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Time to another some motive power to a new freight train. Since my layout is 50's themed, I want to add a RS-3 diesel model to a new freight consist. Looking for a Reading road name but can't find one. May have to custom paint but first need to purchase the loco. Looked at the Lionel and both old and new designs look to be very cheaply made . MTH didn't seem to offer much, Williams had a few and Weaver shows them in their 2013 catalog. Who makes a good quality RS-3?


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I have both a Weaver one (First edition with the tower chain drive) and an MTH one. Living near Schenectady the former home of Alco, i also have 3 PA's (AA,AA,AB), 1 FA (AA), and 1 RS1.

Back to the RS3's -- the Weaver one is the most accurate and true to scale, and if it's an early one (fixed pilot) with new gears on the drive (from P&D) it's a great runner at nice slow speeds, AND can often be found at train shows or on eBay for $60 - $100. Newer issue Weaver RS3's have vertical motors (China Drive) and swiveling pilots if that's your thing.

The MTH ones IMO are of better quality than either the Lionel, WBB or K-Line ones and next to Weaver are the most accurate ones.

I've added TMCC to both of mine, and RailSounds to the MTH one; at the time i did the Weaver one (over a dozen or so years ago) there wasn't enough room in the body for a sound board and speaker, and no room in the fuel tank for the speaker with the driveshaft running through it.

Hope this helps.



Last edited by modeltrainsparts


The pic doesn't show up on your post.



I also have the Atlas RS-1 (close enough to an RS-3) and it's a great model. My only complaint is that I run conventional and getting the battery in the tank under the frame where it is stored is a real PITA. I run without it. I have an MTH RS-3 on order and await delivery so I can't comment on the quality yet.

Originally Posted by Bob Severin:
Originally Posted by Lehigh74:

I have a few MTH RS3s.  Two D&H (issued in 2011) and a Reading (issued in 2005).  The Reading is 30-2609-1.  They are Railking and not supper detailed, but I like them.

Does the supper detailed include mashed potatoes?  Not nit-picking mind you.  

OK.  They aren't super detailed either.

The original Chain drive weavers were the best running.    The single motor drive avoided the two motors fighting and jerking like they do in most 2 motor diesels especially at low speeds for switching.    I like the chain drives, they are smooth and if properly setup, very quiet and powerful.


As to quality, you need to define what quality means to you.   To me it is being as close as possible to prototype dimensions and shape.   I am not worried about how many accoutrements it has tacked on, those are features and can be added later.   If the base model is not right, then why bother with all the other stuff.  


If you are running on very tight curves, you probably need pilots attached to the truck rather than fixed pilots.  


As to RS1 vs RS3 they look very very different to me.   The RS1 has much more squared off hoods and overhangs on the cab roofs.   It basically looks like an Alco S series switcher with a short hood added.   The RS3 has more rounded hoods and the cab roof curves into the sides with no overhang.    the RS3 is postwar loco, while the RS1 was released in 1939 I think.


The prototype RS1 used 1000 HP 539 prime mover.   The RS3 used a 544 1600 HP prime mover.    The RS1 was the forerunner for all the road switcher type locos by all builders.

I own and have run many times a MTH Railking RS3 in Seaboard.   PS2 system and runs very well.   Somewhat bare bones in the detail department but a nice model for the $$ in my opinion.


In DCS mode it runs very smooth,  two motors,  no running issues. 


Sounds like the later releases of this RK model may now have smoke.  Nice addition feature wise.



Last edited by Nativefl

Can anyone tell me why they would want "smoke" in an Alco diesel? The real ones belched black smoke (especially on start up), and black smoke isn't about to happen in our miniature worlds.




NO but the White smoke coming out of our models is close enough! If the Mfgs are able to electronically reproduce that turbo lag of smoke output and coincide with the labor of the diesel sound unit, I am all in on that option!


HEre are some pics of Weaver and WBB [ex K-line] Rs3's












With the exceptions of the D&H Rs3's purchased by the P. co, All PRR Rs3's from the MFG came with sealed beam dual headlights. The Williams/ WBB's are tough to remove the lenses from the shell without damage to the shell for this needed detail.





Unfortunately, one can't really make a "long Tank" version of this rs3 due to the fuel tank being so wide.  This PRR model in the 1:1 had a Long tank underneath. See below the Weaver version.






NOte for Superdetailers: if you want an RS3 with the" LONG tank" version, the weaver models "battery boxes" can be cut down and flushed with the rest of the fuel tank without interfering with the speaker.  See 3 pics Above re the WBB version.





I hope this helps!


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Last edited by prrhorseshoecurve

Dennis, there is a lot of good advice/opinions above.  Here's my two cents...


IMO, there is still no RS3 offering currently available that gives you EVERYTHING...e.g. accurate/prototypical size & body details, added-on (rather than molded-in) metal detail parts, command control, quality sound, smoke, coil couplers, etc.


