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Thread: The best brands in your opinion...

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    Default The best brands in your opinion...

    I was wondering everyone's opinion on who they thought made the best freight cars for N scale. It might be that you like box cars by one manufacturer and hoppers by another. Whatever your preference I would like to hear them. Who do you think has the best details, best quality, best performance, & etc? Thanks in advance.

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    Welcome aboard! This is a great sight for learning stuff. This has been covered several times and one may recommend you do a search. I won't be that one because I have a hard time with the search engine here. (my own incompetence I'm sure)
    Microtrains, Intermountian, Kato, Atlas, Precision, Bluford, many make fine cars I'm sure I forgot a few. I don't think I would say x makes better box than hopper? Newer stuff looks and runs good, older stuff??
    Sean Barry

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    Welcome to the site coachc!

    a lot of variables enter into the discussion like what is your wallet size, what era you model, what railroad modeled, just off the top of my head. Atlas cars are a good middle ground with price vs reliability. the FVM and BLMA cars are excellent for a bit more. Then there is Micro Trains with good quality and availability and performance. If you have money to burn you can go to Eastern Seaboard Models and others but I don't even look at them b/c they are out of my price line. I'm sure that others will weigh in soon on the topic. Remember too that this is a bit subjective like ford vs chevy
    Last edited by epumph; 29th Jan 2013 at 01:07 PM.
    Yours,

    Gene

    Turtle Creek Industrial RR

    Link to my Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/epumph/

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    I would put Intermountain(# of sub companies, check their site), exactrail, blma, esm (eastern Seaboard Models) at the top of the heap, then
    Microtrains and atlas (master line), (Bachmann high end line might be in here, but I have no product to compare) then
    Athearn, Atlas (trainman line), bachmann.

    If you had asked 10 years ago, I would have had only Microtrains on the top of the heap.

    Cheers,
    Craig

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    Obviously "best" is an incredibly subjective term, so these are what I use...

    Locomotives: Kato
    Boxcars: Fox Valley & Micro-trains
    Hoppers: Intermountain & Micro-trains
    Tank Cars: Atlas
    Gondolas: Micro-trains
    Auto racks: Micro-trains
    Well Cars: Deluxe Innovations

    I have had examples from Athearn, BLMA, and ExactRail in the past but they didn't suit me.

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    Thanks for the replies so far. I realized this has been talked about before. I did a search but most of what I found was 2 years old or older. Thought there might be some new stuff out there. I have a couple of microtrains and atlas. The microtrains seem to have the better detail but the price is usually higher. I've seen Exctrail. I like their freight cars as well. I realize this is all a matter of opinion. It is kind of why I started the thread; to get everyone's opinion. I had not heard of Eastern Seaboard Models before so I've already learned something.

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    Here's the thing about who makes the best freight car. There's very little overlap, so the question is more like who makes the freight car you want. If you're looking for a specific freight car that there have been multiple producers of post away and folks will try to steer you toward the best one. Spookshow's freight car encyclopedia has a wealth of knowledge about which cars are/were available and which importers imported them and when.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coachc View Post
    I was wondering everyone's opinion on who they thought made the best freight cars for N scale. It might be that you like box cars by one manufacturer and hoppers by another. Whatever your preference I would like to hear them. Who do you think has the best details, best quality, best performance, & etc? Thanks in advance.
    The best brands are the brands that make the locomotives / freight cars that I'm looking for and as closely scaled/detailed after the prototype as possible.

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    Most of my rolling stock comes from BLMA, Athearn, Deluxe, Exactrail, MTL, Red Caboose and Atlas.

    The quality of N scale has really gotten better in the past 20 years, and in the past 5 years alone we've seen a huge upsurge in quality across many manufacturers with standard metal lo-profile wheels, body-mounted couplers, brake line detail and the like.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles

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    Sometimes the "best" brand comes down to a matter of finding the one brand that makes the piece of equipment I'm looking for. I had a friend who modeled Mexican railways and he was always delighted to come across any factory labled Mexican rail equipment.

    it is easy to find agreement about the low end of the scale, and what to avoid, but at the high end it becomes more difficult as many of the manufacturers are specialists.

    a biggest turkey in N scale bread might be interesting....

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    Kato Atlas and micro-trains peco switches Jay
    it always takes more tha one try to get it right! Jay

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    Id say now the company's that are making rolling stock are all top notch
    knuckles and low profiles on everything
    with some differences such as what knuckle and metal wheelsets some have better superfine detailing
    But all in all I say anything from a recent/modern runs is a good model
    Modeling the Pennsylvania Railroad Middle Divison in 1954

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrifterNL View Post
    The best brands are the brands that make the locomotives / freight cars that I'm looking for and as closely scaled/detailed after the prototype as possible.
    And those brands are? I'm not really asking which brands i should buy. I'm asking everyone's opinion and why they pick those brands. I should interject here that i am a longtime armchair modeler and have nothing set in stone yet.

