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Nice analysis GT. But from my experience, in the race to the bottom I think Tyco was the hands down winner with Life Like a close second. But, Life Like had redemption with their Proto 2000 series a worthy competitor to Athearn in my opinion. I prize my examples.
 

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I have two Bachmann steamers, one is this Ten-Wheeler I got second hand. Aside from the fact that tender drive feels like cheating it is a good runner and surprising puller:
552222

Second is this Niagara I got off Amazon six months ago. The only issue I've had is with the lead tender truck derails occasionally on switches, maybe some extra weight would help.
552223

On both of them I wish the drive rods were a little brighter, not much point in having them if you can't see them.
 

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Nice analysis GT. But from my experience, in the race to the bottom I think Tyco was the hands down winner with Life Like a close second. But, Life Like had redemption with their Proto 2000 series a worthy competitor to Athearn in my opinion. I prize my examples.
I have about 8 protos 2Es 6FAs and one proto caboose, The FAs the drive had some minor issues , the shells were a cut above Athearn .
I 'm not sure if Tyco won or if Model Power won. Model Power had a decent drive in that Roco made FA and Sharknose , but somewhere along the way they switched to Tempo? I have couple Model Power N6b cabooses .
 

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MMurv2
Please see my prior post, #18.

Don't know if will absolutely solve the visual problem, but get a tiny bottle of 'chrome' enamel paint and paint one rod and see what happens. Spray is a no-no unless you first removed all the action from the drivers/pistons....
I have the same 4-4-0 and 4-6-0, DCC/Sound, and they are perfect little gems in all respects ! M
 

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The "collapsible" gear

View attachment 552124


View attachment 552125


The motor drives the outside ring with a brass pinion. Any load from the wheels on the gears center pinion causes the "spokes" to "wrap up" pulling the outer ring in or at least distorting the out ring enough to cause lock up or chewing of the teeth by the motor pinion. I think this locomotive had less than 4 hours on it.

Its a shame because the shell was highly detailed. The only thing you could really do was stick it on a Bowser drive.
GeeTee;

Under the old "there's a prototype for everything" idea, The Milwaukee Road bought some electric locomotives from Westinghouse which had "quill" drive axles. The outer tube was connected to the driving wheels, and the traction motors drove a center "quill" that was not directly attached to the outer tube axle. Instead springs were installed between the inner and outer axles, the idea being to smooth out some of the stresses of starting a heavy train on a grade with this very powerful locomotive. Guess what. They broke down a lot. Maybe Bachmann's collapsible gear is sorta based on a quill drive?

Traction Fan 😄
 

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I like my Bachman locos. I have an 0-6-0t a 2-10-2 a 2-10-4 a 4-8-4 and the doodlebug. The doodlebug is the only one I have issues with and it’s got the cracked gear clunk. Once the drive dies it will get a Stanton drive from nwsl and I’ll call that good enough. The older bachman locos I had as a kid are all long thrown away due to said watch mechanism. I only have one on a static display I built and weathered the crap out of to put on my fireplace diorama
 

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I joined here nearly 10 years ago, but I've never posted. I just saw this in an email digest, so I thought I'd take a crack at it. 😏

The "collapsible" gear

View attachment 552124

The motor drives the outside ring with a brass pinion. Any load from the wheels on the gears center pinion causes the "spokes" to "wrap up" pulling the outer ring in or at least distorting the out ring enough to cause lock up or chewing of the teeth by the motor pinion. I think this locomotive had less than 4 hours on it.

Its a shame because the shell was highly detailed. The only thing you could really do was stick it on a Bowser drive.
I'll take that gear if you don't want it. 🙂 I also like these Reading I-10's, and I restore them, including re-quartering the split driver axles. The reduction gear you're pointing out was a late design change to reduce the inevitable gear noise produced by the pinion meshing with it. Removing plastic and creating spiral spokes made them much less resonant than when they were solid, which is why I prefer them. I've never had one collapse or skip, as they are quite solid unless broken. If it's bending, something is very wrong with it.