That being said, if a moderate level of prototype details and/or pulling power are important to you, I would eliminate the Lionel version from your consideration list.  It is by far the most "toy-like" of all the manufacturers' offerings.


The MTH RailKing offering is a pretty good compromise.  Although most of the details (grab irons, coupler cut levers, m.u./brake hoses, fan grills, etc.) are molded in, the die-cast frame, fuel tank, pilots and truck side frames make it quite heavy and a strong puller for its size.  The sound quality is very good, and as Keith and Mark mentioned above,  MTH has finally added a smoke unit on its most recent releases.  An overall very good value!


I also own an AtlasO Trainman RS3 from several years ago.  Also a nice compromise!  It has a bit more add-on detail (separate wire grab irons & see-through fan grill with fan blade, for example) than the MTH version.  Finding them may be a challenge, however, as they haven't been produced for quite a long time. 


The good news, as Eric (SD40-2) mentioned above, is that Atlas has had a "new and improved" version in the works for several years, and plans to re-release it later this year.  Supposedly it will have several new and/or upgraded features, including improved sound and a never-before-offered smoke unit.  I have a CNJ version on pre-order and am looking forward to seeing's been a long wait!


I admittedly do not have any experience with the Weaver or Williams BB offerings.


While we're all still waiting for a "fully-loaded" scale-sized, prototypical RS3 to be offered in O-scale by one of the manufacturers, as prrjim stated above, additional details can be added after the fact to any of the current offerings to dress them up a bit.  Following are a few photos of an AtlasO Trainman D&H RS3 and an MTH RailKing CNJ RSD4 that I "dressed up" (and weathered) with all kinds of added-on detail parts...


DSC_056 DSC_007





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Last edited by CNJ #1601

The MTH body "nose tooling" is noticeably inaccurate; I have an MTH GM&O dummy, and it

stands out, to me. The quality of the model is good, however.


The "cheapie" Lionel model has excellent body tooling and truck detail - but the rest of it

is, though tough and durable, very much a good toy. Good "train show" or starter locos; I even painted and weathered thrills. The high gearing can be managed with a Cruise Commander.


K-Line/WBB or Weaver modern 2-motor (I have a friend with an old chain-drive Weaver

RS-3 - honestly, it sounds like a cement mixer) were good, too. 

Lots of good info and opinions here. What I am after is a decent looking scale or near scale RS-3 with good reliability.. Some of the Lionel diesels that I have seen have a plastic frame. That doesn't represent quality to me. Also too many complaints about Weaver chain drives and gears breaking. That's a deal breaker for me because at the present time Weaver cannot supply spare parts and isn't building any diesels at all. You cannot get spare parts for K-Line so Williams might be the best choice.

Ahem! The weaver model shown in my thread above is NOT the original chain drive. It is the re-engineered one from the new century with the twin vertical motors and d/c pilots, side frames and fuel tank.

I too once had the original with chain drive and subsequently sold it for the cracked sproket, lack luster plastic couplers and all plastic from fuel tank to hand rails.

My first O gauge/scale engine was a Railking RS3 with Locosounds.  To me it looked fine, but everyone said the Weaver RS3 is more prototypically correct.


So, I finally get a Weaver RS3, IMO opinion there's not a dollars worth of difference between the two as far as looks, both look the same as far as contours go.


The only big difference I see in the Railking model is the handrails are mounted underneath the walkway whereas the Weaver rails are mounted on the top of the walkway like the prototype.  If that bothers you you can get a load of parts from P&D Hobby to make any of the RS3 models even better.


I replaced the molded-on fan exhaust screen on both models with a P&D brass see-thru screen and they look great.  The Weaver model comes with plastic handrails, I replaced them with brass stanchions and rails from P&D.


If you're doing a specific RR, look at things like horns and their placement, how many they had, and which "phase" RS3 they owned.  Louvered doors, exhaust stack type and placement, and minor other things changed over the phases.


I wanted to do an Interstate RS3, or maybe a couple of other RRs in VA, but in the end the only RR I could do without a lot of work (to the Weaver model) was the one I already had an RS3 for, Seaboard Air Line.  So now I'll have 2 SAL RS3s!

Last edited by Bob Delbridge

Oh yeah, I pulled out the Locosounds unit and installed ERR TMCC guts and sound.  It runs great and sounds fine using my CAB1-L or my DCS handheld.


The Weaver unit is getting battery-powered RC in the next week or two and is now 2-railed with NWSL wheelsets.


The Weaver unit also had fixed pilots.  I don't know if all their RS3 models came that way, but this one did (and it had 3-rail wheels on it when I got it used).

Last edited by Bob Delbridge

Not to hijack the thread, but did Lionel ever make an RS-3 with a pullmor?


No. the first Lionel Rs3's came in the mid 1990's with a stamped metal frame- correct fuel tank and can motors in the trucks- a la K-line/RMT types. Late 1990's or in the new century Lionel "cheapened" the RS3 with a plastic frame and hand rails, incorrect GP fuel tank, and one vertical can motor with NO flywheel.

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