More HO Questions!

Discussion in 'General' started by Coonskin, Mar 16, 2014.

  1. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Forgive me, but it's been nearly 15 or more years since I've been involved in HO scale. Due to several changes that have taken place in my life in recent years, I'm considering switching back to HO from my current S scale. I am so totally NOT up to speed on what to expect in HO nowadays, hence these questions. Here we go with round 2:

    * Is there a ready fix for the Life Like P2k split axle gear issue? All of my stored P2K have split axle gears.

    * How do the newer Athearn units run? In particular, the Genesis F-units and their new GP9. Do they make a GP7 also?

    * How does the "new" Altas stuff work, in particular, the new S-2 w/DCC and sound. Anyone have one? How does it run, how does it sound?

    * How does the Atlas code 83 track system perform? Mainly the Custom Line and Super Track switches. What's the difference between the two?

    * Is there a good HO forum to participate in? One that has a generally friendly atmosphere and is laid back, yet still knowledgeable and experienced in today's HO? I have much to relearn.

    Okay... all for this post.

    I will say that at this stage, the indicators are pointing toward the very real possibility there will be an HO version of my West Bottoms/KC Lines theme in this small space I have to work with instead of an S scale version.
  2. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    I love using the Atlas code 83 track and switches. No problems so far and weathering helps it look quite realistic. It is easier for me to work with than Micro Engineering track.
  3. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Hi Jim!

    Thanks for the input. In your opinion, what makes the Atlas system easier to work with than the ME?
  4. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    The ME code 83 track I used several years ago was nice but the flex track was very challenging to bend it into smooth curves. Very tight spikes. It's much better looking than Atlas track but weathering and ballast helps the looks of Atlas and the flex track is super flexible and sturdier. I think I read somewhere where the ME flex track has recently improved it's flexibility. Also, ME turnouts used to not be DCC friendly but now they offer DCC ready turnouts. If I ever build another small layout I'll probably go back to ME. My original Zalma Branchline shelf diorama used ME and I liked the looks of it. Looked more realistic. I'm rambling now. Others will chime in.
  5. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Thanks for your input, Jim. The ME stuff at their website looked pretty impressive. I'm mainly hoping for a track system with a very low F factor (Fiddle Factor). For nearly 25 years in HO my layouts were constructed via hand laid track and Shinohara switches. Never again. Good quality flex and good quality switches will work fine for me this time around!

    Kind of getting excited about the possibility of returning to HO... but in some ways kind of apprehensive.
  6. yardmaster

    yardmaster Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Andre, those of us modeling the KC area in 1:87 will gladly welcome you to the fold. Will look forward to more questions and/or updates on your thought processes.

    Best Regards,
  7. rjthomas909

    rjthomas909 Member Supporter

    Regarding the Life-Like P2K split axle gear problem, you can grab a set of six gears that are Athearn parts (for an SD-40 or something close to that (Athearn ATH60024 HO-Scale Drive Axle Gear), grabbed some on ebay recently). Those fit the Life Like P2K locomotives and provide a quick repair. You will need to watch the wheel spacing when you put them back together (might want an NMRA gage).

    -Bob T.
  8. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Hi Chis! Thanks for the "welcome in advance"!

    Still not quite ready to turn loose of my hope of S scale... but like I said, the weight scales are moving very slowly toward the HO side. One of the factors is: I'm not getting younger. I wasn't prepared for the intense work bench efforts needed to get a roster and rolling stock up to speed in S scale. I don't have the time vocationally to spend the scores of hours needed producing one S scale engine I can be pleased with. None of the S scalers foresaw the loss of S Helper Service and their excellent line of product. RTR options with lots of variety are essentially nil in S scale. With the demise of Oddballs, my supply of needed decals went out the window, too. I would like to have a decent shot at having a reasonably complete layout before I cough up the sponge and make like a frog and croak. I think that chance could be greatly improved via HO. An added benefit would be gaining about 30% (or more) layout in my small space by returning to HO.

