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1870s 4-4-0 'Bachmann' Original Model Mods.
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 Posted: Thu Nov 4th, 2010 07:41 pm
1st Post

Joined: Wed Apr 5th, 2006
Posts: 260

I have a NEW "what I did".

On putting a decent new motor & reliable electrical pickup + sound,

in the original tooling 'Bachmann' Old Time 4-4-0 model.

This is an update of the original 2006 "what I did",

and includes electrifying the locomotive AND tender.

It will now crawl along, without the motor & DCC board burning out,

& it sounds great as well !

The web article is here:

There is also a FREE downloadable PDF of my article as well.

Thank you if you visit


- - - - - - -

The Bachmann HO Old Time 4-4-0 has been around a long time,
and suffers from two problems:

1. - The latest motor will burnout with a frying of the added DCC decoder.
2. - And the pickup system is very poor.

This article delves into solving the problems.
This isn't a "how-to" but a "what-I-did".

- - - - - - -

The motor.

This is our "beta" locomotive,
excuse the disrupted cross heads and other cosmetic problems.

The loco has a "daylighted" cab,
Soundtraxx Tsunami sound,
prototypical spacing between loco & tender,
bigger tender wheels,
& will crawl along.

I found this motor at All Electronics.
It is a Mabuchi # FF-030PA 08250.
It is the best motor I have tried and only costs a buck and a quarter.
There is no cogging and it is strong.
The motor shaft is 1.5mm so the Bachmann universal slide right on.

A motor tool with a 1/8" diameter burr makes the conversion easier.
I find this the most controllable size.

Glue a piece of 1/32" diameter rod between the balls with the ears parallel.

Cut the weight and glue onto the tender.
Add two 3/16x1/4x3/4 metal weights as shown.

Mount the motor with RTV or double sided tape and attach some wires.
The RTV can be found in the automotive section of stores.

- - - - - - -

Fixing the Electrical Pickups.

The electrical pickup in the Bachmann 4-4-0 is atrocious at worse,
and criminal at the least.

This will also get rid of those little tender wheels.

The newer tender frames have a recess for the motors,
while the older pancake motor frames don't, and the electrical pickups are different.

The old ones will require more mods. but will work.


A "Reboxx HO T-100 Exxact Socket Tool" is used,
to open up the sideframes to accept the longer axles.

Kadee #5 centering springs for electrical pickups,
and 28" wheels are used in the conversion.

I like the Kadee wheels,
because they have recessed back and look more prototypical,
and are readily available cheap.

Keep taking material out of the sides,
until the sideframe sides are flat.

The Kadee wheelsets have a coating that doesn't conduct electricity.

Put the wheelset in an EXPENDABLE truck frame,
and burnish the wheels with a brass brush in a motor tool.

Let the the axles cool occasionally or the truck frame will melt.

Spread the "wings of a Kadee #5 Centering spring,
and straigten out the bend wing.

Taper the straight wing by holding the wing with pliers.
The spring should be symmetrical after tapering.

Cut off the back portion of the spring.

Place the spring on the sideframe,
and drill and tap for a #00-90 screw.

Drill a #60 tap drill hole through the spring body.
Support it with a small piece of wood.
I used a coffee stirrer.

Attach the wiper to the truck with a #00-90 x 3/16 long screw.

The longer screw will allow the wiper to be pulled up,
off the wheelsets during tuning without taking the wiper off.

The wires are from the original idea in our 2006 article.

Use the truck reamer to break the edge of the tapped hole,
to make the insertion of the screw easier.

Test the electrical pickup with an automotive tester,
while rolling the truck along the track.

Test one wheel at a time.
Adjust the wiper for least rolling resistance.

Place the truck on the frame with the motor as a weight.
The wheels should turn as the tender is pushed along.

Take the wiper off and do the wiper on the opposite side.
After both wipers are individually "tuned" test they will roll together.

Cut the original wipers in half and bend them as shown.
Slide them under the truck pickups.
Cut about a 1/16" off of the wiper blade.

Remove this tab from the truck bolster designated in pink.
Glue the bolster back in place.

Remove everything not shown from the bottom of the tender frame. 

Slide 3/16" wide x .002 thick brass or preferably phosphor-bronze strips,
under the tender contacts so the truck wipers touch the strip.

Solder them as shown,
and ACC the strips to the frame when the solder has cooled.

Cut a piece of PCB to cover the bottom of the loco. 1/16" is shown.
That won't work, D-oh!!

The tender connector wires will short out on turnouts.
I replaced it with 1/32" thick and that worked.

If you can't find PCB that thin an alternate is brass shim stock,
glued to styrene, like the strips on the tender.

Relieve the board at the gear.

Electrically separate the sides,
and remove the copper clad from around the screw.

Cut a Kadee #5 spring in half  to make a wiper and solder them to the PCB.
Solder flexible wires to the pickup strips and the locomotive.

Put everything together and run the locomotive,
mine crawl and the new motor gives a realistic speed range.

