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Feedback Wanted

These engines have been in development for several years and delayed further by COVID-19.

This limited edition is our first locomotive, and we want to know your opinion of the model's appearance, functionality, reliability, performance, value, and most of all, did you have fun running it? This will help guide us in the future.

Please email your thoughts and feedback to Ray at Guest@menard-inc.com

Remember, the purpose of this test run is to gather feedback. The more people who get one, the better. With this in mind, and because the supply is so limited, we ask that you limit your purchase to one engine per customer.

Features

  • Very limited - Only 200 produced
  • Two powerful motors - Great for pulling!
  • Easy-to-use remote control with forward/reverse, horn, bells, and crew commentary
  • Adjust volume with a dial on the side of the controller
  • Call and response audio between engineer, fireman, and dispatcher (25 phrases)
  • Directional lighting illuminates going forward and backwards and lighted number boards
  • Rugged stamped-steel frame
  • Metal trucks with die-cast frames
  • Realistic train sounds with on/off switch (located on underside of engine)
  • Locomotive Weight: 2lb. 12 oz.
  • Locomotive Dimensions: 13"L x 2-1/2"W x 3-1/2"H (not including horns)





Get on board with the test run of this brand new locomotive from Menards!

Shop Now >


The Iconic F3 Locomotive

The classic F3 locomotive hails design from the Golden Age of American railroading and offers mighty O gauge action with two-motor power for hauling long trains.

The F3 is an iconic locomotive, often dubbed "the diesel that did it," in the transition from steam to diesel locomotives. The Menards F3 features America's most recognized railway graphics - the classic Santa Fe War-Bonnet livery that set a new visual standard for railway graphic design.


Not Just a Pretty Face
This precision crafted model has two powered motors, a rugged die-cast metal frame, metal truck side-frames, and power pickup rollers on each wheel set.

The F3 comes equipped with crew figures in the illuminated cab. Safety is assured along the line with a bright LED headlight, backup light, and classification lighting. The model has working front and rear couplers.

Cast-in detailing includes portholes, rivet and seam detail, and exhaust and radiator fans.

The model showcases premium painting and decoration of the complex Santa Fe silver, black, red, and yellow livery.

The F3 measures 13 inches long and easily operates on O-31 diameter curves, and all contemporary track brands.


Radio-Equipped
The F3 comes with an easy-to-use hand-held wireless controller. Easy for youngsters or adults to hold and use.
- Easy rotating forward-reverse directional control
- Select horn or bell sounds
- Trigger crew communications
- Adjustable volume control
- Quick battery replacement



In case you missed it, I've attached today's Menards Train email. If you'd like to sign up for these, click here.

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Last edited by Menards
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@MartyE posted:

Interesting remote design.  I'm with John, I would have bet against it but good for you guys!  Looking forward to see what's next.

Should we assume this is Bluetooth control?  Any more info you can share on the range, etc?

I don't have in-depth knowledge of the remote electronics but I do know it is not Bluetooth. We haven't tested the full range but it works great from 20 feet away, no problem.

-Mark the Menards Train Guy

Mark;

        Thanks for the announcement.

My order is in. This should make the other big model train manufacturers pay attention.



Thanks;

idea-thinker

I'm sure the "other big model train manufacturers" are not too worried.   This loco does not compete with any of their offerings, and dare I say, it's not designed to.   Totally different market.

Conversely, I applaud Menard's for doing this.

I ordered mine.

I have some feedback.  Would you consider putting e units in these like they do on Lion Chief plus locos.  That way you can run them with the remote or conventional transformer control.

I assume this one can only be controlled by the remote and that is fine.

If I were to acquire a bunch of these (believe me I want to) I would prefer the option to operate them conventionally like all of my other locos.

I would be open to a sperate sale plug in/ wire in/ solder in module if you are worried about raising the price by adding an e unit.

Having said all of that, this is so cool.  I asked the Menards train guy about engines years ago,

He said they were working on it and asked me to keep quiet about it.

Hope it is OK to talk now.

So looking forward to running my "Menards & Santa Fe All the Way" train.

Glad to see some other options out there for pepole starting in the hobby.



So when are the passenger cars and freight engines coming out? 

Sorry I typed this before reading your post all the way through.

Should I email that e unit conventional control suggestion in?

Last edited by Garfield

I have never purchased anything from Menards yet, but understand from posts on the Forum that Menards makes quality products at reasonable prices. That Menards is beginning to manufacture and/or market O Gauge locomotives is great news.

I am not keen on Santa Fe and western railroads, but  very interested in similar future diesel locomotives and steamers with Northeastern road names.

More good news for me is  the new Menards locomotive runs well on 031 curves and has a handheld remote control that has the basics, which sounds similar to the LionChief Plus remotes.

