noob in need of help

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by MAGIC_CHEF, Oct 21, 2005.


    MAGIC_CHEF New Member

    Yesterday I bought a Bachmann n scale "Thunder Valley" trains set. I also bought a pack of 5in track to make the track a ovel instead of a circle. Now if i give power to the track and the train hasnt run for 10 minutes or more the train dosent move. The only thing that happens is the lights get increasingly brighter with the more power i give to the track. To get the train moving i have to push it like 5 inches. After that it runs fine until i stop it and try to run it again. Could there be a problem with the track or the train itself? and is there any way to find out how to fix it easily.
  2. Hoghead

    Hoghead Member

    You made the classic noobie mistake.

    You bought Bachmann.

    I learned over a decade ago about Bachmann/Lifelike products and now I spend a little extra for quality products.
  3. MinnMonkey

    MinnMonkey Member

    I have a Bachmann 4-4-0, and bought it primarily as a stationary object and not so much for running, but I had the same problem.

    Once I did get it going, I let it run for about 10 minutes at a medium speed running in a circle, and after that it worked pretty well.

    Occasionally I still need to push start it, but not nearly as often as when I first bought it.

    MAGIC_CHEF New Member

    I tried that and it actually helped somewhat. But im thinking ill still have to upgrade sooner or later. So... whats the average price of a better engine ive look around for brands other then life like and bachmann and they seem to be around 100:eek:. Thats a bit high for me though. I wanna spend at the most 40 maybe 50. Can I get something thats worth buying for that much?
    thanks for any advice.
  5. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Stick with Kato if you want them to run reliably. They should be less than 100, but they won't be much less. Steam more. Sorry, mate, that's how much they are...
  6. Hoghead

    Hoghead Member

    You can save substantial cash on either Kato or Atlas by ordering from or from (I find 4nscale slightly more reasonable) Big savings from what the suggested MSRP.

    Remember, you get what you pay for, if you don't mind nudging your engine to get it going then Bachmann is for you.
  7. SouthernPacific

    SouthernPacific New Member

    Welcome to the world of N scale.If I where you, I would upgrade the transformer. A MRC pack would be your best bet. I have run MRC packs for over 20 years with no problems. As for locomotives, I would stick to Atlas, Athearn, Kato, and Imtermountain. This site...

    has some Atlas locomotives for under $65.00, and other quality brand locomotives for under $100. They also have a low shipping price. You will also find MRC packs there.
    Hope this info is helpful.
  8. NYCNewbie

    NYCNewbie New Member

    It's true that Bachmann's standard line - such as your trainset - is pretty poor quality. But Bachmann unfairly gets a lot of flak for their trainset stuff when the truth is that their Spectrum line - at least the steam locos - beats the competition hands down both in price *and* quality, and these days also in the range of available models (compared to Bachmann, Kato's and Atlas's steam selection is pitiful). It's really tiring to hear people make disparaging comments about Bachmann based on what the company made 10-20 years ago, rather than their current products. I have both Kato, Life-Like, and Bachmann engines, and apart from the one standard run Bachmann loco, which isn't great, they all run equally well - if I'd had to pick, I'd say the Bachmann Consolidation is probably the best runner of them all. It's also by far the most detailed model. I bought it new for less than $60 from Trainworld ( (whose prices certainly beat wig-wag trains), and if you shop around you'd be hard put to pay more than $80 for it. In fact, paying more than $100 for a good-running engine is a good hint that you either are buying very rare and unique locos, or that you're paying too much (big steam is probably the exception here). Both Life-like and Bachmann make a number of fine locos; the key is to make sure you don't buy their cheaper, trainset offerings. Even those have a place, though; they're great for trying out weathering and kitbashing techniques, and with enough work and skill they could well end up looking a lot better than a $150 loco that's too expensive to risk ruining by weathering and therefore will never look realistic no matter how detailed it is.

    Though it won't improve the looks of your engine, getting a good MRC powerpack will make a world of a difference how it runs. Even a high quality engine runs poorly with a standard Bachmann power pack (I've tried so I know), but even a not-so-great trainset loco can be made to run well (if not silky smooth) with a good power pack. I was completely blown away by the difference having a good power pack makes. You can get a second-hand one on eBay for $20 easily. Though it's always a risk, I've never had a bad experience with second-hand locos bought on eBay, usually for much less than a new one and still good runners.

