Why I miss Athearn RTR and why I'm disappointed in Bachmann's pricing on their modern

YoHo Jan 31, 2014

  1. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    I could have put this in the thread about the Genesis SD70M, but I thought, better its own topic.

    And this certainly isn't the first time we've had the conversation, but I had a bit of a revelation this morning that I want to share.

    One of the issues with being a modeler of the Diesel era is that diesels, unless discussing certain yard switching and very very small branches are almost always in MU.

    In fact, even a regional like say Portland and Western has very few trains running with 1 engine. A minimum of 2 is typical on all but the smallest operation.

    So, if your dream railroad is intended to represent the norm and is anything but an old branch, you need multiples of most engines.

    AAAAAND, for those of us interested in representing a larger roster, that could mean many multiple units.

    When I run my SP Wood products train at the club. I demand a minimum of 3 engines and there really should be 4 or 5 to conquer the Siskyous.

    So when I go looking for engines I need, I'm not looking for just 1. I'm looking for multiples.

    So obviously, that alone calls for RTR over Genesis.

    But there's more to it. If I need 3 SD40-2s and I want them to be high detail, sure, It won't save me money, in the long run, to buy RTR and upgrade. But that's the long run. I don't have to spend the cash up front. pop in a $20 DH123 and I've got a working DCC engine on the layout. Then maybe another RTR unit comes off and goes into the "shop" to get some upgrades. And then another gets a sound decoder and then eventually, that new RTR engine gets it's turn.

    I personally have tons of diesel projects like that both for engines in service, and more complex "kitbashes" I plan.

    So I can appreciate those that want Genesis. And frankly, I wish I could afford it too. But what I want more, is the ability to afford the number of units I need versus the high level of detail. And that's a big difference.

    I mention Bachman in this thread specifically for their new ACe. I frankly don't know why they made it and I can't explain why it's sold out. There were already 2 manufacturers of that unit. What was the point? but an ACe or GEVO priced down around $100? they would have sold tons of them.


    Also, Sadly, it looks like Bachmann discontinued their Dash8 in HO (not in the product list on the site) this makes me sad, because they were easily one of the best values for a late 80s to current mainline diesel. At least in theory Athearn RTR and Kato still have the Dash9.
     
  2. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    Athearn RTR is still around. I've got one of the Dash 9s (not their best effort, but I have one) and I just got one of their SP GP40Xs (with ears) and it has a lot better details then their previous SP SD45 (with ears) attempt. I've also got their Genesis UP SP heritage ACe unit and it's pretty good.

    My major complaint is if we're expected to fork out extra money for Genesis, why are they STILL using lightbulbs in them?

    But I can understand where you are coming from since I myself still have some must have locos that aren't exactly cheap, but they aren't modern.
     
  3. Brian K

    Brian K TrainBoard Member

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    I believe the bigger point he's trying to make is Athearn seems to have abanded the RTR line in favor of the Genesis units, at least when it comes to new models being introduced. They are still cranking out paint schemes on the older tooling, but nothing new.

    Keep an eye out for sales on the Genesis stuff. I managed to score 2 FEC SD70M-2's in the Rail America scheme and a UP SD70ACe with Red Sill for $85.95 each. I think someone lost their mind at the hobby shop when the sales flyer went out, but it worked for me...

    I have no clue what Bachmann is attempting to do lately with their diesel lineup.

    Cheers,
    Brian
     
  4. JNXT 7707

    JNXT 7707 TrainBoard Member

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    Yoho you put into words a lot of what I was thinking on the other thread, I didn't want to keep whacking on that horse but that's a very significant point regarding the need to have multiples of motive power.
    I'm even further down the food chain, I don't run DCC - and so I commonly run two well-matched DC units and maybe a dummy unit or two. And so, no...I don't require ultra-detailing, I require multiple units of decent-looking locos that I will gradually add detail to over time.
    The point regarding the existence of deals on Genesis stuff from time to time is well-taken, but bottom line? Spending $80 on one loco is not a deal, spending $40 is.

    And Bachmann? I was all set to crown them the "next Athearn", but....thinking maybe not now. Don't know where they are trying to go....
     
  5. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    You think they're neglecting RTR, go look at Roundhouse. As for Bachmann, I gave up on them long ago when they attempted to make doodlebugs.
     
  6. JNXT 7707

    JNXT 7707 TrainBoard Member

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    LOL I just found that out! Was looking at the Athearn site last week, got curious about what kind of offerings was under the Roundhouse name. Wow....that cupboard is pretty bare.
     
  7. river_eagle

    river_eagle TrainBoard Member

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    the dash 8 tooling is getting dated for the Spectrum line, and I'm guessing that they will return as blue box DCC ON BOARD and red box SOUND VALUE line soon.
    Bachmann only lists current in stock and soon to be released items( within six months or so) unless it's an all new model.
    the 70aces and es44s have a street price around $150 with sound, around $100 less (street) than the Athearn & MTH models.
     
  8. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    That's not what Bachmann lists them at.
     
