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  • Topic: Ramblings on the Bachmann K-27

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    • June 12, 2009 11:33 PM EDT
      • St. Louis, MO
         
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      Alright...so here goes.

      I'm Robbie, I'm 18, a D&RGW fanatic, rivet counter since age three (Mommy, real trains don't have faces!), and I have experience with most of the large scale manufacturers. I'm unbiased; as long as a locomotive runs well and doesn't blow up repeatedly, I'll buy it if it fits my scale/era(D&RGW NG, 1930s-1960s, 1:20.3). However, I still have some older 1:22.5 equipment and my brother just bought an MTH Big Boy. So there you go; read into this "review" what you like based upon my experience.

      I bought a first run K-27, 453 with doghouse, at my local train store about three weeks ago. It was on sale, and since the proprieter had the counterweights on hand, I was willing to plunk down my $650 on it.

      First, I'll comment on the size of the engine; it's enormous compared to everything I've ever had. It's about a foot longer than an LGB Mogul, 6 inches wider than a Bachmann Connie, and a foot and a half shorter than the Big Boy. However, it's seriously wide. It attains approximately the same swingout on an LGB R3 curve as the Big Boy; amazing to me since it is much shorter. However, it is so wide at the cylinders that it would not fit through my LGB 4-foot girder bridge! Oops. Good thing my layout's on a tabletop and I can rearrange when necessary. The engine is tall, but if an AMS/Accucraft caboose will fit under something, the K-27 will clear. And while I'm talking about size, I should probably mention the box; it's approximately 3.5 by 2 feet and a foot thick; double the size of the MTH Big Boy box and the Connie box. Strangely, though, it doesn't (relatively) weigh anything.

      Next, I'll mention a few thoughts on the detailing. I can't see anything on the real thing that the Bachmann does not have(from memory--I still have to examine it next to real photos). The rear truck is clever, as it retains the original's side to side motion while running reliably on R3, and makes the loco look much more realistic. The cab doors do open, though one of mine binds slightly. The reversing gear is a nice feature, and feels durable enough to withstand some use(though it is seriously awkward to pull on the reversing lever). The doghouse door opens, the firebox doors open(though feel flimsy), and the water hatch on the tender opens, revealing a nice hole to mount an on/off switch for a sound system(or a battery recharge plug). The journal box doors on the tender trucks open(sometimes while running--I may glue them closed if they persist). The cab roof hatch opens, with a notched prop rod--nice touch!--and doesn't feel nearly as flimsy as my Connie's did. The firebox glow, utilizing multiple LEDs, is excellent. Detailing is easily the best I've had on any of my large scale engines thus far. There's a lot, and it doesn't feel flimsy to me. There are integrated Kadee 830 mounts on the engine and tender--fantastic! However, the front coupler pin needs to be either pushed upwards(what I did) or sawed off, as it does not fit through the pilot.

      Running characteristics are excellent so far. It's smooth, quiet, and a strong puller. It was somewhat binding up at first, though after five or six hours of running it smoothed out a bit and at about ten, it improved dramatically. It does exhibit the predicted issues on grades; it slows down quite a bit. However, the only grade I have is on my driveway layout and it's at least a 6-10%; the Connie and Moguls slow down some, but not as much as the K-27, but the K still doesn't slow down as much as I expected while pulling 5 AMS cars and a brass Accucraft caboose. The gearing appears to have been inspired by the Connie--it is almost EXACTLY the same speed at the same voltage, which makes for easy doubleheading. The K-27 tracks well on R3, though R3 turnouts/switches give it some trouble(pilot truck may derail on a trailing point, while on a facing point the entire engine may derail if on a curve). Tracking is excellent(unknown, however, whether this is due to the sideways-sprung axles or the weight). Electrical pickup is phenomenal; Traction is unbelievable--no slippage on anything. I've loaded 60 assorted cars behind it(everything I have) and it won't even slip on the 8% or whatever grade. Brilliant due to the suspension; I should probably move on to that now along with the rest of the mechanical aspects.

