ONLINE
STORE
"ASK THE BACH MAN"
FORUM
PARTS, SERVICE,
& INFORMATION
CATALOGS AND
BROCHURES

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
July 19, 2018, 05:51:44 AM
Home Help Search Login Register
News: Check out the photo gallery link above or >click here< to see photos of recently announced products!
+  Bachmann Message Board
|-+  Discussion Boards
| |-+  HO
| | |-+  Bachmann Product Quality
« previous next »
Pages: [1] 2 Print
Author Topic: Bachmann Product Quality  (Read 8638 times)
aky13

View Profile
« on: May 23, 2008, 11:21:09 AM »

I decided to get into HO railroading last November after thinking about it for many years.  Now that I was retired, I figured I had the time to do it right.  UNFORTUNATELY, I did minimal research.  I was torn between Bachmann EZ track and Life-Like Power-Loc track (I wanted a "built-in" roadbed).  I ended up speaking with the Bachmann VP who invented the EZ track and made a MAJOR investment in the stuff.

I am regretting this decision every time I run my trains.  Besides other problems, as described below, they are NOT so "EZ."  Sometimes it takes quite a bit of manipulation to get the two electrical links aligned properly over both rails.

I have constant derailments.  I have replaced with steel wheels all the old wheels on the "vintage" cars I bought and on new cars with plastic wheels. 

A knowledgeable friend suggested that I run my fingers over the track joints.  MANY are VERY ROUGH. 

QUESTION 1 - Do I need to sand/file each of these ends?  If so, I would SCREAM!

I just removed a TOPIC because the engine in question has been returned to Bachmann for replacement (I hope) or repair (I hope not).  It is a SPECTRUM engine.  Isn't this TOP OF THE Bachmann LINE?  It arrived NIB with one set of wheels NOT turning.  Poor thing could NOT pull itself!

I have bought a total of SIX NIB Bachmann engines.  I sold one NIB because I had too many.  All are DCC.  One of my early buys (Western Maryland GP40 #60337) makes a LOT of noise.  For mechanical things, this is NOT a good sign.  Nor is it a sign of quality control and quality manufacture.

Question 2 - Do others have similar experience or have I been unlucky?

I decided to go with DCC so I could operate more than one train simultaneously.  I bought the Bachmann controller #44902 that can handle up to 9 engines at the same time.  EXCEPT, if you read the papers with it, you learn that more than three at a time will cause a loss of performance.  So much for truth in advertising.

Then, when I went to connect my switch tracks (turn outs?) to the power pack, I discovered that it has NO AC output for accessories.

Question 3 - Is this a design defect, or is this an INTENTIONAL design deficit to force the owner to buy a second power pack just for accessories?

I also bought a Bachmann grade automatic crossing with double gates #44579.  I have observed a number of derailments just after the cars pass the gate.  I watched closely and see that many cars are too light and are thrown off the track by the weight sensitive gate lowering mechanism.  I have downloaded the NMRA weight chart and will try to adjust all my cars, but I see no way to add weight to some cars without making them UGLY.

Question 4 - Is there any way to adjust the spring load of the crossing gate to obviate this problem?

I bought a Bachmann blinking bridge, item #46221.  It includes a trestle set.  The box says "works with all HO trains."  To my chagrin, I discovered that the trestle set does NOT fit Bachmann EZ track.  A Bachmann VP (the only people I can reach since Customer Support NEVER returns phone calls or emails) told me that this is an OLD model.  Again, so much for truth in advertising.  Fortunately, it DOES link with EZ track, but I can figure NO way to affix the bridge to the track.  The bridge keeps working loose.

Question 5 - Anyone have any suggestions short of permanently gluing a section of EZ track to each end of the bridge?  Is there a way to pinch the electrical connectors TIGHTLY over the rails?

All in all, I am VERY frustrated.  This is NOT a good way to begin a hobby.  If I could without losing a LOT of money, I think I would sell it all and go back to my old Lionel 0 gauge trains!

