Author Topic: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+  (Read 7509 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

wm3798

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 12859
  • Gender: Male
  • I like models. She likes antiques. Perfect!
  • Respect: +1152
    • Western Maryland Railway Western Lines
Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« on: December 17, 2011, 08:38:02 PM »
0
A- if you take into account the price tag.



So here it is.  Like a thief in the night, Bachmann rolled out this virtually unannounced model to a waiting world recently, and overall, I'd say they have a good model here.  The first impression of its appearance is very satisfactory.  The overall lines are good, the proportions look right, and the fit and finish is very good.  When comparing it to the venerable Atlas RS-3, one has to look twice to tell which is which.


188 is from a recent Atlas release, and 198 is the new Bachmann.

In some important respects, the Bachmann engine actually surpasses its older cousin.  The horns and handrails are finer, the right height looks a bit better, and the paint and finish is on first glance, a little tighter.  The trucks are good looking, with blackened wheels and crisp detail, and the model comes equipped with Bachmann's EZ Mate Mark 2 couplers... these are the ones with the little springs to operate the knuckle.

The couplers are reminiscent of the new N scale McHenrys, being a bit bulky compared to the Atlas Accumate.


For the WM modeler, both manufacturers have their shortcomings.  Neither provides sun shades, 5-chime horns, or corner mounted number boards.  These are relatively easy additions to make, though.  Also missing are the large spark arrestor screens over the fan housings, the extra battery boxes aft of the cab, and the extra filter grates along the long hood.  Typically I go for the basic spotting features, but I may undertake some of the others at some point.

So far so good.  Then we put her on the rails...

First, let's take a look under the hood.


Like other Bachmann DCC equipped locomotives, the RS-3's board looks like something NASA might have used in the late 1960's.  A bizarre array of attachments, springs, chips and what nots stretch from stem to stern.  Having recently installed a few Z-2's from TCS into the cabs of some S-2 switchers, it's strange to see a board so large and complex.  But, alas, this probably contributes to the Bachmann Alco's price point.  According to the paperwork, the decoder is a dual mode, meaning it operates smoothly on DC as well as DCC, and it's programmed for 28 speed steps.  It's equipped with tiny surface mount LED's at each end, which provide bright white directional lighting.  Like the Atlas unit, only the headlights are lit, not the numberboards.

How about performance?  Well, it depends on when you ask.  Right out of the box, the engine lurched a few inches and stalled.  I inspected the pick ups, and discovered there were two problems.  One is the design, the other was in the assembly.

Like the H-16-44 before it, the RS-3 depends on truck mounted wipers contacting the back of the drive wheels, rather than the needle point axles and outside bronze cups we're used to seeing in Atlas, Walthers and Kato models.  Why Bachmann continues to use this antiquated set up is beyond me.  The wipers are very small and relatively fragile, so if you find you need to disassemble the truck for any reason, you need to be extremely cautious putting it back together so as not to crimp or damage the pickups.


And therein lies the main problem...  The pickups on the lead truck were not making contact with the wheels, because they had been bent out of shape during assembly, presumably at the factory.  The result was one truck achieving only intermittent contact.  Any speck of dust, or insulated frog, or any unevenness in the track resulted in a stall.  I took apart the truck, corrected the problem, and THEN found the engine to be a good runner.

It operates smoothly and quietly, although not as quietly as the Atlas.  Slow speed is good, but only when I set my MRC throttle to 128 speed steps, which fools the 28 step decoder into thinking it's better than it is.

I haven't tested the comparative tractive effort of the two models (or with the older Atlas/Kato model), but the engine does MU evenly with a newer Atlas slow motor-equipped RS with a little tinkering with the speed tables.  You'll also be interested to know that the Atlas shell does fit on the Bachmann drive, but the battery box weights on the Atlas mean you can't work the other way round.

The main nuisance I've found with the engine is the damn lighting.  Apparently Bachmann follows the Lenz protocol, which allows the lights to get doused whenever there's an interruption in power.  This leaves the operator having to repeatedly re-set the lights with F-0.  This can be particularly frustrating when the engine is MU'd, where you have to go back and call up the individual loco to put the lights back on.

So, in the end, it's not a bad effort, and for the street price of under $70, it's a good bargain.  The shortcomings are minor, with the possible exception of the spotty assembly of my sample.  I have test run several others which didn't exhibit this problem, so I'm sure if you "try before you buy," you'll be happy with the results.  I'm looking forward to putting one of Bachmann's new NE cabooses behind it for a trip up the Thomas Sub!

