Bachmann Message Board

Discussion Boards => General Discussion => Topic started by: traindave on July 26, 2017, 12:04:59 PM



Title: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: traindave on July 26, 2017, 12:04:59 PM
Hi..first time posting in a long time. Rookie, when it comes to railroading so you'll pardon me asking what is probably a very basic question. Here goes:
So last Christmas I bought Bachman's "Jingle Bell Express" set, to use around the holidays.   (https://www.amazon.com/Bachmann-Industries-Jingle-Express-Electric/dp/B00BFCXGGC)   I bought several other track pieces, and I liked the EZ track, and like that it is compatible with newer Bachman track. I found though that the engine  was a little weak at times. Thinking of upgrading. So where shall I begin? Shall I go with Diesel or Steam and the main question is, what is the difference? Can they still both operate on the power system and track that came with that basic set? Can I look at other makers of HO scale engines and use anything on that same Bachmann EZ track? I read somewhere that the best kind of track to use is Nickel? And yet it seems like Bachmann uses a steel alloy...is this cause for concern for me? Any cool recommendations as to what engines I ought to to be considering? Discuss!
Again I'll bet these are easy questions for most hobbyists, but I'd appreciate any feedback that you could help me along with, as I am new to all of this.
Thanks very much.
'Dave in SD'.


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: Flare on July 26, 2017, 12:34:27 PM
Steel track (Black roadbed) is prone to rusting, which greatly reduces the power to the locomotive.  Nickle-Silver track (Gray roadbed) also oxidizes but it is still somewhat conductive and easier to clean.

Each locomotive is a bit different, the pulling power depends on the motor windings and the gearing to the wheels.

The set you linked to is HO scale, and any HO locomotive will work on that track, though I would advise replacing it with nickle-silver because it's so much easier to maintain.

Finally, don't worry about being new to the hobby, we all were at one time.  ;)


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: traindave on July 26, 2017, 12:49:29 PM
Great thanks for that..so if I don't want to get rid of the steel alloy and while upgrading buy the nickel stuff, if both are EZ track, will they be compatible to run trains on them together?


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: Flare on July 26, 2017, 01:10:40 PM
The two types of E-Z Track will couple to each other without issue.


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: traindave on July 26, 2017, 01:18:35 PM
Great thanks. And the Diesel vs. Steam Engine issue? Any thoughts on the differences? Will one have more power than the other?


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: Flare on July 26, 2017, 01:46:03 PM
That depends on which model you select.

A 0-4-0 steamer obviously won't have the pulling power of a diesel with two powered bogies, but a 4-8-8-4 Big Boy will probably out-power any diesel.

I imagine that there are reviews for locomotives that mention pulling power, but personally I just buy ones I think will look good on my layout.


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: Terry Toenges on July 26, 2017, 02:58:23 PM
The choice between diesel and steam really depends on your taste.
Some folks like diesels because they are more modern, or they like the hum of a diesel, or the boxy look, or that they don't have as many moving parts, or that they are easier to handle when you pick them up.
With steam,  it can be that they like the older times in our history, or the chugging sound, or the more individualized looks among the variety of types, or watching the moving parts of the valve gear driving the wheels. They usually have to be handled with more care because of the moving parts and small parts.
Like Flare said, you can go big or little in both diesels and steamers. With the basic power system, you don't want to go for anything too big.


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: traindave on July 26, 2017, 03:15:04 PM
Great thanks Terry. So the difference between the 2 is merely aesthetic? As far as power is concerned...what would you consider too big? I have a very basic power pack and speed controller, fr/ Bachmann.


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: Flare on July 26, 2017, 03:29:51 PM
I've never heard of a locomotive being too big for a controller.  The controller simply sends power through the rails, and HO locomotives are designed to work with up to 12 volts.

With Digital Command Control it's possible to have too many trains running and overload the power supply, but with analog control I believe the power is divided among the different locomotives and they just run slower together.

On a side note, it's possible to have a locomotive that's too big for your track:  Large steam locomotives with long rigid wheelbases can't go through tight curves, so if you decide to get a big one read its manual to make sure your curves are big enough.



Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: traindave on July 26, 2017, 03:32:15 PM
Thank you Flare. Yeah see right there is what I'm concerned about. The easy part is knowing that my existing setup is HO scale. I'm under the impression that I can get just about any engine at that same scale...but there are some that will be too big for Bachmann's HO EZ track? Hmmm...
Lots to learn on hear, but I'm beginning to get the artistry in designing a cool setup!


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: Flare on July 26, 2017, 03:57:25 PM
The "standard" curves that come with Bachmann's HO sets tend to be 18" radius, and the largest E-Z Track curves Bachmann makes are 35.5" radius.

(Nickle-Silver has a lot more options than steel)

A lot of larger models with rigid wheelbases work best on 22" radius curves or greater.  So don't plan on your layout being any thinner than 4 feet if you want to run large steamers.

Edit:  It looks like Bachmann even makes a diesel that needs 22" curves:  http://shop.bachmanntrains.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=258_288_291&products_id=4628


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: Terry Toenges on July 27, 2017, 10:04:31 AM
Thanks for clarifying for me Flare. I have my head into DCC now and always thinking about how many amps I will need for more and bigger stuff.


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: Trainman203 on July 27, 2017, 11:33:21 AM
Steam engines were still in revenue service back home when I was a kid.  I saw them every day.  I've never had to think about this choice.  No diesels are allowed on my railroad.  Ever.


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: traindave on July 27, 2017, 11:57:13 AM
Too funny. Yeah I'm conflicted about that as well. Looking for a non 0-6-0 puller that has decent power that fits my old town kind of feel to it. Decisions, decisions. What do you have that is good in the steam family?


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: Flare on July 27, 2017, 01:01:56 PM
Thanks for clarifying for me Flare. I have my head into DCC now and always thinking about how many amps I will need for more and bigger stuff.

The general consensus is that you can run 2 locomotives per amp on your power supply/boosters.

My layout is a 2 amp system with 6 locomotives; but since I never run more than two at a time, and the idle ones draw minimal power, 2 amps is plenty.


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: RAM on July 27, 2017, 07:55:21 PM
2-8-0 is a great steam locomotive for a small layout. 


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: Flare on July 27, 2017, 08:27:15 PM
Looking for a non 0-6-0 puller that has decent power that fits my old town kind of feel to it. Decisions, decisions. What do you have that is good in the steam family?

I model On30 myself, not HO.  But I do have tips for looking for a locomotive in any scale:

1:  The more wheels with electrical pickup, the better.  This is especially important if your layout has turnouts or cross tracks because a loco with a short electrical wheelbase will stall on the gaps if it doesn't get enough power.

2:  Check for the tightest curve radius the loco is rated to negotiate.  If your curve(s) are too tight the wheels can ride up and over the rails or spread the track.

3:  Look for maintenance instructions:  Some locomotives need more disassembly than others for cleaning and lubrication.  If it looks more intense than you're willing to go through at the manufacturer's recommended schedule, check for another manufacturer's version or a different model.


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: ebtnut on July 31, 2017, 11:09:51 AM
Dave:  Your "non-0-6-0" would lead to the Consolidation - these engines were the "maids of all work" during the steam era.  The Bachmann loco is a typical 1920's era loco that would last until the end of steam.  Consols were the primary freight power from the 1870's until the early 20th Century when the Mikados and other trailing truck locos came to prominence.  The last steam loco in regular service in the U.S. was a 2-8-0, running into the 1980's.


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: Idontknowwhattodo on August 08, 2017, 12:23:05 AM
I don't really care much but the Chattanooga set does the steam engine need to use liquid steam or any other liquids that produce steam to run correctly if you know plz respond right now am more with Diesel engines due to they don't need steam liquid.


Title: Re: Diesel or Steam?
Post by: Trainman203 on August 08, 2017, 05:35:34 PM
Traindave, I have at least one of every Spectrum rod steam engine the Bach Man ever made, plus a couple of standard line moguls and the USRA MacArthur.  All of them are good engines that pull pretty well.