G Scale Model Train Forum banner

Info re Bachmann K-27 from owners

26039 Views 114 Replies 29 Participants Last post by  BarrysBigTrains
I'm beginning to lust after the Bachmann K-27 but have several concerns that you pioneering owners might be able to help me with. I am in a small town in the mountains of Colo and do not even have access to a hobby shop to look at one. From reading the threads, it appears that Bachmann has now solved most if not all the serious design issues. 1) Am I correct on this?

Unfortunately, I have several curves on my layout where I had to use 8' diameter track. 2) Will the K-27 easily take 8' diameter without larger diameter transition track?

Finally, I had to quit using a Bachman Annie on my Aristo stainless 4 years ago as I am convinced that some sort of electrolysis occurred between the cast drivers on the Annie and the stainless track: required serious cleanup every 10 minutes of operation to the point of serious frustration. (I had no problem with the turned steel drivers of my LGB locos.) Of course, that was just on DC, not DCC which I am presently using. 3) Does the K-27 have power pickup thorough the drivers or throuch a 'shoe' a la LGB? 4) Are the drivers of the K-27 cast rather than turned? 5) Has anyone with stainless track experienced unusual black deposit on stainless while using the K-27?

6) Any recommendations of DCC decoders for ease of installation on the K-27?

Thanks for your input, guys!
81 - 100 of 115 Posts
I keep coming back to the old poem:

One bright day in the middle of the night;
Two dead boys got up to fight.
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other.
A deaf policeman heard the noise;
came and shot those two dead boys.
If you don't believe this lie is true;
just ask the blind man: He saw it too! (-- Anon.)

If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with [Extremely potent naturally produced and sized morsels of organic plant growth aid sourced from Bovine producers]

" ... and the plan became policy. This is how [that sort of organic material] happens. "

Must be Twisty Thursday.
See less See more
Posted By Curmudgeon on 09/11/2008 11:59 AM
Stanley claims that using a back-emf decoder solves the problem, yet he says there is no problem.
It is fast, and with all the battery r/c units I have done, one just anticipates stops on downgrades.
I haven't had any issues controlling downgrade running.
I have heard some r/c systems might, but that's not confirmed, so not quite sure.
Nice loco, and if you get the nose to go where you want it to (lock driver slide) and lengthen the wires by 1/4" or so, make the "chuff" work with your sound system, re-wire the electronics in the boiler so you can use an incandescent bulb, remove the entire Ames Super Socket (which allows you all the room you need for any install, plus removes a layer of components that might give rise to problems later), glue a piece of .080" black styrene over the Ames Super Socket opening to improve bass response and keep condensation out, plus allow you to load real coal into the bay without filling the tender, put in WHITE class lights, and it's fine.
Just don't use more than 14.4V.

(Apologies to Stan for borrowing his "double post response" technique, which I'm sure is patented somewhere)

Curmdungeon: Isn't that what the original response to the question said, way back at the beginning of all of this?
See less See more
Posted By markoles  on  09/11/2008 10:43 AM

If you read Bob's posts carefully, he had to use a variety of DCC decoders before finding ones that would work. That sounds like the opposite of DCC ready.  I don't think he really likes taking things apart to fix them right out of the box.  Remember the problems he had with those LGB field locomotives?  The gyst of those was that he was getting brand new LGB locomotives that would fail the first time he put them on the tracks.  He has moved to bigger power since then, but it seems his troubles with out of the box trains persist.  And then, to add insult to injury, his experience is completely dismissed. His story is too ridiculous to be made up.  

Its kind of like how I know way too much about the workings of a Volkswagen, and not because I am an engineer.  

Yep. Tried two other brands. Happened to have them because people recommended them for other locos. Did not like their features (or lack of them).

Since they weren't being used and there were instructions from Bachmann to install them, I tried. Liked them even less in the Kay.

Let's go back to the beginning.

Bachmann announced they had this big beautiful loco. It would have a DCC  plug and play interface that would accept the same decoders  as the Aristocrat plug and play locos.

At the time, the only decoders that were plug and play were the Digitrax DG583AR and DG383AR, Since I use a lot of those decoders and they have every feature I need I got excited.

My only concern was the weight and size of the loco. I had a couple Shays and I was not able to convert them. Their weight made them impossible for me to manage the work required without breaking all the small parts. If the loco required lifting and turning it over, I would need someone else help me. Bachmann and others assured me that the only access I would need could be gained through the tender coal load. NOTHING COULD BE FARTHER FROM THE TRUTH.

