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Thread: What is it with Bachmann, anyway?

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    Default What is it with Bachmann, anyway?

    What is their particular malfunction? Are they just idiots? Do they take some kind of sick delight in putting out failure after failure?

    I bought a Spectrum Consolidation. Beautiful model. Nice runner and puller....when the traction tires stay on, but the buggers keep falling off, and it doesn't pull worth a diddle without them. Ebay is choked full of Prairies that have siderod issues, every other day there's a Mountain that needs work because something isn't working. This has been going on for decades. What the hell is wrong with those people?

    Rant complete. Carry on.


    (Edit: I have probably unfairly singled Bachmann out, and this could apply to quite a few manufacturers. I guess in retrospect, perhaps my expectations are too high)
    Last edited by P-LineSoo; 3rd Oct 2016 at 09:44 AM.
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    Barring all the "white gear disease" era locomotives I think they've upped their game a bit. I can't say I've had as much trouble with the Consolidation (minus my last acquisition that won't run for whatever reason) other than the detail piece behind the coal load missing on 2 of my 3. I have 2 EM-1s and a 4-6-0 that run fantastic as well. I have 3 of the newer 4-8-4 Northerns that are decent, nothing amazing though. I do have to say the UK Graham Farish line they bought and updated is quite nice but should be considering the prices they demand.

    Other than those I avoid Bachmann, more because they don't have much that I can use than quality. I have a few older Spectrum Dash 8s that are mediocre, and just picked up a couple new SD45s that are smooth but those will be on the way out soon as they don't fit my needs.
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    I have replaced my TT on my 2-8-0 with Bull Frog Snot now it pulls great.
    "It's not whats best......It's whats best for you"

    Gary
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    All about dat bullfrog snot
    My build thread of a 4x4 Gotthard Layout

    We have to know that life cannot be changed by us. It will be changed. But not by us. We can only guide the things that can cause physical change.


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    I have a couple of Bachmann 2-10-2s that run really nice, and are ok pullers. My DD40ax is a different story, It ran terrible and was noisy out of the box, and it went back to Bachmann, and upon its return it still ran and sounded horrible. I just kind of wrote it off as a loss.
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    this forum is not the place to badmouth a company or individual. I have had some issues with Bachmann locos but I have also had some really good results with their products ie their Alco RS3's
    my advice is to always check Spookshow to see how he (Mark) grades them.
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    I think their model is not to sell junk, but to sell more, inexpensive stuff. Thankfully for decades they have been willing to correct their mistakes.

    While other companies may make better stuff, they charge a lot more too. But even these guys are not perfect. Every once in a while they sell some Edsels.

    The thing is that all steam locos are finicky lot. All those little rods held together with oversized fasteners. Precise connections loosely manufactured. Disasters just waiting for any tiny excuse to self destruct. Even the prototype did the same sort of things. The models just make a whole bunch more compromises.

    We need Bachmann, somebody needs to make less expensive trains for the kids to learn on. In North America the major companies don't have inexpensive beginner lines any more. Life-Like and Model Power as beginner sets are gone. We need another Indusrial Rail.

    In Japan you don't have to go to a specialty place to find trains that can be had with one weeks allowance. You can find trains at 7-Eleven! Companies there, understand how to people hooked even though layouts, as we know them, are rare.
    Last edited by ChicagoNW; 30th Sep 2016 at 11:08 PM.
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    I haven't found a brand yet that doesn't throw out the occasional "lemon". Most people consider Kato to be the brand by which all others should be compared, and I've had nothing but problems with the Katos I own. I own 8, and 3 have required major work to get them to operate properly and 1 has been permanently put on shelf duty........that's only a 50% success rate. With my Bachmann's, I've had 5 that required fiddling for proper operation, but no "dead" locos, and I own 13.........that's a 59% success rate. If you look at it another way, 100% of my Bachmanns now run, but only 87% of my Kato's run. But that's ME......your results may vary. If you could factor in the fact that steam locos are more prone to problems due to a lot more moving parts then Bachmann looks even better............not that I'm saying Bachmanns ARE better. Bachmanns designs are actually pretty good, but their quality control is still a little behind. I have over 200 locos , so neither Bachmann or Kato is a major contributor to my fleet (less than 10% combined). The only brands that have been trouble free for me are LifeLike/Walthers (29 locos) and FVM (1 loco). The rest of my fleet is mostly Atlas and Intermountain.........and I've had my fair share of locos from both that needed some TLC to run perfectly. Members of our club are constantly sending locos back due to "out of the box" defects. It would be great if every loco was perfect out of the box, but I doubt it will ever happen...............
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    I don't necessarily want to 'badmouth' Bachmann, but they've established a long pattern of QC issues and they don't seem to be very earnest about rectifying the situation. It's a shame. The Spectrum models that I have seen are priced lower than the "competition" but are not priced as toys, yet the company seems to treat their customers as if these were toys.

