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31  Discussion Boards / N / Re: Is there a way to tell, (buying on the net) if a Xmas0-6-0 is split frame on: March 30, 2017, 10:04:35 PM
Are you buying it on FeePay?  ....from an e-Tailer?....from B-mann?

Depending on who is selling it, he might or might not know. 

You really can not tell unless you look at it.  If the  motor is not sticking out the back of the cab, it is the newest version and decidedly split frame.  Do be aware, though, that the last ones issued with the motor's sticking out the back of the cab were split frame, so if the motor is sticking out the back of the cab, you can not always be sure.  If it is one that has the motor's sticking out the back of the cab, if you flip it over and look carefully, you will see frame halves.  If you look at it from the cab end, you will see a split metal contact post for the drawbar.  If you see that, it is a split frame.  If you do not see it, it ain't.
32  Discussion Boards / N / Re: Are these shells interchangeable? on: March 30, 2017, 12:34:42 PM

The Spectrum Short Tender frame measures 2.104in.
The Spectrum Slope Back Tender frame measures 1.801in.
check out what the Spook says about the conversion;

If you choose to use the Spectrum Slope Back, then no modifications, other than slightly closing the gap on the tender wires lokie side, are necessary.

Unlike the USRA 0-6-0 that Bachpersonn sells separately, the Christmas Train Set USRA 0-6-0 actually comes with the correct USRA short tender.  Funny thing is that according to someone who would know, not even any of the USRA 0-6-0 copies left the erecting shops with slopeback tenders.  This same person told me that he never saw a photograph of an original or copy USRA 0-6-0 with a slopeback.  Some roads either modified the coal bunker on the USRA short tender or fitted another tender with a narrow coal bunker to them.  This improved the crew's vision to the back.

I suspect that Original Poster wants to upgrade his locomotive but retain the Christmas shell.  Thus, he wants to swap out the stock tender chassis for a SPECTRUM tender chassis.  To do that, he should follow the quoted poster's advice and check out Spookshow's website for a brief and good description of what to do.  Several have stated that if you do the SPECTRUM swap on the slopeback, you need not do the modifications.  I respectfully disagree.  It has been my experience that you must modify the slopeback chassis and flip the drawbar.

To answer the Original Poster's question:

I found an old stock USRA short tender and a SPECTRUM.  In order to remove the stock shell from the chassis, you must undo the screws holding the trucks.  The SPECTRUM shell pops off the chassis.  Thus, the first difference is that there are two poles cast into the tender shell on the stock, which the SPECTRUM lacks.  On the stock tender, the stirrups are cast onto the tender shell; on the SPECTRUM, they are cast onto the tender chassis.  

When I tried the test fit, the stirrups on the stock shell did get in the way.  Be that as it may, it appears that the stock shell will go onto the SPECTRUM chassis.  I deduce this because if you slide the shell slightly forward, it will go down on one end.  The other end, where the stirrup gets in the way, sits up.  It appears that if you clip the stirrups from the stock shell, it will go onto the SPECTRUM chassis.  I was somewhat less than willing to try clipping the stirrups from mine, but, likely I will do it in the future, as the stock shell with which I was doing the test fit is lettered for the BALTIMORE AND OHIO Railroad.  While I do have some SPECTRUM tenders so lettered, if I do enough swaps on the USRA 0-6-0, I might need it.  

Another thing that might be necessary would be to shorten or clip altogether the poles cast into the inside of the shell of the stock tender.  Despite all of this, I did note that the fit was rather loose.  Thus, if you picked up the tender by the shell, the chassis would fall out.  I would shy from gluing the tender to the chassis, but perhaps Original Poster could wrap some tape inside the shell or find a place to pin or screw  the shell to the chassis.

It looks like it will go with a minimum of work.

EDITORIAL NOTE:  I went upstairs and got out my parts/bashing donor bags and boxes.  It appears that I have more than a few of the stock tenders.  Further, I have several packages of the Gold Medal brass stirrup sheets, thus, I ever I need this particular tender shell and it must have the stirrups, I can replace the stirrups with something from the Gold Medal sheet.

I took a stock tender shell and clipped the stirrups.  It will fit.  The fit is quite loose, so Original Poster must come up with a way to secure the stock shell to the SPECTRUM chassis.  If you are going to leave the shell as is, you must cut down the poles on the stock shell, slightly.  Even then, stock shell is going to sit funny on SPECTRUM chassis.  If Original Poster only wants it for a Christmas Train and is not too touchy about how the shell sits on the chassis, all that he need to is figure out how to secure shell to chassis.

