NEB&W Guide to Bachmann Steam Locomotive Models

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The new generation of Bachmann steam, named "Spectrum", is manufactured in China. While in general, these are excellent locos, we have found they suffer from poor quality control. Some locos within a given batch are real dogs in terms of running ability. The older line is what Bachmann calls "Standard" and these live up to their names - they are standard-ly poor.



  • 641 0-4-0 De Witt Clinton - First engine used on the Mohawk & Hudson between Albany & Schenectady, the first railroad in New York State and the first of what would eventually become the mighty New York Central. Apparently the De Witt Clinton was only used in 1831 and '32, and proved to be too light and too rigid, so was retired shortly afterwards. Nor were the later engines close to this in design so even if you model real early railroading, this loco would have little use in regular service.


  • 0-6-0 Saddletank Loco - Back in 1973, Bachmann advertised a saddletank loco forthcoming. (Note the same as their current model. Don't know if this one was ever produced.)

  • 0-6-0 Saddletank Loco - It appears this is based on an 0-6-0 built by Alco for the M.A. Hanna & Co. in 1910, only loco in the order. A builder's photo appeared in the 1919 Locomotive Cyclopedia.
The prototype had drivers only 44 inches in diameter. (Just looking at the photo, I would have assumed the standard switcher size of 51 inches.) I wonder if Bachmann used 51 inches anyway? I'm hoping that if they did, they simply changed driver size and did NOT enlarge the whole engine proportionately.

  • USRA 0-6-0 Loco - I didn't even know Bachmann made one of these.

Two-Wheel Lead Truck


  • 640 2-4-0 John Bull - Model of the loco used by the Camden & Amboy in the 1830's, one of the first locos ever. The model is powered by a drive in the tender which pushes the loco itself. The prototype is said to have included the world's first "cowcatcher", a heavy device that required it's own set of wheels that clearly identifies this as the specific John Bull - in other words, change this feature and you could use it to model some other early locos.
The engine was first run in Sept. 1831 and stayed in regular service until 1866. At some point, it was given a cab. The loco was saved and has been restored.


  • 51508 2-6-0 RI - Their USRA 0-6-0 switch engine with lead truck, and maybe larger tender. Not totally bogus and not as bogus as their Prairie, above, but still close.

  • Alco 2-6-0 - There was an Alco builder's photo of Kewaunee, Green Bay & Western no. 38 in the 1919 Loco Cyc. It had 56 inch drivers. The KGB&W was a subsidiary of the Green Bay & Western.
    Around 1973, there was a hobby manufacturer, Boyd, who made a cast-metal kit of a GB&W 2-6-0 and I'm thinking it was this loco. And I think the new Bachmann Alco 2-6-0 is based on this prototype.


  • 51501 2-6-2 UP - Their USRA 0-6-0 switch engine with lead and trailing truck, and I think larger tender. Not totally bogus, but close.


  • 82605WE NKP 2-6-6-2
  • 82607WE W&LE 2-6-6-2 - Numbered 8007.
    This model in the Spectrum line is based on the USRA loco. Only 30 of these were built and the C&O got 20 and the W&LE got 10. Around 1949, after the Nickel Plate takeover of the W&LE, I believe the remaining four wound up on the NKP.


  • 11410 2-8-0 Consolidation - This is sort of freelanced model, based roughly on some Illinois Central engines acquired from Baldwin, 900 class built between 1909 and 1911. Although the IC was a Harriman road, and from what I know, all the other Harriman Consolidations rode on 57-inch drivers, the IC's engines had 63-inch drivers. In the '30's, many of these IC engines were rebuilt with a larger (and very unique) sandbox, but Bachmann wisely ignored this feature.
Max Robin said this "is essentially a model of the IC standard 2-8-0, which were built with 63-inch diameter drivers. Virtually all other Consolidations were built with drivers in the 50 to 61-1/2 inch range. Bachmann used typical Baldwin domes of the 1915 - 1930 era on their model to help it appear more generic. Unfortunately, virtually all of the other 2-8-0s with large drivers were built for the Reading (I10s), WM (H-9 and H-9a), D&H (E-5?), L&HR (90 series). L&NE (300 series). These had drivers ranged from 60 - 62 inch diameter and axle loadings in excess of 60,000 pounds/driver axle! Very different beast than the Spectrum 2-8-0."
As basically a Harriman-type Consolidation like the MDC and Varney/Bowser "Old Lady", the boiler on these other models is taken from their Ten-wheeler model and is too narrow and tapered.
I'm pretty sure there is an IC Consolidation preserved at Steamtown.