    I'm glad to hear that bullfrog snot cures the issue, because other than the TT issue, I like the loco very much. When the tires are on, she'll pull 18 easily. I just don't get how they can repeatedly miss the target...sometimes by a small margin, sometimes not even in the park. Are they a real company? Or just an importer and reseller?
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    Bachmann is great! I've never had a problem with any of their steam engines.
    OP, you just got a bad traction-tire equipped engine.
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    You get what you pay for. Bachmann makes some models in n, but most are toy quality. Bachmann generally makes lower quality stuff so that they can sell at a lower price point, hence why most of their diesels look and run terrible. Atlas and Intermountain over lube the crap out of their locos, Kato and Intermountain like to not stock/make replacement parts. Yes, every brand can have their issues, but again, nothing is perfect and you generally get what you pay for.
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    It would seem to me that it takes little more effort to make a quality product than it does to make a so-so or shoddy one. How hard can it be to make or source traction tires that stay on? How hard is it to stock extra parts? Or address any of the other QC issues?

    For what these manufacturers expect us to shell out for what has to be enormous profit margins (with the economies of scale understood, of course), they could all stand to get their act together a little bit.

    Imagine if just one of these companies put forth a complete lineup of locos that didn't need extra tweaks, surgery, modifications, add on parts, and the like AND had a warranty, customer service and parts! Sounds to me like we, as a group in this hobby, are conditioned to expect paying a lot of money for expected shortcomings in return. It's why I won't bother any more to buy a loco new at or near retail. If I have to put work into it, I may as well get it on Ebay as a fixer upper -- as it would seem that they're ALL fixer-uppers.

    Would you buy a car that way? Oh, here's my new Lexus, but I had to put a different engine on it and the tires were junk, and the seats broke after a week so I had to make the interior myself because they wouldn't sell me just the interior.
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    Quote Originally Posted by P-LineSoo View Post
    Imagine if just one of these companies put forth a complete lineup of locos that didn't need extra tweaks, surgery, modifications, add on parts, and the like AND had a warranty, customer service and parts!
    - As long as you are willing to pay 10X as much for said loco.... I am not a business expert but I know it ain't cheap to produce any product nowadays. Tooling costs for a typical diesel loco alone could cost tens of thousands. Add research, sourcing, labor, import costs, packaging, shipping, advertising, etc... It is a wonder, to me, they can even be in business, yet alone turn a profit. And tomorrow, we will change our eras and desire something totally different.



    Quote Originally Posted by P-LineSoo View Post
    Sounds to me like we, as a group in this hobby, are conditioned to expect paying a lot of money for shortcomings.
    - I am a big believer in "what the market will bear" philosophy. As N scale has increased in quality and reliability in the years that I have collected and witnessed, we, as the market, help determine the direction and prices of our interests by purchasing or not purchasing. Generally, manufacturers are "trying" to find a happy medium of offering desirable products and make money. They are not always right and they often appear to be short-sighted. I believe their aim is to please even if it is sometimes off target. We are a difficult audience. A relatively small customer base with wide ranging tastes, desires and wants vs needs. Our own druthers change from time to time with totally unpredictable results as can be found documented in these very pages.

    From my perspective, we may not always have the variety, quality and quantity we collectively desire, but as individuals we have a good balance of variety, quality and quantity we need and can afford. Combined with DCC advances, 3D modeling and computer aided designing, we are in the beginning of a modeling renaissance (or a on our way to a funeral - depending on perspective).

    There is ALWAYS room for improvement and there will always be glitches. But in the end, I can't help but feel we are being well served overall by manufacturers.
    Personally, I find these types of threads a disservice to the hobby. It serves nobody to disparage any one company for the occasional lemon that ends up in a customers hands and it may affect potential new modeler to a hobby that really needs more added to its ranks. Many modelers have had success with manufacturers helping to fix issues. A good vent feels good but rarely solves the issue at hand.

    It is not my intention to argue or take away from your real QC issues @P-LineSoo, but only to add my own thoughts and perspective of the overall niche of N scale. Good luck with your loco challenge.
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    Understood and I agree with much that you've said. Perhaps it's that old adage that was pounded into my thick skull by my father and grandfather time and time again..."If you're going to do something, do it right" and its' many variations.

    I don't mean to pick on Bachmann. Like I've said, I really like this 2-8-0. It's just *this* much shy of being a great unit. The majority of my steam lineup is actually old Rivarossi stuff. There are 3 Rivarossi Pacifics and 1 Mikado. They're not well-though of by a good many folks, their can motors are not liked and they have pizza cutter wheelsets and the wire-on-the-drawbar tender pickup connection. But other than their shortcomings of age and prehistoric design, I have no complaints -- and here we are, 40+ years after at least one of them was made. A similar tale goes for the 3 Trix units, 2 FM switchers and the Decapod that's sporting a Rivarossi coat and tie now. Operationally, all great units. The Decapod, of course, had a serious cosmetic issue originally. It was fun to convert and 'fix' it, but I wouldn't have probably purchased it new, then or now. I hesitate to purchase the Bachmann Prairie for similar issues...one, there's that fugliness under the cab, and two, apparently it's a crap shoot on the late (and nicest looking) ones having side rod issues. Yes, tooling costs a lot, but I can't see that *correct* tooling costs more than flawed tooling. I would expect that, because this is a niche market, a very large markup in the three digit percentages is the norm. So be it...but at the same time, I'd rather spend $250 on something that has an impeccable QC reputation than $200 or $225 on something that's a roll of the dice. Quality doesn't cost that much more. Someone will eventually figure that out, and then lookout!

    I have probably singled out Bachmann unfairly. I think probably all locomotive suppliers could stand to step it up a notch.
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    Steve - Jugtown Modeler..............Don't know enough about railroading yet, but scale modeling is my life..............Web-Folio

    The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam to a carriage on wheels will make a great change in the situation of man. -- Thomas Jefferson, 1802

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    Tell me about it. I work at a huuuuuuuuge insurance company. Thanks for the laugh!
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    Quote Originally Posted by P-LineSoo View Post
    It would seem to me that it takes little more effort to make a quality product than it does to make a so-so or shoddy one. How hard can it be to make or source traction tires that stay on? How hard is it to stock extra parts? Or address any of the other QC issues?

    For what these manufacturers expect us to shell out for what has to be enormous profit margins (with the economies of scale understood, of course), they could all stand to get their act together a little bit.

    Imagine if just one of these companies put forth a complete lineup of locos that didn't need extra tweaks, surgery, modifications, add on parts, and the like AND had a warranty, customer service and parts! Sounds to me like we, as a group in this hobby, are conditioned to expect paying a lot of money for expected shortcomings in return. It's why I won't bother any more to buy a loco new at or near retail. If I have to put work into it, I may as well get it on Ebay as a fixer upper -- as it would seem that they're ALL fixer-uppers.

    Would you buy a car that way? Oh, here's my new Lexus, but I had to put a different engine on it and the tires were junk, and the seats broke after a week so I had to make the interior myself because they wouldn't sell me just the interior.
    A company doesn't exist like you stated that does not have problems.
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    They have been making models for many decades, so they must be doing something right!
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    Again, my expectations as a customer are clearly too high. I should expect to spend money, then more money to fix the item that I purchased, apparently, because the expectation is that it won't work.
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    I have no problems at all with my Bachmanns , diesels or steam , they run fine , look great . Bachmann products are getting better and better and are almost at the same level as Atlas , but you see that in their prices . But I'm happy with Bachmann without them there would be far less affordable steam and most of the other brands would probably be even more expensive due to lack of competition. There service is also great , I bet they will send you the replacement parts free of charge if you give them a mail or telephone call.
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