If, however, Original Poster wants a better looking locomotive, he should compare the SPECTRUM shell to the stock shell.  What he will observe is that there is a bar, which represents part of the underframe that would be on the prototype, that is cast onto the stock shell.  On the SPECTRUM tender, the underframe bar is on the chassis.  Thus, for a better appearance, it will be necessary to trim that undeframe bar from the stock shell.  Note that on the stock tender, the chassis fits inside the shell, while on the SPECTRUM, the shell goes onto the chassis.  This can be accomplished with a fresh, sharp eXacto™ blade, a metal straight edge and a VERY HIGH DEGREE OF PATIENCE AND CARE.   Once Original Poster trims the underframe bar from the stock tender shell, said shell will seat properly onto the SPECTRUM chassis.  In addition, Original Poster will need to cut down the poles cast onto the inside of the stock shell even more.  Still, Original Poster must come up with a way to secure the shell to the chassis, as the stock shell sits loosely on the SPECTRUM chassis.
33  Discussion Boards / N / Re: 8 1/2" radious on: March 27, 2017, 01:47:39 PM
.... Atlas/MicroAce 2-6-0 Mogul (that isn't reviewed as the best runner...

C'mon Bach Man! Get developing small stuff!

The latest version of the B-mann 1870s eight wheeler is actually pretty good.  Buy the version that comes in the plastic box.  The problem with the Atlas/Micro-Ace mogul is that only one "truck" on the tender is live.  Because the electrical contact is so limited, the thing will stall of straight and level at speeds of twenty-five SMPH or less.  The thing runs nicely--when it runs.  The only thing that will save the Atlas mogul is hardwiring it to a live boxcar, caboose or baggage car.

Fortunately, Atlas did address the problem with its eight wheeler.  All of the "trucks" on the tender are live on that one.   All of the tender trucks on the B-mann eight wheeler are live, as well.  Those on the Bachpersonn pivot, as well, which neither of the Atlas do.

The Micro-Ace is an actual model that it did for the market in Japan.  It is based on a 2-6-0 that Baldwin built for Japan in the 1870s.  One prototype does survive.  As I understand it, Atlas approached Micro-Ace with the idea of hanging nineteenth century U.S. and Canada road names on it.  Micro-Ace agreed, as long as no alterations were made to the basic model.   Thus, the only two wheels live on each pole.

The Atlas/Micro-Ace is yet another illustration of Miranda's Maxim as explained by ke:   "The poor performance of many N scale steam locomotives is almost always attributable to poor electrical contact."

The funny thing is that Miranda's Maxim applies less to the Bachmann eight wheeler.  The contact has been the same throughout the various versions of this one.  There is only so much contact that you can get out of something so small.  The problem for years with the B-mann eight wheeler was its construction.  The things used to wobble quite a bit.  In addition, the performance varied wildly model-to-model.  GF has one that will hold a steady twenty five SMPH and pull fifteen nineteenth century cars of various manufacture, on MT trucks, up a one per-cent grade.  I wonder if the prototype would do that.  I had one or two that could not get out of their own way and had only two speeds:  very fast and not-at-all.

I recall seeing a Disney display at a World's Greatest Hobby On Tour show.  They had a B-mann N scale eight wheeler that was operating quite smoothly at fifteen SMPH and pulling several cars on a roundy-round.  I asked someone at the display about it.  He got one of the technicians for me who went into quite a bit of detail on how they had re-worked the thing to get the wobble out of it.

Shortly after that, a cardboard box version of the eight wheeler appeared that showed a marked improvement.   In fact, I put a MT coupler on one and was using it to switch cars on my nineteenth century pike.  Since then, B-mann has done another wave of improvements to this one.  The plastic box version of it is the latest.  It is very good.  If you have not tried it, you should.
34  Discussion Boards / N / Re: New Doodlebug. Great looker, but noisy. Any hints? on: March 25, 2017, 09:28:42 AM
The design of the chassis and especially the shell contribute to the racket.  The long metal frame conducts the sound while the shell serves as an echo chamber.  The result is predictable.  Many of the prototypes were quite noisy, as well.  The B-mann looks much like an Australian doodlebug.  There is a video on youtube of it.
35  Discussion Boards / N / Re: Converting to Micro Trains Trucks and/or Couplers on: March 24, 2017, 09:51:36 PM
Those are newer issues and I have both of them (not Uncle Pete, but I have the models).  The couplers are compatible with MTs, Unimates, Accu-Mates and other knuckle couplers.  It might take some doing to get them to couple, but they are compatible.
36  Discussion Boards / N / Re: New Doodlebug. Great looker, but noisy. Any hints? on: March 24, 2017, 09:49:32 PM
....what Spookshow said.........................