Such a reasonable price for such a good quality locomotive is terrific.

Other basic features I would like to see for future Menards locomotives is operating electrocouplers that work by pressing 1 button on the remote,  and good smoke units for both diesels and steamers.

Arnold

@EscapeRocks posted:

I'm sure the "other big model train manufacturers" are not too worried.   This loco does not compete with any of their offerings, and dare I say, it's not designed to.   Totally different market.

Conversely, I applaud Menard's for doing this.

My thoughts exactly. Congrats to Menards and I will follow closely. However, I'm far from "in" on this and will wait see how the product line shakes out first.

Ear to the ground, er, rail.

I'm pleasantly surprised but not shocked.  If you connected the dots of Menards and trains, the path leads to right where it is today.  It looks like Menards figured out a way to build a new line from scratch using existing technology.  The consumer wins and this is good for our hobby.   Thank you Menards for keeping our hobby alive and well!  When are we going to see OGRR do a detailed video of Menards' secret layout with all the highways full of animated cars and trucks?

It looks nice and it sounds nice but I’m going to sit out this test run (My reasons are largely budgetary). I also like the fact that it lacks dual headlights. The NYC, the PRR, the CNJ, the Reading, the B&M and other RR’s didn’t  have any. Nor did the Katy’s or the Rock Island’s freight F-3s.

I would consider buying a couple if Menards authorized/released a limited-run in Santa Fe’s blue and yellow “cigar band” freight scheme.

EDIT:  I respectfully pass on being a Beta-tester.

Last edited by Mister_Lee
@IRON HORSE posted:

I'm pleasantly surprised but not shocked.  If you connected the dots of Menards and trains, the path leads to right where it is today.  It looks like Menards figured out a way to build a new line from scratch using existing technology.  The consumer wins and this is good for our hobby.   Thank you Menards for keeping our hobby alive and well!  When are we going to see OGRR do a detailed video of Menards' secret layout with all the highways full of animated cars and trucks?

Agree, a pleasant surprise here as well. I have quite a few Menards items and so glad for the products they offer. Just ordered mine and will test it well and give reports, they asked us to. Imagine the units to follow, ABA set, multiple road names, excitement builds. I believe they will listen to the "200" and make any adjustments/advancements for follow on products. This helps so much in the entry point for new kids at a great price. Thanks Menards!

Last edited by Rail Dude

Being an operator, the following comments.  First, why not remote controlled couplers.  I think that is a must. Secondly, these were usually sold in AA sets so a dummy should be offered ( with remote controlled coupler).  Thirdly, why not use bluetooth or one of the other control systems ( the listed range is rather limited.)That being said I am glad you are in the loco arena.  Art

Looks Like I'm in, Will love to test.  At the price point I am glad for Whistle/Bell/Commentary, and hopefully is a good runner like some of the Original RMT models before they got pricey. 

I'm sure reasonably priced sets will follow that will get kids into the hobby, hence the controller system.  Maybe 5 years down the line we will be talking about Menards Monarch Line of High End trains

Curious to know about tech support and part availability as you launch into Engines, don't need a lot of tech support for buildings and rolling stock.  This changes the game.

ok, so when does this thread turn into a discussion of how Menards will be purchasing MTH Railking tooling?  Asking for a friend, LOL!



Nice looking train at a fantastic price. I sure hope they continue down this path.

That’s already been discussed with most rolling their eyes. At the time I thought it was a pipe dream. Now, who knows. I just want to see a continuation of the railking line at decent prices.

@Art Lites posted:

Being an operator, the following comments.  First, why not remote controlled couplers.  I think that is a must. Secondly, these were usually sold in AA sets so a dummy should be offered ( with remote controlled coupler).  Thirdly, why not use bluetooth or one of the other control systems ( the listed range is rather limited.)That being said I am glad you are in the loco arena.  Art

Having to target a certain pricing point, somethings that you or I might consider must haves need to be left off.
If you look closely at the underside pics, there are other areas where some design issues had to be taken into account as far as cost go.
One has to be very careful with feature creep after initial design, or else one begins to miss the target price point

@Art Lites posted:

Being an operator, the following comments.  First, why not remote controlled couplers.  I think that is a must. Secondly, these were usually sold in AA sets so a dummy should be offered ( with remote controlled coupler).  Thirdly, why not use bluetooth or one of the other control systems ( the listed range is rather limited.)That being said I am glad you are in the loco arena.  Art

Obviously, Menards wants to keep the price point under $150. (And as stated, there are folks that can't take advantage of the rebate offers...) Bluetooth and remote couplers would probably push the retail over $200 for a powered unit.

Rusty

BIG THUMBS DOWN, they were soooooo close, but for the love of god why do your own control system! Blue tooth, TMCC, DCS dont do a new thing!

