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121  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: November 01, 2014, 09:12:07 PM
Some updates, including a new locomotive!

Mehano/IHC 2-8-2 Mikado in Santa Fe livery. This is the later version that had an improved flywheel motor, and the tender even had a knuckle coupler as default! (No having to do a coupler upgrade among getting it; yippee!) I wound up removing the front wheels though, as they were derailing on the turnouts, making it somewhat like some Mikados that were re-purposed for switcher use in real life. Very nice runner though! This was sold in IHC's "Premier" series. It's not DCC-ready, and though an upgrade is possible, I don't plan to put a decoder in it for the time being.

My Life-Like Proto 1000 F3A. As I said, these are also very nice runners, and this one is also DCC-equipped. Think of these as being Life-Like's answer to the Bachmann Plus and Silver Series lines. I think Walthers is bringing these back in the Walthers Proto line really soon (if they haven't already.)

Check out these two streamlined cupola cabooses. On the right is the classic TYCO version (upgraded with metal wheels and knuckle couplers by yours truly.) On the left is the later version made by Mehano and often sold by IHC (and included in later TYCO train sets.) This one also has metal wheels, but they were upgraded by the seller (bought it off eBay from ggnlars, the seller that often sells older rolling stock upgraded with metal wheels and knuckle couplers.)

I also now have the TYCO lighted signal crossing set up on my layout, replacing the TYCO signal man. Sure, the lights do alternate rather fast, but it's MUCH better than Bachmann's old "dual crossing gates with flashing lights and bell" from the '80s and '90s! (No motor noise, as the bell is clockwork-operated, triggered by a pressure sensor like the kind on Bachmann and TYCO's crossing gates.)

These two trains look straight out of the 1940s or 1950s!
122  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: October 09, 2014, 11:03:51 PM
Some more updates!

Just working on re-arranging the structures and fences along that area. Might also get a "real" farmhouse building kit for the farm (maybe the Pola/AHM/Tyco/IHC/Walthers one...)

Bachmann Gandy Dancer handcar! It does have a little trouble running on certain areas, but generally I treat it like an analog/non-DCC locomotive.

I now have a second locomotive for my main BNSF freight train! It's a DCC-equipped Bachmann Santa Fe GP38-2. I've set it to the same address as the BNSF GP40 to allow for double-header operation.

I upgraded a few of my TYCO rolling stock pieces with Intermountain metal wheels. It makes quite a difference in traction! I hope to upgrade more soon.

Since I love the look of trees in September and October, I thought I'd get some more autumn-colored trees, from Woodland Scenics and Life-Like. On my layout, these stay year round!

"Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!"
I had gotten these new Walthers Scenemaster figures of elementary school students today, and since two of them were in a fighting position, I couldn't resist! Man, do I not miss seeing that during my days of public school...

I also now have a light in my Plasticville Suburban Station!

Just a couple pieces of Walthers TrainLine rolling stock I recently acquired. The BN tank care I got today (same Walthers order that included the school kids figures.) They're pretty similar to Bachmann's current line of rolling stock (which dates back to at least 1996, when the "Silver Series" came out.)

Overview of the yard section of my layout.
123  Discussion Boards / HO / Bachmann in 1992 and 1996 on: October 06, 2014, 11:48:04 PM
A while back I acquired catalogs of Bachmann's products from 1992 and 1996. It's interesting seeing how the company was back then. All three of them have train products for HO, N and G gauges (no Spectrum stuff; that used to be cataloged separately.)