I was the first person to order a Kay from Wholesale trains. I placed an order the day they determined the price. A full week before any other dealer would take an order.

When I got the Kay, I checked it on a DC pack and a 10 foot straight test track. The motor and electronics seemed OK but the side rods got out of whack and locked up ever time I tried to change directions.

I open end the tender, unplugged the dummy board and plugged a DG583AR in it's place. The decoder worked on the dc power pack, current draw was acceptable and I determined that the loco might even run on the DG383AR. Of course the loco still locked the drive chain when reversing, so I posted a question on the Bachmann site.

I disconnected the DC pack and connected a 6 amp Digitrax command station.

The loco instantly shut down the DCC booster and the booster indicated a short circuit.

I tried a 8 amp booster. same problem

I tried an old LGB booster. Same problem

I tried A friends Lenz system, Same problem

I tried a NICE system at a hobby shop. Same problem.

I tried three different DG583AR decoders. Same problem on all of them

I tried a DG383AR decoder. Same problem.

I hand wired the wired version of the decoder (DG583S) to an adapter to match the Aristo plug. Same problem.

A thread was posted on this forum by someone who said he was going to do a builder log to document his install of a DG583AR into the Kay, He got to the same point I did, then mentioned "some sort of grounding problem" and "awaiting parts" then never posted again.

Bachmann posted install procedures for a variety of decoders, including the Digitrax DG583AR. The procedure contained the same basic "open the tender" procedure as the rest of the decoder installs but stopped there with a note about waiting for final approval. Eventually Bachmann removed the Digitrax procedure from their support area.

I confirmed via email and various forums that at least four other people had the exact same problem. One of those people was Stanly. None of them had a solution.

At the time, Bachmann had not published a schematic. I removed all 13 circuit boards, mounted them in a test gig, and drew a complete schematic.

Using a Tektronix 455 scope and two digital meters I determined the exact cause of the false shorts. The lighting circuit draws over 12 amps for a couple milliseconds about 9,000 times a second. (once at each transition of the DC signal.) It does this through the lighting circuit supply, so the motor, smoke and lights do not need to be connected to cause the shutdown. Instead of putting a proper DC filter, like a twin ""T" the two 480 micro-farad capacitors and all the regulators are connected directly to the un regulated rectified DCC signal. This presents a dead short to the bridge rectifier at every transition through zero of the  track voltage. Decoders that use bridges with regular diodes, like the QSI have a high forward resistance, so in effect the diodes provide a current limiting resistor during each short circuit. The only harm from the Kay circuit is that those decoders get hotter  than they should. Decoders with Schottky diodes in their bridge like the DG583 have a very low forward resistance. They have the advantage of running cooler and delivering moor power to the motor. In this case they try to "burn through" the short circuits in the Kay, transferring up to 12 amps into the capacitors at every transition of the  track voltage. Most modern boosters will see multiple short circuits as a fault, even though the average voltage is perhaps less than one amp.

I find It Ironic that Bachmann Introduced the Kay as compatible with the Digitrax/Aristocraft DCC plug and then we find out, it is those are very decoders that can NOT be plugged into the Kay without shutting down our railroad. We are forced to spend hundreds of hours troubleshooting their faulty design, accepting decoders that are not plug and play and do not have the features we require, or gutting the entire loco and starting from scratch.

I really want a couple mallets. I will likely pre-order one of them. First, I want assurances that the plug and play interface will work with the DG583AR and the loco can be converted without lifting and flipping over the loco. Those are the same thing I got assurances for on the Kay prior to ordering, This time I also want assurance that I don't have to disassemble the entire Mallet and gut it. If these assurances are given again, then MAYBE I'll order the Mallet. However, Unless the Bachmann is very convincing, shows photographic, video, or schematic proof, I am no longer inclined to trust him. He lied before. I will not be so easily fooled this time.

See less See more
I don't know, Bob.
You think they would LIE to YOU?

We always called it "expedient".

Maybe the DC filter fell out during shipping. Did you check the box? Maybe it escaped through that hole in your tender.
Jimtyp... Bob's most recent--plus his earlier--comments are deadly. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sick.gif If Bob can't fix something, it can't be fixed. (OTOH, his standards are extremely high because his knowledge and skills are equally high!). /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/wow.gif

It sounds as if there is no decoder that will work satisfactorily with the K. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crying.gif H/e, you indicated earlier that you were quite satisified with the K on DCC (which is what I operate on). What kind of decoder did you use? Did you install it yourself?
See less See more
Posted By gdancer on 09/12/2008 9:12 AM
Jimtyp... Bob's most recent--plus his earlier--comments are deadly. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sick.gif" border=0> If Bob can't fix something, it can't be fixed. (OTOH, his standards are extremely high because his knowledge and skills are equally high!). /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/wow.gif" border=0>
It sounds as if there is no decoder that will work satisfactorily with the K. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crying.gif" border=0> H/e, you indicated earlier that you were quite satisified with the K on DCC (which is what I operate on). What kind of decoder did you use? Did you install it yourself?