  • 2-8-0 Consolidation - This was an earlier model, based on a Reading prototype. Don't know how well it runs. As a RDG loco, it has the wide Wooten firebox of an anthracite burning loco and thus could be used to represent a D&H single cab loco. Or with some more work, it could be made into a camelback. Bachmann built 25 of these in 1923 and at the time they represented the heaviest Consolidations. The drivers were 61-1/2 inches in diameter (most Consols were 63 inches but for modeling purposes, this is indistinguishable).


  • 2-8-8-2 Mallet - Based on the USRA standard design of the same wheel arrangement. (The AHM model was based on the later N&W copy.) Model of the same prototype available from Life-Like.
The following roads got these:
  • ATSF - Secondhand from the N&W.
  • B&O - ?
  • Clinchfield - 10 locos.
  • N&W - 50 locos.
  • PRR - Secondhand from the N&W.
  • VGN- 20 locos.
  • UP- Secondhand from the N&W. The NP and D&RGW got copies of this design.
    The original N&W locos were the Y3 class. In '23, Alco built copies, the Y3a class. Superficially, the Y3a look a lot like the Y3 locos.
    In 1927, Alco built more copies for the N&W, the Y4 class, nos. 2080-2089. A big visual change for the modeler is that the cab was shortened a little and given a slanted front. The following classes had this feature, including the Y5 (built 1930-'32), Y6 classes (built from 1936 until the final Y6b subclass). No. 2120 was the first Y6 and I think no. 2172 was the final Y6b. The Y4 class still had an inboard trailing truck, while the Y6 classes had an outside trailing truck. (Don't know about the Y5 class.)


  • 81701 2-10-0 Russian Decapod Undec. - According to Walthers, just before WWI (1914-'17), the Russian Government ordered 1,231 Decapod 2-10-0 locos from Alco and Baldwin. But 200 of these were left out in the cold when the 1917 Russian Revolution forced the cancellation of the order. In 1918, these locos were rebuilt for US service - I believe the track gauge in Russia is just a little bigger, I think 60 inches instead of the American 56-1/2 inches, so the locos were given wider tires, allowing the flanges to be just enough close to work. The drivers were only 52 inches in diameter, basically suitable for a slow-moving switcher.
    At the time, the American railroads had all been nationalized because of the war, so the locos were put under the jurisdiction of the United States Railroad Administration, and they in turn assigned them to various roads. In 1920, many of these "Russian Decapods", as the locos were coming to be known, began finding homes with smaller railroads. There, the combination of light weight and good pulling power made them an ideal freight engine. For some roads, they were the biggest steam locos ever purchased.
The Frisco got 20 of these, including nos. 1618, 1626, and 1632. Five of these were used in mine run service at Picher, OK and these continued to be numbered in the Frisco scheme, but lettered for Eagle-Picher, including nos. 1615 and 1621, which got tenders from 0-8-0's. (I think these five might have been sold after the Frisco dieselized.)
The New York, Susquehanna & Western made industry news as being the first Class I railroad to completely dieselize in 1945, at which time they had 10 Decapods in service. (They did keep four of these in storage just in case, at least for awhile.)


  • 725 T&P 2-10-2 - This model was offered about the same time their Santa Fe 4-8-4 first came out. I think it was the same superstructure, although Bachmann seems to have only offered it lettered for the Texas & Pacific, not the ATSF.

  • 82501 USRA Light 2-10-2 - Apparently, the 94 prototypes were allocated as:
    • Ann Arbour, four locos.
    • B&A, 10 locos.
    • C&WI, five locos.
    • DM&N, 10 locos.
    • SAL, 15 locos.
    • Southern, 50 locos.
Apparently, it was the Southern's fleet of 2-10-2's (with 57-inch drivers) that this USRA engine was based on, and obviously from the list above, the Southern got over half of the original production. However, in the early '20's, these locos were too slow and many were rebuilt to Mikados.