Those are closed systems and would require licensing from MTH and Lionel, which adds cost plus the tech. This would be a $350 engine if they did that. Bluetooth requires an app to run, which are very expensive to build and maintain relative to this market size…I still cringe from past personal experience.

For the target market this price point and remote is fantastic. This is an awesome entry level offering

I was pleasantly surprised to see this but I sort of figured down the road they would be  doing this.  I ordered one to try it out. I am amazed at the price but also understand that you get what you pay for and that you can't get all the bells and whistles for that price. I think Menards will definately be helping those who want to get into the hobby by offering reasonably priced engines. They already offer rolling stock and buildings at reasonable prices..........................Paul 2

Those are closed systems and would require licensing from MTH and Lionel, which adds cost plus the tech. This would be a $350 engine if they did that. Bluetooth requires an app to run, which are very expensive to build and maintain relative to this market size…I still cringe from past personal experience.

For the target market this price point and remote is fantastic. This is an awesome entry level offering

While it may not be Bluetooth, the remote bears a striking resemblance to those found in Lionel sets.  Could it be that it is the same control system used in earlier LC sets?  These were not Bluetooth.

Last edited by MartyE

@Menards - waiting for an answer regarding whether or not it will operate conventionally.

Love the look and price point, but if the only way to run it is with the proprietary remote, then I'm probably out.  Concerned about availability of a replacement controller, and don't want to deal with yet another control system. 

Also hoping for a dummy A or B unit to accompany it.  If there are no plans to produce a dummy A or B, I would suggest selling a road switcher - a lone F3 just looks odd to most train folks.

Menards, thank you, thank you, thank you. This is fantastic news! And your price point hits this out of the ballpark. Love the old school vibe, with the remote control twist. Don’t need smoke, remote couplers, this is a fantastic entry level offering. I’m not a Santa Fe guy, but will definitely pick up some with U.P. Or Milwaukee Road Livery. My Grandson will be very excited that he will be able to afford a nice loco. Hope the testing goes well. Such exciting news!

Joel

This is fantastic!  I might just spring for one even though I have MTH engines and DCS, would be a unique shelf queen.

I am assuming this is an RF linked engine that can run on the DCS 18V rails (I know the DCS won't control engine but the rail voltage will be there though you can dial  down TIU voltage in another mode)

BUT being a negative Nancy, who will repair these when they break, and future replacement supply parts? (think how hard its been to get parts for some Lionel and MTH accessories years later)

RTR sets are getting pricey and make it harder for parents to add one when other toys are more affordable on many budgets. Menards has always been a leader in making toys for a great price, kind of like Marx in the 50's.

I hope the tests are very favorable and any bugs get worked out for future production runs.

From the looks of the remote, it's probably similar to LionChief. The major difference is that on the lowest end LionChief there is no volume control and the horn and whistle buttons are reversed.

The lowest end Lionel sets can be run on AC or DC, although I am not sure any are dual-motored so the power transistors may need to be rated for more current.

I missed getting one, so I'll have to wait until someone gets their hands on one to check the frequencies and possibly the FCC ID number on the handheld.

@Ron_S posted:

RTR sets are getting pricey and make it harder for parents to add one when other toys are more affordable on many budgets. Menards has always been a leader in making toys for a great price, kind of like Marx in the 50's.

I hope the tests are very favorable and any bugs get worked out for future production runs.

Ron - I have one on the way.  I will have to find a day to swing by the P and P to see how it works with the multitude of command signals in the layout building between the various clubs.  My order said to expect delivery around the 17th.  We shall see?

Got an order in. I am a tinplate guy, so this is not my cup of tea, but I think it will get some great use on the club meet table layout.

I am jealous that things like this are available to you, and at the same time amazed at the non stop complaining about what is missing from an entry level item. Everything that some you want added runs up the price in one way or another.

If this works, and I suspect it will. think of the nice under $300 starter sets that can be put out, or assembled from individual items.

thanks Menards

Steve

So I’ve read thru the comments on this forum, other forums and Social Media about this engine. I passed on it but not for all the other reasons that people have been saying, “it doesn’t have smoke, it doesn’t have Electro Couplers, it doesn’t have a place to take it to when it breaks.”

This is a TRIAL run of this loco. What this means is that if they can figure out the bugs like other things in the hobby such as the DCW WIFI App operations, this can open a door to a new manufacturer of locomotives.

I would worry about everything else last. If these engines turn out to be great locos and the response to Menards is positive, they will start producing these again and others road names maybe different types of locos.

The loco was being sold around 130. Find a loco with smoke, electro couplers and all the bells and whistles of a command control system, new in the box from a retailer…

This loco is geared more for someone who wants a loco that they can put on the track, it can pull anything that is put behind and let it go but don’t have to spend tons of money.