The 1992 catalog advertises the "King of the Rail" series train sets; each one including a chrome-finish F9 Santa Fe Warbonnet diesel locomotive, along with signs, poles and figures. There is the "Thunder Chief," with the loco pulling two freight cars and caboose around a 36" circle of track, the "Tornado" with the loco hauling three freight cars and caboose on a 45x36" oval of track with a bridge-and-trestle set, and the similar "Lightning Express," but with six freight cars, a 54x36" oval of track, and more signs, poles and figures. Some familiar sets are also included like the "Old Timer" sets, the "Smokey Mountain Express," the "Golden Spike," and the "Overland Limited" (featuring an 87x40" figure-eight track layout using a 90-degree cross track.) One set, the "Empire Builder" (featuring a figure-8 over/under track layout with the blinking bridge and dual crossing gate), curiously features a Mehano GP18 locomotive in Union Pacific colors (obviously this set initially came out before Bachmann began making their own high-quality locos.) 1992 is also when the Bachmann Plus line was introduced: several older steam locomotives like their older Consolidation and their 4-8-4s (like the Class J and the Daylight) were upgraded into the Plus series with much better motors and all-wheel drive, and new diesels included the F7 and B23-7. Many older steam and diesels were still being sold during this time, even their old DD40X and SD40-2 with "space age electronics!" Their rolling stock was still the old type with plastic wheels and truck-mounted X2F couplers, and they still had about as many operating accessories as they had in the 1980s (including long-discontinued models like their operating log car, action depot and operating caboose), and their "Snap=It" action accessories building kits. (I have the "Log Loader," but it's REALLY tricky to assemble.)
All track was mostly steel, except for their 30-degree crossing, which still used brass track. A number of their older Plasticville accessories and building kits were still available, and they also had the "Highlights" series of lighted accessories (basically the same as Model Power's light-ups, like the traffic lights, Exxon station signs, crossing signals and billboards.)
All their N-gauge stuff is unchanged at the time, and features nickel-silver track. The Plasticville O-gauge kits and accessories are still available, and the "Scenic Classic" building and landscape kits are still shown but with "DISCONTINUED" printed over them.
They also had their Magnum series of Spectrum power packs sold, along with their "Big Hauler" G-gauge train sets, along with some new locomotives also in the "Plus" series.

The 1996 catalog is similar in many ways, but also marks some new arrivals. A big new arrival at this time is nickel-silver E-Z Track (as the steel version had debuted two years prior), initially only available in full 18" and 22" radius curves, 9" and 3" straights, curve and straight terminal rerailers, 30-degree crossing, standard "old-style" turnouts and the older-style bumpers (still found in the track expander sets.)
By this time, most of the crummy older-style locomotives with single-truck pancake motors and truck-mounted couplers are only found in their "regular" train sets, and with the exception of the 0-6-0 steam engines, are no longer sold separately, in lieu of a much wider selection of "Bachmann Plus" locomotives, including the F7 with more new rodenames, the B23-7, SD45 and B30-7 (new for that year.) They still come with X2F couplers, as I don't think Kadee's exclusive patent had expired yet at the time. Also with the exception of "old timers" rolling stock, the older-style freight cars and cabooses with plastic wheels and talgo-truck couplers are only sold in train sets; similar separately-sold rolling stock is now equipped with metal wheels and body-muonted couplers (still X2Fs) and are billed as "Silver Series" rolling stock. (It's a lot like the rolling stock Bachmann makes today!)
Interesting train sets worth mentioning in the 1996 catalog are the Cannonball Express, including a 65x38" double-oval of E-Z Track with manual switches, and their Gandy Dancer handcar (the big selling point of the set), along with a chrome Santa Fe F9 diesel locomotive, three freight cars and caboose, and the usual signs, poles and figures. There are also "The Galaxy" and "The Meteor" starter sets, each with a freight train hauled by a chrome Santa Fe F9 diesel, a 47x38" oval of E-Z track, and including the signs, poles and figures. There is also the 1990s version of "The Thunderbolt," with the older Santa Fe GP40 (in Warbonnet colors) pulling five freight cars and a caboose on a 56x38" oval of E-Z track, and the usual figures, signs and poles. There is also "The Golden Star," similar to the above set but with the old Union Pacific GP40 and caboose, and including a bunch of Plasticville building kits, including the Suburban Station, Barn, Farm Building set, School House and Signal Bridge, along with a picket fence set, park assortment accessory set, and the usual figures, signs and poles. According to the blurb, it says the set "not only gives you a fantastic train, it also gives you an instant rural community! (I'm actually buying one of these sets off eBay for setting up at my local hobby shop's railroad museum as an operating HO layout for display and for kids to run!) The "Old Time Village," "Smokey Mountain Express" and "Overland Limited" sets are still available, but now with E-Z track (and the Overland Limited now has a 65x38" oval of E-Z Track, not as good an option as the 22" radius oval now included with the set!) All of these sets still came with their 1980s-style power pack.
But Bachmann didn't stop there with their train sets, they had also introduced the Silver Series train sets that include the Spectrum "Magnum" power pack, nickel-silver E-Z Track, and their higher-quality rolling stock and Bachmann Plus locomotives (though their "The Patriot" Amtrak set actually includes their Spectrum Amtrak F40PH!) One of them, the "Trail Blazer" (the one with the Conrail B23-7 diesel, three freight cars and extended vision caboose), we have at the hobby shop/museum and plan to also run this as well! (The locomotive works really well.) They still have the X2F couplers during this time though. Also, all sets are listed as including the illustrated "Bach Man" instruction manual (IDK if they updated it to reflect E-Z Track, or if it was the 1988 original with the stereotypical "perfect" comic family.)
In addition to the E-Z Track available, Bachmann still had "classic" (sectional) steel track available in 1996 for those still using it, but only in 18" radius curves and 9" straights, and manual and remote switches. Operating accessories in 1996 still included the classic "Gandy Dancer" handcar, crane and floodlight cars, the crummy diesel horn tank and the steam whistle shed, and lighted freight and passenger stations still available today. They also still had the tri-level car transporter available in 1996, along with the older version of their dual crossing gate (non-E-Z Track version), even that crappy version that had the "flashing lights and bells" was still being made in 1996! (Bachmann should really consider making some nice scale-model flashing crossing signals for the intermediate and advance hobbyists.) They also still had their blinking bridge and trestle sets (and non-blinking bridge), but these would not work with E-Z Track (the blinking bridge did come with track on it, so you COULD use it on an E-Z Track layout if you aren't using the trestles.) The usual Plasticville building kits, accessories and figures are also still available in the catalog, but they also have the Bachmann Plus series of building kits, along with introducing the "Silver Series" of Plasticville building kits.
In N-gauge, they introduced the Bachmann Plus line of N-scale F7 locomotives, along with a 16-wheel drive DD40AX. New "classic"-style passenger cars are also introduced in the Plus series, along with there being the Bachmann Plus series of N-gauge building kits. A G-gauge Spectrum locomotive is also introduced: the Two-Truck Shay steam engine!