These things always have been noisy.  The old ones, without the factory DCC were even more noisy.  There is nothing wrong with it, it is simply noisy.

The funny thing is that the decoder seems to absorb some noise.  I fried the decoder on one, so I had to wire around it.  The result is something that makes more racket than the newest version but still less than the old one.

They will run  nicely at slow to average speeds, and funny, but my old ones will pull six Rivarossi heavyweights, on Rivarossi trucks, up a one per-cent grade at thirty SMPH.  The prototypes would not do that.  I have not tried to see what the new one will pull.  They run nicely but noisily.
37  Discussion Boards / N / Re: Converting to Micro Trains Trucks and/or Couplers on: March 24, 2017, 02:32:41 PM
I also have two Bachmann diesel engines with knuckle couplers.

Which ones are they and do you know approximately when B-mann issued them?

The B-mann dummy knuckle couplers and McHenry couplers are compatible with MTs.

Some of the earliest issues of B-mann with dummy knuckle couplers have the couplers at an incorrect height.  They will couple to the MTs, but might not stay coupled.  There are several possibilities to correct this.  You can substitute UniMates, or use the MT suggested conversion.  Most of these are 2004, but check with MT to be certain.

If you have locomotives with McHenry couplers note the external spring.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you remove this spring.  It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get it to go back (this assumes that you actually find the spring after it launches).  If you take out that spring, you will have to replace the coupler with something, as removal of the spring renders the couplers useless.
38  Discussion Boards / N / Re: Converting to Micro Trains Trucks and/or Couplers on: March 23, 2017, 09:51:32 PM
MT 1133 is almost universal for old B-mann.  If you are using sharp curves, you can use 1134, which is nothing but an 1133 with a longer shank.  These will work on the freight or passenger cars for B-mann.  If you are going to work with 1133/1134, buy the MT coupler tweezers.  They are indispensible to working with these particular couplers.

You can swap out the trucks on the Atlas freight cars.  MT sells trucks with couplers mounted for these cars.  They even come in ten packs.  There are Bettendorf, roller bearing, Andrews and arch bar, as well as others.  Most of the older Atlas freight cars will have Bettendorfs although some will have roller bearing.  One or two of the wood cars might look allright with Andrews.  Arch bar trucks are mostly nineteenth century, although it took until the 1920s or 1930s before AAR banned them in interchange service.  That ban was breached during World War II, as well, as the railroads were using almost anything that rolled then.

If you have some older Atlas passenger cars, MT sells six wheel trucks for the heavyweights and four wheel trucks for the smooth side or corrugateds.  If you flip over the car, you should see a screw that holds in the truck.  You will have to pop off the roof and hold the weight while you unscrew the truck.   If, however, you have a really old Atlas/Rivarossi heavyweight passenger car, you may notice no screw but the flat head of a pin that holds the trucks onto the car.  The pin is an extremely tight friction fit into the car weight and is almostimpossible to remove without causing serious damage to the car.  All is not lost, however.  There is a coupler that you can fit to the existing Rivarossi truck. The conversions for this are any of the following:  1049/1128/1129. It is not hard to do it.  You undo the metal clip on the truck, pull out the Rapido and the spring, then follow the MT directions to convert the coupler.
39  Discussion Boards / N / Re: 8 1/2" radious on: March 19, 2017, 11:13:18 PM
Oh, so it does not have to climb a hill.

Blinding the drivers is one way to get some of that power around a tight curve.  Even the prototypes did it.  The Pennsylvania blinded one of the middle driver pairs on some of its consolidateds.   The Athearn MDC 1880s 2-8-0 comes with both middle driver pairs blinded.  The 2-6-0 has the middle pair blinded.