    Bob T:

    Thanks. I will try to remember that should I decide to resurrect my Life Like stuff. No problem on the need of an NMRA gauge: Still have all that stuff leftover from my past HO history. Plus, I have extensive experience in repowering, swapping out wheelsets, etc, etc. I hope to avoid a huge majority of that this time around! But at least I know how to do it if needed.
  9. William Jackson

    William Jackson Bill Jackson

    I used the ME Flex track and the Walthers code 83 switches. Actually the Walthers DCC Friendly works good and I have not wired the frogs yet. Walthers offers the greatest selection of switches and rail crossings including curved switches. I have two curved switches that work nice although I don't like the looks, but space was an issue. All ME would be good, they just do not make a lot of selections. My layout is DCC, only. Most of my stuff, is newer, do not have many older engines.
    As for the forum's this is by far the best, a lot of the other ones, have small groups that talk together.
    Soundtraxx's has a good group if your DCC.
  10. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Hi William!

    Thanks for your excellent input. Yes, I will be using DCC. I already have a NCE Pro R/C system that I have used for test running/playing with my DCC equipped S scale engines. I have already used it to run my two HO BLI SW7's on a test track using DCC.

    How is the supply of Walthers track products? Surfing the Walthers website, it appears that quite a bit of their track product is back ordered/out of stock. I suspect I will be using #4's in the yard and industrial spurs, #6's on the main, and any crossovers will be larger than #6 if possible. Don't know about any curved switches, but I may could use those to gain space in the closet staging area? As for crossings, I would like to have a dummy crossing scene (to use some cool signal bridges or something)... but would suspect that if I am successful at finding a place for such a scene during the design process, the crossing would be a true 90 degree crossing to make it easier to blend the track heading to the backdrop off into the horizon.

    Understand on the "other" forums developing "cliques" . That tends to happen a lot on an long established forum.

    Thanks again for chiming in!
  11. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    The only cliques on this forum are the sounds of metal wheel sets clicking over rail joints:)
  12. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Good point, Jim! We do all seem to get along together, don't we?

    Wow... I've been hobby-shopping (browsing) eBay to see what all is out there now. AMAZING. After the miniscule variety found in S scale... the thousands and thousands of HO product variety is nigh overwhelming!!! All I need to have a really great time in HO is about $8,000. :D
  13. gstout

    gstout Member Supporter

    The hobby has gotten really expensive, no question. What used to cost $1.99 for a "shake the box" Athearn kit can now be duplicated (obviously as a much better model) for about $25.00. I have a number of friends here with operating layouts who have $40-$50K invested, and they are by no means complete. We will be relocating shortly from Chicago to Cape Girardeau and I will have to rebuild my Kansas City Terminal/KCUS layout, which includes well over 100 passenger cars and 30 or so passenger locomotives. I will be able to salvage track, DCC, rolling stock, Tortoises, structures and some lumber, but almost no scenery other than trees. I hope I will live long enough to get this monster up and running again.

  14. Jim James

    Jim James Staff Member Staff Member

    Cape Girardeau?! We'll practically be neighbors. You can come across the river and operate on my Zalma Branch.
  15. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Andre, answers to questions:

    1) The Athearn #60024 gears are excellent replacements for cracked gears on old Proto 2000 locomotives. It is a good idea to ream them slightly with a drill bit just a hair smaller than the axle shafts on the LL wheels. I have done many of these repairs for people that sent me P2K locos for sound installs.

    2)The Athearn RTR locomotives work quite well, and I have not seen issues with the Genesis F units. The Genesis GP15-1s, GP7s and MP15s have had issues on turnouts with un-powered frogs and unreliably powered points. The new GP38-2 is yet to be proven. There is a fix for this that I have posted on this site.

    3) All Atlas locomotives have been good runners, including the newest releases.

    4) Most of the modelers here in KC use the Atlas code 83 track because it is more flexible than ME and definitely cheaper. As Jim indicated, once it is painted and ballasted, it is unlikely that anyone could really tell the difference. I will be primarily using Atlas Custom Line turnouts so I can power the frog and because their electrical connections to the points are reliable. The Walthers Shinohara turnouts have small rail joiners connecting the points to the rest of the turnout and they are not reliable unless one connects a bond wire (say 32 - 30 gauge) across that joint; otherwise they are good. One of the modelers here has been using Peco's flex track because both rails slide and it is as flexible as Atlas. Peco's turnouts are good.