I will soon get around to scanning both catalogs and uploading them to this site (loads of good vintage train catalogs and instructions are up here!)

Still interesting to see what Bachmann was like in the 1990s. Not much seems to have changed since then in some ways. Worth of note is how the locomotives and rolling stock in train sets are different than what was sold separately at the time, though today's lower-end Bachmann train sets use the same higher-quality locomotives sold in the base Bachmann line (i.e. with all-wheel drive and can motors, as well as optional DCC), and cheaper versions of the rolling stock with plastic wheels but still with body-mounted knuckle couplers. There doesn't seem to be any "Silver Series" or "Bachmann Plus" equivalent offered today, but I suppose this may be what their newer GG1 and NS "Heritage" locos may fall into if such a category still existed.
124  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Will we ever see a Bachmann PRR E-44 ? on: October 06, 2014, 10:10:13 PM
Too bad; it would be interesting to see Bachmann make an E-44 in HO-scale. Or if not, Athearn, Atlas or Walthers would also be likely candidates.
An E-44 locomotive can also be seen in the original 1971 version of "Everybody Sleeps" on "Sesame Street," near the end when a freight train speeds through a station (possibly on the Northeast Corridor line, as a lot of stuff on the show was filmed in the New York area) without even waking up a sleeping man on the platform!
125  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: September 28, 2014, 10:19:30 PM
Anyway I like the way your layout is processing Wiles however I am wondering 2 things

First do plan on ballast in your track and second have you thought about putting a back drop?

I DID ballast the track in some areas. But maybe I'll do other areas too.
I'm also thinking about a backdrop as well...
126  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: September 28, 2014, 07:23:48 PM
Yes, I would not put DCC in a TYCO diesel. Not only would it be kind of tedious, but I don't plan to run TYCO or early Bachmann diesels on my layout. I do have a few as collectibles, but that's pretty much why I buy them.

My locomotives for layout use are generally modern Bachmann (as well as any Bachmann Plus/Silver Series engines from the '90s), Walthers TrainLine, Life-Like Proto 1000 (some are now sold as Walthers MainLine or Proto locomotives), newer Mantua (now sold by MRC), and probably Athearn as well in the near future. A good Bachmann example:

This Bachmann Consolidation steam locomotive. It has nice detailing, and can often be found on eBay. But it has a cheap pancake motor, two of the wheelsets have traction tires, the tender has plastic wheels, etc. In 1992, they upgraded it to a "Bachmann Plus" locomotive, replacing the crappy pancake motor with a much better 5-pole motor with a worm-gear flywheel, and it also had all-wheel drive, and the tender had a body-mounted coupler and metal wheels added. I obviously went with the latter, as I wanted the higher-quality version for my layout. (But I removed the smoke unit among learning that it would be bad for the rails.)

One thing I like about Bachmann is how many locomotives they had in the 1970s and 1980s are still available today as much improved models.
127  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: September 26, 2014, 11:09:44 PM
For those curious, this is my current roster of locomotives for layout use...