Close coupling.

Shorten the drawbar to 7/16 cl to cl.

The NWSL 1.5mm balls have a "D" shaped hole.
Use a series of drills to get to a #53.

Easiest way is to hold the ball between your thumb and forefinger.
Press fit a 1/16" diameter brass or aluminum tube into the ball.

The ears on one ball have to be trimmed,
to slide into the Bachmann worm.

Cut them off the tube.

Lengthen the motor cutout as shown to move the motor forward.

Position the motor with the drive shaft,
and use silicon adhesive or double sided tape to attach the motor.

Cutout these areas to accommodate a 1/2" speaker and baffle and the capacitor.
The cutout should go no wider than the lug at the arrow.

I am using a Soundtraxx Micro Tsunami C-16 version,
it has more old locomotive sounds.

Use a Soundtraxx 1/2" Baffle for the speaker.

Some of the weights are glued to the tender shell.

Liberally apply MEK or laquer thinner at the arrows on both sides,
and use an knife and screwdriver to loosen the weight.

Cut the tender shell as shown,
and cut back the tool boxes to the edge of the hinges.

Put it all back together and blow that whistle and ring that bell.
Just needs a wood load to cover the decoder.

Daylighting the Cab.

The biggest cosmetic improvement is daylighting the cab.
Mark the cab to confrom to the boiler and to the end of the frame.
Just hack away with hacksaw and files.

The daylighting doesn't effect the pulling power.
13 Mantua 1860's and a Bachmann bobber, I just ran out of cars !

I never believed I would get the Bachmann 4-4-0 to run this well and with SOUND.

Long time in coming!!!!!

Click here  to download this article as a PDF

- - - - - - -

Sound and Speakers.

I found these two speakers at Digikey, a 13mm and a 15mm.

They give similar sound, and are far superior to the Soundtraxx 1/2",
which is really a 15mm.

They both fit in the Soundtraxx 1/2" baffle.

Click here for Digikey speakers

- - - - - - -

Click here  to see our YouTube video of the locomotive in action

About a month after I did this article,
Bachmann announced their new tooling HO Oldtime 4-4-0.

Geez, finally put sound in this wretched little loco,
and they make a really great version.

Go figure!!!!

So this is just a moot point.

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 Posted: Sun Oct 20th, 2013 10:44 am
2nd Post

Joined: Wed Apr 5th, 2006
Posts: 260
A "what I did" :

The motor is a Mabuchi # FF-030PA 08250.

The decoder is a Soundtraxx Tsunami Light Steam.

I have waited 57 years to have an 1870s 4-4-0 that runs well,

now I even have sound.


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 Posted: Sun Oct 20th, 2013 03:46 pm
3rd Post

Joined: Mon Apr 5th, 2010
Location: South Shore, Halifax, Massachusetts USA
Posts: 318
I like the chuff sound on the model,

but the whistle sounds too toy like.

I prefer a more throaty sound,

like on your D&S video.

Nice job on the install Harold.

Dave Mason
D&G RR (Dunstead & Granford) in On30
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” ~ Thos. Jefferson
“Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not.” ~ me
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 Posted: Sun Oct 20th, 2013 04:42 pm
4th Post

Joined: Wed Apr 5th, 2006
Posts: 260
It is slightly tinny because it was recorded,

with a 14 year old analog camcorder.


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 Posted: Mon Aug 31st, 2015 07:10 pm
5th Post

Joined: Wed Apr 5th, 2006
Posts: 260
From the Yahoo Civil War Forum.

Finally, the NEW 'Bachmann' 4-4-0

The new drivers look really good.


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 Posted: Tue Sep 1st, 2015 09:08 pm
6th Post

Joined: Wed Jan 25th, 2012
Posts: 108
These locos are kind of a mix and match.

Most of the tooling is the same as before, for the boiler/cab/stacks/tender.

The big difference is, of course, they now have the motor in the loco.

The drivers have been redone with counter-weights.

Note the different tender trucks for the PRR version.

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 Posted: Tue Sep 1st, 2015 11:37 pm
7th Post

Joined: Wed Apr 5th, 2006
Posts: 260
Actually the original pieces (boiler/cab/stacks/tender) are really good tooling,

once the HORRIBLE paint is removed.


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 Posted: Sat Jan 23rd, 2021 02:38 pm
8th Post
Nice Guy Eddie

Joined: Mon Sep 5th, 2016
Location: Long Beach CA
Posts: 377
It seems some of Harolds Website pages are still up & some are not.

I just added into Harolds vintage 2010 Post above ^^ his "article".

The photos are NOT hosted in Freerails 'Gallery' so may eventually disappear.

Harold was good at this sort of loco modding & upgrading of 'old skool' models.

The link to Harolds downloadable PDF of his "article" is still working, I think.

Does anyone have an original 'Bachmann' HO 4-4-0 with a burnt out motor ?

Is this 4-4-0 something that folk might have modded into On30 ?



" We Got Places All Over The Place "

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