Thanks for the confidence.

In my opinion, any decoder will "WORK", If you simply gut all the crap that Bachmann put in and do a reasonably neat wired install.

So, some people are happy. They popped in a decoder, soldered a few wires, cut a few traces, plopped the Kay on their track, the Kay actually managed to run and they got a big smile on their face.
First, I would NEVER put the motor decoder in the tender. It has to go through twelve different pins in the connectors, six feet of wire, twenty solder joints and yards of wire and circuit traces.
Will they still be smiling a year from now?
If possible connect the motor to the decoder with 1 inch long wires. Connect the decoder to the track pickups with the shortest possible wire with the largest possible gage. If the wire has to bend, use noodle wire, braided wire, or heavy rubberized test lead wire.

DCC operation will only be as good as the decoder. If you are happy with decoders that have a 2.4 volt drop through the bridge, and another through the motor driver then you will initially be happy with that the decoder in the Kay. If you prefer decoders that have Schottky circuitry and fully adjustable BEMF then you will be happy with the Kay if it is direct wired into the loco. You might even be happy with plug and play if you don't mind the rock concert light show in your firebox or orange marker lights.

I am extremely pleased with the DCC performance of my Kay.

If it did not have the gear bind problem, and, the derailment problem, I would also be happy with the actual loco.

I am not happy with Bachmann, who did not deliver a plug and play loco that accepted the very decoder the design was supposed to be based on.

I am not happy that it took most of my modeling time for two months to repair and repaint the tender shell, decipher the electronics prior to gutting them, shim the CVs, replace the CVs and reinstall the original CVs and shims. I also had to spend hours grinding and polishing parts of valve gear to get rid of interferences and make the loco run smoothly. I had to reverse the fan, build new chuff switches, modify tender trucks, etc etc.

At least the Kadee install was a snap. THANK YOU BACHMANN.

OH, and if the gear ratio was double what it is, I'd be ecstatic.
See less See more
I am a great fan of the D&RGW railroad and would loved to have had a K27 (or two).

But I did not feel justified in spending the equivalent of just over $1200 for a loco: no matter how good. I have 1:29 locos and two Annies that were a fraction of the price that are reliable and work extremely well.

Having read the threads here about this loco I am rather glad that I don't expect ever to own one.

I am only one potential customer but I wonder how many others share my point of view? It may, or may not, interest Messrs. Bachmann.
Posted By Great Western on 09/14/2008 7:55 AM
I am only one potential customer but I wonder how many others share my point of view?

I am the same way. I was going to buy a K-27 at some point.....not anymore. And with the new Mallet coming out this fall, would love to get one. Logging Mallets are one of my favorite locomotives. But I will not be buying Bachmann's Mallet, or sadly, any Bachmann if they keep stan on the pay-roll.
Posted By Great Western on 09/14/2008 7:55 AM
I am only one potential customer but I wonder how many others share my point of view? It may, or may not, interest Messrs. Bachmann.;)" border=0>

I also was considering the K 27. Now if I do get one I will have to do major surgery to get it to DCC, and wait and see if BBT comes up with some aftermarket gearing to make it right. I will just wait and see what happens in the industry and hope that they get it more right than it is./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/w00t.gif
See less See more
Bob...Just got back to the thread. As always, your comments--invariably objective and based on your personal excellent hands-on research--are not just persuasive but definitive. I think your last 9/12 statement is also dispositive of whether or not I will purchase a K. There seems to be a large market out there for the K but..BUT...ONLY if Bachmann undertakes a number of serious fixes which likely would add to the cost. It's a problem, but thanks to you it's Bachmann's problem, not mine. Thanks for "being there" for the rest of us hacks.

