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I'm new to the forum so here's a little intro before I begin. I'm an expat Englishman now living in the USA. I used to be actively involved with a number of British narrow gauge railways during the 1980s and '90s. In the last couple of years I've become more interested in G-scale and have a small collection of track-powered locos although I'm hoping to start work building my first live steamer in the near future. Photos and info on my collection can be found on my website.

Anyway, back to the question. And I do apologize in advance if this is a really crazy idea so please go easy on me!

I was recently looking at my Bachamnn G-scale 2-8-0 electric loco and it seems to have a lot of metal parts. Now I didn't conduct a major survey, it was more like a quick browse, so there might be lots of hidden plastic bits that I'm not aware of. But it got me thinking as to the possibility of incorporating some of these parts into a live steam loco. Basically you've got the metal loco frame itself, metal wheels (obviously will need to replace the plastic axles), metal cranks and, according to Bachamnn, fully operational metal Baker valve gear which does indeed appear to operate correctly. So for a relatively small outlay you could end up with a lot of useable live-steam parts, and a lot of saved machining time. Has anyone looked into this further? Or is it a really dumb idea??

On the same crazy subject, what about a similar thing with the Anniversary edition of Bachmann's 4-6-0 'Big Hauler'? I'm talking about the one with the full outside valve gear. Obviously it doesn't incorporate as many metal parts but, on the other hand, you can pick them up for less than $100 and in the process gain some metal spoked wheels and a nice looking set of metal Walschaerts (ish) valve gear which doesn't look like it would require too much machining to get it working properly.

Like I said, I apologize in advance for my ignorance. I just wanted to get some feedback before I strip my locos into many small parts and then discover the error of my ways.

Many thanks, Glen

http://trainguy68.110mb.com
 

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No, it's not a "really dumb idea" but it's also not practical either! The Bachmann Spectrum locomotives are definitely as detailed as their much more expensive brass cousins but even if the Bachmann engines were all brass it wouldn't work due to the fact that these models are designed to be powered from an electric motor. The "fully functional" Baker valve gear is somewhat of a misnomer as everything is there true... but the valve gear doesn't actually drive the wheels, the electric motor does. The valve gearing actually has quite a bit of slop in it! Tolerances on an electric model are significantly less strict than what you will find on a live steamer!
It would be far better to get a live steam model right from the start! You would have to replace nearly everything in the Bachmann model and my guess is that even if it could work it would probably be way more effort that it would ever be worth to do it.
 

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Posted By trainguy68 on 01/02/2009 8:29 PM

I'm new to the forum so here's a little intro before I begin. I'm an expat Englishman now living in the USA. I used to be actively involved with a number of British narrow gauge railways during the 1980s and '90s. In the last couple of years I've become more interested in G-scale and have a small collection of track-powered locos although I'm hoping to start work building my first live steamer in the near future. Photos and info on my collection can be found on my website.

Anyway, back to the question. And I do apologize in advance if this is a really crazy idea so please go easy on me!

I was recently looking at my Bachamnn G-scale 2-8-0 electric loco and it seems to have a lot of metal parts. Now I didn't conduct a major survey, it was more like a quick browse, so there might be lots of hidden plastic bits that I'm not aware of. But it got me thinking as to the possibility of incorporating some of these parts into a live steam loco. Basically you've got the metal loco frame itself, metal wheels (obviously will need to replace the plastic axles), metal cranks and, according to Bachamnn, fully operational metal Baker valve gear which does indeed appear to operate correctly. So for a relatively small outlay you could end up with a lot of useable live-steam parts, and a lot of saved machining time. Has anyone looked into this further? Or is it a really dumb idea??

On the same crazy subject, what about a similar thing with the Anniversary edition of Bachmann's 4-6-0 'Big Hauler'? I'm talking about the one with the full outside valve gear. Obviously it doesn't incorporate as many metal parts but, on the other hand, you can pick them up for less than $100 and in the process gain some metal spoked wheels and a nice looking set of metal Walschaerts (ish) valve gear which doesn't look like it would require too much machining to get it working properly.

Like I said, I apologize in advance for my ignorance. I just wanted to get some feedback before I strip my locos into many small parts and then discover the error of my ways.

Many thanks, Glen

http://trainguy68.110mb.com


It would melt.

The metal of the Bachmann models is mostly die-cast Mazak/Zamak - and not what you would call thermally suitable for absorbing the heat generated by a gas burner.

The valve gear is actually made up of finely-cast parts that would bend like a pretzel if put under presssure from even a modest steam cylinder, and, as has been pointed out, the best Bachmann valve-gear ever seen still represents totally worn out REAL valve gear, as far as fit and slop are concerned.

Basically, there is NO fit, and there is ALL slop.

In a live-steam locomotive, a few thousandths of an inch are the difference between a great and an indifferent steamer, or even a total non-worker. Read Mr Horowitz' steamy stories on his Sidestreet Bannerworks site, or peruse THESE pages for proof of my assertion.

Save your money, and buy a Roundhouse Sandy River #24 loco, if you can find one, and don't waste your time to trying to make a plastic sparkie into something it can never be.

tac
www.ovgrs.org
 

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Gilbert Bony has successfully converted several plastic electric models to live steam, including an LGB Mikado, LGB Mogul, and an AristoCraft Pacific. I believe he uses Roundhouse cylinders and fabricates his own valve gear from brass. The boiler is mounted in a tank car towed behind the locomotive, which isolates the plastic shell from the worst of the heat. A flexible steam line carries the steam from the boiler through the tender and locomotive to the cylinders.

With that in mind, I don't see why it couldn't be done with the Bachmann 2-8-0. As others have said, the stock valve gear would most likely not be up to the task, but I wonder if the fit could be improved with new bushings and pins at all the joints. That still leaves the question of the strength of the metal though. Parts that might be more prone to failure (granted, that could be all of them) may need to be replicated using a stronger metal. I'm sure there will be a lot of trial-and-error involved, but the end result will be an engine that's uniquely yours and guaranteed to turn heads at steamups!





Gilbert Bony's live steam LGB Mikado
 

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Richard,
Isn't that ingenious!
Mind you, a little disconcerting when a train goes past and the tank car is blowing off!
Gilbert is a very clever man, so Glen I would give it a go.
As long as you don't start spending more and more money to rebuild or fix something and then wish that you had just bought a live steam engine in the first place.
All the best,
David Leech,
Delta, Canada
 
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. . . . and the locomotive boiler space could be filled with additional WEIGHT. Take that . . you Big Boys and Alleghenies! I have no idea wot's innit now, it could be perfectly fine, but one concern I would have about such a conversion would be to see to it that the driving axle bearings, like the valve gear, are substantial enough to take the additional forces and have a long working life.
 
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