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Author Topic: train rookie, need info please!  (Read 5992 times)

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« on: June 14, 2007, 10:35:48 PM »

Hi, sorry for my ignorant question but I have had so many different "opinions" I need to know the official answer.....are the Bachmann G scale trains made for outdoor use?? Can they withstand rain and snow?? I was told LGBs do but I like the looks of the Bachmann much better.  I am wanting to purchase a complete set for around my pond and I live in Pa so we get plently of snow so I need a train to withstand the elements but know absolutely nothing about trains.  I appreciate anyones help. Thanks!!

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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2007, 10:54:14 PM »

Simple answer Yes.  Bachmann locomotives are designed for outdoor use.

I live in MA and we get lots of snow.  If you leave any brand of cars outdoors for an extended period the paint will fade but the cars will still run.  Locomotives of any brand should not be left out for extended periods in the snow and rain as most contain electronics and I believe it is best not to leave them outdoors for extended periods.  Many years ago I had an LGB sound system that corroded after I left a locomotive outdoors all season.

I do operate my railroad in all weather all year round.

Bachmann track is not intended for outdoor use.

Hope that helps.

Stan Ames

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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2007, 11:34:19 PM »

Adding to what Stan wrote.

The locomotives and track made for outdoor use do require some simple maintenance.

I suggest not leaving your train outdoor when not being used, as some folks have discovered their trains borrowed.  Unfortunately, it seems folks who borrow a large-scale train have very poor memories, which prevents a return.  Wink
Tim Brien

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« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2007, 02:48:45 AM »

Whether you leave your models outdoors or not depends on how much 'value' you place on them.  While designed for outdoor use,  the designation, 'designed',  is purely the use of UV-resistant plastics in their construction.  In general the drive mechanisms are not intended for long term exposure to the elements.   Even though UV-resistant, the models will quickly fade to a weathered finish, with firstly paint fading and then structural fading of the plastic as the UV inhibitors breakdown.

I would not consider the Bachmann largescale steam locomotives as 'designed' for outdoor use, as in reality there are many openings in the drive unit chassis to permit snow, moisture, dirt, etc., to enter the drive.   The geared steam models do have enclosed gearbox/drive units but I would not consider them sealed against the elements of nature.   LGB designs it's units for outdoor use,  by sealing off the drive chassis.  However,  they still caution the operator to bring the unit inside after using in rain, snow, etc and drying it off to remove moisture.

You leave locomotives and rolling stock outdoors at your own risk as exposure will eventually damage the model.

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« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2007, 02:22:01 PM »

The key here is the difference between "outdoor use" and "leaving them outdoors."

Many hundreds of G scale owners "use" their Bachmann equipment outdoors. My bet is that very few if any "leave" their equipment outdoors. On the other hand, almost all who use their equipment oudoors leave their track outdoors. Concensus seems to be that it is not wise to leave Bachmann track outdoors (there are other brands of track which people do leave outdoors for years while they are taking their equipment indoors between use.)


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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2007, 08:14:54 PM »

Yes, all "large scale" trains can be RUN outdoors..the trick is not to LEAVE them outdoors 24/7!  Wink

in the north, the vast majority of Garden Railroaders do the following:

track - outdoors all the time, 24/7/365.
Buildings - outdoors all "season", spring, summer, fall, buildings taken indoors for the winter.

trains - only outdoors while they are being run, especially locomotives..
some cars might be left out all season.

Track - only brass or stainless steel track made by Aristocraft, USA Trains, or LGB can be left outdoors..NOT bachmann track.
bachmann track will rust.

so bachman trains outdoors = yes.
bachmann track outdoors = no.



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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2007, 10:46:10 AM »

I upgraded all my 4 foot diameter track to larger radius about 8 years ago.

I placed circles of the removed track on the roof of my metal utility building.
The circles included, Bachmann, Aristo-craft, USAT, and LGB.
After just 5 years, I notice there was NO metal remaining at all on the Bachmann track. It had all entirely rusted away.

Surprise! After 8 years. the Bachmann ties held up much better than the Aristo or USAT plastic. In fact, while there was some slight problems with the LGB plastic ties cracking, The Bachmann plastic ties were in perfect condition, still flexible, still the same color, and still perfectly usable. I was amaized that the Bachmann ties were in even better condition than the LGB ties.
I had a lot of Bachmann track I originaly got for indoor use. I removed the four short plastic "tabs" that used to support the hollow rail. A Dremel tool made quick work of the tabs.  I also cut some of the webs between the ties to make "flex" rail. I then used solid brass LGB rail and the Bachmann ties to make 4 foot flex sections of track. They have been in use almost three years now with no problems. Using the Bachmann ties with LGB rail is is actually cheaper, longer lasting, and, (in my opinion) better looking than using the LGB flex ties.