Perhaps Bachmann should enlist you as a consultant?
When I first read this thread, I was surprised and a little turned off by the acrimony (after all, we're talking about model trains here). By the end of the thread, however, I concluded that it was among the most helpful and fascinating discussions I'd been privy to on mls. It's not often you get such technical insight combined with a glimpse into the internal politics associated with the G scale industry.
Most importantly, though, it's saved me money and hassle. I've already purchased one locomotive that simply did not work straight out of the box, and the last thing I want to do is pay a ton of money for an item that will frustrate and anger me - unlike some of the exceptionally skilled retired folks in the hobby, I've got very limited time to enjoy my trains. Between my job and my family, I cannot (nor wish to) devote hours of my time to beta testing an expensive toy. I'm guessing that most customers would choose a locomotive that *works* over a shelf queen with more features than the mars lander.
Finally, if I purchased a camera that failed to function out of the box, I'd return it and get another. With most G-scale products, all of which are comparatively low production, if they don't work, I'm stuck with the darn thing until someone (either me, the dealer, or the manufacturer) can fix it. This makes the beta-testing quality of these products much, much more frustrating.
I think I need a cigarette!
See less See more
jlinde.... Ten-four and Amen to your comments. Well stated.
It has been an interesting thread ... and though much of the substance is a rehash of things said earlier, there has been some insightful additions.

The latest posts focus on a loco that runs right out of the box and the statements are made in a way that takes as a truth that everyone agrees with two basic assumptions. The first is that the K-27 does not function and the second is that running qualities are they only thing that matters in a model locomotive.

Both assumptions have a grain of truth but are far from the total reality.

The K as delivered has some well documented flaws - this thread has outlined them once again. Besides normal QC screwups that can make any loco a lemon, the initial version of the K had loose counterweights causing binding. That problem has now been fixed and even for those with the original version, the parts are available and the fix is reasonably straightforward. A K should now run straight out of the box.

Personally I don't attempt to run big locos around 5 foot RADIUS curves so I do not LIKE the slop in the driver sideplay, and I do not LIKE the colour of the lights and I do not LIKE the electronics and I do not LIKE the gearing ratio but these are quibbles ... the K does acttually run.

The second assumption I take great issue with. If running qualities were all that mattered, then why do we care what the outline of the loco is at all. Just buy any old LGB loco that is renowned for its engineering and get on with it. It will operate perfectly and everyone should be happy. But it seems that the odd large scaler out there actually cares what the loco looks like. In fact, many of us care a great deal what it looks like. The mechanics and electronics can be changed but it is a long uphill climb for most of us if the model is off the mark.

B'mann has produced a brilliantly executed model of the icon of the narrow gauge. In fact it is hard to find fault with any of the modelled details. For the great throng of modellers who wish a K-27, this is the only game in town. And the price, in my opinion, is a bargain for the model being delivered.

A few folks who only want a loco that runs will choose something different - fair enough. But those who want an Fn3 K-27 will buy and will operate as is or find time to make changes to the loco to meet their tastes and budgets.

I have not bought mine yet but I will be spending 10 days in the USA at the beginning of November ... and St Aubin's is on my itinerary. Nothing said in this thread has changed my mind about the K-27.

Regards ... Doug
See less See more
Doug.... I agree with much of what you say, but your second assumption "that people care ONLY about whether the loco runs well" is perhaps somewhat of an unfair statement. I think that even with all the negative contributors to this thread, most would agree that it is a great model--as a model. But their point is, "Of what value is a great looking model if it won't operate well?" As Bob Grosh put it very early in the thread, the price of the K was too much just to use it as a model on the wall.....this said after he had devoted uncounted hours trying to make it meet his operating standards.

For myself, I am probably one of the people you put in the category suggested by your second assumption. I love building the railroad; the engineering required; less interested in the model-building side or even in the "running" of the trains. However, about 50% of my rationale for my railroad --at least in my excuses to the wife--is that it's for "the grandkids", of which I have 7 now with another in the oven, ranging in age from 14 down to minus 5 months. I need to buy locomotives that operate well and can stand a certain amount of heavy handling by little hands. Thus, I may be in a very small minority of the hobby.

My point: we in the hobby are a diverse group, not all interested in the same aspects of the hobby. Some are rivet counters and, though I disagree with the pejorative terminology, I fully accept and appreciate their desire for painstaking detail. But that's just not my schtick. Some like to operate; others like to build; others are into the electronics, etc, etc. But, I think saying any one kind of large scaler is "interested only in"... some particular aspect is an unfair characterterization. Most of us would like to have as much as there is out there (i.e. paintstaking detail, easy to apply electronics, outstanding operating characteristics, etc )but find--like life itself--we have to compromise and therefore have to establish our priorities before --rather than after--we buy.

