These are teriffic looking models that are least capable of running extremely well. However, as is often the case with Bachmann steamers, QC can be an issue (more on that in a moment).
The boiler shell is all metal (and with the larger details such as the domes being molded right into the shell) -
The locomotive chassis is all-metal and split-frame. The coreless motor (#10235) is equipped with a single flywheel. There are no traction tires, so all six drivers provide pickup. The pilot and trailing trucks are electrically neutral. A PC board with a directional headlight is mounted to the front of the chassis. Wires for motor control and lighting control are soldered to the motor and lightboard (respectively) and run back to a socket connector that plugs into pins on the tender PC board. Two of the wires in the six-wire harness between the engine and the tender transfer driver current back to the tender PC board (as opposed to previous steamers which used stiff wires on the plastic tender drawbar to get driver current back to the tender). E-Z Mate automatic/magnetic couplers are mounted on the pilot and the tender chassis (Rapido-style couplers are included in the box should you want to go that route). A dummy front coupler in the "down" position is also included in the box. Wheels are low-profile, so no problems on Code-55 rails.
All driver axles are equipped with separate brass bearing blocks that seat inside cutouts in the chassis. Only the rear axle is geared geared, so the forward driversets are turned solely by the running gear. The worm and main axle gear are brass, whereas the intermediate gears are white plastic.
The decoder plugs into a socket on top of the tender PC board. The speaker is mounted underneath said PC board. An LED on the PC board provides illumination for the backup light. The backup light is off until you put the locomotive into reverse (the headlight is always on regardless of direction, but gets brighter when the locomotive is moving forward). All eight tender wheels provide pickup (by way of low-friction axle cups). Current is transferred from the tender trucks to the tender by way of sticky-uppy wipers that rub up against flexible contacts on the tender PC board.
The first one of these that I purchased turned out to be a total lemon and had to be returned. It had some a serious binding issue someplace in the running gear that I was never able to figure out. Making matters worse, one of the siderods eventually popped loose from the plastic hanger that it attaches to (held in place by a rather flimsy little plastic push-pin that's impossible to reinstall).
Fortunately, the replacement turned out to be perfect in every way. Right out of the box it ran super smooth and whisper quiet and with none of the binding issues exhibited by my first sample. Slow speed creep is impressive and the top end speed is reasonable and realistic. Pickup is flawless, with mine able to nimbly crawl through insulated frog turnouts at yard speeds. No problems with any of the wheels derailing on sharp (9.75"-radius) curves. Despite the lack of traction tires, it has no problem pulling a prototypically sized passenger train (15+ cars). The sound is very good, although a bit overly loud as delivered (at least to my ear). Overall, just a truly outstanding locomotive (with the caveat that you may have to purchase and return more than one before you finally get a keeper).
Here's what Bachmann has to say about them -
As the 1920s progressed, the need for faster, more powerful locomotives to pull the 20th Century Limited and other famous trains along the New York Central's routes become clear. The American Locomotive Company fulfilled that need in 1927, as the 4-6-4 Hudson type entered service along its namesake Hudson River. The Hudson became an iconic symbol of both the New York Central and fast, luxury rail travel. Factory-set for 4-6-4 maximum realism and equipped with an Econami SoundTraxx steam package, the locomotive offers a choice of 16 whistles, multiple variations of 6 bell types, 4 prototypical chuffs, 5 air pumps and 4 dynamos, plus cylinder cocks, grade-crossing signal, blowdown, brake squeal/release, coupling/uncoupling, water stop, and "All aboard" / coach doors, all in 16-bit polyphonic sound.
- DCC sound-equipped with Econami Sound Value package
- Dual-mode NMRA-compliant decoder
- Precision motor
- Authentic Boxpok-style drivers
- Operating headlight and tender backup light
- Completely hidden drive train
- Gear drive
- Separate detail parts, including bell, whistle, pop valves, and handrails
- Die-cast chassis
- Metal driver axle bearings
- E-Z Mate Mark II couplers, rear; extra front dummy coupler in down position included
- Performs best on 11.25" radius curves or greater
- MSRP $439
Shell Removal -
Removing the locomotive shell is surprisingly simple. First, remove the screw underneath the trailing truck. Next, pop the ends of the handrails out of the forward pilot assembly. The shell should lift off readily at that point.
To remove the tender shell, unscrew the four screws on the underside of the chassis (one in each corner). Removing the forward wheelset from the front truck and the rear wheelset from the back truck simplifies this procedure. Once the screws are out, the shell will lift right off.