But those reduction gears were solid for most of their production run, so it shouldn't be hard to find an alternate one in a junker. I think they were used interchangeably in their larger steamers.

I have two Bachmann steamers, one is this Ten-Wheeler I got second hand. Aside from the fact that tender drive feels like cheating it is a good runner and surprising puller:
View attachment 552222
That 4-6-0 is a Frateschi made in Brazil. They also made a 2-8-0 version of the same engine.

Has anyone had a problem with Bachmann Steam Engines jamming up after running a while. I can take it off the track and turn it upside down then it usually starts running OK for a while. I sent one back to Bachmann service and they replaced he mechanism. This is the 3rd Bachmann engine I've had to do this. Bill
Bill, have you had any luck with your steamer? What you're describing isn't uncommon to them, and binds like this can happen in any brand. I'd first look interference in the running gear, such as the back of the crosshead catching on one of the connecting rod screws, valve gear linkage striking a main rod, or a connecting rod hanging up on a brake shoe. The best way to check is to turn the loco over in a foam cradle and power it up slowly and watching how the parts interact while deflecting the drivers from side-to-side.

It could be an internal issue, but I would think that would be less likely to be affected by the engine's position, unless a wire or other object is falling into the drive train.

The only other possibility I can think of is a split axle gear that locks up until the pressure is taken off the drivers, but I hope that isn't it.

My 2 cents.

Nelson
 

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I have a pair of Spectrum 4-8-2's and they're my go-to power for train shows.
I practically gutted them both electrically to add DCC but mechanically they are solid and fine runners.
I did acquire a parts-donor at one point, (IIRC a wheel was slipping on an axle,) but my biggest problem has been the electric pick-ups for the drivers- they're just a little TOO delicate! But with a pair of tweezers and some finesse it's a small task.
 

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Methinks you got lucky.
well, i have bought quite a few geared steam in the bachmann spectrum line ... most with just DCC, some with DCC/Soiund ... with nary a problem ...maybe i got lucky?? maybe so , i buy very few 'ordinary' steamers, but those are usually in brass, and seem to run well, after installing a decoder, and -sometimes- painting them ..
i do have 'shelf queens' but they are higher axle count units that aren't really applicable for my era and 20 inch curves, the 0-4-0s and the like are usually relegated to shelf duty as well
 

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I had a Daylight GS4 and a NW class J both excellent runners with no issues, got the GS4 in 1984, still have it, still runs great, the class J I got for Christmas around 85-86? anyhow it was a nice running engine, unfortunately I chose to sell it about 5 years ago, got good money for it but I sometimes wish I'd kept it
 

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The "old" Life-Like is gone.....sort of.....Life-Like was bought by Walthers, so in effect, it lives on, albeit it's much better (Walthers Proto) now.....
When our son turned 6 years old...25 years ago 🤣 🤣 my Mother- in- Law asked him what Santa could bring him for Christmas
and he shouted an Electric Train Set!! Well she was a huge QVC shopper and a Double Freight Life Like Set was up for grabs and she pulled the trigger...THAT SET started a Railroad Empire..I joined this forum and took to heart what a lot of folks said...Unload it and get better rolling Stock and Motive Power!! We had a Garage Sale and ended up buying some Blue Box Athearn Diesels...then Atlas and Rivarossi Steam....and Rolling Stock...Best Christmas present EVER!! So Old Lifelike served it's purpose and glad Walthers bought them out....when things calm down I'll take a trip to Milwaukee and get some photos of the Train Room,,,just AWESOME!! Oh..we still have his Bachmann 2-8-0 Consolidated from First Grade purchased from Long's Drugs in California...LONG GONE!!
 

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My railroad empire started out with a pile of Bachman and life like train sets. I still have a bunch of my original cars I started with as a kid. The 90s seemed like the end of most of the toy train sets. Newer Bachman sets are actually reasonable looking as far as detail goes. Personal preference would be for me to buy old bb athearn cars or accurail and a nicer locomotive but I guess it’s all about what you want to run. I’ve got some relatively expensive brass motive power that even fails on occasion so it doesn’t matter if you spend $5 or $500 on a locomotive eventually it will fail and you’ll have to either fix it or whatever you want to do with it.
 

