Bachmann (China) 2-8-0 Consolidation / 2-8-2 Mikado

Introduced: 1980 (2-8-0) and 1983 (2-8-2 and revised 2-8-0)

Except for the obvious differences (trailing truck and tenders), Bachmann's 2-8-0 and 2-8-2 models are identical. So, to save myself a bit of time I'm going to cover them both here.

The first (1980) run of 2-8-0's had a number of differences from the later releases. As pictured above, the valve gear was linked to the crosshead; a feature that apparently led to a lot of problems (crashing into switch machines, etc). The motor is a really cheap looking straight-wound 5-poler with a plastic housing (and as such, was prone to actually melting during operations). None of the drivers are equipped with traction tires.

A revised 2-8-0 and a "new" 2-8-2 were released in 1983. The problematic valve gear of the original 2-8-0 was removed, and both models received new motors. The 2-8-2 was basically a 2-8-0 with a tacked-on trailing truck and a new Vandy tender (the USRA tender on the 2-8-0 was actually borrowed from Bachmann's earlier USRA 0-6-0 steamer). Bachmann's 2-8-0 was actually a reasonably accurate representation of a Reading Consolidation. On the other hand, trying to turn it into a "Light Mikado" by simply adding a trailing truck was... oh, misguided? Ah well, what are you gonna do? This sort of "two models for the price of one" craziness was not at all uncommon back in the early days of N scale.

The new motor is an open-sided, 3-pole, skew-wound job (with - hurray! - a metal housing). The chassis is plastic, with most of the model's heft provided by a large metal weight screwed to the top. Pickup is provided solely by the rear three sets of drivers (the forward drivers being equipped with traction tires). The pilot (and in the case of the Mikado, trailing) trucks are electrically neutral (as is the tender). All the drivers are geared (and all the gearing is plastic). A non-directional headlight is mounted inside the chassis weight. The pilot coupler is a non-operational knuckle. The tender coupler is a Rapido (truck-mounted on the Vandy tender and body-mounted on the USRA tender). The wheel flanges are reasonably sized, so no problems on Code 55 track.

When faced with a simple oval of track, performance is quite good. They run very quietly, throttle response is great, the running gear action is smooth, slow speed creep is quite excellent and pulling power is very good. Unfortunately, due to the very limited pickup footprint, these models are pretty much useless on layouts with turnouts, as they will instantly stall when faced with one (at anything less than full throttle, anyway). Another problem is the white plastic Bachmann used for the driver gears - a notoriously unreliable brew, said plastic is prone to shrinking, cracking and/or warping over time.

Despite their horrendous ugliness (as provided by Bachmann), the shells sport a decent amount of detailing and good things can actually be done with them (as evidenced by the repainted "first run" 2-8-0 above). Hook up a tender that can provide pickup and you might actually find a decent locomotive hiding in there someplace. But as delivered, they're all pretty typical examples of "Bachmann trainset junk".

There seems to be this urban legend floating around out there that a "tender pickup" version (similar to Bachmann's 2-6-2 Prairie model) was released at some point. However, I checked with Bachmann and they assured me that such a thing never existed. So, until such time as somebody can show me pictures of one, I'll have to defer to Bachmann's assertion.

Both of these models were discontinued circa 2004 (they are no longer listed on Bachmann's website). And none of these models should be confused with Bachmann's infinitely superior Spectrum 2-8-0 (released in 2001).

To remove the locomotive shell, first unscrew the screw inside the smokestack. Next, spread the shell sides apart down by the cab. It should lift right off at that point.

Grade: C

(Thanks for the picture 3rdrail, rest in peace)

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