Bachmann mountain

Aidrian Bridgeman-Sutton <>

Yes they�re out � in these parts at least. I picked up mine from Porter-Wynn
in Clitheroe this morning and thought I�d share first impressions.

This particular model is in NC&StL colours, though since I plan to do things
to mine, that�s of academic importance. No it doesn�t have the NCSL flanged
stack I�m afraid, but it does have nice paint and well executed printing

First just what does it represent? As far as I can tell from a preliminary
inspection it�s accurate for the original USRA light mountains, with bar
pilot, the bell mounted on the smokebox front, fabricated rear truck and
Baker valve gear.

It�s clearly of the same stable as the earlier consolidation � it shares the
same tender though there are no obvious carryovers in other areas. The
tender trucks have been changed. The construction is similar with injection
moulded boiler, separate domes stack and smokebox front and having the
mechanism carried in a die-cast weight. The main drivers are sprung, with
the others rigid. Both trucks are die-castings, but neither is sprung, nor
are they fitted with any form of lateral control. The tender contains a
board for a DCC decoder chip in the same way as the consolidation, but the
connectors on the engine and tender have been reversed from those on the
consolidation for some reason. Headlight and firebox have lamps, though how
they expect it to steam with the firedoors stuck open is a mystery!

Generally, it checks out pretty well against drawings, though there are a
couple of questions. The wheelbase is about spot on, but the drivers are
undersized by a good bit, 64� vs 69�, and it shows � the engine gets a
slightly long low racy look, like certain French engines or the New Zealand
Railways �J� class 4-8-2. There�s not a great deal they could have done to
avoid a degree of undersize with HO flanges, but the designer might have
worked with less generous clearances and still have got a workable model
with wheels closer to scale.

The motion looks pretty good, with working knuckles in the side rods, and
nice fine valve gear. Like all mass produced motion there are things that
could be done to improve it, but that�s something I hope to see from the
aftermarket detail manufacturers before long.

The cab just doesn�t convince me I�m afraid. The side elevation is good, but
it misses the one thing that makes it a USRA cab � that distinctive
quasi-gambrel roof. This strikes me as a pretty serious faux pas in the
design stages, since this is one of the essential distinguishing marks of a
USRA locomotive. The rivets on the cab sides are also crudely oversized,
which seems odd when it�s realised that the details and riveting elsewhere
is nicely weighted, and that the washout plugs are too fine if anything

The tender doesn�t quite match the drawings I have, but it looks the part.

They have learned a little from the consolidation� the lagging bands on the
boiler seem to be a more restrained, though still a bit chunky, and the
handrail posts seem finer, but they are still sticking with that damnable
bottle glass glazing for the cab windows. There are a few mould part lines
visible on the boiler top steam pipes and are reservoirs, and a little flash
appears on the aftercooler piping, and a couple of slightly ragged edges
around the cylinders.

How does it run? In a nutshell, sweetly, and sweetly right out of the box. I
haven�t tested it extensively or scientifically, but it will run down to a
crawl when light, and it�s fresh out of the box. There�s a bit of noise, but
nothing to write home about. I haven�t the space to give a maximum load test
so that�s for someone else with a longer mainline to try.

Summary � a good effort, with lots of kitbashing potential, but also one
which raises some quibbles and has one glaring mistake that really should
have been picked up on. Perhaps I�m expecting it to have the same impact on
me as the consolidation did, but there�s a feeling that the first person to
offer a better cab as a conversion set will do very nicely. It�s a seven
out of ten effort, which makes me think of some of the reports I used to get
at school � �Would do better I he applied himself�.

That said it looks well and runs well, and deserves to sell well.


"Nelson Kennedy" <nelsonk@...

Thanks for those prompt comments, Aidrian.

It looks as though Bachmann are set on carving a new niche. With three
Spectrum steamers that buyers are finding only detail faults with bodes well
for future development. I can't help but think that but the Bachmann and
Spectrum names are so tarnished that launching this new generation of
products under a new label might have been a good marketing ploy.

Having said that - a couple of observations -

1) They have delivered this loco on time. That will really confound some
of the critics.

2) They have taken top place in the MR readers 'product of the year' for
two successive years.

Not bad for a brand that is maligned and scoffed (sometimes deservedly IMHO)
as often as it is.

Nelson Kennedy
Christchurch, New Zealand
Ferrymead Trams, NZR 0 gauge, a little Espee H0 are at

Aidrian Bridgeman-Sutton <>

It gets better - I made the comment about new tender trucks. I understand
that they are shipping the engines with different tender trucks depending
on the paint job, which will make life easier.

It seems odd that Bachmann in the US have that somewhat unfortunate
reputation whereas their British models are among the best of breed. The
Athearn Genesis range is a good example of a manufacturer positioning a new
section of the range to distance it from the other products.

1) They have delivered this loco on time. That will really confound some
of the critics.

Before in this case - their website still says September shipping in the US.

2) They have taken top place in the MR readers 'product of the year' for
two successive years.

They will be up against some stiff compettion from the Athearn mikado this
time round in the steam field.


Thomas Beutel <Thomas.Beutel@...>

Hi Aidrian,

Great report! Thanks for the in-depth coverage. I look forward to getting
the loco soon, although I'm dissappointed that the drivers aren't a bit
larger. Both my prototype interests, Southern Pacific and Western Pacific,
had 4-8-2's with much larger drivers, 72 inches I believe.

Doesn't the IHC 4-8-2 also have small drivers? (not that the IHC loco in any
way compares to the new Spectrum mountain... ;-)

Thomas Beutel
San Francisco

Aidrian Bridgeman-Sutton <>

Thanks for the comments - the drivers are a bit limiting, but it's hard to
see how they could have got a scale wheelbase without making them a little
smaller than scale - the same problem arises but far worse with the IHC
engines which get those fat European flanges. Bachmann might have been a
tighter with the clearances and given us 66" or 67" which would have looked
better. It's the usual problem of HO flanges and closely spaced
drivers -what governs the model wheel is the diameter over the flange and
not over the tread.

I'm going to look into the possibility of using some 'OO' Alan Gibson wheels
made for a BR 9F which have the right number of spokes and scale at about
5'8". However the thing runs so beautifully that I don't want to screw that
up in the pursuit of scale wheels - so I might leave it for a while and just
work on the cab. That's an easy fix- I've done the basic structure in an
evening, but I'd have to admit marking it out was more of a challenge than
building it, there are some cussedly awkward shapes in it if you have to
work out the various radii wihout having their centres marked on the

The chassis as it stands might do very well for a 63"Mikado if there were
any of the right fixed wheelbase- I can't think of any off the top of my
head,unless something along the lines of the Southern 63" rebuilds of the
USRA 2-10-2s came close. The model is as close as you could want to the USRA
mountains in that department - however at 18'3" equally divided it would
make it impossible to fit anything like 72" drivers to the Bachmann chassis.