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better on line catalog descriptions needed

Started by Albert in N, June 17, 2011, 09:28:30 PM

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Albert in N

Coupler type and existence of numbers in locomotive number boards influences my purchase decisions.  The HO photos for N scale products tells me nothing. When the home page photo shows a new item (like the powered HHP-8) with loose Rapido couplers hanging low, I assume that it is not suited for my layout.  Like most other N scale modelers, the Rapidos were replaced years ago.  Also, I don't like to hunt for decals and spend a lot of time adding numbers to the number boards.  Since the hobby shops in my area do not carry Bachmann or Spectrum, I depend on mail order (usually Train World, who gives excellent service).  Thus, the catalog description and photos are important.  If couplers are not standard knuckle couplers and number boards are empty, I look for a similar competitive item if available (usually Kato, Atlas, or Intermountain).  True DCC ready means more to me than a locomotive with a clunky non-standard DCC unit already installed.  Bachmann has had good products for many years, and I am confident that they will help us make informed purchase decisions.

David Leonard

Accurate up-to-date descriptions are always welcomed. The problem is that Bachmann does not change the product numbers when they update the product, so there's no way of telling that what you order online is the latest version or an older version. E.g., somebody who wants Rapido couplers (as pictured in the catalog) may find the actual pruduct has magnetic couplers--or vice versa. I think it would be helpful if the item numbers were changed as improvements are made.

Ken G Price

Albert, Same here. I never understood why a company that wants to sell their products would not give a clear and up to date description and picture of those items.

When most sales were made from a store where you could look at the item, then a general description was kind of OK. But now with many of the sales being made from a on- line retailer a clear and up to date description and picture is of the utmost.

This pertains to the manufactures as well as the retailers web site.

It's as if they want people to buy a competitors product.  :(

I would like to know what Bachmann's take on this is?
Ken G Price N-Scale out west. 1995-1996 or so! UP, SP, MoPac.
Pictures Of My Layout,


You shouldn't be buying from online dealers in the first place if that is your opinion toward Bachmann not having a lot or up to date info and pictures. Furthermore, you are going to run the local hobby shops out of business if you continue to patronize online dealers. Initially, the items may appear to be cheaper, but if you have a problem with the item or it is not what you expected, or if you need help with the item, then the cost will exceed that of your local hobby shop who may not appear to be the best place to purchase from but their assistance can be invaluable and the ability to actually see the item before purchasing is a plus and often you can also test it beforehand. If you don't have a hobby shop within a few hour drive, you can still contact a brick and mortar shop that does mail order, and they often are able to be more accommodating than online dealers.

the Bach-man

Dear Albert,
I'll forward your concerns to the proper folks.
the Bach-man

Albert in N

Thank you Bachmann!  FYI to others, TrainWorld (trainworldonline) advertises as Bachmann's top dealer.  Not long ago, I did have a defective Spectrum SD-45 that would not run at all.  I returned it to TrainWorld the same day that I received it by UPS.  Train World graciously gave me credit and sent me a replacement locomotive within a week.  It is not unusual to order from Train World on Monday and receive it Friday (same week) by UPS.  They even email you the UPS tracking number!  Storefront hobby shops have their place, but not all are good on returns or warranty.  The only hobby shop in the area that carries Bachmann is Hobby Lobby, which only has a few beginner sets.  Other hobby shops in this DFW area do not carry new Bachmann.  From my experience, they tell you to deal with the factory on warranty.  Recently I ordered an Atlas locomotive thru a local hobby shop and it took six weeks to receive it (they ordered thru Horizon Hobby).  The old style black and yellow Frisco GP-7 is only available from Atlas, and Train World did not have it. This new Atlas loco has a 90-day warranty.  Bachmann has a one year warranty.   Also, Bachmann has this very open, user friendly blog site (Ask the Bachmann), and I thank them.  Some of my first N scale was from Bachmann back in the early 1970s, and it ran well.  With knuckle couplers and number boards, I am a happy camper!

Franz T

Quote from: ACY on June 18, 2011, 07:55:11 PM
You shouldn't be buying from online dealers in the first place if that is your opinion toward Bachmann not having a lot or up to date info and pictures. Furthermore, you are going to run the local hobby shops out of business if you continue to patronize online dealers.
There are quite a few local hobby shops that DESERVE to be run out of business. My nearest "local" hobby shop is an 80 mile drive each way. And he doesn't really stock much N-scale. Oh, he'll order it for you. At full list price, pay up front and wait 4 weeks. Won't do phone orders. Speaking of the telephone, he can't be bothered to call you if something you ordered and PAID for six weeks ago came in. His answer to any problems with something you bought from him? "Send it in to the factory. It's under warranty".  He is oblivious to the fact I spent 1 1/2 hours of my time driving there, not to mention the gas at almost 4 bucks a gallon. What DOES he do? Well, he rants a lot about those damn internet dealers ruining the business (when he and his buddies aren't sitting around listening to right-wing talk radio) and is annoyed when you ask him something about an item you are looking at. Test run it? you must be joking.  Will I be sorry if he closes? Hardly. Many local hobby shop owners seem to think that you OWE them your patronage just because they are "local". Sellers like M.B Klein and Brooklyn Locomotive Works who actually HAVE decent pricing, full inventories good customer service and quick delivery will capture more and more of the market....