Four-Wheel Lead Truck


  • 628 4-2-0 Lafayette Train Set - This was an early B&O loco, but probably the most useful in terms of being somewhat typical of the earliest locos (unlike the John Bull and De Witt Clinton, which really represent unique pioneering locos). The Lafayette was the B&O's first loco with a horizontal boiler and horizontal cylinders, built in 1837.
The model is most likely based on the working replica built by the B&O in 1927 which has been maintained at the B&O Museum in Baltimore. The replica was at first given a new name, the William Galloway, who was the grandfather of the vice president of operations in '27. This must have proved to be as confusing as one might imagine, so eventually it was renamed to Lafayette.
The following year (1838), Norris built several more 4-2-0's for the B&O, the P.E. Thomas, J.W. Patterson, and Wm. Cooke. In 1839, they built the Patapsco, Monocacy, Potomac, and Pegasus. The same year, they started building 4-4-0's and the B&O also got 4-4-0's from other builders at the same time.
The first engines were four-wheel affairs like the DeWitt Clinton and John Bull (before the cowcatcher was added). See above. However, in 1831, John Jervis invented the four-wheel lead truck, first used on the Mohawk & Hudson. This provided stable tracking (the same way freight and passenger cars had four wheel trucks, not two wheel ones) to help guide the loco around a curve. With a single set of drivers, the loco itself was very stable, resting on the two axle bearings of the driver set and the center pin of the lead truck. This was very stable, no matter how rough the track, like the stablility of a three-legged stool.
So the 4-2-0 became the defacto standard for a few years. Loco designers could put the driver in front of the boiler or after. If it was in front, it bore more of the weight of the loco and the engine had better traction. If it was put behind, the wheelbase was longer and more stable, but more weight was on the lead truck and less on the drivers, so the traction was less.
The solution was to use two sets of drivers, the 4-4-0 arrangement, but at first, this was a problem in getting all the wheels to rest equally on the rails. The solution was the invention of equalizations, which used a series of levers to tie all the axles together so the three point suspension was maintained, no matter how many wheels.
Haven't seen the model in person, but I would imagine this has a tender drive and the loco is just free-wheeling and pushed along. This would be easy to either move the driver to the far side of the boiler or even add a second one.


  • 51101 4-4-0 American, UP 119 - I believe this is based on one of the two locos that met at the Gold Spike Ceremony in Utah in 1869. Don't know how accurate it is or if it is to scale or oversized like the similar AHM 4-4-0's.
No. 119 was built by Rogers in 1868, one of five locos, nos. 116-120, built to the same specs. They were coal burners. I believe the driver diameter was 54 inches. In the early 1880's, it was rebuilt and renumbered 343 in 1885, and finally scrapped 1903. Two of the other locos had been rebuilt in 1883-'84 with 68 inch drivers and were scrapped in 1902.

  • 51124 4-4-0 American, CP Jupiter - The other loco that met at the 1869 Gold Spike. Same model, different details and paint. (The Jupiter was a wood burner with a balloon stack, the 119 was a coal burner with a straight stack and extended smokebox with room for the headlight to sit on it.)
Central Pacific no. 60, the Jupiter, was built by Schenectady in 1868, but had to be shipped (literally, around the Cape) and didn't get to Sacramento until early 1869. It was one of four locos in the order, including the Storm, the Whirlwind, and the Leviathan. There were also another 11 CP locos built to the same specs. about the same time.
The Jupiter's drivers were 60 inches, 6 inches bigger than the 119 and the whole engine was much heavier than the UP one. It was renumbered 1195 in 1891, rebuilt in 1893 and sold to the Gila Valley, Globe & Northern, with major changes to the boiler, domes, etc., but with the same frame, cab, and tender. It was scrapped around 1906.

  • 4-4-0 New Tooling - In 2016, Bachmann released a new version of the above locos, with the motor in the engine, not the tender. They are doing two versions, with balloon stack and short smokebox and straight stack, long smokebox.

  • "Modern" 4-4-0 - This model is said to be based on a standard loco produced by Richmond, one of the companies absorbed into Alco c. 1900. It is available with either a wood or steel cab and has the typical gum-drop type Alco domes. (Other builders used this type of dome too, the model just doesn't have the hallmark Baldwin type domes.)
The model does have piston values which represents 20th century loco design, but 4-4-0's were nearly obsolete at the time the piston valve was introduced. In other words, this detail limits how useful this model is in representing the typical "modern" 4-4-0 - not wrong, just limiting.


  • 4-6-0 Ten-Wheeler - Model represents a Baldwin loco (the ringed domes are the clue). The loco had a square steam chest, but with outside valve gear, a relatively rare combination. The valve gear dates it to 1902 or later, but except for that, the other features mark it as an 1890's engine. (I believe the model is actually based on Ma&P loco no. 28, built in 1906 or 1910, but rebuilt in 1923 with the Walschaerts gear.) The model comes with the boiler sitting down low or up a bit.
The second and third drivers are almost touching, which means the firebox which would fit between the two, would be very small. (Most c. 1900 ten-wheelers have a noticeable space here.) The overall engine is shorter than the Spectrum consolidation so you can't swap bodies.
I wish the boiler was still a little higher, but to do so would mean you'd have to keep the cab the same height and lower the domes and stack.


  • PRR K4 4-6-2 - To a Pennsy fan, the K4 pretty much represents the epitome of PRR power, much as a J3 Hudson would to a NYC fan. The first K4 was built in 1914 as a test engine, with a total of 425 locos built shortly thereafter through 1928. (According to Steam Locomotives dot com, the K4 was the largest class in the world.) The K4 was basically an enlarged PRR Atlantic 4-4-2 E6. The Bachmann model represents a K4 engine late in steam days. Unfortunately for the rest of us, this model is hard to use for anything but a K4. (A Bachmann ad said the model is actually based on loco no. 1361.)
Apparently the N&W had a total of 62 Pacifics. No. 804 was a class E-3 which was said to be an ex-PRR K3. Okay, not a K4, but looks somewhat like it. (The cab is the older style PRR cab and one could use the MDC Pennsy cab on this model to suggest it.)


  • 81601 4-8-2, Undec. - The USRA Light Mountain. There were 7 delivered to the MP, five to the NC&StL, 10 to the NH, three to the Southern's subsidiary AGS, five more to another Southern subsidiary, the CNO&TP, and 17 to the Southern itself. There were a total of 47 light Mountains and only 15 heavy.

  • 82501 USRA 4-8-2 Heavy Mountain - According to the review in the Oct. 2003 Model Railroader, only two roads got the original USRA engines, the C&O (nos. 135-137, class J-2), and the N&W, nos. 116-125, class K2). There were a total of 15 heavy Mountains (and 47 light). The Bachmann model is correct as delivered, except the review said they should have used the same 10,000 gallon tender as they did on the light version.
    The C&O got more in 1923, nos. 138-139, and the following year, the whole series was renumbered 543-549. Around 1930, the C&O engines were heavily modified, most noteable, air pumps mounted on the smokebox door and a vanderbilt tender. Bachmann has produced this version, too, as no. 82503.
    The N&W also got copies in 1923, nos. 126-137, but these had some visual differences, including a horizontal bar pilot and a unique radial top 16,000 gallon tender. The original locos were gradually rebuilt with these changes.
    After WWII, the N&W engines got the bullet nose streamlining as the famous J 4-8-4's.
    The review pointed out the drivers were only a scale 64 inches instead of the prototype's 69 inch drivers. The cab was also found to be a few inches too short (on the USRA cab) and too low and the 1930's C&O version. While these cab differences are almost unnoticeable, the driver size is.


  • 11301 4-8-4 SP Daylight, No. 4449 - Lima built 6 4-8-4 streamlined locos to the Southern Pacific about 1937 to haul the new Daylight between San Francisco and Los Angeles, with another 14 engines the next year.
Actually, the first 4-8-4's on the SP, the GS-1, a class of standard-looking locos built in 1930 (before streamlining). The GS-2 closs, built in '37, the first of the Daylight locos, were streamlined. The GS-3 class came the same year (1937), but with larger drivers (80 inches, up from 74 inches). The GS-4 class came in 1941. While similar to the earlier streamlined locos, these smokebox got a Mars light above the regular headlight, and an all-weather cab. The following year, '42, two more locos were delivered, class GS-5, which had roller bearings on the drivers. The following were said to all be similar:
  • GS-3, nos. 4416-4429.
  • GS-4, nos. 4430-4457, built by Lima 1941-'42. (Should be 20 locos if the above is right, 6 and 14.)
  • GS-5, nos. 4458-4459. (Bet the "GS" stands for "Golden State")
    The Western Pacific got 6 locos built to this design, due to the wartime restrictions on new designs. I believe these would have been painted black. (These might have been copies of the SP's GS-6 built in '43, nos. 4460-4463 with less streamlining and only 74 inch drivers. They were painted black and used intended for freight. Might be interesting to use this model to represent this class. Just repainting the loco would go a long way to suggest this class, even if you didn't swap out the drivers for smaller ones.)

  • 11305 4-8-4 NYC Niagara, No. 6005 - Prototype built in 1945. The S-1a was a single test loco, no. 6000, built in 1945. Nos. 6001-6025 were built later the same year, class S-1b, along with another test Niagara with poppet valves, no. 5500, class S-2a. Due to the lower clearances on the Central, these engines crowded the top of the clearance diagrams and the domes, etc. barely stuck above the top of the boiler. The cab was 15 ft. 2 ins. and the stack just a few inches higher.

  • 50801 4-8-4 Santa Fe, No. 3777 - There were three classes of ATSF Northerns, built starting in 1938 through the War, nos. 3765-3775, 3776-3785, and 2900-2929. These had 80-inch drivers and were 15 ft. 11 ins. to the top of the stack.
According to the article in the Dec. 3, 1938 Railway Age, these locos were built for fast passenger service over the heavy mountain grades between La Junta, CO and Los Angeles, CA. And many of the parts of the 4-8-4's were interchangeable with the 2-10-4's and 4-6-4's being built the same time.

  • N&W J Class 4-8-4 - One thing is that by the time this prototype was built, the industry had figured out how to dynamically balance the drivers, allowing a smaller driver for a faster speed. Most locos like this had 79-inch drivers, but these N&W locos had tiny 70-inch ones. The N&W built the first five of these in 1941-'42, nos. 600-604. During the War, in '43, five more were built (nos. 605-610), without streamlining (to conserve steel), but the streamlining added afterwards. And three more were built in '50, nos. 611-613.