      The axles are equalized--so(according to my understanding) they have equal weight on each. The trailing truck appears to have something to do with this, though since it is not directly attached, it does not appear to function in the three-point suspension. The gearbox is extremely wide(double the width of the Connie gearbox), and this does dull that axle's suspension movement a bit. The front axle tracks fine, though it does have a tendency to derail when on the curved route of a trailing-facing LGB R3 switch. Oiling the engine requires a lot of time; beware! It is MUCH easier to oil it when it is upside down; most of the bearings in the frame are hidden when it is upright. I did have to replace my counterweights, and despite a few miscues(putting the counterweights back on the engine before attaching the screw covers), I was able to do it in well under an hour. It shouldn't be a big deal even if you have no experience working on locomotives. There are a LOT of wires traveling between the engine and tender which make it a pain to remove from the track--make sure it's on the right track before you plop it down.

      Pros:
      Size
      Running characteristics
      Price(hey, an Accucraft, if you could get one, would be $2000 more)
      Durability(it feels seriously tough--LGB tough)
      Kadee coupler mounts onboard

      Cons:
      Size
      Detailing may prove flimsy
      LOTS of wires between the engine and tender, and some funky plugs on them
      Slows on grades
      Dislikes LGB R3 switches

      My thought:

      It's large, and though it has some drawbacks, I'm willing to see how it does. So far I'm impressed with it next to an LGB Mogul and the Bachmann Connie. Time will tell...

      Anything more you want a comment on, let me know--I'm ready and willing to discuss this engine.
    • June 12, 2009 11:39 PM EDT

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      What is it like going down that grade?
      Does it speed up?
      ____________________________________

      Best wishes,
      Tony Walsham

      Remote Control Systems. www.rcs-rc.com/
        Modern technology. Old Fashioned reliability

    • June 13, 2009 12:44 AM EDT
      • St. Louis, MO
         
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      I'll try that in the morning--have not had a go at it downhill yet.

      Welcome to the driveway loop--it's 10 feet wide(3.33m), 60 feet long(20m). The driveway is flat at one end and tilts side to side on the other--hence the hill. I've only been running one direction(uphill) for fear of picking a switch point and derailing, but I'll see if it can run reliably the other direction.

      I'll also try to shoot some video to give an idea of the speed difference on the hill and on level ground.
    • June 13, 2009 3:20 PM EDT
      • St. Louis, MO
         
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      Tony, there is VERY little speedup on the downgrade--remember, it's only about a 3m section, but it doesn't really affect it at all. It was so little that I didn't even bother taking a video.

      It's much tougher uphill than down.
    • June 13, 2009 7:23 PM EDT

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      Robbie, thanks for the great report! As for the speedup downhill, every locomotive should gain speed down the grade, this is how the prototypes behave. That is why they have brakes;-) Enjoy your K and best wishes from Tokyo, Zubi
    • June 14, 2009 11:40 AM EDT
      • Spokane Valley, Washington St.
         
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      Robbie,
      I changed out the plugs for something easier.
      It slows on grades because it is geared way too high.
      Mine is batt/rc and at 14.4 volts, about 6 "non ball bearing" AMS cars is all she can do on a .05% (1/2) grade without "pouring the coal" to her.
      She binds on the drivers with your R-3's.
      I don't have that problem with 15'+ minimum curves.

      All in all, though, a good review.
    • June 14, 2009 4:12 PM EDT
      • UK/Ontario/Oregon
         
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      Excellent review of a loco that is catching on over here with the increasing number of fans of affordable Fn3. Sadly, here it still costs us almost twice as much as YOU paid for it.
      I caught a demo of a green-boilered version, and I hafta say that it looked really good - loads of details, as you note, and not flimsy-looking either. Most of us over here treat grades of any kind as total anathema, especially those of us who also run steam, so there have been no reports, as yet, of running away locos, or, it seems, of any of the other little problems that seem to have plagued the first run - the counterweights problem for one.