  9. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    I guess a lot of you will disagree, but I've never been satisfied with Bachmann. My Doodlebug is a problem child and so is my Spectrum FP40. The other 3 locos of theirs I have have needed rebuilds after some light running. I'd love to get some more FAs or FA2s, but their detail just isn't there and I have some real concerns over their longevity in terms of running. The plan would be to have them run with a few Bowser C-636s, but even by Bachmann's photos, the Bowser detail will make the FA2s look like what they are, low quality detail and cheap. I wish they'd have P2K do the Alcos instead.

    JP
     
  10. Flashwave

    Flashwave TrainBoard Member

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    Its simple, Bachmann made the 70s because they knew they could get into the same market that the Athearn RTRs are in with engines that are currently only in the Genesis classifications. And they were right. If I wanted to buy the Heritage fleet, I'd do it from them. And I might even get one or two, which is one or two more than I would be getting from Athearn or MTH. I will not touch the MTH DCS system, and their DCC ready line never hooked me either. the Genesis line stuff looks nice, but I've heard so many issues years ago with warped trucks and such that they have me leery of them too.
     
  11. Flashwave

    Flashwave TrainBoard Member

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    Its all relative, I never had an issue with Dad's PRR Doodlebug, and I have a Pacific a friend gave me that has been stuffed and mounted for the better part of a decade or two. It was stiff, but as soon as it warmed up, which took about a minute with me nudging her over the staging yard, she took off like a champ. I have two GP7s that act funny sometimes together like they're shorting out, but they only do it some of the time and I can't nail down the issue and on their own they are good little pullers. I've had the singular pleasure to run a Sound Value 440 that was just a darling, and can speak well of the S2 I've seen. I have my fingers crossed they do a UP engine I can tuck behind 844.
     
  12. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    I've got a lot of Athearn Genesis locos and the only real complaint I have is the detail QC and the use of lightbulbs. They all run better then the RTRs, but for the money, please, please, make sure all the detail parts are um, glued on, and/or correct before you let them loose into the wild. My old LHS got in 15, and sent back 6 because of major and minor detail issues or excess glue. Then again, I've had a BLI Steamer and a Bowser switcher short out because of faults. Unlike Bachmann, both companies fixed them within 3 months. Strange thing is I've never had to return a Athearn anything for repairs. They just sort of run, forever. I have a first gen F59PHI that I'm secretly wishing would die so I can replace it but it keeps refusing to do so. It just runs and acts like death is near. Been doing that for 3 years now. I got a replacement anyways.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 3, 2014
  13. Flashwave

    Flashwave TrainBoard Member

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    Only sent in one engine to Bach, and at that it was half an engine because they couldn't replace the George Washington Mountain so I stripped everything I could out of the fried drive that was GW related, cylinder heads, body, and sent them the rest for a replacement engine. the replacement came quick enough, but that *was* a special case.

    Agreed, on Athearn, have a few club engines that need to be retired but they just don't stop. BLI is waiting on me to end a Hudson back again for a repeat of the same issue; the sound decoder going mute permanently but still running. But until I can either find the last repair invoice (which I coulda swore went into the bottom of the box) or $45 it sits in bubble wrap and a USPS bx next to my dresser. My LHS swore off BLI because of the repair prices and time and QC, he's had too many bad engines and has swollowed the repair fees for customers in the past and he won't touch BLI again. I only mention them, because its just interesting how varied everyone's experiences are.
     
  14. Southern Oregonian

    Southern Oregonian TrainBoard Member

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    The important thing to remember is my F59PHI and it's redundant replacement are both Athearn RTR. I got the first one for dirt cheap used and the second wasn't to bad. For what they are I'd have to agree that Genesis prices on them wouldn't make any sense and I for one wouldn't pay, plus the second unit is DCC quick plug ready. I also would like Athearn to rerelease a few RTR locos so I could you know, get them. I think I'd be really um, "Mad" if they suddenly took the popular RTRs and suddenly made them Genesis. Especially if they're the ones I already have and would like more of.

    As for BLI, that is a little different. I have a few of their diesels and never have had any issues with any of them. The first steamer (GS-4) I get and I loose forward. I run DC still, not DCC and I lost forward. But the loco itself is far and beyond better then the GS-4s Bachmann makes (I have 2). The tender has weight and the loco itself has a lot more track effort so whenever (Coming summer 2013!) BLI makes the rest of the prewar Daylight consist, it should be more then capable of pulling it by itself. Plus the BLI is a hybrid so it doesn't have a plastic shell. I would think BLI treats Portland's LTSs better because of the special runs they order, something Athearn has made impossible. I even asked and found out Athearn's unit number is just insane. So for those of us modeling SP&S, the B&O GP9 torpedo boat is close to the SP&S ones. I for one would love some SP&S Athearn special runs. Guess that's more money for BLI, Bowser, Atlas, and at one point even Walthers.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 3, 2014
  15. JNXT 7707

    JNXT 7707 TrainBoard Member

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    I've been a cheerleader for Bachmann....on and off. I have had exceptional good luck with several older Bachmann Spectrums - specifically SD45s. I have some newer F7s that are good runners, very well detailed for the money - but required adding weights too to get them to pull correctly. Interstingly, Bachmann Plus F7B units are heavy and will pull stumps ... but had some axle gear cracking.
    Overall though, for the money, they have been winners. But now the prices are Genesis wannabe....that is my complaint.
     

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