a UP F3 AB set for my birthday a couple days ago, and both that UP set and my (damaged by that big place back east, they hadn't even re-taped the plastic sleeve) NP set? Both of them are almost as quiet as a dormouse. It's pretty spiffy, to be honest.

    Sound decoders are a joy, but if I need to concentrate I can mute them and enjoy just a clickety-clack without the coffee can din that we got from the first 40 years of N scale locos. Gents, these sets are grown' on me.

    Now... where did I put those lead weights?
     
  20. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    I did notice h ow quietly these run. And, I agree that they look and sound pretty good, too. They even seem to run beautifully right out of the box.

    What worries me is that them may stop running properly at some point real soon. Based on the Spookshow review and others posting here and in other forums, it is seeming like only a matter of (short) time.

    So, what these models (and BLI) need is to identify the actual problem and produce a fix, so that we can continue to enjoy these models.
     

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