Author Topic: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions  (Read 6055 times)

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wm3798

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H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« on: March 07, 2007, 10:46:26 PM »
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Well, I received my Ted Pack today, and got a close look at the Bachmann H-16-44, which they released recently as part of their "standard line".

I have to say that my first impression of this model is very good.  I think this locomotive finally shows that Bachmann is ready to play ball in the Big Leagues... well, the high end of Triple A, anyway.  Here's a first look at it right out of the box...


My camera might make it look a little green, probably the incandescent lighting I used, but the color looks very good in person.  I compared it to the Atlas GP-9 I got recently that wears the same paint scheme, and the Bachmann wins, hands down on the colors.  The Atlas is just a little too bright. 

I also find the shell to be very well detailed, especially at this price point (under $40!)  I shot the following with a little bit longer exposure.  This washes the color out a little, but you can really see the detail.

Fireman's Side


Engineer's Side.  (I say this because all the photos I found show the prototype running long hood forward...)


Here's the front


and the back.

The grills are crisply done, although no match for the etchings used on Atlas' Trainmasters.  The definitely pass the 3 feet away test.  The handrails and horns are as nicely done as any by Kato or Atlas, and the truck detail is also impressive.  I found the paint job to be well done, although the base color appears a bit thick in places, particularly along the short hood sill.  The finely detailed grills are fine, though.  Again, not nearly as bad as other Bachmann standard line efforts of the past, but not quite as clean as Life-Like or Atlas.
The lettering and striping is crisp, and the silver frames for the windows really make the model look like a higher end locomotive.

For those of you keeping score, I looked up the All Time B&O Diesel Roster, and found that the original numbering of the H-16-44 ended with 927 in an order received in 1955.  Additional units were purchased in 1957, but these were number in the 6700 series following the merger with C&O.  There was not a number 928 according to the information I was able to dredge up thus far.  I plan to renumber the unit into the later series anyway, so this isn't a big issue for me.

Now the meat and potatoes...  Let's look under the hood...


Getting the shell off was a bit of a challenge.  The mounting nubbins on the frame are a bit severe, and you really have to give it a tug to get it off.  I may file them down a bit to make future servicing a little easier.  Once inside, here's what we find...

The small screw located just left of the motor holds a removable piece of the frame weight in place. When removed, there is plenty of room for a Digitrax DZ-123 or other small decoder with no milling of the frame required. This is quite an igenious design.


The light board includes two clips near the center on this side that can be removed to allow the decoder leads to be soldered right to the board. My example had clips that were a bit loose, causing the engine to stall in DC mode, but this was easily fixed by pulling them off and pinching them down a bit so they'd seat more snuggly.  Once I did this, it ran fine in DC. 


Here's the frame with the weight in the front end removed.  You can see there is plenty of room for a decoder.  I hope the guy who came up with this got a raise.

Okay, so how does it run?  If you've got any Spectrum F units, and I've had a bunch of them, this drive is much better.  The gearing is more 'relaxed', but there isn't a flywheel.  Once I worked out the connection issue, I tested it back and forth at slow speed, and it does creep at switching speeds pretty well.  Once I get a decoder in it, I'll be able to give it the torture test, sending it through the switches in the paper mill, none of which have live frogs.  The longer wheelbase should make that work fine.

Nowthen, the downers.  (But keep in mind that this is a $35 engine).  The LED's are cleverly designed and very low profile.  But they're as yellow as North Dorchester Sweet Corn.  They're plenty bright, but way too yeller.  And the way they're buried in the light board will make them difficult to replace.  The short hood LED is located all the way back by the cab, which has no light shade like Atlas and Life Like provide.  The result will be little or no light projecting through the short hood headlight and number boards, but a wild fire burning in the cab.  A regular LED with a longer extension would have been an obvious solution.

The trucks remain defiantly Bachmann.  Despite the proliferation of low-friction trucks (all the other manufacturers use them...) Bachmann is holding out for the day when wipers rubbing the back of the wheel come back in fashion.  The wipers seem to be adequately sprung to keep contact for good, but over time this may be a problem.  They have also stuck with a wiper that rotates with the truck to make contact with the split frame, but it seems to be a slightly better design than the one used on the Spectrum F.  We shall see.  Also, the wheelsets are the typical two part axle press fit into a nylon gear.  I didn't have problems with this on the Spectrum F's I had, but the Plus F's were terrible for cracking gears.