    The bottom line is, though low prices usually mean low quality, above a certain price range you tend to get less and less value for your money (unless you're looking for a rare or special loco or roadname). Without the likes of Bachmann and Life-Like forcing Kato and Atlas to keep their prices less than astronomical, there wouldn't be a loco for less than $200 on the market, there'd be almost no N-scale steam, and the hobby would slowly die out as only wealthy retirees could afford it. The hobby would be a lot more pleasant if people would quit the tiresome, knee-jerk bashing of these firms. This forum is fortunately relatively free of "Bachmann bashers", but you need only check out the Atlas forum to see just how tedious it quickly gets. I can't think of a better way to turn newcomers away from the hobby.
  9. Hoghead

    Hoghead Member

    NYC...your comments are much appreciated.....but once again I was burnt before by Bachmann, so why would I stick my hand in the fire again? You are correct about the Kato/Atlas line of steam being rather thin, I do have one of the Kato (NYC in fact) Mikado's that was released in the mid '90's and I am pleased with it. I am not trying to bash Bachmann, but it is very hard for me to honestly defend them.

    MAGIC_CHEF New Member

    Thank you all so much for your comments.
    I actually gave up on the loco and took it apart, messed around with the gears and axels then put it together again. after that I ran it on the track with out the plastic body and it ran like crap. it was jumpy and couldnt go around once with out stoping and going dead. So every time that happen i would turn the motor with my finger and it would start up again. I did this for like 20 minutes then it started to run smoothly. So i left it running for like 10-15 minutes. Now it works even better then when i first got it out of the box:thumb:. Like at first it would only start to run when i put it on 70 power now it starts at 30 so whatever i did worked. Ive tested it like 10 times since i did that like every half hour or so.

    So i think ill add more track then get a better power pack (my local hobby shop as a mrc railpower 1370 for 35 bucks on there webiste , is that any good?)Then later on if i know ill stick with this and not just store it in a box in the attic or something ill buy a better loco.
    Thanks again for all the info
  11. skipgear

    skipgear Member

    I will second NYCNewbies statements. I really can's stand people generalizing about the quality of a product from one bad experience. Everybody has their own level of quality that satisfies them. What a die hard, long time model railroader, thinks is junk, can be perfectly fine for a new railroader that has never experienced high end equipment.

    As far as Bachmann goes, I had a bad experience with one of the Spectrum 2-6-6-2's. Out of the box it had gear train issues for the front drivers. I contacted Bachmann, told them about the problem and they took very good care of me. The engines were out of stock everywhere at the time so they said they would replace the unit when they were back in stock. In the meantime, I found another unit in the same road number and picked it up. I then contacted Bachmann to see if they could replace my original unit with the other road number that was available, they had those in stock and I had a replacement loco at my door in 2 days. Because of Bachmann's excellent service on that engine I am sold on their products.

    As far as Life Like goes, I have 2 sets of the E8/9 that are by far the smoothest running engines I have. Because of the quality of those loco's, I bought the second set of road numbers available and recently picked up a LL SW8. All run excellent. I have tested a few of their engines that we have a the shop I work at, all are smooth running except for the cardboard box models. They may not have the wieght or the pulling power of the Kato's or Atlas, but somebody starting out, doesn't have 20-40 car trains to pull. Every company has it's good and bad. If Lifelike and Bachmann put only their high line products in their train sets, sets would start at the $100 price range and there would be fewer and fewer new model railroaders out there.

    Try working in a hobbyshop and explaining to mom and dad why they should by this $150 spectrum set vs. the $79 standard set, especially when the standard set comes with more cars and accessories. Even worse, try to explain why they need to spend $70-100 on a loco, $30-50 on a power supply, $50 in cars and another $25-50 in track, just to get started, many would just walk away. I deal with it every day. They see it as a toy train for little Johnny. Some people just don't understand or even care about the difference in quality. You can talk quality till you are blue in the face but only about 15% of the customers will actually understand the difference in value. As long as you explain the difference in quality going in, they usually understand if there is an issue later down the road and are more willing to upgrade components if they have a problem. The inexpensive equipment gets them interested and started in the hobby.
  12. Hoghead