I have managed to run the B-mann eight wheeler around a seven and something curve (the inner curve of the Kato UNITRAM) without problem.   Six inches in N scale is pretty tight.  That is equivalent to just over eleven inches in HO.  I seem to recall that the old HO Mantua
0-4-0T kit would go around an eight inch curve, but anything much larger than a small switcher would require modification.
40  Discussion Boards / N / Re: 8 1/2" radious on: March 18, 2017, 08:55:41 PM
here you should see the 0-6-0 switcher and old timers on tight curves , use long couplers and slight trim to tender front/cab roof .

How do you manage to get that train up a grade with the stock tender?  If I use a SPECTRUM tender, not only will it climb the hill, it gets better electrical contact.  I must admit that the stock live truck and drawbar does not perform poorly, when you consider what it is, but the all wheels live and needlepoint axle pick-up on the SPECTRUM tender renders far better performance than does the stock tender.

Nice looking pike.
41  Discussion Boards / N / Re: How about taking a shot at good 0-4-0 steamers? on: March 14, 2017, 09:14:50 AM
Somebody over on Trainboard did a rework of the old B-mann B&O 0-4-0T.  He changed the motor, did a bit of re-wiring, took the chassis from a SPECTRUM USRA standard tender.  The purpose of the tender chassis is to build a live brakeman's hack to provide some additional contact and a place to put a decoder.  It appears that he is cutting down an old MDC wood boxcar to make the shell for the brakeman's hack.

The thing creeps nicely on DC (he has not finished the brakeman's hack, so the decoder is not installed, yet)..

B-mann did sell a Pennsylvania 0-4-0 and tender some time back.  It is long out of production.  I have one, somewhere, but can not find it, now.  It might be viable to resurrect it, depending on how the tender compares to say, the tender on the ALCo mogul.  Further, it would be necessary to see if the motor that goes either into the mogul or the USRA 0-6-0 would fit the 0-4-0.  I seem to recall that it was quite small.

If any manufacturer did try to issue a tank switcher, it might be a good idea to include a live freight car, caboose or baggage car to aid with contact or to hold a decoder, for those who use DCC.
42  Discussion Boards / N / Re: Bachmann GP9 Locos on: March 12, 2017, 09:40:38 PM
Does B-mann sell a GP-9 in N scale?......or did you buy GP-7s?

They are supposed to come with an instruction sheet.  Mine did.  I did not read the DCC part because I do not use it.  They run nicely on DC until you fry the decoder, that is.  Still, it is not difficult to wire around it once you fry it.
43  Discussion Boards / N / Re: 8 1/2" radious on: March 11, 2017, 10:59:05 AM
Some  steam locomotives that  I did forget to mention that will run on so sharp a curve:

MDC/currently Athearn sells some nineteenth century power:  a 2-8-0 and a 2-6-0.  These are excellent little locomotives that run well with a minimum of break-in time.  The 2-6-0 has its middle driver pair blinded.  The 2-8-0 has the two middle driver pairs blinded.

These are decidedly nineteenth century locomotives (the prototypes are about 1880s), but with a little work, you can "update" them.  The 2-6-0 is especially adaptable, as it has sixty-three inch drivers.  I "updated" one by removing the "mantle clock" headlight and replacing it with one mounted in the middle of the smokebox cover.  I put a generator over the opening left by removal of the "mantle clock" headlight.  I added a power reverse and pilot steps to make it look like an old locomotive that had been rebuilt over the years.

Of course, if you want to run nineteenth century equipment, you need not make any alterations.

B-mann sells an 1870s 4-4-0.  While some of the older versions were inconsistent, if you will buy one of the last that appeared in a cardboard box, or, best of all, buy the version that comes in a plastic box.  B-mann made some improvements to them, so they are pretty good.  Do understand that you must operate these on live frog turnouts (if you have any turnouts, at all), as their small footprint will make them stall on neutral frog turnouts.   This is not a flaw in the locomotive, mind you, it is just that these things are so small that their wheelbase does not allow for the best contact when you run them on track that has electrically neutral pieces.

Atlas sells an 1870s 4-4-0 that runs nicely.

Atlas sells an 1870s 2-6-0 that while it runs nicely, suffers from the limited pick up.

If your space is severely limited and you must use curves so sharp, you might want to consider nineteenth century equipment.  B-mann sells two types of passenger cars and several types of nineteenth century freight cars.  MDC sold and Athearn sells eight different types of nineteenth century passenger cars and several different types of freight cars.  Micro-Trains also sells several different types of nineteenth century freight cars.   The Micro-Trains come with a simulated "link and pin" couplers, but you can substitute 1023s for them, easily.