We'll see how that pans out over the long term.

Tomorrow I'll take a stab at installing a decoder, then we'll put her through her paces on the layout.  I don't think I have to disassemble anything to do the installation, but if anyone wants an exploded view of the drive, I'll pop it apart for you.

To sum up, if this design becomes the standard drive for Bachmann, and they make modest improvements to their F shell, and serious upgrades to their other standard line Crap Masters, Bachmann could become what Life Like was 10 years ago, only DCC-ready.  I think my dream of $40 F units may be close to coming true!

Lee
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Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

SAH

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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2007, 08:56:31 AM »
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Thanks for the review Lee.  I "kind of" went through the same steps last night myself, but you have more experience under the hood than I, so I picked up quite a few pointers.  What do you think about the B'mann sound system?   ;)  My Spectrum F unit drive is without question related to the ice crusher in my 'fridge.  The H16-44 is better but much noisier than the Atlas H16-44.  Is that something anyone considers or are there more pressing issues to think about when building a fleet?  If so, what do you do about it?  Earplugs?  Turn up the music?

Steve

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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2007, 09:23:37 AM »
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For reference, pix I posted here a while back:

alongside an Atlas Trainmaster:







The lettering is crisp, but slightly off.

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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2007, 09:26:09 AM »
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Thanks for the review Lee.  I "kind of" went through the same steps last night myself, but you have more experience under the hood than I, so I picked up quite a few pointers.  What do you think about the B'mann sound system?   ;)  My Spectrum F unit drive is without question related to the ice crusher in my 'fridge.  The H16-44 is better but much noisier than the Atlas H16-44.  Is that something anyone considers or are there more pressing issues to think about when building a fleet?  If so, what do you do about it?  Earplugs?  Turn up the music?

Steve

I'm considering putting an Atlas mech under it.

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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2007, 10:49:22 AM »
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I retired all of my Spectrum F units and sold them off.  I actually found that after a bit of run in, they ran fairly quietly.  What sent them to the scrapper was the power draw of the motors, which killed several decoders before I finally threw in the towel on converting them.

I believe the current draw was related to the mount of work the motor had to do to overcome the tension of the drive line.  There was nothing low friction about the Spectrum F drive.  This appears to be a lot better design, although the nylon gears may be contributing to the noise.  I'll be using mine in tandem with my Atlas VO-1000, which is much noisier than the Bachmann H-16-44.  It may end up taking over the paper plant switching duties full time, and the VO will be sent off the Elkins yard to bump cars there.

My back and forth test track runs in DC were satisfactory, the engine starts well, runs well at slow speed, and doesn't appear to be overly noisy.  Once I get the decoder in it and can run it around the layout for awhile, I'll be able to give you a more thorough report.

Lee
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Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2007, 11:01:50 AM »
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My back and forth test track runs in DC were satisfactory, the engine starts well, runs well at slow speed, and doesn't appear to be overly noisy.  Once I get the decoder in it and can run it around the layout for awhile, I'll be able to give you a more thorough report.

Lee

Interesting - mine was a classic jack rabbit on DC - maybe I need a new power pack. :o

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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2007, 11:10:16 AM »
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I tested it with an old MRC Tech 2. 
Lee
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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2007, 11:12:56 AM »
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I tested it with an old MRC Tech 2. 
Lee

Mine's way older - a Throttlepack 500N. :'(

I think next time I'm at MBK it's time to get a little more "current".
« Last Edit: March 08, 2007, 11:15:04 AM by NandW »

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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2007, 12:29:46 PM »
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From NandW
I'm considering putting an Atlas mech under it.
_______________


I did some prelim looks at that too.  The Atlas RS-1 has the exact 31' bolster - bolster dimension as the B'mann H16-44.

Steve

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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2007, 12:45:13 PM »
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I retired all of my Spectrum F units and sold them off.  I actually found that after a bit of run in, they ran fairly quietly.  What sent them to the scrapper was the power draw of the motors, which killed several decoders before I finally threw in the towel on converting them.

I believe the current draw was related to the mount of work the motor had to do to overcome the tension of the drive line.  There was nothing low friction about the Spectrum F drive.  This appears to be a lot better design, although the nylon gears may be contributing to the noise.  I'll be using mine in tandem with my Atlas VO-1000, which is much noisier than the Bachmann H-16-44.  It may end up taking over the paper plant switching duties full time, and the VO will be sent off the Elkins yard to bump cars there.