    Hoghead Member

    Actually Skip, I have about six bad experiences boxed away upstairs. All gifts from my relatives. I understand what your saying about parents not wanting to spend the money on quality for something they see as toy. I wonder how many hobby shops get these sets returned after the holidays because of the same problems (or others) Magic Chef experienced?
  13. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    That's interesting Hoghead, Bachmann & Aristo is all I buy. I have almost no problems with either. Out of about 20 engines, My friends & I have, we've only had trouble with 1. And all were bought within the past 15 years...
  14. siderod

    siderod Member

    Funny thing about that, really....Yeah, the Spectrum steam (save for the 2-6-6-2 which had major issues) is great, and is a good value for the price. However, Bachmann produced models that were very common (consolidations and Mountains), where as Atlas took a MAJOR risk and produced a shay, that has sold better then any Spectrum product (IMHO).

    Also, since we're into this already....Bachmann might have a BIT of an upper hand when it comes to steam, but their diesel locomotives suck, IMHO. Spectrum or not, they're crap...i've got one, and i've seen a dozen or more running or in displays. Their "SD45" is massivally flaweed, and most of their others locomotives either have flaws, or run poorly. In my Experiance. On that note, Kato and Atlas have Bachmann's butt kicked when it comes to diesel equipment.

    So, the conclusion i've come to is....Bachmann can produce rather nice steam, but diesels are a failure. Atlas and Kato can manage to produce beautiful steam too, and creates MUCH nicer diesel locomotives then Bachmann ever could. Thus, i think the poster would be better off with a nice Atlas, Lifelike or Kato then he ever would be with Bachmann Diesels. And ever the Bachmann steam is one of those "try before you buy" deals.

    I also second the idea to get a good MRC power pack....they can and will improve your running dramatically....get one with momentum and brake functions, if you can afford have no idea how interesting it is to see your passenger train come down the hill, coasting into the station and drift to a stop with a gentle brake application at the end of the platform.

  15. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Kevin,Contact the Bach-man on Bachmanns forum..He should be able to help.
  16. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I do work in a hobby shop, and my advice to "parents", is that no matter what else they do, buy a good locomotive. If the loco doesn't run, the train doesn't run.
    Bachmann Spectrum steam.... :thumb: :thumb: :thumb: even the 2-6-6-2!
    LifeLike P2K Heritage steam.... :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:
  17. SouthernPacific

    SouthernPacific New Member

    Magic Chef

    The MRC Railpower 1370, is a very good pack for what you need it for.
  18. Hoghead

    Hoghead Member

    I am truely glad to hear that you have almost no problems. I am not familiar with Aristo so I cannot honestly comment on their products.

    It just seems that there is a pattern on various websites where folks, usually new to the hobby get a terrible eye opening experience involving Bachmann Products, is it just a coincidence?
  19. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member


    In the past, I have had many regular Bachmanns. They are compared to those Yugo cars. Real cheap, might get you there and back, but keep a bike in the trunk. I have had one Spectrum diesel that I junked. I have a Spectrum 3 truck Shay, and a Doodlebug, both of which run great. I have had 6 of the DeWitt Clintons. They ran for a short time and then quit. On the last one I had, I called Bachmann and told them all the troubles. They replaced it, and said they test ran it before they sent it. It ran a bit, then quit. I did some troubleshooting and found there is evidently an internal short in the motor. So all in all, I am not too happy with their stuff. Two good ones out of a bunch does not make a very good bouquet.

  20. Catt

    Catt Guest

    I think I'll slide in here and remind everybody that all manufacturers have thier problem children.

    The newest one I can recall is the KATO F40PH.I believe the unrunning ones was pretty close to 50% of the container load.Yes I know that for the most part it was an easy fix and KATOUSA busted butt to take care of the problem.As far as the other guys go if you don't tell them (politely) that there is a problem how can you expect it to be fixed?

    By the way I have a B-mann GP40 that I bought in 76,and a F7? that I bought in 79 and a 4-4-0 that I bought in 93 and they all run pretty well for trainset locos.By the way both diesels have vertically split diecast frames way before ATLAS had KATO do their GP30/35s for them.

    One final note on that F7,It's so loud my wife won't let me run it when she's home. :D

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