You can find the B-mann and MT equipment at most hobby stores and at shows.  The old MDC equipment is everywhere at shows.  Some hobby stores may have some as NOS.  The Athearns, which are copies of the MDC designs (although Athearn has made them available in more road names and paint schemes) can be found at shows, although some hobby stores might have them, as well.
44  Discussion Boards / N / Re: 8 1/2" radious on: March 08, 2017, 10:36:09 AM
The B-mann 0-4-0T and 0-4-0 with tender are out of production, as is the Rivarossi 0-4-0 with a tender that Atlas sold.

Life-Like sold an 0-6-0T, as did Atlas and at least one other manufacturer.  Those are out of production, as well.

Minitrix sold an 0-6-0 with a tender.  It is long out of production.

AHM sold a 2-6-4T manufactured by Lima.  It is long out of production and is JUNQUE.

All of them have limited electrical contact, which inhibits their performance.  Further, their construction methods are out of date.

The 0-4-0T is based on the Baltimore and Ohio 0-4-0T that worked Pratt St. and the Inner Harbour docks in Baltimore.  They were oil burners, as Baltimore had smoke abatement laws.  You could get the smoke abatement boys off of your case, back then, if you used oil burners (Hence Western Maryland's oil burning Pacifics).  At some point, B&O converted two of the things to coal burners and conventional configuration (added a tender and took off the water tanks and fuel bunkers).  The Rivarossi 0-4-0 with tender that Atlas sold is based on that conversion.

The B-mann 0-4-0 with a tender is based on a Pennsylvania Railroad prototype.

I am not sure of the prototype for the 0-6-0T

The TRIX 0-6-0 with a tender is based on a Pennsylvania B-6b.  

The AHM/Lima is based on a Reading Company prototype that worked Philadelphia suburban commuter trains before Reading electrified the lines.

Of all mentioned in this topic, the best of the bunch is the newest version of the B-mann USRA 0-6-0 (in a plastic box, with the motor that does not stick far out of the back of the cab), with the proviso that you swap out the stock tender for a SPECTRUM tneder.  The SPECTRUM tender is all wheels live and has up to date needlepoint axle pick-up that keeps down the drag on the locomotive.  The tender swap is not difficult.  If you will check Spookshow's website, there is a brief description of how to do the conversion.  There are other tutorials out there in cyberland, as well.   Later versions of the older motored B-mann USRA  0-6-0 are not bad, either, but you are better off with the most recent version.

There is a gentleman named Mark Watson (?), who posted something on either Trainboard or The Rail Wire about how he upgraded the Life Like 0-6-0T.  He posted videos of it.  He did a pretty good job with the upgrade.

More than a few have re-worked the old TRIX 0-6-0 and tender.  It involves adding a better motor (the motor found in the old Atlas/Kato
GP-7/GP-9 or RS-3 seems to be the more popular) and in some cases a flywheel.  Further, you upgrade the tender to all wheels live.

You can find all of the out of production steam switchers at shows.  The caveat there is that many vendors have a high opinion of what they are selling is worth.

Some hobby stores may have some of the steam locomotives that I have mentioned as New Old Stock.
45  Discussion Boards / N / Re: 8 1/2" radious on: March 07, 2017, 11:04:15 PM
Here is my experience with B-mann (and other) steam on Kato UNITRAM.  The inner curve on those is seven and a half, or so, inches.  The turnouts are like eight inches or eight and a half.

USRA 0-6-0-The locomotive will operate.  I do not know what the stock tender does, but the SPECTRUM slope back and USRA short tenders will derail.

ALCo 2-6-0-The locomotive will operate and stay on the track.  It stalls occasionally on the turnouts.  On certain specific models, the mechanism binds on the curves.

Baldwin 4-6-0- The non DCC model will operate, but does stall frequently on the turnouts.  It does climb the curves and the turnouts.  The DCC versions stall, climb, derail and the mechanism binds.

SPECTRUM Baldwin 2-8-0-climbs and derails.

The 2-8-0 is the largest that I tried.

I tried the Model Power eight wheeler and mogul.  Both climbed and derailed.

The Atlas Shay works well.

The Walthers/Life-Like USRA 0-8-0 climbs, stalls and derails.
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