MTH class J

NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at
Thu Apr 2 09:30:32 EDT 2009

I read with interest Bob Folsom's review of the MTH J. I am an MTH user in
3-rail O (scale only). I have run the MTH HO engines and did not see the
operational problem Bob saw, but was using the MTH control unit. I am not
familiar with Digitrax. That probably does not make any difference.

Bill Graham, III
Twyman's Mill, VA
----- Original Message -----
From: "NW Modeling List" <nw-modeling-list at>
To: <nw-modeling-list at>
Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 10:38 AM
Subject: MTH class J

> 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


> 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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