      I won't be getting one, though, as I already have a tin one made by AccuCraft - also the dog-house version - so I'll have to make do with that, I guess. Mind you, it has pulled twentyy-eight cars on one occasion, but that WAS on the flat.

      Best

      tac
      www.ovgrs.org
    • July 11, 2009 12:04 AM EDT
      • St. Louis, MO
         
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      I took a LOT of pics tonight with my new reefers.

      And the overhang on R3 curves:

      The front truck no longer derails after the spring inside it was stretched and replaced. Other than that, I have had to do nothing else to the locomotive other than oilings every five to ten hours of run time. And I will say that it won't run UP the 8% grade with all ten cars without some major slippage. It will run downgrade with no issues as long as you remember to ease off the throttle a bit.
    • July 11, 2009 1:03 AM EDT

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      Nice follow up.

      Thanks.
      ____________________________________

      Best wishes,
      Tony Walsham

      Remote Control Systems. www.rcs-rc.com/
        Modern technology. Old Fashioned reliability

    • July 11, 2009 5:31 AM EDT
      • UK/Ontario/Oregon
         
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      Robbie Hanson said:
      I took a LOT of pics tonight with my new reefers.
      You need to have a closer look at the packaging on that car you bought to dress up the railroad, it kinda looks out-of-scale t'me, but hey, I just could be wrong and being a mite too picky. tac www.ovgrs.org
    • July 11, 2009 8:46 AM EDT
      • St. Louis, MO
         
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      Terry A de C Foley said:
      Robbie Hanson said:
      I took a LOT of pics tonight with my new reefers.
      You need to have a closer look at the packaging on that car you bought to dress up the railroad, it kinda looks out-of-scale t'me, but hey, I just could be wrong and being a mite too picky. tac www.ovgrs.org
      Sorry, when the family has seven cars I get to park on the back driveway--remove the end sections of track and I'm good to go. I do apologize for the off-scaled-ness--but it was rather difficult to fit myself into a 1:20.3 car. Anyone have a magic shrink-ray? :D I have noticed that the new AMS reefers ride a bit higher than the older cars, enough to cause some unwanted uncoupling on track that is smooth enough for Kadees to run fine--go figure. Going to see if I can figure out a possible fix for that.
    • July 11, 2009 9:08 AM EDT

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      Robbie Hanson said:
      I do apologize for the off-scaled-ness--but it was rather difficult to fit myself into a 1:20.3 car. Anyone have a magic shrink-ray? :D
      If you're going to have to use magic, may as well use it to make the train match the car ;) Ralph
    • July 11, 2009 9:56 AM EDT
      • St. Louis, MO
         
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      Ralph, you are brilliant! I'm going to get to work on that right away :)
    • July 11, 2009 11:08 AM EDT

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      Ralph is right Robbie! But it's your train you can run or do what you want. I'm not a rivet counter, I just buy/run what I like cause it's me, and it's my train. Nuff said. The Regal Hah LoL

      p.s. Ralph thanks for bein on the show last nite. Robbie you need to join us, your friend Geoff George was on with us, even though runnin HIS trains always makes him LATE, but we excuse him cause it's train related. HEE HEE LOL The Regal come join us. 1500+ did last nite.
    • July 12, 2009 11:41 AM EDT
      • St. Louis, MO
         
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      I think I have a problem...

      Ran it a bit this morning and it is making the same noises my Connie did right before the gears completely sheared. Stressed sounds, with a bit of grinding. Suspension's fine, rods/counterweights are fine. It has, though, seemingly lost all traction, and is derailing constantly. In addition, it has a massive bind. Any ideas what this could be?
    • July 12, 2009 12:28 PM EDT

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      Yup! It's a Botchman K-27. You never know what you will get when you get one.
    • July 12, 2009 12:35 PM EDT
      • St. Louis, MO
         
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      Better news!

      The Connie has snapped something which is hanging down and catching the ties so that I cannot run it. Who knew that you could destroy a metal frame by setting a locomotive on the track!
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