If the Bach Man is reading this, I am VERY sorry that I invested around $1,000 in Bachmann products!  This is NOT a good reputation for your company.  WAY too many problems with way too many different Bachmann products!

Anyone have any words of consolation or advice?
« Last Edit: May 23, 2008, 11:33:03 AM by aky13 » Logged
SteamGene

View Profile
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2008, 01:46:30 PM »

I'm only going to address one issue and that is your uneven track.  Each joint MUST be smooth.  You make it smooth by making sure that the rails are INSIDE the rail joiners, not resting ON TOP of them.   In that sense, EZ-Track is a misnomer.  The roadbed goes together very easily - but for power and for smoothness, you MUST have two rails inside each joiner.  Sanding/filing will not work.

Model railroading is not a one day hobby.  Try finding a local club where you will get lots of help.
Gene
Logged

Chief Brass Hat
Virginia Tidewater and Piedmont Railroad
"Only coal fired steam locomotives"
Atlantic Central

View Profile
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2008, 02:06:41 PM »

aky13,

Wow, where do I start?

First, let me say that Bachmann quality is generally good to excellent on most newer items - BUT - none of these types of products are, nor have they ever been in this hobby, without their weak points  - AND - a need for some basic skills/understanding on the part of the user.

Yes, Bachmann track can be hard to assemble at times - so is any prefab roadbed track.

Spectrum locos are generaly pretty good, but they do have a dud from time to time and they will happily give you a new one. The dud ratio has gotten much better compared to 5-10 years ago - but you may have bought some new old stock.

DCC and beginners, not a good mix in my opinon. There are fundimentals of this hobby that you may not understand jumping right into DCC.

Mechanical crossing gates, a "toy" item that never worked well, from any manufacturer.

Now for the hard part - HO trains are not really intended for "temporary" setups. Good, derailment free operation requires track to be carefully installed and securely fixed to a solid surface. It matters not what kind of track, sectional or flex, with roadbed or not, good operation depends on smooth, secure track.

There are no "model train police" so even though models and accessories are built to operate together, not everything will work with everything else without modification. There is only one system like that - Marklin - very expensive European toy trains with a flawless system of interconnecting parts and accessories.

American style HO trains are mainly aimed at modelers, of all ages, 8 to 80, who plan to modify, glue down, adapt, kit bash and other wise "build" their railroad from these "pieces" - not just take it out of the box and "play". HO trains are not "plug and play".

Sheldon
Logged
Guilford Guy


View Profile
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2008, 03:09:08 PM »

Powerlock is even worse. If your having trouble with EZ Track, scrap it and go with Trix's new track system. Though expensive, it is far superior to any other brand of track with roadbed... (Trix is the 2 rail division of marklin)
http://www.helmutshobbies.com/trix_C-track.htm
Logged

Alex

aky13

View Profile
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2008, 03:58:23 PM »

Thank you to ALL of you.

Re: the track joiners.  I learned VERY quickly about the rail riding up OVER the joiner and pay very close attention to that.  The problem is something else.  SHARP edges of the rails?  Also, I've noticed that in some problem spots, the rails are NOT flush end to end.  there are spaces that I can feel with my fingers, even securely in the joiners.

Suggestions for this problem?

Maybe I should sell all my Bachmann track on eBay.  But I would likely lose a couple of hundred dollars.  That is TOO painful.

Arthur
Logged
SteamGene

View Profile
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2008, 04:43:45 PM »

Arthur,
I use EZ-Track for the Christmas layout.  Everything else is flex track mounted on either homosote or commercial roadbed.  I have NEVER had a problem with the ends of EZ-Track not touching, if assembled correctly.  It almost sounds like you are trying to force track into a position for which it is not designed. 
Again, look around for a model railroad club.
Gene
Logged

Chief Brass Hat
Virginia Tidewater and Piedmont Railroad
"Only coal fired steam locomotives"
prebres

View Profile
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2008, 07:35:05 PM »

You have to put some time and effort into laying your track. After you connect two pieces and verify that the rails are in the joiners, you must crimp them tightly with a needlenose plier. If the joints are not smooth,  then a mill file is in order.