I certainly would of bought this loco, but there are people out there that are more happy and excited to get this than I would in life right now. I know at least 5 people who bought them and I will get to see them in person when they get here.



This is very exciting to see and probably in December, at least one person that sees a loco operate and how to maintain it and where it should go might be able to own a Menards Loco of there own.

Take it at face value gents. If  you want all the fancy features then the big mfr's have plenty to offer.

Think back to where their models were when command systems were first offered.

I'm looking forward to testing it out. My first Beta test! WHOO HOO!

Just think......20 years from now we can sell them on Ebay as first run collectors items for a ridiculous amount of money. .

Last edited by RSJB18

Aldovar ,

Those reactions are EXACTLY what these locomotives should mean, great price, good looks and it is something kids (Of ANY age) can run the wheels off of having FUN!

My grandkids currently run a Thomas , they love the fact it is their's and something they get to run without any hovering and corrections, this is a good step up for the NEXT train when that time comes if Menards goes into full scale production.

Last edited by Ron_S

"While it may not be Bluetooth, the remote bears a striking resemblance to those found in Lionel set"

As is the pricing.  LionChief separate sale locos are about $40 more.  LionChief sets as low as $200 for Thomas.  Menard's has carried Lionel sets and rolling stock for years so I suspect this was contracted with Lionel or a Lionel factory,  but does not bear the Lionel name.  The remote conforms almost exactly to the external outline of the LionChief remote.  Notice that the remote and loco bear little or no resemblance to RailKing in price or control system appearance. I suspect when you examine the PCB boards in the loco and the remote, they will look remarkably like LionChief, but I could be wrong.

Last edited by Landsteiner

I am happy to hear these sold out -- great for the hobby.  I was excited and I had one in my shopping cart this morning but decided to pass.  I have a great MTH Santa Fe Railking F3 PS3 that I absolutely love.  A Menards engine could not compete with it for track time --- but for $130 versus $550 or so,  I'm sure it was not intended to outperform my MTH model.  I'll look forward to hearing feedback from forum members.

Wow, although I’m late to make an order as they’re Sold Out, I will be checking at the Menards store in Evansville, Indiana  later this fall/winter when they begin their Christmas sales displays. I hope the folks that get theirs in the next few weeks will give us some interesting details on how they operate. The price is right for a beginner in the hobby. Remember when Williams brought out their line of diesels way back in the 70’s? Menards has some very interesting accessories, buildings, signs, houses, all good quality. This thread should grow by leaps and bounds as this new addition to their line of O gauge products is very fascinating. Happy Railroading Everyone

@MartyE posted:

While it may not be Bluetooth, the remote bears a striking resemblance to those found in Lionel sets.  Could it be that it is the same control system used in earlier LC sets?  These were not Bluetooth.

Striking resemblance?  Well not quite, other than a warbonnet paint job.  The LionChief set locomotives are FT's, with way different roof details and 4 portholes on the side.

Images: Menards and Lionel

The Menards locomotive bears a much closer resemblance to an F7 without dynamic brakes and the nose isn't shaped like any other model I've seen.  I will say the exhaust stacks and fans do closely resemble the Lionel postwar F3's.

There's really a bunch of detail issues with the model I could site, but this model isn't designed to please rivet counters, just those looking for an inexpensive locomotive option and I believe it succeeds on that point.

Rusty

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@Landsteiner posted:

"While it may not be Bluetooth, the remote bears a striking resemblance to those found in Lionel set"

As is the pricing.  LionChief separate sale locos are about $40 more.  LionChief sets as low as $200 for Thomas.  Menard's has carried Lionel sets and rolling stock for years so I suspect this was contracted with Lionel or a Lionel factory,  but does not bear the Lionel name.  The remote conforms almost exactly to the external outline of the LionChief remote.  Notice that the remote and loco bear little or no resemblance to RailKing in price or control system appearance. I suspect when you examine the PCB boards in the loco and the remote, they will look remarkably like LionChief, but I could be wrong.

I wonder if it can be run with the Universal Remote?

There's really a bunch of detail issues with the model I could site, but this model isn't designed to please rivet counters, just those looking for an inexpensive locomotive option and I believe it succeeds on that point.

There are certainly several items to cite for those of us who enjoy counting the rivets, but what is striking to me is how closely this comes to an actual Phase IV ATSF F3.  It has the correct pancake fans, the continuous grille, late number boards, and the correct style pilot.  It is surprising scale looking even down to the bulldog nose which is hard to replicate.

Not sure where the number came from though.  Definitely not an ATSF F unit number.

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OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
330-757-3020

www.ogaugerr.com
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