My back and forth test track runs in DC were satisfactory, the engine starts well, runs well at slow speed, and doesn't appear to be overly noisy.  Once I get the decoder in it and can run it around the layout for awhile, I'll be able to give you a more thorough report.

Lee

As I suspected regarding the Spectrum F drive train.  Man do they pull though.

Interesting about your Baldwin.  I bought one for possible conversion to an H20-44.  (Hopefully I'll procrastinate long enough that someone will make an H20-44 shell so I won't have to bash one  ;)).  Mine moves like a ghost.  I'm always amazed at the variability of running characteristics between two identical models, made supposedly at the same time.

I ran the B'mann H16-44 in a loop for about an hour.  Great slow speed control (Troller Autopulse - The Throttlepack has me beat I'm afraid  ;D)  My only issue with it is the noise, and only becasue it's much noiser than the Atlas models it will join on the roster.  I'll be interested to hear how the DCC conv goes Lee.  Now is the time to do it if I'm gonna I suppose, since I'm more or less building a fleet from scratch.

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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2007, 02:19:37 PM »
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I'll try to remember to take home the wiring diagram today!  If I'd remembered last night, we'd already be talking about it!
Lee
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Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2007, 10:49:16 PM »
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Tonight I got the decoder installed, and it was a snap.  The directions are very clear, and it worked fine on the first try.  I did have to adjust the little wipers that make contact between the frame and the board, but that was pretty minor.

I'm now working on the coupler situation.  Bachmann has got to have the screwiest set up for couplers ever.  I'm installing MT 1015's, but it requires a little filing and plastic surgery to get them to hold firmly to the shell, clear the mechanism, and ride at the right height.  All my photo stuff is up in the attic, and Andy's gone to bed.  Hopefully by SNFF I'll have some shots.

I did get a chance to run it in for awhile.  It smoothed out after awhile, and did very well at slow speeds through the turnouts in the switching area.  I ran it around the layout with 11 cars (empty hoppers) and one of the lighted cabooses, and it did fine on the flat, but it had a time handling the steepish grade that rises on the Thomas Sub around the paper mill.  I was a little disappointed in it's pulling capability, but I'll do some more scientific comparisons when I have more time.

The weight of it is comparable to an older Atlas GP (Pre DCC) but for some reason it doesn't transfer the weight into tractive effort the way Atlas does.... Anyway, as I said, it's a $35 engine, and I shouldn't expect miracles, and a more thorough comparison will tell the tail.

Noise wise, it's a bit louder than my older Atlas engines, but no where near as loud as the VO-1000.

This is a fun exercise in researching a prototype and testing a new engine.  I hope you all are enjoying the ride as much as I am.
Lee
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Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2007, 08:59:43 AM »
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This is a fun exercise in researching a prototype and testing a new engine.  I hope you all are enjoying the ride as much as I am.
Lee

Aye, thanks for sharing. 8)

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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2007, 09:22:03 AM »
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This is a fun exercise in researching a prototype and testing a new engine.  I hope you all are enjoying the ride as much as I am.
Lee

Aye, thanks for sharing. 8)

I second that.  You've saved me from learning the hard way during the "discovery phase".  Much appreciated.

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Re: H-16-44 by Bachmann - First Impressions
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2007, 01:24:32 AM »
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Did a little more work on the newly christened 9743 tonight. I installed the rear coupler following the same practice as the front with satisfactory results. I also started inventorying what I'll need to add the walk board and anti-climbers to the pilots, and I' debating whether to strip the shell and start from scratch, or try to gingerly remove the lettering but not the paint... I'll have to think on that.

I also solved the problem of the rear (short hood) headlight by taking a piece of clear plastic sprue I had laying around and making a light conductor from the LED to the headlight lense. Works great. I've also grown comfortable with the color of the LED's. They're still a little yellow, but now it just makes the unit look older than the others I have, which it would be.

More pictures as they become available. On of my compadre's over on the A-board send me a nice image of three of these locomotives lugging coal hoppers around in Baltimore in 1971... I may have to get a couple more of these! Even with the added expense of couplers and a decoder, they are well worth the investment.

Maybe the Laurel Valley should get a couple too... hmmm.

Lee
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Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net