Opinion on HO Bachmann Spectrum K4 Pacific?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by LongIslandTom, Oct 9, 2006.

  1. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member


    My first foray into the world of Steam. (Presently I run modern stuff like GE B40-8's and EMD GP38-2s, but am looking to expand my horizons).

    I'm thinking of adding a few steam locos to my roster to run transition-era operating sessions, and to start I'm thinking of picking up an HO Bachmann Spectrum Pennsy K4 Pacific.

    I'm sure there are owners of this loco on this forum-- Can you advise me if it's a good entry-level buy, or should I be looking at something else? Basically for now I just need a reliable DC loco (DCC upgrade capability a plus) compatible with sharp curves for under $100.

  2. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I have three Bachman Spectrum steam locomotives. Two Shays and a ten wheeler. All three operate well. The only problem that I've had is that the wires between the tender and loco on the ten wheeler are too long and occasionally hang up on switches The detail is great on all three.
  3. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for the quick reply. Got another question if you don't mind...

    I've been hearing stories about how some HO steam locos don't pull that great because there isn't enough room for cramming weights into the engine, and that some need rubber traction tires because of it.

    So my question: How's the pulling power of that Spectrum 10-wheeler? (I think it has 6 driver wheels like the K4 I'm thinking of getting, so it should have similar pulling power, right?)

    Thanks for the info!
  4. ed acosta

    ed acosta Member

    Spectrum K4

    LI Tom,
    I happen to have one of the earlier Spectrum K4s and paid about $70 for it on sale. It is a smooth runner, however I agree that it is rather light and one might want to add weight. But, lets think about it. I usually run 5 spectrum coaches with it and everything is fine. And, I don't really intend to run a long string of freight cars with it, so why would I want to consider more weight? I've got a couple of Pennsy freight haulers that look good in front of a long freight train (2-10-0 and 6-8-6) and that leaves the K4 to the lite duty of hauling a commuter train.

    The K4 is a graceful locomotive and Bachman has done an outstanding job in HO scale. I hope you enjoy your purchase as well as I have enjoyed mine.

  5. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I've had no problem pulling short freights with the 4-6-0. However; our club layout was origianally built as a modular setup so there is no appreciable grade. Virtually flat as a matter of fact.
  6. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Well, I think I know what to ask for this Christmas.. (heck, it's only 2 months away.) :D

    Hopefully next year I'll have a Spectrum K4 gracing the rails of my small pike.

    Thanks for all the info!
  7. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Have both the Bowser super-detailed and Bachmann Spectrum (early run) versions. Due to era and prototype (and lack of layout) just now, both are currently display models. In past operations, the Bowser weighs twice as much, stays on the track better, and pulls anything I could put behind it. The Spectrum's details appeared to be a little finer, and looks very good with the associated passenger car set. It would struggle with an 8 car passenger train on 3% grades and derailed a lot more often - I never tracked down why.

    MTH has come out with a very fine K4 with smoke and sound that has a DCC/DCS decoder built in. Costs a lot in comparison. The reviews said it did not run well on DC (very slow at 12 volts) but did fine on both DCC and DCS.

    my experiences, your choices
  8. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member


    The little 10 wheeler will just about pull 4-5 cars on level track. If there's any kind of grade, it'll just spin its wheels... I took off the spring under the pilot truck and it helped a little, but not much...

    Gus (LC&P).
  9. ross31r

    ross31r Member

    Ive got a trio of K4S locomotives, two bachmann and one BLI and the bachmann ones are great pullers, will run with pretty much anything behind them as i have fitted mine with DCC chips. They haul 8 passenger cars around my layout without any fuss including up and over a 2% grade. The BLI engine is a bit more powerful, but not by much. I dont mind the BLI one having a few incorrect details - my shortline is supposedly a PSS spin-off so the lcoomotives wouldnt be exactly as the pennsy built them anyway!
    Technically the small S has to be after the K4 designation as it was the Penny`s way of saying that the locomotive was superheated.
  10. jr switch

