Repairs to the Bachmann Standard line Big Hauler 4-6-0, and Anniversary 4-6-0

Started by Loco Bill Canelos, June 27, 2015, 09:38:03 PM

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Loco Bill Canelos

Updated June 10, 2021  Added latest info on PNP Big Hauler 4-6-0

Hi Fellow Large Scale Bachmann Forum Friends,
Let me start by saying that our beloved Big Hauler(Standard Line) 4-6-0 Locomotive with the latest most reliable Version 5 chassis has been produced for almost 21 years now. This is an amazing run for any model locomotive.  It is and remains a great locomotive.  These Version 5 chassis have been largely trouble free, but if you have one of those bought when they came out in 2000 and run it a lot it is very likely getting long in the tooth and may need repairs due to normal wear and tear.  Wear on the wheels, electric wipers, valve gears and motor along with high heat, rain snow and sleet, are all likely to contribute to a need for repairs. Nothing lasts forever!!   Much of what I say below also applies to the Anniversary (Annie) 4-6-0 as well. All information is Copyright 1990, thru 2021 by Bill Canelos All rights reserved.


The first being send it in to the Bachmann service department for repairs after first contacting them to see your options.  If you do this for your Big Hauler 4-6-0 the cost of the repair is currently $110.00(check for current price)  You pay shipping to Bachmann and Bachmann pays shipping back.  In most cases they will install a brand new chassis or at their discretion "may" send you a complete new locomotive, it will have the latest Version 5 chassis.  This is not always the best option if you have installed aftermarket sound or converted your locomotive to radio control and battery power. That is why it is critical to call them first.  If you send in a Version 6 Anniversary 4-6-0 for repair you will get it back with a Version 5 chassis.  Bachmann does not have version 6 replacement parts or chassis at this time.

The second option is to replace the entire chassis and running gear by purchasing one from the Bachmann Online Store and and remove and replace your old chassis yourself.  The cost for a complete replacement chassis is currently $69.99 and 79.99(check for current price) plus shipping.  This method is very desirable if your locomotive tender is loaded with sound and radio control goodies and is not stock.   This is also strongly recommended because all the wheels running gear, gear train and motor are all new and completely assembled giving you for all intents and purposes a brand new locomotive from the motor and gearbox down.  This replacement is not very difficult if you take it slow and note how you took it apart.  I usually photograph things as I take them apart, putting the little screws and parts in sandwich bags labeling and numbering them as I as I go. This makes it easier when you put it back together.  An Anniversary 4-6-0 chassis currently sells for $79.95. The Anniversary 4-6-0 chassis with the metal siderods makes for a very nice update to your Big Hauler 4-6-0, and usually goes back together with minimal problems.  Sice at the time of this update the price for an Annie chassis is about the same as for the Standard Line Big Hauler Chassis, you might as well go for the Annie chassis. As noted above, there are no version 6 chassis, available, so all the chassis for sale by Bachmann are Version 5.  Even tho all chassis prices have almost doubled I still recommend chassis replacement as the best option.  I suspect that chassis prices have doubled because stock is finally being drawn down.  Once they are sold out, there will be no replacements, so you might want to get a spare chassis while you still can.  

The third option is to just replace the broken part, motor, gears, or whatever, yourself.  I generally do not recommend this because it is kinda like replacing the motor in a 15 year old car.  You end up with a great motor but all the other things are probably ready to fail anyway.  Also individual parts, especially small parts are hard to find, and pretty costly in their own right.  You can spend hours of research finding a gear paying big bucks, and finding it does not fit. There is also the fumble finger problem, I have been guilty of it myself.  This is when while fixing one thing you break something else.  Don't ask me how I know all this ::)!  If you go this option it may be a good idea to buy a parts locomotive or two. The problem with this method is you can't always be sure the parts locomotive has the same motor and gearbox yours does because their have been 5 different chassis versions. see bottom of this post for chassis identification.

I recently responded to a private message from a forum member who has a Bumble Bee locomotive. He asked if I knew a source to buy just a motor.  I made the following response:::

"Are you absolutely sure the problem is the motor. If not test it by applying power directly to the two leads right at the motor to be sure.  I say this because motor failure is very rare with the 4-6-0, but does occasionally occur.

I do not know of a way to buy just the motor, but you can currently buy a replacement chassis with the latest motor and gears directly from Bachmann for a reasonable price.  It is an exact replacement for your your locomotive right down to the correct colors on the steam chests.  I recommend the complete chassis, because the locomotive in set 90025 has an older more problematic gear box. Replacement of the entire mechanism/chassis will over the long run be the best solution, provided you properly lube it from time to time.  You did not say which locomotive was giving you the problem, the older one or the newer one, but I still think the replacement chassis will be the way to go, since you will get an entirely new latest version 5 complete chassis.

