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Author Topic: 4-6-0 Tweeks and Tips (revised)  (Read 26396 times)

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« on: January 11, 2011, 08:15:40 PM »

I waited for this loco for a long time. There have been quite a few topics on other forums about this loco and quite a few comments both good and bad. Now that they are finally here I have one in my hands to inspect, I love it. This is a great little loco that is pushing the envelope on what can be done with a small loco.

For those of you who experience problems and don't want to send the loco back I have compiled a list of the issues and fixes for them. Below is a list of the complaints that have shown up on the various forums and cures for them. Many of these issues are tweeks that Bachmann needs to fix on the assembly line before the next production run. Not all loco's exhibit these complaints as I have 2 that ran flawless out of the box, even with the pilot trucks installed upside down. These are all simple fixes that can be cured in a few minutes.

#1 - Pilot truck derails on anything less than perfect track work.

 The fix is pretty simple. I had devised a mechanical way to fix it until another person suggested that the pilot truck may be on upside down. Low and behold that is the problem. The pilot trucks were installed upside down. The way they come factory, the leaf spring detail is upside down and there is no verticle clearance for the connecting arm that the pilot truck is attached to. Flipping the pilot truck over so that the painted side is up and the bare side is down fixes this issue.

You loco should look like this when correct....

#2 - There are many complaints of jackrabbit starts and no slow speed throttle control.

 The fix again is simple. The decoder has a substancial Vmin setting from the factory. The decoder is setup for a standard motor which needs a bit of a kickstart to get going. This loco has a coreless motor in it which doesn't like the kick start. Setting the Vmin (CV2) = 0 fixes the problem and the loco will crawl a tie at a time. This fixes the loco control on both DC and DCC. On DCC it will now crawl a tie at a time and takes well over a minute to move 1 inch.

#3 - I had a side rod fall off of one loco I was testing.

 The drivers are cast metal which I think is great. the drivers have a cast bushing in them so the side rods are not wearing on a screw.  Because of the metal driver centers, the crank pins thread into the bushings and are screws/bolts. These need to have locktite of some sort on them or the right side crank pins will constantly unscrew themselves.

#4 - Sketchy pickup from the tender.

 One of the loco's I tested had flashing under the leaf spring wipers in the tender that was keeping the wiper from contacting the truck post. As I started looking at the others, they were barely making contact. The posts need to be taller or the tender frame needs to be thinner so that the wipers make better contact.

#5 - Loco wobbles at low speed.

 Some amount of wobble is normal, especially for a short wheelbase loco such as this. I picked up a second loco for myself yesterday and this one had the wobble pretty bad. When I flipped the loco over with it running, I noticed a distinct amount of what I thought was runout on a traction tire driver. Upon closer inspection, the flange on the driver varried in thickness. This also caused a bit of a click that some have complained of. With the loco upside down and running, I held a file to the track side of the flange and used it as an improvised lathe to reshape the driver flange to the proper profile. This fix may be a bit much for the average person I will admit but after doing it, the loco runs with almost zero wobble now.

I still love these loco's and for me, these are easy fixes but for the average consumer, this will make or break the loco. Nothing here is hard to fix and for the avearage tinker it might take 15 minutes to go over the whole loco. The issue is, we shouldn't have to.

I just wish Bachmann used a little stronger product testing so we the consumer aren't the ones coming up with the fixes. There is no reason this loco should not have been perfect out of the box. It has all the makings of a great loco and the micro coreless motor that these come with is impressive. If you need a product tester that actually runs the loco's before signing off on them, I'm available. I'm sure most of these issues will be solved by the time the next batch arrives. As far as I know, this batch is pretty much sold out already. Similar QC issues affected the first run of the Spec 2-8-0's and now they are one of the best steam loco's on the market.

« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 08:29:01 PM by skipgear » Logged

Tony Hines

Modeling the B&O in Loveland, OH 1947-1950

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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2011, 11:09:30 PM »

Thanks for the heads up on the crankpin, Skipgear.  I took a look at my engineer's side and noticed that it had started to work itself out.  I discovered that I did not have nut drivers small enough for it (off to Micromarkdotcom for me), so I tightened it with a pair of tweezers.   Funny thing is that some of the stiffness returned to the mechanism.  When the nut drivers arrive, I wonder if I should tighten it down then back it out a bit.

I did find that you should back out the screw on the pilots a flick of the wrist for optimum performance.

The one that I have is not showing the contact problems, but, as I have posted elsewhere, the USRA switcher tenders are.  One remedy that I used was to pin down the edges of the contact strips with MT coupler screws.  The sad part of this is that even when you tap the floor in the tender, which is metal, you still wind up ruining at least one, maybe two screws until the last one goes in properly.  My next try will be a larger pin vise, some Hob-Bits and some MT washers.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2011, 11:12:56 PM by brokemoto » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2011, 11:22:03 PM »

This is one of the reasons I think I'll hold out on the new loco; seems like bachmann never gets it right on the first release but then comes back with a model fixing all the problems later
James in FL

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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2011, 08:00:47 PM »

Hi skipgear,

Yes, thanks for the heads up on the 4-6-0 for what maybe potential problems and easy fixes to address them.
I do not yet own one however I will purchase this loco within the month or so.
To me, spending 15 minutes, or even several hours, tweaking a loco to its full potential, is just a part of the hobby which I find quite enjoyable.
I do agree that the RTR crowd may not feel the same way.
Many lack the mechanical aptitude and desire to even open a loco up, much less trouble shoot, and implement a fix.

I am hoping for yet another homerun from our hosts.

As an aside – I am still trying to figure out what is “wrong” with my Light Mountain.
It pulls twelve MT holiday cars on an EZ Track figure 8 made with 11.25r curves and a 60° crossing without slip and nary a tweak.
Don’t know what is wrong, maybe I should ask over at the zoo ;-)

Thanks again.
Good Luck
« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 08:02:59 PM by James in FL » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2011, 09:23:47 PM »

I couldn't agree more, it really is part of the fun, but some of the issues skipgear outlined just should not be occurring on a new model. For example, if the side rods fall off out of the box, that can be a slight complication for the future with the loco.
the Bach-man

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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2011, 11:49:17 PM »

Dear All,
Thanks for the feedback; I'll pass it along.
Be assured that we will stand behind this model as we do with all our trains.
Have fun!
the Bach-man

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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2011, 05:59:05 PM »

I suspect that most of us smokeheads have gotten used to the idea that the steam is going to require some tinkering.

The two against which everything else is measured, the Kato mikado and the SPECTRUM 2-8-0, have some caveats.

The only steam that I have seen that requires no tinkering are the Athearn/MDC nineteenth century models (2-6-0 and 2-8-0) and the SPECTRUM USRA heavy 4-8-2.

The problems with the 4-6-0 are not that serious that most of us would send them back, we will simply correct the problems and suggest that B-mann make some adjustments in subsequent runs.  This product is allright, I will not bash it.   I have one and I like it.  The items that require correction in subsequent runs are:

1.  Install the pilots properly

2.  Do something about the crankpin on the engineer's side working itself loose.

3.  The USRA Standard tender overwhelms this thing.  Please consider using the USRA switcher tender for subsequent runs. 

4.  Please check the mechanism for wobbles.

5..  Please make sure that the contact strips are properly anchored to ensure good contact with the pick up posts on the tender trucks.

This thing is pretty good as it is, it simply requires a few tweaks on subsequent runs.

James in FL

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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2011, 10:35:39 PM »

Thank you Mr. Bachmann, your reply is very reassuring to us all.
If you build it, they will come.
It is this promise, which keeps many of us coming back for more.

