MTH class J

NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at
Wed Apr 1 11:27:29 EDT 2009

Well, I have the BLI J without factory sound, and am happy since I
installed a Tsunami heavy steam sound decoder.

I also have the HO MTH XA, and am not very happy with poor mold joint
lines along the boiler's length among other things as well as the lack
of many DCC programming features. Hence, I do not intend to buy any
other MTH product. BLI, yes, of course.

J. Tucker

NW Modeling List wrote:

> Hello everyone,


> I just received my MTH class J locomotive and can share a few initial

> observations. It has many features that I haven't tried yet (including

> smoke, playable whistle, etc.), so I will mention some basics. I recently

> sold my Bachman Spectrum J's so the only comparison I will make there has to

> do with operation. I have 2 BLI J's and 2 brass J's for comparison. The

> overall appearance is very good. BLI's drivers are totally black whereas

> the MTH has unpainted tires. Likewise for the pony trucks. I think the MTH

> trailing truck and tender trucks have better detail than the BLI. The paint

> is flatter on the MTH than the brass locos, and the BLI is the shiniest. I

> think the space between the loco and tender is too far on the MTH compared

> to BLI (and the brass have prototypical space if you can manage your curves

> that way). The headlight has a good slightly yellowish tint to it - looks

> realistic. The MTH has a beautiful coal load in the tender - piled high and

> with lots of texture. The BLI coal pile is flat and with an obvious cast

> plastic appearance. At least they have coal. I haven't yet gotten around

> to putting coal in the tenders of my brass locos! Both the BLI and MTH have

> a traction tire and spare driver set. This is where they both outperform

> the brass locos - more traction. In my situation, traction is the most

> critical element because I needed locos that could haul a 14-car Birmingham

> Special up a 1.6% grade, and the brass J's were not able to do that. After

> that, sound and operation are high on my list of attributes. Both brass

> locos have cams and were retrofitted with Soundtraxx DSD 150 (SP GS4)

> decoders. They perform superbly. In my estimation, nothing comes close to

> this combination. The brass locos can start up or come to a stop with

> ultimate realism, and the chuffing sound at speed is very realistic,

> coordinated exactly with the driver RPM's. This is a big plus for the MTH -

> the exhaust matches the driver RPM at all speeds. This is not true for the

> BLI. Also, the overall sound package on the BLI ranks last. The whistle is

> horribly raspy, and the exhaust sound at speed is ridiculous and has no

> relation to the RPM's of the drivers. The whistle sound of the MTH is

> better, but tends to sound a little bit like an automobile horn. The

> control of both the BLI and MTH is spasmodic. On the BLI's, you keep

> turning up the throttle, and then suddenly the train lurches forward. It is

> very hard to make a smooth start. Likewise, the MTH does nothing at first,

> then jumps forward, and even worse, increases in huge increments at each

> click of a Digitrax throttle. Maybe this can be adjusted. The MTH also

> makes a grinding sound at speed which worries me - I will contact them about

> that. The Bachman Spectrum locos ran very smoothly and quietly. I would

> have retrofitted them with Soundtraxx decoders, but they didn't have the

> pulling power, and of course had the bright red stripe instead of the N&W

> red as is the case on both the BLI and MTH. Personally, I like the

> lettering on the MTH better than the BLI, however it is more muted. Well,

> that's it for now. When I can work more with it, I will make another

> report. If anyone else has an MTH, please share your observations.


> Bob Folsom

> Clemson SC



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