The six in the front row are all DCC-equipped.
128  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Vintage Bachmann Sears-exclusive train set on: September 25, 2014, 07:34:38 PM
That "railroad city" set seems nice, though I find it odd how it comes with a 36" circle of track despite including all those buildings and such. It would be interesting if Bachmann came out with a new version, maybe with the same freight cars but their more modern "prototypical" Santa Fe GP40-2, and with a 56x38" oval of E-Z track, maybe even continue using the old name "Railroad City!" (Hey, if Bachmann could continue making the "Overland Limited," why not do the same here?

But these aren't what I had in mind, I meant a big store-exclusive set including landscaping and such, very much like the sets Life-Like used to make.
129  Discussion Boards / HO / Vintage Bachmann Sears-exclusive train set on: September 23, 2014, 11:11:58 PM
A while back on eBay I saw an auction for a boxed train set from Bachmann that was a Sears-exclusive set. Now, Sears-exclusive train sets was nothing new then: I believe Lionel had several, and in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were Sears HO sets made by TYCO.
This Sears train set I found was made by Bachmann some time in the late 1980s, and also included landscaping material, very much like the store-exclusive Life-Like train sets of the 1990s (usually sold by J.C. Penny.) It makes sense Sears chose Bachmann to make this, as by this time TYCO was really shrinking in their train line and not doing so well, and Bachmann was much more popular then.
It was officially labeled as "Sears HO SCALE TRAIN SET NO. 49-91569," and item number 476. It included a double-oval 45x90 track layout that also had a dead-end siding. The train was hauled by a 2-10-4 "Texas" PRR steam locomotive and tender (I think the tender had an electronic chugging module as well), pulling eight freight cars, the crane car and boom tender (no caboose, it seems!) It also included a bunch of action accessories, like the "Gandy Dancer" handcar, electronic wayside steam whistle, railroad crossing with gates lights and bell, and lighted freight station. Also included were the Plasticville switch tower, signal bridge, barn, farm building set, water tank, gas station and school house, along with signs and telephone poles, a 17-piece bridge-and-trestle set, and a grass mat, trees, lychen and gravel for landscaping. It even came with two power packs instead of one (maybe to power all those accessories.)

This was literally a full model railroad in a single package, very much like what Life-Like used to often sell in the 1980s and 1990s. I think this might have been the only time Bachmann ever did a set like this, but I could be wrong. Too bad too, because even if it was pricey, it was still an easy way to start a very nice model railroad without buying all the parts separately. (But for me, my method for starting a railroad would be to buy a good train set, some additional cars and track, and the landscaping material and buildings and such separately; maybe even buying them all together if shopping online or something!)

I think it would be neat if Bachmann offered a package like this again as some online or store-exclusive thing, except this time it would probably be similar to the "Digital Commander" set, including their E-Z Command system and two trains. I mean, except for that locomotive and that admittedly crummy railroad crossing (with the unrealistically-strobing lights and super-fast bell with grinding motor noise), as well as the old-fashioned "sectional" track, pretty much everything in that set is still available!

Does anyone else have any information about this or any similar sets, if Bachmann made any?
130  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: September 21, 2014, 08:10:07 PM
Some more updates!

My attempt at a gravel driveway for the TYCO Lighted Ranch House, due to the slightly raised base that the house is on. It does look nicer that way...

Life-Like Snap-Loc commuter station. Since I now have two (one of them the elevated version) I thought I'd use the non-elevated version on my layout, removing the Power-Loc tab that goes on the bottom.

My TYCO 50th Anniversary boxcar now has E-Z Mate knuckle couplers to allow it for easy layout use.

Currently I'm using it on this small train, that has both of my auto carriers! And yes, that Santa Fe GP40 is DCC-equipped!

I also just installed a TCS T1 DCC decoder into this Walthers Amtrak Dash-8 locomotive! So now I have six DCC-equipped locomotives for use on my layout.

The full Amtrak train, now powered by DCC!

A word of note when installing a TCS T1 decoder into the Walthers Dash 8...

When it comes to the motor pick-up wires, you must solder the red wire to the gray one, and the blue one to the orange one, instead of the other way around as shown in the pic. When you do that, it will mess up the direction of the locomotive on a layout, at least when you're using a Bachmann E-Z Command system.

At this rate, it'll soon be time for me to get the E-Z Command booster!
131  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: September 17, 2014, 09:25:21 PM
A little auto-carrier train, hauled by a modified Bachmann Santa Fe "Warbonnet" GP40-2 equipped with DCC.