Again, my first priority has to be: it must operate well. (Not just for the grandkids, but also to cover my own deficiencies!) But, man, do I love the look of the K-27! As the author of this thread--though not all the aspects of it--I started out by saying that I "lusted" for a K-27. And its appearance first generated that lust. So, again, it's not exactly right to say it's only how well a loco runs that I--and perhaps others like me--care about.

Implied in your comments is an imporant point. If this Forum--not necessarily this thread--relentlessly picks apart the offering of our few manufacturers, running them down, emphasizing their shortcomings, etc so that the market is virtually eliminated, we soon will not have any company making products for us. No company wants to pay out all the front end costs of design, manufacturing, marketing etc only to have their product dissed to the point of market destruction. We therefore need to exercise caution in how we phrase our critiques and balance them against the good points of the products. Hopefully, the critiques as a fair assessment of all of a product's qualities would be helpful to manufacturers, rather than accusations as to how good it might have been. In this, I fully and wholeheartedly agree with you.

Sorry if I got long winded here. And your comments in no way raised any ire, only that you may have misstated your second assumption without realizing it. I--like you--regret some of the aspects of this thread, but it does I think offer fair warning and truth to fellow hobbyists from men whom we have grown to know and respect through this Forum. Unfortunately, again like life, the truth is not clear-cut for everyone, but like the little boy at Christmas digging through the pile of horse leavings, "There's bound to be a pony in here somewhere!" :D
See less See more

You clearly agree with the categorical statement "Of what value is a great looking model if it won't operate well" ... In my view the K runs as well as most large scale steamers - in other words it is not perfect but it does run. Those with the highest standards for operation will want to tune it.

And those who feel the price is too high for a loco that requires a bit of tuning will pass up this opportunity. You have put yourself in this category and that is fair enough.

Those who wish a K-27 and value the fine detail will buy and find ways to resolve any particular shortcomings in the mechanicals or electronics. I find the price tag to be very reasonable for the fine model that is presented. For me, it needs only the drivers locked to reduce the slop and the electronics tossed so battery RC (and lighting) can be installed. But one man's garbage is another's treasure I suppose. In terms of the statement quoted above, the K is very valuable (to me) even if it does not meet the highest mechanical/electronic standards.

Regards ... Doug
See less See more
Posted By Dougald on 09/16/2008 4:08 PM
SNIP For me, it needs only the drivers locked to reduce the slop and the electronics tossed so battery RC (and lighting) can be installed. SNIP
Regards ... Doug

Not necessarily so Doug.

My RCS and EVO PnP-3BK R/C controllers simply plug into the existing Bachmann electronics.
They interface flawlessly and have a built in inversion transistor so the chuff timing will work as designed.
OK, So Tony LIKES the DCC socket and I tossed mine.

The world must be coming to an end.
The one thing that seems really sad to me, and that hasn't been brought up yet, is that Bachmann will be very reticent to make any more Colorado locomotives. Modelers griped for years that Bachmann chose obscure prototypes (not always, but often - the Connie comes to mind) and wouldn't produce models of D&RGW, C&S, etc. They follow the same pattern with their On30 products, like the 4-4-0 and now, an "outside frame" 4-4-0 (who ever heard of an outside frame 4-4-0 - in America at least).

With the failure of the large scale K-27 to sell out, some of the powers that be at Bachmann - the same people who for years didn't want to produce Colorado prototypes to begin with - will use it as a reason not to produce anything else like it. This despite the fact that it wasn't the K itself that failed, but rather how it was implemented that caused poor sales. The follow-up loco is a logging Mallet that never existed in real life - much more "in form" for Bachmann and how they've always done things - at least it seems so to me.

MHO spoken solely as a forum participant.
See less See more
Unfortunately, you're probably right. It would be just like Bachmann to infer the wrong "lesson" from the K-27 incident! What ticks me off about it is that it was so unnecessary! We give Stanley a lot of grief for what we perceive to be his contributions to this mess (in my opinion with good cause!) but this project was doomed for troubles from the very beginning! Marketing and product developement were NOT on the same page even to the "leaking" of the information at a train show (remember the picture?) and the litany of "mistakes and bad judgement goes on and on...
Before you roll your eyes and *sigh* again, I LOVE my K-27!! Bachmann came out with a beauty and the wait was worth it....for me! I had Caboose Hobbies send it directly to Dave Goodson for an RCS installation and for "fixing" all the little problems before I ever even saw it! The point is Bachmann should have taken the time to address these issues BEFORE they ever let one out to the public!! The K needed to be a "Grand Slam" and it wasn't but it's NOT because of the decision to make a model of a Colorado prototype!!!
See less See more
81 - 100 of 115 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.