    jr switch Member

    pulling power

    I have a Bachman Decopod, [ 2-10-0 ], an IHC 2-10-2, and an IHC 4-6-4, the detail on all three is good and they seem pretty well made. The two IHC's will pull anything I've got , but the Russion Decopod is very light and will pull several freight cars and maybe two or three of my heavy weight pass cars. I have a Bachman Spectrum 4-8-4 Northern on the way and will review it here when I have had a chance to see how it runs and what it can pull. You had mentioned sharp curves so something with no more than six drivers is probabely best. My 4-6-4 works great on 18" radius curves-------John R
  11. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Hi Ross31r and jr Switch,

    Thanks for your input! Yep, I decided to get something with 6 driver wheels precisely because I need it to operate on sharp curves.

    Anyway, I decided on the Broadway Limited J1e NYC Hudson 4-6-4 with DCC and sound on-board. The normal retail price on that puppy was $200+, but I found that Trainland was selling it for $129. jawdrop

    It was too good to pass up, so I jumped on it. :thumb:

    My review of the purchase.. http://www.the-gauge.com/showthread.php?t=22395

    Once again, I want to thank everyone who helped me with my first foray into Steam! It turned out to be an awesome first experience.
  12. Mopac2200

    Mopac2200 New Member

    Spectrum runs great!

    I have several of the spectrum stream locomotives (2-8-0, 2-10-0, 4-8-2). I have had excellent results. True the 2-8-0's pull 3-4 passenger cars and a dozen or so freight cars but in real life that is close to what they could really pull in light to medium grades.

  13. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Well, I'm a bit of a K4 Junkie... I have 3 of the Bachmanns, 2 BLIs and an MTH on order...

    Now the BLIs are nicer than the Bachmanns. As they should be, considering they're 3-4x the price. The Bachmanns are very nice locos, good detail, run smooth, decent pulling power. Absolutely worth getting as a first steamer.
  14. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Some of the replies on here have me puzzled.

    The old Bachmann Plus consolidations...which were based on Reading prototypes with wooten fireboxes...didn't pull too much...but their Spectrum engines are rated at 40+ cars. Mine can certainly pull more than that...without having modified it. Pulling a 15 car passenger train is no problem on flat track. It was product of the year when it was introduced not only for its looks, but also its pulling power.

    The K-4s...
    Spectrum released an old version...and then around the time of the 2-8-0's success...they released an upgraded version...but it was not up to snuff with their 2-8-0.

    MTH's is best K-4 on the market by far. It comes with an optional traction tire (more specifically a pair of drivers with a traction tire you can swap for a normal axle). The traction tire more than quadruples its draw bar pull. It'll pull more cars than a pair of real K-4s could. The odd quirk was that it was designed for 18v instead of the usual 12v. It's supposed to be able to pull something gaudy like 50 passenger cars on flat track with the traction tire.

    The BLI is the mid level version...and the MTH one was specifically designed to exceed BLI's quality to try to establish the same sort of reputation in HO that they have in O scale/gauge.
  15. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Hmmm. As said before, I'm a K4 junkie so I own almost all the variations made (still haven't plunked down for a streamlined K4 which is available only in brass)...

    So it happens I own both (BLI and MTH) and wouldn't say BLI is mid-level compared to MTH being "best by far". Actually, I find them pretty close with a nod to the BLI.

    Heck, the review of the MTH just came out in a recent MR and was pretty lukewarm. For MR to give a lukewarm review to a paying advertiser, they must really be unimpressed! Normally I find they operate on the "if you can't say something nice, don't say it at all" basis.

    I was actually a bit disappointed with the MTH when it arrived. I have 3 BLIs and 1 MTH. I won't be getting more MTHs. Other than the puffing smoke (which is a mixed blessing), I don't find the MTH to be much improvement - especially given they had several years after BLI intro'd their version to improve it... And I find the sound quality a notch down, in fact, over the QSI system in BLIs offering.

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