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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, guys,
I got a chance to check out the new Bachmann K-27 at the ECLSTS this weekend...and I love it! Here's my question: How is the functional quality of Bachmann's stuff? Admittedly, I only have ONE Spectrum Series loco (4-4-0), and it's beautiful, but the other lower-grade (non-Spectrum) Bachmann stuff I've obtained is fairly cheap quality (gears, electrical conductivity, etc.)
I know many of you more experienced guys have a pretty extensive Bachmann roster, as I see many of Kevin's articles in GMRR and his posts here, as well as many others. But....I run track power, and have virtually NO grade on my RR. I've noticed that even my Spectrum loco, and ALL of my other Bachmann stuff, seems to run erratically on my track....but my USAT and LGB stuff runs flawlessly! Now, I realize that those manufacturers incorporate the "pickup shoes", while B-mann does not. Could this be the problem? Are those of you who are big Bachmann fans using battery power, for the most part?
I picked up a little (brand new in box) Bachmann hand-car at the show this weekend, and found it to run erratically, also. It wouldn't even START to move without a push! I took it into my shop, polished the darkened wheel surfaces with an abrasive dremel tool (to improve electrical conductivity), and used light lube oil on the gears and moving parts....it ran MUCH more smoothly, and started without a push.
One can only assume that this stuff should be considered before it's shipped from the factory (That the bluing/blacking of the wheels restricts conductivity). I've heard about certain manufacturer's (not specifially B-mann) original metal wheels being out-of-true, pieces being broken out of the box, etc. I'm amazed at the general lack of quality control seen in some fairly expensive and delicate equipment in this hobby! People seem to think nothing of spending $500-$4,000 on a piece of new equipment, which needs "tweaking" before even running reliably out of the box!
I'd love to hear from track-powered Bachmann owners, to see how thier stuff runs. I maintain my Aristo Stainless Steel track, power supplies, joints and roadbed about as well as anyone I've seen, yet my B-mann products don't seem to run as smoothly or as well as my USAT-LGB stuff. I'd love to buy a K-27, but don't want to drop $700 on a piece that doesn't run perfectly under track power.
Thanks,
Axdop (Chip)
 

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Chip, I only have the K-27 from Bachmann, so I can't speak to other of their models. But I will say this baby does run great, even on dirty track I have had no problems. I think Bachmann went up a notch with this model from what I have heard about past models, so I would not let previous models influence your decision on the K-27.
With that said there was one serious problem that has come out on this particular loco, the counterweights were loose. If you buy one from the second run supposidily this will already be fixed. If you buy one from the first run you may have to contact Bachmann for free replacements.
I'm enjoying mine and find the detail and quality good for the price of around $700 (with the counterweights fixed). So far it's been a great runner and pulls good. If you run straight track power (DC) then you will be in for another pleasant surprise in that the headlight works before the loco starts, I believe it uses a capacitor to store up energy for the lights. The suspension mimics the prototype and I believe is another great feature.
I also have an LGB Mikado and Accuraft Shay, and the B' K-27 runs just as well as these.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes, I have heard about the counterweight issue, and even overheard the B-mann rep discussing it with someone at the show. That K-27 is an absolutely gorgeous loco, and I think it's suddenly jumped to the top of my wish-list! From the detail, alone, I am assuming that some serious care has gone into its design and construction. The price is quite reasonable, given the detail, size and looks of the loco. There was a vendor selling them for $650 at the ECLSTS show this weekend, which seemed to surprise even the B-mann rep himself!
 

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I would have grabbed one for that price. That is good! The lowest price I have heard of. Do you remember the vendor? I may get a second for some double heading.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I don't recall the vendor, as it was on my way out of the show, but I'm sure someone on the forum knows. Are you running battery or track-power?..I assume track power, as you mentioned dirty track. One is great, but TWO of them would be awesome! I'd love to see them with a nice string of the new narrow gauge cars!
 

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Yes, I'm running track power with DCC. I've got some AMS passenger and freight cars and they look fantastic together. I've heard good things about the B' 1:20.3 freight cars, but I don't have any.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I just checked out the AMS/Accucraft site, and they have some EXCELLENT products. I've looked at their loco's, and always loved them....but I never had the chance to really look at their stock...WOW!
 

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Out of my current total roster of 18 locomotives or "powered" units, currently 12 of those are Bachmann products. The breakdown is (1)-Climax,(3)-2-Truck Shays, (1)- 3-Truck Shay, (1)-Hesiler, (1)-"Centennial" 4-4-0, (1)-"Centennial" 2-6-0, (1)-"Connie" 2-8-0, (1)- GE 45-ton diesel, (2) - "Annie" 4-6-0's, & (1) hand car - the latter, unfortunately, the only "dog" of the lot. (The handcar's motor leaves a LOT to be desired!).

Overall "bang-for-the-buck" on Bachmann's Spectrum series 1:20.3 locos (which includes the new K-27 - one I haven't yet acquired but almost certainly will!) is EXCELLENT. Detail rivals most brass (in a lot of cases, Bachmann's detail level is FAR better!), & is more tolerant of handling than most brass I've owned. I'm using DCC & track power (brass rail - Aristo track with LGB turnouts), and operation is generally excellent. The Bachmann locos generally track excellently (in the case of the geared locos, even on the R1-radius track of my original indoor layout), & pull well. Most require little care other than occaisional lubrication.