The link to the item in the Bachmann online store is:  " Since this chassis is now sold out you would have to buy one of the other available chassis and paint the parts needing the orange color.  Or you could go with an Annie chassis with the correct colors in the following link:

END OF RESPONSE to private message.

This Bumble Bee Chassis noted above will be an exact match for the locomotive in Big Hauler Sets 90025,90032,90057 and 90058 and have the cab number 177 178 or 179.  The matching Annie upgrade chassis is item number 81088

To find the chassis you want, start by getting the product number of the set you have. say 90024.  Go to the chassis selections in the online store and see if it is available by looking for a chassis with the same number and purchase it.  In many cases the exact colors on the chassis you want are not available or yours is sold out.  All the chassis are the same mechanically with only the colors, pilot(cow catcher), and switches behind the smokebox door different.  You can buy the chassis with confidence knowing that it will fit your cab and boiler perfectly. At most you will have to paint the parts to match the colors on your old chassis.  If the one you get has the old time long pilot, and yours has the short more modern pilot, it is a simple task involving only two screws to use your old pilot on the new chassis.  Be sure to check the switches behind the smokebox door on your locomotive before buying a chassis.  Some early 4-6-0's only had a smoke switch, while later versions have a second switch which allows you to change the polarity.  You can still use the newer chassis and drill out a spot on the front of the smokebox for the second switch, or purchase a new smokebox front with openings for both switches. I am trying to verify if Big Hauler chassis with the new front truck are available from parts. Same for the Annie chassis and will update as soon as possible.

If your old Big Hauler needs a new chassis and you want to put it on an Annie Chassis check out the following link for some great how to tips photos and video's:,37779.0.html


If your factory sound is not working, remember the loco must be in motion for the chuff chuff sound to work and there are no bell or whistle sounds.  The first step is to go to the manual and make sure you follow all the steps for turning on the sound.  Be sure you have installed a fresh battery (some new batteries are not great) under the tender hatch and the hatch is firmly closed so the battery is in full contact with the tabs at the bottom of the opening.  Make sure you have inserted the battery correctly(the polarity must be correct). Early versions of Big Hauler Locomotives only have a red on/off switch on the bottom rear of the cab. It must be in the down position(on).  Later versions of the 4-6-0 including the Anniversary 4-6-0 have the same switch on the loco, but also have a second switch on the bottom center of the tender.  This on/off/volume switch must also be on and up to full volume. Turn this switch clockwise to turn it on, keep turning it til it stops to get maximum volume.  Now run the locomotive and you should have sound.  

If you do not have sound, you can troubleshoot as follows.  Starting with the tender, disconnect it from the locomotive and carefully pull the plug(it will say sound)  for the chuff sensor from the locomotive.  Be sure a fresh battery is inserted correctly. Make a thin jumper wire and insert one end in one of the openings in the plug.  Now take the other end of the jumper and touch it into the other end of the plug.  If you hear a chuff sound, the problem is with the locomotive not the tender. If you get no sound check the following: Is the battery really good and inserted properly?  Is the volume switch under the tender really on?  If still no sound then you will have to remove the tender shell and check to see if the metal tabs under the battery compartment are making good contact with the battery.  Gently bend  the tabs up to make better contact with the battery.  Reassemble the shell and repeat the chuff test.  If you still get no sound the problem is with the locomotive or the sound board is defective.  Sound board failure is very rare.  Go to the locomotive and check to be sure  the red sound switch is on. If you still get no sound the problem is with the chuff sensor.  The chuff sensor is nothing more than a trigger for the chuff sound.  It is located on the rear driver and to get to it you must open up the bottom cover on the locomotive.  Before doing this triple check all the other options first!  Once the cover is removed or lifted up at the rear you will see the sensor drum on the rear driver axle. it will have metal bars going across it. You will also see two copper arms which must be in contact  with the drum to activate the sound.  if these arms are not in contact with the drum remove them and carefully bend them down and reinstall the arms.  If they are in good contact reinstall the cover you should get sound.  If after carefully rechecking everything you still get no sound the problem may be a sound board and you will need to replace it.  When you go thru the trouble shooting process do it in the order stated above.  If you have a multi-meter you can and should use it to make sure the 9V battery is good. Never use an old battery without testing it with the meter.  A low cost multi-meter is available from Harbor Freight Stores and even free at times with a coupon and another purchase. It is well worth the low cost.

courtesy of George Sheyer.  Thanks George!!

