Leo Pesce <leo@...>
last saturday I finally got a chance to look at the Athearn Mikado.
This gave me a chance to compare it to the Bachman MT.
As soon as I took out the engine from the box, I could tell of the
quality of this offering. Since I did not add the details, I cannot
realy tell the assembled look, but from the star, I was very
The opened engine was lettered for the Frisco RR, which I understand
they actually had this type of engine. I did not go and confirm this.
The lettering is crisp, but there is nt much, and I do not know if the
prototype also had very little lettering. Also the black part of the bolier
not painted, so there is the plastic shine to contend with. The plastic
itself has very crisp details modelled on.
Overall, it is a very USRA engine.
The running gear is what I was impressed most, much better than the
Bachman. It shows that it came from Samhongsa.
In the back of the engine, there is a very thick cable with a small board
attached to it. It is supposed to be slid into the tender for storage
pupose only. the cable is so thick, it is a bit stiff, and it may lift the
tender off the rails. We did not have curves or switches to test on
(our test track at the store is just a straight section), but I was moving
the end of the engine sideways and the tender went off the rails very
easily. I think some stress relief should be done on this cable to
loosen it up a bit.
Running was very nice, not top notch, but nice. There is no wobble,
the movement is very smooth, but the motor is a bit noisy.
Question: does Athearn put their own motor, or is it coming already
mounted from Samhongsa? It definively does not sound like a can
motor to me. Not having had a chance to open the engine, I cannot
tell you one way or the other.
The engine does have some weight, so it should pull itself and a few
cars up a typical layout grade. Adding a bit in the boiler should
Apparently everybody is going with LED lights, and this one is no
different. The light is yellow, and there is no backup light.
We compared the two engines, and they run about the same, it seems
on all the voltage range. This means double-heading is possible with
the two of them together.
Conclusion. I think this is a better engine over the Bachman, but it is
not outstanding. In the "Best of" list, I would put this in place #2,
behind the Bachman Consolidation. It is a long way to the European
counterparts, but this is reflected in the price you pay at the counter.
My "Best of" list for the under $150 new plastic steam engines is:
1- Bachman Consolidation
2- Athearn Mikado
3- Bachman Mountain
4- Model Power Consolidation (anybody remembers this one? Fine runner!)
5- IHC Mogul
6- Bachman GS4 new generation
7- the rest: IHC and Bachman, engines used for parts only