1. The track is junk. Keep it indoors and be careful not to step on it. You'll want something with solid rails before long.
2. The power pack is, um, "adequate." It'll run the loco, but not much else.
3. The cars are pretty nice.
4. The loco, while not very detailed, is very reliable and quite capable.
I got the same set about a year ago. Like everyone else said the track is only good for indoors around the x-mas tree. It id very nice looking set. I like that fact that they give a little of each, box car, passenger combine, and a log car. I have been running this set around my outdoor layout and it runs and looks great. The only problem I had was the front trucks would come off the tracks. I solved that by fixing the un-even track and brining the wheels out more (reset the gauge) I also bought the front trucks from Barry (more reliable) Other than that a great set. I am very happy with mine. I would ordered it from St aubins a lot cheaper than the bachmann web site and any other site around. I made the mistake I ordered from wholesale. I ended up spending a 100 dollars more than I had too. Oh well you live and learn.
The first large scale set I purchased was a Bachman Ringmaster circus train for my grandchildren. Being a novice and thinking this was a garden train and could be placed in the back yard I happily layed the track around my pond. Everything was great for about a week. Then the train would start and stop erattically as it went around the track. Then it quit running altogether. I noticed the track was taking on a rusty brown color. That was because it was RUST. I cleaned it up and the train ran again for about three days. After a visit to my local hobby shop the owner informed me that Bachman track could not be used out side. I had to purchase some brass track from him to correct the problem. I guess it is too much to think that Bachman would put large lettering on the box stating "Not Sutiable For Use In The Garden". I still run the train and love it. I just can't understand why Bachmann doesn't start making track for the out side.
There's a couple a threads addressing the popular mods to the truck. Three genreal solutions:
1 - make sure the gauge is correct
2 - add weight on the front of the truck ( fishing weights or similar,)
3 - remove the nylon spacer under the truck and re-insulate the two metal strips with tape to stop them rubbing together and shorting. (The truck gets floppy and equalized without the nylon spacer.)
I've picked up items from most of the train stores and have been satisfied. However, these Bachmann sets are often found heavily discounted at closeout places. I stumbled onto 4 sets at Boscovs.com, with three at $99, and one at $149 (plus, shipping is very economical).
You can also get used sets cheap on ebay. I have done this for the rolling stock. I use the track for holding down those boxes in the attic.
May sound silly...but you can sometimes find the plastic side-rod version at Hobby Lobby and if you play the cards right (use the 40% coupon) online...you can do pretty good?!
Huge Tweetsie Fan here!!!