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Bachmann Standard 4-8-4 Niagara Review

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  • Member since
    June, 2005
  • 3,612 posts
Bachmann Standard 4-8-4 Niagara Review
Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Sunday, August 28, 2005 5:11 PM
This review is on Bachmann's 4-8-4 Niagara steam engine. I believe it started out with a pancake motor drive in the 80's. They upgraded it to their now long gone Plus series with better paint, a better drive and better wheels. It still uses the Plus series drive but with an upgraded motor. Bachmann now sells it in their Standard line. It comes in New York Central with a choice of two different road numbers: 5016 and 6005.




The Bachmann Niagara has a very smooth paint job with very sharp color seperation. It comes with seperate smoke deflectors that have to be installed by the modeler. I had to file a groove on the inside of the left deflector so it could fit around one of the engine's steam pipes on the smokebox. It also comes with a cab interior that has every detail but the crew and seats. Most of the engine's detail is cast on, but some of the larger details are seperate parts. The handrails and coupler lift bar are blackened wire and look as good as railings on very high quality engines. The headlight can't be seen very easily going through the lenses but it is very visable through the smokestack. This can be fixed with a little electrical tape. All the wheels are blackened and have RP-25 flanges. The insides of the wheels are painted black, but Bachmann doesn't paint the proper white rims on the wheels. I painted the white rims on all but the drive wheels. The engine comes with a working smoke unit and comes with smoke fluid. It's neat to watch it smoke like a real steam engine, but it will only smoke for a couple minutes before needing a refill, if you put in the recommended 2-3 drops. The smoke unit is actually big enough to hold about 8-10 drops of smoke fluid. The tender has the large front and back grab irons and a pipe going all the way across the right side. The coal load is casted better than alot of coal loads on other manufacturer's steam engines. There is a port in the bottom of the tender for a sound speaker, but the engine isn't sound or DCC ready. The tender's wheels move side-to-side enough to easily make it around 18" curves. The New York Central logo on the side isn't done as well as the paint on the rest of the engine.



The Niagara test ran well. It ran a little wobbly at lower speeds but was smoother at high speeds. It runs very quietly with the only noticable noise coming from the total of 30 wheels going around the track. The valve-gear operates smoothly and there are no binds in the mechanism. The motor came silver, but I painted it black because I could see it through the bottom of the shell. The minimum speed I could keep it running at was around 15 scale MPH. It reached a maximum speed of around 120-130 scale MPH. At 12 volts it drew 0.33 amps of current. The stall current was from 1.20 to 1.35 amps, depending on where the motor was. It's drawbar pull is strong enough to pull maybe 25-35 cars, which doesn't seem like much considering it weighs 1 pound. The worm is large enough to produce the effect of a small flywheel. The engine made it around 18" curves fairly easily. The front truck on the engine didn't have a strong enough spring to hold it down, so I replaced it. The tender rolls O.K., but it's not as good as most freight cars.

The Bachmann 4-8-4 Niagara is overall a good engine that's only a couple steps below the Spectrum steamers. It's also reasonably priced for anyone.[:)][:)][:)]

_________________________________________________________________

Darth Santa Fe, doing weird and challenging projects for the fun of it!

  • Member since
    December, 2003
  • From: Westminster, Maryland
  • 2,643 posts
Posted by TrainFreak409 on Sunday, August 28, 2005 5:23 PM
Well done Darth, well done.

I considered purchasing that locomotive before I swiched to N scale. I have the Union Pacific verison of it, which features a vanderbuilt tender, and a two-tone gray paint job. One of my better standard Bachmann locomotives, but hardly a match for my Spectrum K4.

One of the flaws with the Bachmann 4-8-4 model is its lead truck spring. It seems that everyone complains about that. It'll derail over almost any imperfection in the track work, and gets fairly annoying.[V]

I wish I knew more about Bachmann's N scale 4-8-4s, I wouldn't mind having one of them.[:)]

Great job again, Darth![tup]
  • Member since
    June, 2005
  • 3,612 posts
Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Sunday, August 28, 2005 5:31 PM
Two things I forgot to mention. It comes with both a Bachmann E-Z Mate coupler and X2F couplers. The engine has 12 of 16 wheels picking up electricity, so you don't have to worry about it stalling anywhere.[:D]

_________________________________________________________________

Darth Santa Fe, doing weird and challenging projects for the fun of it!

  • Member since
    May, 2005
  • 1,168 posts
Posted by dgwinup on Sunday, August 28, 2005 6:05 PM
TrainFreak409,

Bachmann's N scale 4-8-4 has at least two variations. Check the side rods.

Bachmann sold 4-8-4's in sets and individually. These had either black plastic or metal side rods. The black plastic units did not perform as well as their metal counterparts. Most of the 4-8-4's that Bachmann sold individually had steel side rods. These performed much better.

I have quite a few of these units, both plastic and steel side rods. They all run pretty well, but overall, the steel rods run better. Both are sometimes touchy about electrical pickup and they prefer smooth track. They will perform on 9 3/4" radius curves, but don't like it much.

Bachmann still lists these in their catalog at around $100. (http://www.shopatron.com/product/product_id=BAC58052/211.0) They should be heavily discounted elsewhere and you can buy them inexpensively on eBay. The newer ones probably will outperform the older one because they've been in production so long that most of the bugs have been worked out.

Discounttrainsonline lists one for $65 http://www.discounttrainsonline.com/N-Scale-Locomotives-Bachmann/N_LOC_160_2.html

eHobbies lists the Empire Builder train set for $145 (http://www.ehobbies.com/bac24009.html). It looks like these have metal side rods now.

I wouldn't hesitate to try a new one, especially at $65. It sounds like a good bargain. If you like them, adding to your loco roster is easy on eBay. Just do your homework, read the descriptions and ask questions if necessary.

Hope this info helps. I like my 4-8-4's. When I figure out how to get them all converted to MT's, they will look great doubleheaded!

Darrell, knowingly quiet...for now
Darrell, quiet...for now
  • Member since
    December, 2003
  • From: Westminster, Maryland
  • 2,643 posts
Posted by TrainFreak409 on Sunday, August 28, 2005 7:14 PM
Thanks Darrell, I know where to get them for $60.95, and they are all of the 2004 production run, so now that I know that these locomotives perform well, I may have to order one. Thank you.

Check blwnscale.com for the $60.95 price.

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