Lee



Route of the Alpha Jets

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

ljudice

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 2975
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +117
    • NS/CR Camp Car Models
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2011, 08:40:08 PM »
0
I for one, welcome our new Kader Overlords!


M.C. Fujiwara

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 1344
  • I'm my own personal train-er.
  • Respect: +84
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2011, 08:53:09 PM »
0
Thanks for the write-up, Lee.
The wiper / truck issues are not limited to the RS-3.
On the 44-tonner I got for the boxcab I built, the front truck had one wiper that was bent inward and so didn't make contact with the wheel.
Me trying to correct it only made it worse.

So I ordered two replacement trucks from Bmann ($8 each).
Of the two that showed up, one was fine, but the other had a wiper bent outside of the wheel.
Like it was trying to reach out and tighten a nut.

In replacing the trucks on the 44-tonner, I, too, learned that you have to be VERY careful pulling the trucks off and putting them back on, especially to not bend the contact strips on top of the truck that touch the bottom of the frame sides.
But to pull off & put on you have to angle the truck slightly to disengage, but that bends the contact strips!
You can rebend & push up, but as you reattach it bends the contact stips slightly down.
ARGH!
If anyone has a better way of going about this, I'm all beers.

Good to know the RS-3 is decent, though.
Can you easily replace the Bmann stock decoder with something that has a better slow speed creep?

Now I just wish someone would make some quality RS-1s that don't need milling to run DCC.
Cheers!
M.C. Fujiwara
Silicon Valley Free-moN
http://sv-free-mon.org/

MichaelWinicki

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 1987
  • Respect: +83
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2011, 09:31:29 PM »
0
Thanks for the write-up, Lee.
The wiper / truck issues are not limited to the RS-3.
On the 44-tonner I got for the boxcab I built, the front truck had one wiper that was bent inward and so didn't make contact with the wheel.
Me trying to correct it only made it worse.

So I ordered two replacement trucks from Bmann ($8 each).
Of the two that showed up, one was fine, but the other had a wiper bent outside of the wheel.
Like it was trying to reach out and tighten a nut.

In replacing the trucks on the 44-tonner, I, too, learned that you have to be VERY careful pulling the trucks off and putting them back on, especially to not bend the contact strips on top of the truck that touch the bottom of the frame sides.
But to pull off & put on you have to angle the truck slightly to disengage, but that bends the contact strips!
You can rebend & push up, but as you reattach it bends the contact stips slightly down.
ARGH!
If anyone has a better way of going about this, I'm all beers.

Good to know the RS-3 is decent, though.
Can you easily replace the Bmann stock decoder with something that has a better slow speed creep?

Now I just wish someone would make some quality RS-1s that don't need milling to run DCC.
Cheers!

One of my Bachmann RS3's also had a problem with a wiper on one of the trucks not making contact.  However I was able to bend it back, and the locomotive has been operating fine ever since.

A re-designed RS1 would be great!

I would hope that Atlas would redo the weight distribution on it though... It's probably the weakest non-switcher I have.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2011, 09:59:06 PM by MichaelWinicki »

Puddington

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 3874
  • Gender: Male
  • Modelling is the best medicine for what ails me.
  • Respect: +236
    • The Canadian Pacific Railway's Dominion
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2011, 09:37:48 PM »
0
I would hope that Atlas would redo the weight distribution on it though... It's probably the weakest non-switcher I have.

Nice to know that my two Atlas RS 1's are not the only ones that can't pull very well......
Model railroading isn't saving my life, but it's providing me moments of joy not normally associated with my current situation..... Train are good!

MichaelWinicki

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 1987
  • Respect: +83
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2011, 10:08:22 PM »
0
Nice to know that my two Atlas RS 1's are not the only ones that can't pull very well......

Before I was able to find an Atlas RS1 in Penn Central garb, I had picked up a couple of Walther's RS2's and they were decent all around locomotives, with at least acceptable pulling power.  I figured an Atlas RS1 would have similar pulling power.

I finally got an RS1, put in a TCS 2-part decoder, programmed it, put it on the tracks and watched it pull a whopping 3 cars up the 4% grade on my branch.  The only other loco I have that's weaker is my Atlas RSD5, with the funky only-2-axles-out-of-3 being powered.

Over on Spookshow's website he mentions that his Bachmann RS3 was a weak puller as compared to his Atlas RS3.  Must have been a big design change from the RS1's to the Atlas RS3's.