Our perception is our reality.
I have no doubt you have encountered problems with some of your 4-6-0’s, and you wish them to be addressed, as you should.
This does a service to us all.
You are not alone; all consumers (well, most all) feel the same way including myself.
Although we do not know each other, your posts on various forums for a have earned a certain respect from me.
I have no reason to believe that what you post is inaccurate, and therefore, I give you the benefit of doubt.

That said;

Again I will state, I do not yet own one of these locos.
I cannot, and will not, make an assessment simply on what someone posts/claims on the internet.
IMO anyone who would do that is a fool.
The “zoo” forum is full of them piling on when they don’t even possess the loco in question.

I am from the old school, seeing is believing.
I hope you can understand and respect that.

Not long ago there was a “chicken little” posting (on the zoo) about pre-mature motor failure on a B’mann loco. Lot’s of jumping on the pile, tons of jumping on the pile.
Bachmann replied it was miniscule and well within acceptable QC standards even for US quality QC standards.
Funny, after that, I haven’t seen anything since.
Evidently, the pile on train was de-railed.
I don’t know what happened with that, between the OP and Bachmann, but something tells me that Bachmann made “it right”.

If, in fact, Bachmann has a QC problem with this loco, well then, you already heard it from the horse’s mouth, they will stand behind it.
In reality, that is all we as consumers, can hope for, and I applaud Bachmann for their commitment to honor that, and keep us satisfied.

The locos in the field are, well, in the field, and we can’t change that.
I have confidence, that Bachmann will take note of your post and investigate it.

Those of us, who have been in this for many years, will follow your advice and correct problems on our workbenches.
In the mean time, you have posted very good information on implementing fixes.
I can only hope Bachmann is listening.
Should I encounter any of the problems you have had, I will certainly take in consideration your resolve.

Let us not forget this; it is a Standard Line, not Spectrum Line loco.

I do not expect it to go “head to head” with the “Connie” or the “J” or the “Light” or “Heavy” Mountains..
Although Bachmann could have easily done that with the “tweaks” mentioned above.

James in fl
« Last Edit: January 14, 2011, 10:47:19 PM by James in FL » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2011, 04:08:43 AM »

 Just a little info about the issues listed....

The info posted was not just from a small sample. I work at a hobbyshop and of the 10 loco's we received, all of them had these faults. A friend of mine talked to the owner of the well known internet/ebay seller of Bachmann products to inform him of what we found. He looked at a sampling of his fairly large batch of loco's and found they all exhibited the same problems. As a result, he pulled his loco's from sale because he didn't want to have to deal with the returns.

I sat down today at the shop and spent about an hour going through the loco's we had left and fixed the pilots, tightened rod bolts and generally fine tuned the loco's. I test ran each loco before working on it and about half of them ran OK without fine tuning. The other half had a hitch in their get-a-long. In the process I found one issue that I forgot to mention above. It seems most of the side rods are bowed from the photo etch process and were interfering with the valve gear in some way or another.

Please don't take these statements wrong, I love this loco and it is an amazing example of what can be done with small steam. I own 1 myself and will probably buy more once I can find a close enough B&O prototype to model with them. I showed them to the members of our Ntrak club last night and everybody was very impressed. I sold 2 of them today to customers that knew of these problems already but were prepared to fine tune the loco to get them right. I tuned one in front of the customer because he came in while I was in the process of doing the tune ups. He was impressed in the difference in the loco with just a few tweaks and bought it on the spot.

The problem is, 90% of the customers are going to set it on the track and judge it on a pass fail basis without bothering to try to correct the issues. Then they come back to the retailer, or back to Bachmann and in either case, money is lost and customer confidence is shot down the drain. The money is lost in shipping back to Bachmann, manpower and time wasted.

What I am saying is Bachmann has an excellent design and platform in this loco. It is just held back by some errors created by mistakes on the assembly line and a basic lack of QC checks. If I was not so versed in loco repair, these 10 loco's we recieved would have been shipped back to Bachmann and we would not order them agian until I knew they got them right.  As it is, we now have $1000 worth of loco's to sell instead of a headache in returning them for repair and replacement, and I know my customers will be happy.


