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Downsizing a Bachmann 2-8-0

13984 Views 21 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  East Broad Top
No, I'm not talking about laying off locomotives. The slumping economy hasn't hit the railroad yet...

A bit of background: My dad's railroad is "still" 1:22.5/1:24. He's among the ranks of those who (a) were too heavily invested in 1:22 when the 1:20 craze took off, and (b) has quite a few clearance issues which preclude running wide equipment. Dad and I were talking a year or so ago about locomotives, and I mentioned Rod Hayward's conversion of the Bachmann 2-8-0 to a 1:22 K-27. Intrigued, he wondered how easy it would be to simply "downsize" the 2-8-0 into just a smaller 2-8-0. He needed to replace an old Delton C-16 that had finally died and wanted something with a bit of beef to it. I traded him a 2-8-0 I acquired from a friend out here for his Bachmann 4-4-0 (which became Tuscarora Valley #5,) and sent dad back east with that, a surplus B'mann 4-6-0 cab and tender, and some other bits and pieces I thought might work. On a trip back east last October, he and I gutted the 2-8-0 and outlined what changes could be done. He did most of the major structural work, then brought the loco back out to me to "make pretty."

After a month on my workbench (nestled between other projects), the latest motive power for the Woodland Railway is ready for the paint shop.

The locomotive--to my eyes--has the beefy appearance of the EBT's large mikados, but on an outside-frame chassis.

The tender is not the old Bachmann I sent back east, rather it's a 1:24 scale model of EBT #14's tender I had built years ago for a stillborn EBT mikado project. Personally, I think it looks quite at home.


Let's start at the front. The pilot beam was narrowed considerably, and shortened about 3/8". The Bondo shows where the seam was filled. Dad's much better with Bondo than I am. I would have just built a new pilot beam from wood. The cowcatcher came from Trackside Details, the coupler a Kadee #1779 coupler trimmed to fit in the pilot opening. It sticks far enough out in front of the pilot were the trip pins form the joining Kadee couplers will not hit the front of the cowcatcher. (An important consideration since dad does a lot of prototype operation on his railroad, and I haven't convinced him to cut the trip pins yet.) The two large nuts keep the original plastic pilot attached to the frame. The original boiler stays have been trimmed and fit into those two white plastic "pockets."

The headlight moved to the top of the smokebox, which was extended using a PVC pipe coupling. There's one small rivet missing from the side of the smokebox. That's actually one of two pins that holds the smokebox door onto the smokebox. Again, Bondo was used to blend the old into the new. The stack was cut down, and a new flange made from copper wire fitted to the top.

The domes were lowered around 1/4". The sand dome is still in its original position, but the steam dome was moved slightly forward to make room for the generator and steam turret. The boiler itself was wrapped in .010" styrene sheet to cover old holes and the slots where the original cab slid over.

This is why I'm glad I model the pre-airbrake era. Dual airpumps are a PAIN to plumb. But when you've got to keep air in an entire train as opposed to just the locomotive, two pumps are necessary. This entire assembly is actually attached to the running board, not the boiler. The running boards were narrowed to match the width of the cab. The cooling coil beneath the running board is a Trackside Details casting. They give you the hangers and round end pieces, you supply the 1/16" brass wire.

The new cab sits around 1/2" farther back on the boiler than the original one did. As such, the water injector lines and handrails came up just a bit short. The handrails had a very convenient bend in them that--when straightened--gave them sufficient length to reach the cab. The water lines did not, so I used some brass tube and a 2-56 nut to make something that looked like a coupling of some sort. The steam turret also shows up well in this shot. It came from one of the cab fittings.

On the back side of the cab, I just trimmed back the metal pieces to match the narrower width of the new cab. The deck plate also got around 1/2" cut off of it to match the tender.

One thing that just kept jumping out at me as being very ill-proportioned was the Baker valve gear that originally came on the model. No matter how I arranged the domes, etc., it just looked front heavy. After a bit of reading, I decided that I could justify Stevenson's valve gear even on a more "modern" locomotive. So, all that extra crap got cut off and tossed, and the bits that remained reworked into Stevenson's gear. The crosshead is still a bit heavy for my tastes, but not sour enough to make me want to build a new one.