The Bottom Side

   Prop the engine on two scraps of wood under the cab roof so that it also rests on its smokestack. This prevents the whistle and dynamo exhaust from being damaged.
   The bottom cover comes off with four screws down the center line of the bottom cover. Remove all four screws
   Pry out the pilot support rods from the sides of the smoke box.
   Carefully lift off the bottom cover and place it sideways in front of the cylinder saddle.
   Put the long screw back in the middle of the cylinder saddle so that it helps hold the saddle in place.
   Do your work inside
   Reassemble in the reverse order. Be very careful not to pinch the wires to the lead truck when you reinstall the cover. Also watch for the hook at the rear as it tends to flop to the side and when in that position it makes getting the cover back on difficult.

The Top Side

   Pry the pilot support rods from the sides of the smoke box
   Remove two screws under the cab
   Remove two screws from the sides of the boiler near the lower center of the boiler
   Remove the long screw under the cylinder saddle
   Remove four screws from under the air tanks. The tanks will fall off.
   Carefully lift the shell off. Be careful about the wires to the smoke unit and headlight.
   Do your stuff
   Reassemble in reverse order.

I have droned on long enough on this subject, but if you follow this advice, I believe you will end up with very dependable locomotive, providing you properly lube it after each 10 hours of running with plastic compatible lubricants, with special emphasis on the points where the wheel axles enter the chassis.  If your side rods are binding stop your locomotive and find out why to prevent damage. If you need more help, post your questions as a forum item.

Modified on June 10th 2021 Hi All Members,
Thanks to Adam, Teddy and RailMan63 a new chassis 5A and 5Bversion were identified. We owe them three cheers.  Reports also indicate that the new 5B  chassis may be available in the Bachmann parts store We will report more as new info becomes available.  Thanks to Stan Ames for his info on the chassis differences.  As a result we will call the new PNP Big Hauler 4-6-0 chassis Version 7
Big Hauler/Anniversary/PNP Big Hauler Chassis Version Identification by Bill Canelos  Copyright 1995-2021 by Bill Canelos All rights reserved.              
Version 1  1988-1990  Battery Powered R/C Units                              
Version 2  1990-1994  Smooth Bottom Cover  You can turn drivers by hand and motor will turn.                          
Version 3  1994-1998  Smooth Bottom Cover You cannot turn the drivers by hand.                              
Version 4  1998-1999  Large wide hump dead center between the rear drivers on bottom cover.                              
Version 5  2000-Pres  3/8th inch wide hump offset between the rear drivers and a plastic lubrication plug the size of a dime to the rear of the hump and has the old style slotted front truck. Has plastic gears and metal siderods.  The original Annie Chassis.

Version 5A 2000-present?    3/8th inch wide hump offset between the rear drivers and a plastic lubrication plug the size of a dime to the rear of the hump and has the old style slotted front truck. Has plastic gears and plastic siderods.

Version 5B  2012 -pres 3/8th inch wide Hump offset between the rear drivers and a plastic lubrication plug the size of a dime to the rear of the hump and has the New style swing front truck. Has plastic gears & siderods.

Version 6  2011-Pres  New Chassis for Annie only, has metal gears and new front truck.  It is identifiable only by the new front truck which is a floating swing style front truck rather than the old style which rides in a slot on the chassis.    Note Anniversary 4-6-0's have only Version 5 or 6 Chassis    

Version 7 2021-        PNP Big Hauler 4-6-0 --3/8th inch wide Hump offset between the rear drivers and a plastic lubrication plug the size of a dime to the rear of the hump and has the New style swing front truck. metal gears & side rods. The chassis has an all new Pittman motor, gear box and chuff sensor, and is visually identifiable as follows: All have the three window cab, metal Walschearts Valve gear, front rust color coupler, the firebox door on the backhead opens, and the loco has two sets of multi wire plugs between the loco and tender.  These allow identification of the loco even when separated from the tender. The tender it is identifiable by the new coal load and new trucks.  Has latest PNP socket  and a speaker in the tender.  Per Bachmann This is NOT identified as an ANNIE but as a new product in the Big Haulers line, so PNP 4-6-0 or PNP Big Hauler 4-6-0.

Note that the new 5A, 5B and 7 chassis ID is a work in progress and subject to change as new info becomes available.

Note that the dates overlap and as of June 10th, 2021 have not been fixed more precisely, but all new sets introduced in 1999 with the VHS instructions have the version 5 chassis locomotive. As of this update the only known Big Hauler set Loco that is version 5B is North Pole & Southern #12 in set #90037 in the latest run only.                  
All Big Hauler 4-6-0's manufactured after 2000 have the version 5 chassis, all new sets after 2000 have it as well.      

Loco Bill   

Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway-Missouri Western Railway
Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
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There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!