Bachmann products are comparable in quality to all the others being manufactured today. There is an old military adage that goes "The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle." Apply this to out hobby, "The more work you do in tracklaying, the fewer the the problems during operating."

Keep at it.
Logged
aky13

View Profile
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2008, 07:38:49 PM »

Now THAT makes sense.  Both the actual advice and the philosophical advice.

HOW do I get the needle nose pliers flat enough?  Use one with a bent tip?  Will that work?
Logged
richG
Guest
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2008, 08:25:59 PM »

Micro Mark has what you need. Put the site in your favorites. You might help someone in the future.

http://www.ares-server.com/Ares/Ares.asp?MerchantID=RET01229&Action=Catalog&Type=Department&ID=18&Offset=30

I buy from Micro Mark a lot. Look carefully though the Hand Tools Catagory.

A lot of people do well with thin needle nose pliers to insert and remove the spike. I use a small pair of wire cutters to remove the spike.
Your mileage may vary.

Rich
Logged
Yampa Bob

Y.V.R.R.


View Profile
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2008, 09:56:09 PM »

Aky13

I have only been in model railroads for a year and a half.  I chose HO also because it was the largest scale that would fit my limited area.  HO stands for "Half the size of O", roughly.  But it is 4 times the trouble, it's the "nature of the beast". 

Most of the problems have to do with "selective compression".  If we were to have our track to scale with the real ones, we could not have any curves less than 30" radius.  Scale ratio reduction doesn't work for weight either.  A 100 ton locomotive scaled to HO would only weigh 4.85 ounces, but the loco has to weigh over a pound to have any traction.  I consider the NMRA standard for weight based on length only a minimum, I always add 1/4 to 1/2 ounce extra for good tracking. This means taking the car apart to put the weight inside out of sight.

A real railroad wheel would have to lift about 2" or more to derail.  In HO scale, the flange is so small that the wheel only has to lift .028" to derail, about 1/32".  If you have a vertically misaligned joint of 1/64", the wheel is very close to derailment as the wheels oscillate from side to side. This is the normal kinematics or any railroad wheel, full size or scale.  The flange tries to climb up over the rail due to two things you seldom hear in model railroad circles: "Angle of attack" and "Inclined plane".

Please refer to my thread "Railcar Dynamics"
http://www.bachmanntrains.com/home-usa/board/index.php/topic,5444.0.html

Click on the links to articles about "Oscillation" and "Adhesion".

Real railroads often lubricate wheel flanges to stop this climbing, modelers can do the same thing by applying a very thin film of automatic transmission fluid to the inside edge of the rail head. 

My first year was one of constant frustration, but I stuck with it.  I can't begin to tell you all I've learned in one short post.  As Sheldon said, HO is not plug and play. It takes a lot of tinkering, and patience to make it all work.

My last comment has to do with the Bachmann EZ Command DCC controller.  Bachmann does not claim you can "handle" up to 9 locos at the same time.  You can have "control" of 9 locos on the tracks.  If you read all of the instruction manual, on page 4 it says....."will run two locomotives at any one time."  Most of us have found you can actually run three, but with reduced speeds. A single operator can only "handle" two locos at the most at one time.  With DCC you can run one loco, park it , run another, run consists of two locos, and have lots of fun without taking locos off the track all the time or have many separate blocks and switches, as with DC.

There's nothing wrong with starting right out with DCC, but you need to buy a "wall wart" separate transformer rated at 12 to 15 Volts AC to control turnouts and other accessories.  Most modelers progress from DC to DCC, and have their old power pack which has AC terminals on the side. 

Our first train set was a Bachmann Roaring Ridge, with EZ track, one my wife chose.  It arrived when I was gone. When I got home, she had it all set up on the living room carpet and running with no problem.  She said it took a bit of "wiggling and jiggling" to get the joints right, but she has a lot of patience. 

Rest assured, Bachmann makes quality products, and they back it up with an iron clad warranty, if it doesn't work right, they will make it right.

