Bachmann (China) EMD GP50

Introduced: 1987

Bachmann has released some pretty ugly diesel models in their line of "cheapie trainset locos" over the years, and this one is certainly right up there with the worst of them. I've been told that whatever this thing is, it's not a GP50. And why they chose to go with a "high nose" version (when only Southern used GP50's in that configuration) is a question only Bachmann can answer...

This GP50 chassis/mechanism was new for 1987, and Bachmann got a lot of mileage out of it (using it to also replace the older mechanisms in their GP40 and U36B models) -

The heavy chassis is all-metal and split-frame. The motor is an open-sided, skew-wound 3-poler. Pickup is provided by six of the eight wheels (the remaining two being equipped with traction tires). Current is transferred from the trucks to the chassis via oval metal contacts (IE, no wiring). Non-directional lights are mounted on either end of the chassis. All wheels are geared and all the gearing is plastic. Couplers are truck-mounted Rapidos. The wheel flanges are reasonably sized, so no problems on Code-55 track.

A second, slightly altered version was released a few years later (sometime in the 90s). The gearing was changed from white plastic to black plastic and the two little sticky-uppy prongs on the front of the chassis were removed. The motor may also have been changed as it seems to me to be just a titch smaller -

I understand the gear change, what with the original white plastic gears having been prone to shrinking, warping and cracking. As for the chassis contour change? Sorry, that's another question only Bachmann can answer.

Performance is decent (if unspectacular). Pickup is good and throttle response is smooth. Slow speed creep is OK, although jackrabbit starts can occasionally be a problem. The top-end speed is overly high. Pulling power is very good. No problems with narrow radius curves and no problems with derailing. These run a little louder than more modern (and more expensive) diesel models, but I've certainly heard a lot worse (especially from Bachmann).

So, yeah, it's ugly, it's nonprototypical, but it runs OK. I guess that about sums it up for pretty much all of Bachmann's trainset-style locos. Earlier runs will be found in the old Bachmann "white cardboard box". Newer runs come in plastic jewel cases. And as of this writing (2010), Bachmann is still cranking these things out.

To remove the shell, simply spread the sides of the fuel tank apart and lift.

Grade: C (although performance is pretty close to a "B")

Reviewed: 12/87 Model Railroader ("The model's overall dimensions check out fairly well against those shown in MR plans, although there are some discrepencies. The short hood is about 18" too short and the long hood is also short by about 6", so the model doesn't look quite as massive as the real thing. (These super Geeps are enormous machines when beheld in person.) The fan detailing doesn't quite capture the rounded-top look of EMD's Q (for quiet) fans and the dynamic brake fan should not have a cap on it. In addition, the vertical dimension of the radiator grills should extend about another 6" lower on the hood sides. Bachmann's symmetrical dynamic brake housing is also wrong as the left-side housing should extend about another foot toward the cab. Finally, the water-sight glass on the right side is missing. Bachmann's model follows the prototype high-nose version which was ordered only by the Southern, so the horns and bell follow Southern Ry. practice. All other GP50s have the typical EMD low short hood with the windshield looking out over it.

The model is neatly molded and our four samples were nicely painted and neatly lettered, although two of the schemes are certainly not prototypical. (The Santa Fe stopped using the red and silver scheme in the early 70's and the Erie Lackawanna ceased to exist in 1976.) Nonetheless, Bachmann is to be commended for a big improvement over the too glossy, too heavy finishes we've seen on many of their earlier models. We also like the handrails on these new models; they're much finer than on many past efforts, measuring .020" in diameter. Bachmann's GP50 is made at their plant in mainland China. The locomotive's metal frame is made in vertical halves, bookends-style. The halves are held apart and insulated from one another by plastic spacers...

You can't get much simpler than this mechanism, and I give it an A, even though it's a bit tricky to get back together once disassembled... The flat, open-frame motor... runs quietly and well, although the armature is only 1/4"-long and has only three poles. An important feature is the skewed armature design. Also, the manufacturer states the air gap between armature and magnets is quite small, making for a more efficient design... Skewing reduces cogging, and in fact I did seem to feel less cogging when turning the motor with my fingers than seems typical with three-pole motors... One set of drivers is equipped with plastic traction tires, which may be responsible for the model's... jackrabbit starts... Slow speed running is excellent once the model is moving... The electrical pickup is simple and straightforward with no wires... This same new mechanism is also being used with the current production of the GP40 and U36B that have been available for many years... In summary, this is a very nice-running engine and a good value. It's good to see some decent quality at the lower end of the N price spectrum, particularly as that's where many younger modelers must make their selections. UP, SF, BN, EL. Price: $26.00")

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