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Bachmann's original split frame, pancake-motored designs earned a very poor reputation, and deservedly so. The new standard and Spectrum lines are light years ahead of that old tooling, but it's been a long road getting there, and people are still gun shy (what happened with the Shay has also put people off modern Bachmann, I suppose).

I bought a first generation Spectrum Santa Fe 4-8-4 in the early 90's, and had to send the first one back. The mounting post on the trailing truck just snapped off one day without any abuse. I still have the replacement loco though, and it still runs. The axles never split. But it still can't pull to save its own life... whatever that matte silver plating was that they used on the wheels back then was so slippery that no amount of added weight improves traction much.

When I do rehab older Bachmann steam the first thing to go is that smoke unit. It's just an open cup that makes an awful mess inside the boiler and then dumps its contents when the loco is stored or serviced. I usually shape a lead weight to fill the cavity to balance the weight over the drivers.

As for the newer stuff, there have been problems with things like split gears, but that can be said about most brands, including BLI. I've heard horror stories about BLI steamers being reduced to $500 paperweights because the axle gear split. I've been calling for years for them to follow Rivarossi practice and cut the axle gears out of brass. When you're already charging that much, what's a few more pennies per unit? :rolleyes:
 

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Bachmann's original split frame, pancake-motored designs earned a very poor reputation, and deservedly so. The new standard and Spectrum lines are light years ahead of that old tooling, but it's been a long road getting there, and people are still gun shy (what happened with the Shay has also put people off modern Bachmann, I suppose).

I bought a first generation Spectrum Santa Fe 4-8-4 in the early 90's, and had to send the first one back. The mounting post on the trailing truck just snapped off one day without any abuse. I still have the replacement loco though, and it still runs. The axles never split. But it still can't pull to save its own life... whatever that matte silver plating was that they used on the wheels back then was so slippery that no amount of added weight improves traction much.

When I do rehab older Bachmann steam the first thing to go is that smoke unit. It's just an open cup that makes an awful mess inside the boiler and then dumps its contents when the loco is stored or serviced. I usually shape a lead weight to fill the cavity to balance the weight over the drivers.

As for the newer stuff, there have been problems with things like split gears, but that can be said about most brands, including BLI. I've heard horror stories about BLI steamers being reduced to $500 paperweights because the axle gear split. I've been calling for years for them to follow Rivarossi practice and cut the axle gears out of brass. When you're already charging that much, what's a few more pennies per unit? :rolleyes:
To alleviate Wheel slip on our old 1987 Bachmann Russian 2-10-0 Decapod ($30 at swap meet)I applied a thin coat of Bullfrog Snot to the wheels and it worked for a while as it could pull 10 + Box cars or 100ton Hoppers...but then there went the plastic axle in pieces....tried frankensteining it but no luck...good looking paper weight indeed...now we've had our Rivarossi Steam Fleet and STILL running and pulling!!
 

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I order from Modellbahnshopp-Lippe. They have a huge inventory and they can get what they don't have in a matter of days instead of months. Their out-the-door shipping has slowed some with the virus everywhere, but shipping times are still three or four days to my door once UPS has it. I can still get product from Germany faster than anywhere in CONUS.

MSL or Union Modellbahn are the go-to shops for those in the US modelling European outline. I used to order some from a Canadian outfit in BC, but their hours are erratic, excuses for delays are the norm, and they will just close up shop on a whim while your order is sitting ready to ship. Their prices are also much higher than for the same equipment I can buy in Germany even with the crappy exchange rate at present.

MSL carries every major and minor European brand there is. They also carry a few American brands for those that model US outline on the Continent.

My most recent order just landed in Philidelphia at 0602 this morning. From there it will be on a connecting flight to Chicago and then on to Nashville. It will be on my front porch tomorrow by noon.
 
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