    5) Ask HO questions in this forum. I have access to some of the pillars of model railroading and their collective wisdom here in KC, without even mentioning the great HO modelers we have right on this forum.
  16. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Supporter

    Greg, since Cape is my hometown, I will look forward to seeing you and possibly helping with re-construction and as you can tell Jim James would be an excellent assistant in construction and modeling.
  17. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member

    Hi again fella's!

    Thanks Greg for more input.

    Thanks Keith for a detailed response to my questions.

    I've made my decision: I'm returning to HO. My S scale and all 3-rail I have left is going to be hitting the used market.

    My decision to leave is predicated by:

    * I'm not a "modeler's modeler".

    That is, I model as a means to an end. For me that "end" is a functioning layout filled with nice looking stuff on which I can replicate railroad operations. My previous HO modeling efforts were because the item wasn't available, so it had to be heavily kitbashed from a model that was "close enough". Typically, this also meant repowering "back then". Over the decades I was into HO, I eventually had enough models to fill the layout and look good in the process. Then I left HO. Since then, I've farted around WAY too long with two very labor intensive scales (Sn3 and S) for the better part of the 15+ years I've been away from HO, and I STILL do not have a functional and fully equipped layout. At 62 years of age, I think "one of these days" has arrived. That is, IF I'm going to have a rewarding layout "one of these days", then HO can give me that chance at a much faster pace than the "modeler's scales" such as S scale, where you have to build, modify, kitbash, repower, MUCH of what little is available, including rolling stock... OH... and without much decal selection, either.

    So, I am coming back to HO. I am going to start with as much RTR as is appropriate, throw some weathering on it, and put the model into service. For switches I intend to use either Atlas Custom Line and/or Walthers/Shinohara or ME as needed, along with Atlas Code 83 Flex Track. No hand laying track this time at all. (From about 1974 until the last one was dismantled in 1998, all of my HO layouts were constructed using hand laid track.) Once I have a functioning layout with an adequate supply of engines and rolling stock running about, I can then pick a subject and modify a model for that "really want one" item.

    Wow... lots of "work" ahead in the realm of readying S scale equipment for the used market, and other related items. However, along the way I will be picking up HO items for when the time comes that my current bench work is cleared of the portions of S track in place, reworked a bit, and readied for the new HO version of the "KC Lines: West Bottoms District".

    It's all pretty exciting, actually!
  18. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member Staff Member

    You can't have your old B/Y GP7 back yet! LOL :):):) I am still busy trying to wear it out. Pretty sure its gonna outlive us all. :) HO has come a looong way in the last 15 years, actually a lot farther and faster than I have come along :)
    Very glad to see you looking fwd to getting started back in HO.
  19. Coonskin

    Coonskin Member


    Continue enjoying that Geep! I'm glad it's in the hands of someone that has received a lot of fun out of it.

    My Front Range Geep you have is a classic example of why I went to the lengths I did to model "back then": What I wanted wasn't available. Or, if it was, (with few exceptions) it sucked.

    In the case of that Front Range GP7, the stock version ran like crap, and the parts didn't fit correctly, so, I developed a repowering package that worked, and learned what parts to sand/modify to make it look more like a GP7 should look. You have in your possession the result. Sad thing is: ALL of the Front Range GP7's on my roster back then had to have the same operations performed on it, as well as modifying per a specific unit! Way too much required "workbench time" for my tastes now. Thus, I'm HOPING that HAVING to spend hours and hours at a workbench for ONE locomotive is a thing of the past, what with all the gorgeous stuff available now! I can modify/kitbash for that "special piece" once I have a functional layout and enough equipment on hand to operate.
  20. William Jackson

    William Jackson Bill Jackson

    Keith, makes a great point about the Peco flex track, flexing on both rails. I had to use the radius templates on the ME flex, but then I don't have much track. You did mention a 90 degree rail crossing, thats why I went to Walthers, selection of components.

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