BCR 570

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 1423
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +730
    • BCR Dawson Creek Subdivision in N Scale
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2011, 10:41:27 PM »
0
Lee:

Thanks for the report - I haven't seen one of these and was wondering how they compared.  I did see the new 40 foot boxcar and single dome tank car at the hobby shop today and they looked pretty good.

Tim
T. Horton
North Vancouver, B.C.
BCR Dawson Creek Subdivision in N Scale
www.bcrdawsonsub.ca

Bob Bufkin

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 6396
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +42
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2011, 10:48:59 PM »
0
I ran that for about 15 minutes with no problem before shipping to you.  Gotta a feeling the P.O. did a bump on the package which caused the problem.

For into, the WM RS has the twin horizontal lights.  The PRR one I have has the twin vertical lights.

If Bachmann ever does the GP-9, I'm hoping they to the later version than the Atlas one.  Would make converting into a B unit that much easier.

MichaelT

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 483
  • Gender: Male
  • HCD module mania!
  • Respect: +1
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2011, 11:00:03 PM »
0
Thanks for the write up Lee;

our LHS received a few of these engines this week and he and I were discussing them earlier today. He said he had heard they run quite well. I'll pass along your information to him to share with others who ask about them in his shop.

michael
Jesus is my engineer! :)

wm3798

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 12859
  • Gender: Male
  • I like models. She likes antiques. Perfect!
  • Respect: +1152
    • Western Maryland Railway Western Lines
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2011, 11:31:33 PM »
0
If these locomotives are going to be an ongoing stock item for Bachmann, the decoder aftermarket would do well to offer a replacement.  It's a very simple set up, with wires going to the motor, and everything else making pick up with springy wipers.  It's held in place with four plastic clips.


Either way, there's a gob of room for a DZ125, and you can use surplus light boards from Atlas.  With a little cautious milling you could possibly even get a sound chip in there, and put the speaker in the cab.

So to sum up:
Appearance - A
Fit and finish - A+
Prototype fidelity - C
Pick ups - D
Motor - A
Lighting system - C-
Drive system - B (a little noisy, lots of grease)
Assembly - C-
New Jewel Box A+!
Price Point A

Lee
Route of the Alpha Jets

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

bbussey

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 7012
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +997
    • www.bbussey.net
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2011, 11:45:59 PM »
0
... Must have been a big design change from the RS1's to the Atlas RS3's.

The Atlas RS3 of course preceded the Atlas RS1.  However, no big design change.  It's just that the RS1 model is lighter and less powerful due to the more narrow hood and smaller motor.  It works fine for what it is, a light road switcher.
Bryan Busséy
NHRHTA #2246
NSE #1117
www.bbussey.net


wm3798

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 12859
  • Gender: Male
  • I like models. She likes antiques. Perfect!
  • Respect: +1152
    • Western Maryland Railway Western Lines
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2011, 11:53:15 PM »
0
Agreed, Bryan.  I've had a number of the RS-1's cross my workbench.  The older ones with the Kato drive are a bit heavier, which helps, but the newer Atlas drive is a bit smoother.  both manage 10 cars up the 2+% grade up the Thomas Sub on my layout.  That's my benchmark.  With the 15" r loop behind the paper mill, the effective grade is probably more like 3%.

The RS-3's will almost always be run in tandem, but depending on how the break in goes with the Bachmann unit, I will probably stick with the Atlas one for single switching duties.

Lee
Route of the Alpha Jets

Lee Weldon www.wmrywesternlines.net

bbussey

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 7012
  • Gender: Male
  • Respect: +997
    • www.bbussey.net
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2011, 01:12:15 AM »
0
I usually run the Atlas units in sets of two or even three.  I've been set in that department for decades, but it's good to see that the Bachmann model is comparable operation-wise and visually.  The subtle visual differences help make units look unique and not cookie-cutter.  I, as do you, use the RS-1 units for yard work and light duty.  It works fine as a yard switcher, especially given that there aren't many true diesel yard switchers in N.
Bryan Busséy
NHRHTA #2246
NSE #1117
www.bbussey.net


MichaelWinicki

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 1987
  • Respect: +83
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2011, 08:39:05 AM »
0
Is there a truck or wheel replacement for the Atlas RS1's?

I'd like to ditch the deeper flanged wheels it came with, for a wheelset that has a shallower flange.

Scottl

  • Crew
  • *
  • Posts: 4028
  • Respect: +445
Re: Bachmann RS-3 gets a solid B+
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2011, 10:27:54 AM »
0
Maybe this belongs in a new thread, but I'm struck by how these manufacturers have now supplied us with a duplicate loco in an obscure eastern road.  What about us modern western (or northern) modellers!  :ashat: