N scale trading fodder--fix it up first?

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Dave Farquhar, Jun 18, 2006.

  1. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    I bought a secondhand Bachmann starter set this weekend. N scale is not my thang--I do vintage O gauge. But the price was really good so I bought it to increase my trading stock. I know it must be fairly recent, because it came with the Bachmann E-Z track with integrated plastic roadbed.

    When I got it home, I found the set was in worse shape than I first thought. A couple of the cars were missing a coupler. A couple of cars had busted-off steps. The transformer was missing an AC adapter that plugs into the wall. The dummy locomotive, well, was missing a lot. And the set is missing about half of its curved track sections (if I count the sections that are just missing rails as missing).


    1. Way back when, Bachmann had a horrible reputation. I know Bachmann will never be Kato or Atlas, but how is the new stuff, as far as running goes? (The detail on the cars themselves impressed me--again, I know Kato or Atlas would be better still, but the Bachmann stuff has more detail than anything on the low-end of O scale.) I know Bachmann has a higher-grade brand that is pretty good (Branchline? Spectrum?) but this is the plain old stuff--it literally did come off the shelf at Hobby Lobby. I know because the price tag is still on the box.

    2. Can I get a replacement wall wart for the transformer? Should I bother?

    3. How does one go about getting replacement N scale couplers? Can I just go to a hobby shop and buy a pack of them?

    4. How much interest is there in the E-Z track? The Lionel equivalent is just about the hottest thing going in O gauge, but I also know the mindset is a bit different, and the Bachmann product has been on the market a lot longer.

    Thanks for any info you're willing to provide!
  2. 2-8-2

    2-8-2 Member

    I can help with a few of those:

    1) Yes, the Bachmann reputation hasn't been that great in my opinion. But in reality, they don't share the same market as Kato, or even Atlas. Bachmann is entry level stuff...toys, more than what I call hobby/craftsman level products. Like most anything else, you get what you pay for. The good news is, while Bachmann locos can be quirky, they're generally pretty decent runners. Their N scale products aren't really up to par with their HO lines.

    2) Wal Mart around here doesn't have much in the way of electrical components, though it may be different in your area. Radio Shack might be a better choice, and there's always the internet.

    3) N scale couplers are easy to find. Every hobby shop I've ever been in has a lower amount on N scale stock than other scales, and you can always find couplers. And yes, they usually come in packs of 5-10 or so.

    4) Again, in my mind, E-Z Track goes along with how Bachmann markets their products. E-Z Track is more toyish (is that a word?) and marketed for the easy set up/tear down/portable market and not for a permanent layout. If I'm understanding what you meant by "trading stock", you're looking to trade this Bachmann stuff for vintage O gauge. People who have what you're wanting may not be looking for entry level sets.
  3. i agree with 2-8-2 on the whole bit there track is basicly a quick set up or a around the tree thing. as for the locos i own the spectrum 2-8-0 and she runs fine and nice details. just my 2 cents
  4. 3railguy

    3railguy Member

    All of the missing pieces are pretty common and can be found at trainshows focused on HO and N scales cheap by buying the pieces individually or canibalizing junkers. Otherwise you can spend more than what the set is worth. The only Bachman worth buying is Spectrum steam. Spectrum diesels are not very good and set stuff is pretty bad. LifeLike starter sets headed by GP-20's, SW switchers, or SD-7's are the only low end starter sets that are decent. The engines in these sets are nearly as good as Atlas. They often end up upgraded by serious modelers to run with the finest.

    If it were me, I would write the set off as a mistake and put it on display. I have a display of junk N scale at work and it turned out rather nice.
  5. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    3railguy took most of the answers I would have given. Scrounging for the missing pieces through cannibalizing junkers (either sets or pieces) is the only way to avoid paying more than the set is worth.

    If (and only if) you ever wanted to use the set operationally, I would recommend:

    - replace the controller with an MRC power pack, used or new, any of the Tech II through Tech IV series. These will give much better control than the Bachmann controller ever would even in perfect working order.

    - add additional Bachmann EZ track or replace with Kato track. Use the track with the built-in roadbed unless you are building a fairly permanent layout. In that case, Peco or Atlas flex track and turnouts give more track layout flexibility.

    - Micro-Trains (a split--off from Kadee for N scale) makes magnetic knuckle couplers (and replacement trucks) to fit most rolling stock and locomotives. These look much better and are easier to use than the Rapido-style couplers.

    Good to see you are branching out into new scales and areas of the hobby :) . I do appreciate your insight and comments on the 3 rail O world.

    my thoughts, your choices
  6. 3railguy

    3railguy Member

    I should add I picked up a Life Like starter set power pack at a show for $2.00 to use as lighting power for my N scale setup and I see them all the time at shows in piles at these prices. They will work with your Bachman set.

    Hobby Lobby has occasional 1/2 price sales on all train stuff and you should be able to replace your missing curves plus buy a couple cars for under $10.00.

    Do you know yet if your engine actually runs? See if you can test it first before pursueing this any further. If it runs like crap or not at all, remove the shell and inspect the gear tower. There is a support on the end of each tower that holds the worm gear and they are notorious for bending out of whack. This can be fixed by reinforcing the bracket with plastic strips and super glue. Bachman reinforced this support on their "Bachman Plus line" The spur gears are also notorius for splitting rendering the gear tower useless.

    If the engine has serious problems, I would stop there and put the set on display, or seek a complete set and use what you have as add ons and repair parts.

    Let me tell you, N scale can be addictive. I've been an O gauger since 1980. I bought a Life Like N scale Yardmaster set in Dec 2004 for $60 at HobbyTown as a holiday tabletop display. The set went together in no time and the SW switcher turned out to be a jewel. I watched that set go in circles for what seemed like hours and it wasn't long before I was off to the hobby store for a station kit, more track, and a couple cars. This evolved into a 3 x 7 ft doorslab Unitrack layout along with a fleet of Atlas, Kato, and Intermountain engines and rolling stock.
  7. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Well here's my two cents too and I won't repeat what was already written...I've bought Bachmann Spectrum line (Dash-8's mostly) and they run well. Yes more loudly than an Atlas or Kato, but the detailing is quite good for the money spent. The EZ track can be ballasted and weathered and looks pretty good when it's fixed up right (IMHO). Here's a picture of my Bachmann Spectrum Dash 8 pointing at an Athearn SD75i...the dash-8 has pretty good detail and coloring. (I just put on microtrain knuckle couplers on the Dash-8 removing all traces of the rapido coupler - so it looks even better.) The track is EZ track that I ballasted (first attempt) and weathered (also my first attempt at it). I'm also weathering the Bachmann diesels and they look pretty good with a little dirt here and there. All in all, you can find some good deals on just about everything - Bachmann included - and at a discount, the Spectrum line shouldn't be ruled out when you want to add to your engine/rolling stock because of an old reputation.

    Attached Files:

  8. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Thanks for the advice. Without a loop of track my testing options are limited. I know I have a couple of HO transformers somewhere that I'll have to use to test it. I'll just flip it over and run a couple of wires straight to the wheels and see if the motor runs. That's not necessarily a good indication of how it'll run on track, but it answers the dead/alive question. The guy I bought it from said it ran.

    I don't have much money tied up in this experiment, so however it turns out isn't a big deal. If I get a couple of hours' enjoyment out of it and learn something, it was worth the money, even if I end up not getting much in trade for it.
  9. trainman4

    trainman4 Member

    I made the mistake of bidding on a so called new in box bachamnn dash 840c and man i got the royal shaft.never again.out of all the bachamnn engines i have i wouldn't give you a plug nickel for them.they're all Nscale and i just sent a two truck shay on3o back for repairs.save yourself some money and put that set away and get yourself a good engine like Kato-atlas-life like-and even model power isn't that bad.

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