I would've also gotten a Bachmann tri-level auto carrier car, but IDK how well it would perform on the layout due to its size, compared to the TYCO and Life-Like auto carriers seen here. TYCO's was first offered in the late 1960s, and was still made until 1993 (though beginning after 1986, it would only be included in train sets), and Life-Like's version was first made in 1982 and is still available today (but it still comes with X2F couplers. D'oh!) The Bachmann tri-level auto carrier seen here...

It first came out in 1976, and I believe was discontinued some time in the mid-1990s, when Bachmann began to cut back on operating accessories (too bad, I'd love to see a version of this come out with metal wheels and E-Z Mate couplers! Maybe Bachmann will see this and get the idea  Grin )

Showing several of the illuminated components of my layout!

Rare TYCO 50th anniversary boxcar! (Though this was actually supposed to be celebrating Mantua's 50th anniversary, not TYCO, but then again TYCO started out as a division of Manuta...)
Now why didn't Bachmann try something similar?!

Tried relocating the Atlas water tower near the Plasticville Suburban Station.
132  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: September 07, 2014, 11:59:15 AM
Hey; it's been a while, but I have some more updates! I've been busy this summer, but now I've had some more time to get back to my model train layout (as the recent Walthers sales flyer said, autumn is not only when kids go back to school, it's when model railroaders go back to their layouts!)

Pola/TYCO/IHC Exxon gas station! This is the IHC version offered in the 1990s.

Life-Like 50" Union Pacific boxcar I bought off eBay, with Kadee knuckle couplers and metal wheels!

This school is back in session!

TYCO Baby Ruth boxcar.

TYCO Burger King building kit! A.H.M. also used to offer this from 1984-1986, and then TYCO from 1986-1990. I might put some kind of glazing glass/plastic in the windows though, to make it look more realistic, and pave a road for the back entrance to the drive-thru. The reason I put it near the TYCO crossing gate is to mirror the location of a Burger King in Bridgewater, MA.

One of my current freight train roster lineups, with two ATSF "Shock Control" boxcars (one Life-Like, one TYCO) and two TYCO piggyback trailer cars.

Rail yard shot. I'm also getting another Bachmann DCC locomotive soon, and I'll also be upgrading my Walthers Amtrak "Pepsi Can" Dash 8 with a DCC decoder as well.
133  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Do any bachmann steam locomotives make steam in ho? on: September 01, 2014, 11:34:30 PM
My Bachmann Plus Consolidation 2-8-0 steam engine and tender had a smoke unit. It was a nice effect, but it would smell funny after a while, and then I eventually removed it when I learned the smoke would be bad for the track. Pretty simple to remove on this model actually.
134  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: 20 years of E-Z Track! on: July 01, 2014, 11:22:16 PM


I'm pretty sure that these still constitute the full breadth of the steel alloy line. I suppose there was too little interest in the steel track once the better looking and better performing nickel-silver track came along.
                                                             -- D

Yup, that's pretty much all they have for the steel line. Bachmann figured more model railroaders would want to use the nickel-silver versions for building layouts (I don't blame them; nickel-silver does perform better, and it's got a huge variety of track lengths and configurations that make it ideal for elaborate tabletop layouts.)
I even seem to recall hearing a rumor Bachmann would soon only sell the steel track in their train sets and no longer offer it separately.
135  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: A new layout! on: June 27, 2014, 11:43:20 PM
i've noticed you have a tendency to take shortcuts. it is better to do it right the first time. learn how to solder, and you won't have problems with your decoder install.

It actually worked for me. I just need to let the wire glue set after applying it for an hour or two, and it bonds it pretty well. I plan to also do this installation by that method as well...
(I got a second ATSF Proto 1000 F3A locomotive, with a different road number.)

But besides that, time for some more updates!

TYCO Operating Pipe Loader (second version, made from 1982 to 1993.)

TYCO Machine Shop building. This was manufactured by Pola in Germany, and for a while after the TYCO train line's demise, IHC offered it. (TYCO sold it from 1977 to 1992.)

Three trains, rearin' and ready to go! The Bachmann Plus Consolidation steam locomotive is analog, and thus is on the isolated siding. The other two locomotives pictured are DCC-equipped, as you may know by now.

I also bought one of those Life-Like SceneMaster "Scene Essentials" sets, the farm one, to enhance the small farm on my layout. Only problem is, nowhere to put the crops!

The school has let out for the summer! I will probably temporarily disconnect the light until September (unless they decide to keep them on during the day to protect from burglary, or if fix-ups or renovations are occurring!)

Two kids preparing to camp out in their backyard. (The family dog came to join too!)

Overview from another angle.
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