I'm retired too, and visually impaired, if I can make these silly things work, so can you.  Don't give up, just remember that HO is not "instant gratification".  Relax, you're among friends, and we are here to help you.

Bob
Logged

I know what I wrote, I don't need a quote
Rule Number One: It's Our Railroad.  Rule Number Two: Refer to Rule Number One.
Paul M.

T&P Railway in the 1950s


View Profile WWW
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2008, 09:58:59 PM »

arthur,

I'm building a permanent layout with E-Z track.... it does have its weak points, but so does anything else...

The EZ command DCC system doesn't have an AC outlet, like you mentioned. I don't think this was meant to trick consumers, but figuring that most of the EZ command consumers would be modelers "stepping up" from DC and already had a power pack with AC outlets....

You should go to a local train show/ swap meet. You'll find members of clubs you can join, and you can find a used power pack with AC outlets for about $5.

The automatic crossing gates are "toy" accesories, but should be adjustable... if you can't figure it out, again, someone at a club could...

Another thing I should stress is the value of Local Hobby Shops... the owners are typically very knowledgable about trains and can help you with almost any problem you should encounter...

-Paul
Logged

Yampa Bob

Y.V.R.R.


View Profile
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2008, 10:34:20 PM »

I very much agree about the value of local hobby shops. That's one reason I refuse to buy anything from certain cut rate sources who sell locomotives at 40% to 50% off retail.  Many good shops have gone out of business because they can't compete.

I buy only from Caboose Hobbies if at all possible.  I recently returned a defective locomotive to them by mail.  They not only refunded the loco price, but also the cost  of shipping both ways, so I was not out a single cent. 

Model railroading is an expensive hobby, get used to it.  I saw an ad that said "Model Railroading is for everyone".  Sorry, not "everyone" has the patience or temperament for it.

I still say that Bachmann has the "most bang for the buck".
Logged

I know what I wrote, I don't need a quote
Rule Number One: It's Our Railroad.  Rule Number Two: Refer to Rule Number One.
prebres

View Profile
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2008, 12:26:25 AM »

I agree Bob. Bachmann produces just about everything one could want for a model railroad. Sure you can pay a lot more for brass, or a lot less for toy-like. But, good, quality, products with excellent customer service is where Bachmann stands out.

No I do not work for Bachmann, I'm just a fan.
Logged
Yampa Bob

Y.V.R.R.


View Profile
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2008, 12:47:56 AM »

Another thing I forgot to mention.  When I visit my favorite sources and select "Bachmann" locomotives or rolling stock, they are always in stock for immediate shipment.

I spent two weeks researching product availability for 26 manufacturers, over 75% of items listed were "out of production, backordered, call, pre-order, discontinued, etc".  When I want something, I want it now, not next year (or never).  I can select any item from the Bachmann catalog and have it here in a few days.
Logged

I know what I wrote, I don't need a quote
Rule Number One: It's Our Railroad.  Rule Number Two: Refer to Rule Number One.
aky13

View Profile
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2008, 02:05:12 PM »

Dear Yampa Bob,

I tried to send this to you in a private message.  I gather from other posts that this function does NOT work.  Same quality as the garbage I've been getting with the Bachmann brand on it!

Bob,

Thank you SO MUCH for the encouragement.  Patience has NEVER been my virtue.

What you say about the flanges and the track dimensions makes a lot of sense.

I honestly expected to push the tracks together, place the cars on the track and away I go with no problems!

What do you use to weight the cars?  Anything in particular that you buy, or do you "fake it" with coins or something commonly available?  I've always collected wheel balancing weights (lead) for use to be melted and molded into fishing sinkers.  I no longer fish and have these weights.  I could use them.

* * *
addendum - I just spent an hour in the basement trying out various fixes suggested.  All I got was frustrated adn aggravated.  I am VERY tempted to sell EVERYTHING HO that I bought (maybe a $2K investment) and go back to my old Lionel 027 trains!

Arthur
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!