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    N scale does not have the manufacturing base that HO does. There are very few overlaps in cars and locos. You really don't have a choice only one manufacturer will make a specific car. Often times if a mainstream maker sees a high end brass sells well. Very rarely today will you get a horrible car for your money, more often your few choices are good or better. Only buying "the best" will leave you with ab inaccurate layout.
    Use what you know about the world to model…
    Learn from modeling what you don't know about the real world.



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    If you want wooden reefers it's MTL, modern coal hoppers Kato, steam loco's Bachmann Spectrum, , like most here said, most of the time you don't have a choice.
    As long as I can model in N-scale, I know I'm not old

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    Quote Originally Posted by coachc View Post
    And those brands are? I'm not really asking which brands i should buy. I'm asking everyone's opinion and why they pick those brands. I should interject here that i am a longtime armchair modeler and have nothing set in stone yet.
    Well it depends. If you're looking for funnel flow tank cars, Con-Cor is the only brand (they also happen to be pretty nice cars). If you want a modern LP or anhydrous tank car, Athearn used to make them and they were darn nice but nobody else does. Atlas makes an older style pressure car. Athearn wins for the ethanol tank cars as well, but again, hard to come by. Old MDC/Roundhouse tank cars are nice though I don't know if they represent any specific prototype. For steam era tank cars Intermountain makes nice ones, as does Atlas I believe. It really depends on the era and commodity.

    Same goes for box cars, there is a little more overlap there, lots of people doing essentially the same rib side box car but each has it's own subtle differences that may or may not indicate what specific type of car it is and may or may not matter to you depending on your interests.

    Intermountain makes several nice covered hoppers, as does BLMA and ExactRail. Atlas Trainman Thrall hoppers are very nice for what they cost, about half of the others. ExactRail and BLMA both do a 4427, both are nice cars. Walthers did a 4427 but it was quite a while ago and it's not as nice compared to what's made now.

    I picked BLMA and ExactRail 4427's because they make them. I didn't go with Walthers because they don't make them anymore (or right now anyway) and their CNW one was Safety yellow not green or gray. For my anhydrous tank car... well... I'm still looking for an Athearn one. I'm good on box cars, I found Micro Trains makes a nice cushion box car with plug doors (not sure on the prototype) and Atlas makes a 50' FGE box, both suitable for what I want to model. Recently I learned Athearn also made a NACC insulated box several years ago so I'm now on the prowl for one of those. I do need a few gondolas, Atlas is the only one who makes the SIECO/Evans I want. Exact rail makes the only PS waffle side box car that is correct for what I'm doing, the old MDC one is not correct for me but is a nice car that someone else might need/want. Fox Valley makes the only FMC 5283 double door box car, also one I want for what I plan to model. For locomotives, I picked Walthers/LifeLike for a C425 because they are the only ones that make it (it's actually a C424, and will take a fair bit of modification to be a Phase II C425). Like wise for the GP15-1, Atlas makes the one there is, and it needs some tweaking to be exactly what I want. LifeLike and Kato made RS2's, the most recent run of LifeLike's are good runners, the Kato ones although older were at the time very nice.

    See what we're driving at here? Who makes the best isn't as much a factor as who makes the only, depending on what you're looking for. It's not like a dual plane intake for a Chevy small block that 5 companies have covered, some better quality than others but all essentially the same air flow wise.

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    The best thing to do is shop around, buy a few cars and then decide for yourself based on what era and locale you want to model. If you buy newer stuff, I doubt you'll be disappointed, but the pre-2000 stuff is less than wonderful - yard fodder, if you get my drift. The road you model is of little importance, because the vast mount of interchange traffic puts everybody's rolling stock just about everywhere.
    Cheers!,
    Ron




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    And lets not forget those absolutely beautiful Canadian covered hoppers from NARC (North American Railcar Corporation) sold exclusively at PWRS.

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    NARC is coming out with new canadian steel coal hoppers soon that will be self righting a huge step forward for Nscale Jay
    it always takes more tha one try to get it right! Jay

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    My fav. box cars are FVM and Exactrail. I really like how they are pushing the detail levels forward! BLMA is taking it to a whole new level on cars like the Trinity Reefers, so cool! Athearn Tank cars are my favorites in that category.

    PWRS and Intermountain have the tops covered hoppers and Atlas is hard to beat on coil cars, and their covered hoppers are hard to beat for the price! I guess we just have a lot of great options right now.
    Karl

    CEO of the Skally Line, an Eastern MN Shortline

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