You just happen to have lousy local hobby shops, out of all the non-chain/local hobby shops I've been to, I have only come across a couple that sound like what you described. I've been to about 50 hobby shops and 3 or 4 meet your description, the rest are either great or pretty good. The owner of one of my local hobby shop's will sell items to me for well under MSRP, he will order anything I need without any down payment or deposit, he let me trade new items I didn't need for things I need, I can test run any loco and as long as it is still in new condition I can return it, if it is defective he takes care of it, he will even program locos if I ask him (but I have a Dynamis), he gives me free stuff every once in a while, if I need help doing something-he's always happy to lend a hand or give advice or a suggestion, and he stocks a good selection. The only thing he won't do is help you with anything you bought online or a major item he had in stock that you bought elsewhere (why someone would do that when he almost always has the best price is beyond me). I asked him about the Bachmann N scale DD40AX, he said he would sell it to me for $55, that is only like a dollar or two more than what he paid the distributor. I could have got a Bachmann HO scale 2-6-2 for $40, of course the marked prices are somewhat higher, but still very good, it was marked at $60, while the DD40AX was marked at $80.

Ken G Price

ACY, I do order most of my purchases online and mostly from brick and mortar shops. That is the only choice I have. :-[ I have made very few purchases that have been from a web store only. Only 5 times that I can remember.

It would be nice if it could be otherwise.  :)
Ken G Price N-Scale out west. 1995-1996 or so! UP, SP, MoPac.
Pictures Of My Layout,

Franz T

The problem is that unless you live in a major urban area, Hobby Shops are few and far between. The nearest large city in my case would be Atlanta, which DOES have a good number of shops (some of them quite decent, btw; unfortunately 2 of the better ones, National Hobby Supply on South Cobb Drive and The Gandy Dancer in Chamblee have closed) but at 250 miles it is not an option to go there every time the mood strikes me to buy something. Also, many decades ago when I was a young lad living in NYC, not only were there plenty of hobby shops, but back then "hobby shop" meant primarily Model RR shop. Not any more. The one with the surly owner is actually a Hobby Town USA and his main thing is R/C models. There WAS an exclusive RR store about 20 miles further down the road, but it was a "hobby" hobby shop.(i.e. the owner ran it as a hobby and you could never be sure if it was actually open when you got there) which has now closed. Most people unfortunately do not have the option NOT to deal with online stores. That is why I took exception the the blanket statement "You shouldn't be buying from online dealers in the first place"; because if it wasn't for online dealers, my hobby dollars would be spent at the local gun shop (or an ONLINE ;D telescope dealer). And if I have to shop online anyway, why not buy from someone who has not only the best price (after all, as of the last time I checked, I DO have to work for my money) but gives good service to boot?


Will the online dealer offer to take a look at something you need help with or offer to stop by your house to lend a hand at no charge. An online dealer or internet store for a brick and mortar can only do so much, they sell you the item, and they can accept returns, that is about it. I can even have a nice conversation with the guys at a LHS, sometimes we watch rail fan videos or look at pictures, can't do that either with an online dealer. You don't need to go to a hobby shop all the time if it is far away, plan ahead and you can make a trip about 2 or 3 times a year and still get a lot accomplished. I just went on google maps and there is not a place in Georgia where the nearest hobby shop is 250 miles away or so. There are places where the nearest hobby shops are about 200-220 miles round-trip which is pretty far, but still manageable to go a dozen to a half-dozen times each year.

Albert in N

One thing for sure, attend a train show!  Unfortunately, there are fewer now, but most areas have trains shows starting in October and generally ending in late January.  Some lucky folks have good train shows even during Spring and Summer.  Many brick and mortar hobby shops have a presence at shows and you may not have known about them.  At a Fort Worth TX train show, I purchased a Spectrum F-7 AB Southern Pacific loco from an Iowa hobby dealer, who was very nice.  Wish that I lived closer to his shop!   Also, hobby shops who advertise in Model Railroader and Railroad Model Craftsman tend to be pretty good, from my experience.   If you live a ways from a decent hobby shop, on line dealers are a godsend.  Again, good catalog and web site descriptions have purpose.  Imagine calling a hobby shop to verify that they had what you wanted, then driving two hours and finding that the N loco had crummy Rapido couplers.  Sure you can change couplers, but it is extra cost and some Bachmann and Spectrum are not "drop in" changes.

Country Joe

I have a truly local hobby shop, about 15 minutes away, but it specializes in RC. They have some trains, very little N scale. I can't talk trains with them because they know nothing about trains.

I do frequent a hobby shop that's a little over an hour away. They are train people and know their product. I get a decent discount and they will take orders over the phone. They call me when my trains arrive. I shop there when I can. They also will call manufacturers to find out specifics before I order.

I also shop at Trainland, which is owned by the same family as Trainworld, a couple of times a year. It's a long drive through New York City (I live about 70 miles north of NYC). This is not a fun drive, so I don't go too often. But they have a well stocked shop and give a good discount, so it's worth the trip.

I had a train hobby shop that was close, but it closed. The owner was into HO and didn't know much about N. He was also reluctant to order anything.

Even with a LHS it's important to know what you are buying. I love Bachmann's trains, but the product descriptions are very, very poor. Even with a LHS the hobby has moved to pre-orders, so you have to know what you are ordering.

It's easy to tell people what they should or shouldn't do. In truth, each person decides how to spend their precious hobby dollars. Whether you shop at a LHS or online is up to you.