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  • Topic: Bachmann 1:20.3 Side Tank Porter

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    • April 14, 2010 9:50 PM EDT
      • Candlewood Valley, Connecticut
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      I wasn't looking for this loco, but noticed one at a nice price at the ECLSTS, so I picked one up for $100 cash.

      I've been busy working outside so I didn't even take it out of the box until today. Looking over the model, my first thought was that the detail was a bit sparse, but the model has nice lines. So far so good. I powered up the indoor track and gave it a test run. The first thing I noticed was that the headlamp was on in reverse, but not in forward. The LED must have been wired backwards. Power pick-up was poor at best. The loco stuttered a lot and stalled on most plastic frogs even though the wheelbase is long enough it should get over them. The motor / drive train was very noisy and it sounded as though there might be a bind somewhere. When I coupled it up to a few cars I noticed that the coupler height is set at the older 1:22 height. It coupled fine to 1:22 Bachmann stock, but the coupler is too low for any of my 1:20 stock.

      In order to investigate the noisy drive train I opened up the bottom of the gear case. 5 screws and the case bottom comes off revealing all drive components. The reason for the power pick up issues was obvious. There is 4-wheel pick-up via a simple brass wiper system. The wiper / buss-bar has a spring connection that was intermittent at best.

      I used jumpers too power the loco with the gear case open and watched. The motor & gears are mounted in an open frame that hangs on the rear axle. As the loco runs, the motor and gears wobble back and forth. I could stabilize the motor with shims, but the bind seemed worse with the motor held tight, so I removed the shims. I added quite a bit of Gear Lube and oiled all of the moving metal parts like the rods, piston and valve gear. After running in the lube on the bench, the loco seemed to quiet just a little bit, and the bind seemed less noticeable.

      I cured the intermittent power problem by cleaning the spring connection on the pick-up buss, then put the cover back on.

      After this little lube / tune-up job the loco performed significantly better. Low-speed performance is now usable, but no where near s smooth as the Connie or even the Dizzies. The loco will now get over most of my switches without stalling, but the drive is still very noisy.

      When I purchased this loco, I had in mind that it would make a nice yard goat. With the slow speed and stalling issues cured, I tried it, coupled to a car, through an R1 switch which it handled with ease. I did not try an R1 "S" curve. Hopefully it can handle them when coupled as I have a few in the yard.

      I will need to figure out the coupler height issue, since the primary use will be with my 1:20 stock, all of which have the higher coupler. That will probably wait for a rainy weekend before that gets looked at.

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