Issues? I've had a few; the biggest recent annoyance for me was the overly-fraigle wiring harness between the engine & tender of the 3-truck Shay (by FAR my most powerful freight loco - it's the only loco capable of dragging my heavy Accucraft live-steam Shay dead!). I recently came up with a solution to that problem (check my new post "Easy-disconnect wiring for Bachmann 3-Truck Shay" here on MLS under the "Rolling Stock" forum). The hand car - while probably the BEST - looking mass-produced hand car out there (excluding stationary craftsman-style kits - which it still rivals in appearance) - has a VERY poorly designed-motor & an unacceptable high "mortality rate"; I'm thinking of eventually trying to re-motor mine furter down the road. The earlier 2-truck Shays (with the older plastic trucks) DID have power pickup issues - remotoring them with the new die-cast trucks pretty well takes care of that problem. Bear in mind that until the Bachmann 2-truck Shay came out, Shay models were typically brass in the $$$$ price range! I've seen the new K-27 & it's GORGEOUS, just it's a bit further down my "priority list".

I did just recently purchase a complete USA Trains New Haven streamlined passenger set, for days when I want to model trains that ran around here. While the set is BEAUTIFUL, the long cars & Alco PA diesels showed up about every defect in the garden railroad's trackwork (mostly vertical curve transistions that didn't bother the shorter narrow-gauge prototypes Bachmann produces). The only other non-Bachmann locos I own are my 2 Accucraft live-steamers (3-cylinder Shay & "Ruby" 2-4-2), & a lone LGB rail truck!

Tom
 

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Excellent info there Tom. Thanks. You may be changing my mind regarding the 3 truck Shay. I didn't know it pulled that well...and old Uncle Sam will be sending me an economic booster check soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks, Tom,
I was hoping to hear that the K-27 (and other Spectrum products) was as well-made as it looks. I agree with your points about the hand car. I bought it at the show, as I really didn't "need" any more motive power, and I piled up on other stuff....but I figured I had to get SOMETHING with a motor that day...so the hand car caught my eye. It actually caught my 6-year old's eye, but who's arguing? I didin't expect world-class mechanicals, but I was still surprised at how weak the motor and gears appeared (and functioned)....I spent a lot of time tweaking and weathering the piece, so I figured I've invested enough time to explore upgrading the motor mechanism. Do you have any suggestions as to what to use?
I've also had my eye on the 3 truck Shay....but, either that or the K-27 will ALSO require rolling stock to go with them...so maybe I'll wait for my Uncle to send me my check as well!
Thanks,
Chip
 

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Posted By axdop on 03/31/2008 11:17 AM
Hi, guys,
Here's my question: How is the functional quality of Bachmann's stuff? Admittedly, I only have ONE Spectrum Series loco (4-4-0), and it's beautiful, but the other lower-grade (non-Spectrum) Bachmann stuff I've obtained is fairly cheap quality (gears, electrical conductivity, etc.)


Personally I think Bachmann is crap. I brought a Spectrum series locomotive and the plastic gears stripped out within a few months, I returned it to the factory once, but after a few runs, they were stripped out again. I’ll have to admit I was pulling some pretty heavy loads with it, but the LGB's I had didn’t have any trouble. Foolishly I thought I could take apart the gear box myself and fix myself, it still in pieces. I replaced the plastic gears on my little 0-4-0 LGB loco twice, that had a lot more use and it was very simple to do. I think I read somewhere they have since replaced the cheap plastic gears in the gearbox with metal ones, but I could be mistaken.
Also I’m not happy about the pricing of Bachmann’s, when I was shopping for my first locomotive, Bachmann had the Spectrum listed for $800 in the catalog. One website sold it for $400, and another $220. Makes me wonder about the real quality of these things. When you buy a car, the retail price is usually higher than what the dealer sells it for, but it’s not no 75% off.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hey, Gromit,
I think Barry, at barry's Big Trains might be able to help you out with those B-man gearsets. Check him out on this forum. He's done some great stuff with upgrading B-man running gears. I've spoken with him personally, and he even helped me out with my attempt to upgrade the garbage inside a B-man trolley...although we were ultimately unsuccessful, it wasn't Barry's fault, as he admittedly had not developed any specific parts for that aprticular model...I just thought I'd give it a try.
My B-mann 4-4-0 Spectrum doesn't run as smoothly as my other loco's, but it IS beautiful, so it spends most of its time on my mantel piece. If the K-27 proves to have faulty gears, as some others have, I suspect its popularity will lead to Barry becoming very busy!
I picked up a few manufacturers' catalogs at the ECLSTS show, and noticed the INCREDIBLY HIGH MSRP's advertised ("suggested") as opposed to their "real" asking prices from retailers. B-mann ain't the only ones jacking up their "suggested" values, that's for sure.
-Chip
 
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