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For HO steam power, I have preferred BLI and MTH as my first choice, however Athearn has improved their product to keep pace and is generally less expensive with good performance.Athearn's Big Boy uses a plastic body while I understand, BLI uses a Diecast body for heavier traction.However some of them suffer from degredation of the cast material, causing them to swell and warp.
Now if I only had a good means of weathering that repaired cab roof... their comments were that 1)their gears were machined from solid delrin and wouldn't split like the original molded plastic ones and 2)these are nice locomotives and it baffles them as to why Athearn chose to save money by putting such cheep gears in scott writes: I have a Challenger and enjoy it.In 1999 Athearn entered the steam locomotive market with the Genesis Series USRA 2-8-2 and 4-6-2. At the time, this was the first new steam locomotive offering in many years.The other companies offering steam locomotives at this time were Rivarossi, MDC/Roundhouse, Tyco/Mantua, and Bowser.This document is a guide to HO steam locomotives (of North American prototype). Under each manufacturer, both the strong and weak points of their steam locomotives are listed.Feel free to submit any comments that might be of value to others.