It's now off to the paint shop. I'll probably start that process tomorrow, as today's just too rainy out to leave the garage door open.


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Greg, the running boards are the original ones, so they have tabs that fit into slots in the boiler. If you're hanging new ones, I just build brackets out of 1/16 x 1/8" brass. I drill holes and tap them for 0-80 screws, and use them to attach the boards to the brackets. The base of the bracket is then screwed into the boiler. Here's a photo from another loco:


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After not quite a week in the paint shop, Woodland Railway #14 is ready to be shipped back east to assume her regular duties.

This photo is kind of an odd juxtaposition. The locomotive started out as a 1:20.3 model, and was "downsized" to 1:22.5. The rolling stock went the other way. Personally, I think it sizes out quite nicely. It started raining shortly after I took this shot, so that's it for the outdoor ones for the moment.

Official builder's photo:

Paint used: Krylon semi-flat black for the cab, domes, tender tank, and pilot; Krylon ultra flat black for the running gear and tender frame; Krylon camouflage green for the boiler jacket. I bought that originally for my passenger cars, but it was a shade too light. I wanted a bit of a different look for this loco than what I had been doing on mine, so a painted boiler jacket seemed appropriate. I didn't want just a black jacket, though, as I like the contrast. Since dad's railroad is set in the 40s when green boiler jackets seemed to be somewhat popular (D&RGW, Great Northern, etc.) it seemed like a natural fit for the railroad.

Classic 3/4 fireman's side:

Engineer's side:


Some detail shots:

The air pump and associated plumbing. I have to admit, this was easier to paint than to build. The window frames are painted with acrylic artists' paint. Decals are from my ALPS printer, the striping is vinyl striping for R/C cars.

The running gear was painted in place on the locomotive. I brought a power supply out to the garage with me, and set the wheels moving when I sprayed them. This made sure I got paint on all the surfaces. I then went in and touched up with a brush and did the detail work. The drive rods are rubbed with powdered graphite. I thought painting them silver would be a bit too bright, but the black was too dark. The oily spot on the cylinder is exactly that--an oily spot. It's a steam engine. They get oily.

It's hard to see in this photo, but the bell and whistle cords are small twisted strands wire. I took this idea from Jack Thompson, and I'm here to tell you, I love it! The top of the boiler was dusted with black weathering powder to give it a dusty, dirty look. I thought about breaking out the airbrush and dusting the top with flat black paint, but I'm at the "hate" point in my love/hate relationship with my airbrush right now, so I just used powders instead. The Bragdon Enterprises powders I use are resistant to rubbing off, so it will hopefully keep this look (until covered with household dust and dirt, as locos are wont to do.)

The running gear, locomotive frame, and tender frame were washed with a dilute grimy brown/black paint to bring out the detail, as was illustrated in the current (June '08) Garden Railways. I then took some tan weathering powder to the truck frames and counterweights to highlight them just a bit. The backhead was brushed with black and brown powders to bring out some of that detail as well. I didn't go overboard with detailing the cab, using mostly what was there in the first place, though I liberated the Johnson bar (since I rebuilt the valve gear) and used part of that for a throttle instead.

A quasi-"before and after" photo, showing the size difference between the nominally original (in terms of dimensions) 2-8-0 and the downsized version. The changes to the cab and running boards really jump out (to me), as does the shorter-but-beefier stature of the 1:22 model.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with how this project turned out. Trouble is, I like the proportions so much, I'm wondering what it would take to convert a Bachmann K-27 so I can have one in 1:20. Let's see... Take off the rear truck, move the cab forward about 2", maybe shorten the firebox...


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I disassembled the loco prior to painting, so nothing had to be masked. I'm not a big fan of gluing things together that don't have to be, so that makes disassembly and reassembly easy. Press-fits and small screws are your friend.

A note about the rolling stock--the box cars in the photo are originally 1:22.5 Bachmann box cars that simply got new new details to bring them up to 1:20. They didn't change in physical size at all, which comes in handy when shooting 1:22 and 1:24 locomotives.

Compare this (1:22 loco with originally 1:22 box car)

to this (1:20 loco with 1:20 box car)

And a comparison showing how the two box cars compare:

Ain't "scale" fun?


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