Tony Hines

Modeling the B&O in Loveland, OH 1947-1950

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« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2011, 08:50:26 AM »

....stiffness returned to mechanism when I tightened down the pin on the engineer's side......

....complaints of clicking noise................

........Skipgear mentions bowed side rods......................


Now I must look at my siderods.  The play allowed by the loose pin would get the bowed side rod out of the way of the monkey rods and would account for less wobble.  Thanks for the heads up.

This thing is allright, it will be even better when B-mann corrects the minor problems.  These problems are really minor, it is just that, as Skipgear not incorrectly point out, many people would not figure out what to do.
Franz T

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« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2011, 11:21:35 AM »

I dunno..I must have gotten one made on a Monday.. No upside-down pilot, no shimmy, no loose rod bolt, side rods don't look bowed, no binding in the valve gear, runs smooth and quiet....
I feel cheated. Can I get a refund??? Tongue

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« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2011, 11:44:20 PM »

I just received my Southern 4-6-0 today, and out the box it did well. The pilot truck looked to be installed correct. The connection between the engine and tender is great. No loose rods so far.  However, when it is going down the track the main driver will wobble and not stay inline with the frame nor the other driving wheels. At high speeds it is not as noticeable but at slow speeds it has a lope and will cause the engine to heave up. I feel as if I have bent axle in my engine. Has anyone dealt with this yet or has any suggestions?

Tim Smith,

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« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2011, 04:54:31 PM »

I'm glad to here some made it through assembled properly but of the local shops I have checked, none were done right. I have friends in shops in other cities and they checked for me, so far nobody has found one with the pilot truck assembled correctly.

If the pilot truck is on correctly, when you flip it over and look at the loco upside down, the bottom, visible part of the pilot truck frame should be bare metal, unpainted. (see revised opening post above.)

I have now run fairly extensive testing on 3 loco's now. Two of them ran fine with the pilot installed incorrectly so it's very possible that many people will never know the difference.

As to the wobble, look at one of the traction tire drivers. One of the flanges was not formed right on one of my test loco's. The flange varried in thickness as the driver rotated. I ended up flipping the loco over with it running and ran a file on the flange to make an improvised lathe and true it back up. I think the flange thickness was making the wheel gauge varry, causing the wobble. After doing that, the loco ran very smooth.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 08:29:57 PM by skipgear » Logged

Tony Hines

Modeling the B&O in Loveland, OH 1947-1950

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« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2011, 03:00:47 AM »

Here is mine as it stands now.

Replaced the tender with a USRA Short.
Replaced the headlight LED with a pure white one.
Installed a DN135 decoder in place of the factory light board/decoder.
Opened up the roof hatch.
Installed working McHenry coupler on the front.

I still need to replace the dummy Bachmann coupler on the tender, decide on the best number for the loco, and weather it.

After fine tuning the mechanism this little thing will crawl a tie at a time and runs dead smooth. No hitch, no hunting. As much as a pain it was to find the little things that were wrong in the assembly, the result is and incredible little loco.

For those of you finding a clicking, I found and solved one in mine after handling it repeatedly when I was working on it. Make sure the cross head guides are angled outward, away from the cylinders slighlty. Even better if the bottom guide sets out a touch farther than the upper guide. The Crosshead was hitting on the verticle link attached to it and causing the click. Tweaking the cross head guides cured the sound and click. Also cured the minor hitch so I think that may be the issue for many people out there.

Tony Hines

Modeling the B&O in Loveland, OH 1947-1950

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« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2011, 07:32:50 PM »

that looks great with the smaller tender. You did a great job with that! I was looking at doing that but think im going to stick with the large tender as i have found through looking at some pictures the southern had a few 4-6-0's with large tenders in the late days of steam.

Tim Smith,
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