As to keeping locos and cars outdoors, I have always kept them outdoors 24/7 for 8 years.

As stated, LGB locos are fine, The paint does NOT fade, windows remain clear, handrails and small plastic parts do NOT become brittle. Some of the copper finish on some field locos did deteriorate. No problems with electronics in locos. All of them have survived drought, tropical rains, and 4 hurricanes. (No, I did NOT take them inside, they would be no safer there.) I did have two LGB cattle cars with sound that failed due to a sprinkler system directed at them, but just replacing the speakers fixed them. One fell in the pond, but still worked fine once it dried out. Some ball bearing axles on lighted cars rusted, others are fine.

Aristo Cars and locos constantly had problems with rust and corrosion. Paint faded and even disappeared completely on some reefers. Springs in trucks had to be replaced  several times. Painting the springs helps.

USAT cars and locos simply would loose all their little pieces due to rubbing on vegetation, or being toppled by squirrels. Paint held up well. Clear windows become slightly foggy but acceptable.

Bachmann Big hauler still runs after 8 years, lubricated once. Loco and cars, had to replace small plastic hand rails, coupler lift levers and brake wheels. Those crumbled due to UV exposure. I painted some of the handrails and cut levers and the ones painted did not crumble. The clear plastic windows have turned a dirty brown through and through, not just foggy like the USAT and Aristo clear plastic. The green tinted windows on passenger cars has turned white and become brittle. Some paint fade, but I consider it natural weathering and is not all that noticeable. Definitely not nearly as much as Aristo. The battery clips corroded, I converted to track power lighting. Some axles rusted, but most are fine. Bachmann cars can be left outdoors if you paint the smaller detail parts to protect then from UV rays, You will may want  to replace the windows after 5 years. The locos were a big hauler and a Baldwin 2-4-4 side tank loco. A newer Annie has been outside 24/7 for over 2 years with no problems other than slight rust.

Note: my railroad is located in the panhandle of Florida about 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Your location, and conditions, may produce different results.

I hope that providing a comparison of the different brands will provide a useful insight into the durability of the various brands. However, you should also take into consideration, price, availability, and how you plan to use the trains.
For example: If you intend to paint and re-letter the trains to your own road name, then many issues with UV light can be discounted. If you install different lighting, sound or DCC, you can also eliminate issues with moisture inside the trains when you install the new electronics.

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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2007, 01:28:18 PM »

bobgrosh thank you, your comparison seems like the most objective and thorough comparison I've come across.

Has anyone "torture tested" any of the Bachmann Spectrum line?

A salesman at a local train store told me that they are much more durable and generaly "higher quality" than the rest of the Bachmann line.


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« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2007, 07:54:10 PM »

Short answer without editorial comment.
Bachmann stuff runs on 45 mm track.  Any 45 mm track that's commercially available down to about code 215 (maybe smaller but I can't vouch for it, and I won't condemn anyone who has).

It's wise to not leave anything with motors and gears outside all year.  Not mandatory, and some folks with mild climates can get away with it.  I live in Sacramento, and won't leave my engines outside.

I do leave some of my less expensive (read Bachmann) cars out because I like to see equipment on the road.  You don't have to.

My buildings I leave out year 'round, and have to repair or rebuild them every three or four years.  Your mileage may vary because of your climate.

People and cars come in (sometimes at the end of a session).  Critters and others like to pick them up and scatter them.  One spring I brought in die-cast cars I'd forgotten about under a pile of leaves.  Had to take the completely apart and wash them in hot soapy water (and dry them thoroughly before reassembly).  Not leaving them outdoors is a really good idea!  Now I found out.
Tom Lapointe

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« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2007, 02:44:22 AM »

Regarding running Bachmann locos in snow, maybe these pictures (taken 2 years ago) will answer your question! Wink

..and here's a video of the plowing operation! Grin

Please note that track on the railroad is NOT Bachmann! - my "Watuppa Railway" uses a combination of Aristo-Craft & LGB track (turnouts are LGB, either R3 or R5 radius) brass track, & DCC for control & power. 


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« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2007, 06:45:13 AM »

Has anyone "torture tested" any of the Bachmann Spectrum line?

At the prices WE have to pay here in UK, we don't torture ANY of our LS trains.

The opening price of almost $900 for the Connie ensures that they get looked after pretty well...


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« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2007, 12:04:10 PM »

I leave 10 cars outdoors all year and I have found that they stand up very well.

I live in South Eastern Massachusetts and these sit in direct sun all afternoon.

USA and Aristocraft faded the fastest.

Bachmann small details on an engine disintegrate in 3 years.  Cars and engine  paint do not fade as fast as USA and Aristo.

LGB cars, can not tell they had been left outdoors!!!

I was surprised at the quality of the Bachmann stock and how well they withstood the elements.  I always thought the more expensive stock would fare better, but now I see that this is not always true.

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