Truck Tweaking

"Grandma's Switcher" (Bachmann S4) and
Lil' Yellow (Bachmann 44 Ton switcher) never did run right.  

The S4 couldn't make it 3 ft without getting stuck (no power) and the 44 needed momentum (run fast) to get through crossings and turnouts.  Pretty frustrating.

After quite a bit of exploring and testing and examining I believe I found that the S4 trucks didn't have enough "play" to stay in contact with the track when encountering less that perfect spots (of which there are a few).
The 44 turned out to be bad wipers on one side of one truck, so that was a pretty easy fix.  Its running like a champ now!

The S4, more problematic.
I believe it's a poor design, although most every review reports how strongly these little switchers run.  Slow top end, yes, but strong.  Not this one.
I found the trucks to be held, rather tightly in place by a white plastic "clip" over the worm gear of each truck.  Each “clip” has a couple of “ears” that sit on top of the chassis.  This arrangement does not allow much “droop”, hence very little vertical “play”. 
Since the performance of the S4 was in the “throw away” realm I felt I had little to lose from drastic actions. So,…
I cut off the “ears”.  Results in a disconcerting “droop” of the trucks, but wow did it help!  Runs powerfully through even the worse of the “less than perfect” spots on the layout.  Still runs smoothly and quietly.
Might just be my favorite switcher now?


Superchief2SuperchiefB unit

Kato SuperChief

Run as a consist of the A and B Units.
Usually heads the combination Pennsy and Santa Fe SuperChief passenger cars.
Great running units.

In 1935 the Santa Fe inaugurated its premier first class sleeping car only train the "Super Chief". The "Super Chief", often referred to as "The Train of the Stars", was frequently patronized by Hollywood stars because of its fine accommodations, fine dining and fast 39 hr 45 min trip between Chicago and Los Angeles through the rich scenery of the American Southwest. Setting a new standard for luxury rail travel, it quickly became the most recognized train in the United States with its sleek silver and red warbonnet painted F units in the lead.

little yellow

Little Yellow

A Bachmann Spectrum 44 Ton Switcher.
A pretty capable little switcher.
The 1937 diesel agreement ruled that any engine weighing over 90,000 lbs required a fireman. The 44-tonner weighed in at 88,000 lbs, just under the limit. (and skirting the fireman requirement)

Grandma's Switcher
Alco’s 1,000-HP S4 switcher was the fourth entry in the company’s highly successful “S” series of diesel switchers. Their sturdy construction and ease of maintenance made them popular with a wide variety of railroads.
Finicky and low top end.

black beautyPennsy F7 ABlack Beauty B unit

Black Beauty

Built by General Motors in the early 1950‘s, the F7 is one of the most recognizable locomotives of the diesel age. During its peak of popularity, the F7 outsold all locomotives from all other builders combined! Often referred to as “covered wagons” or “bulldogs,” this locomotive was used for all railroad operations, including first class passenger service. Run throughout North America, many F7s are still in use today. These powered A & B units are finished in accurate paint schemes used in the 1950‘s and early 1960‘s.

Mystery Metal Mine


Superchief DCC

Decoder for the Kato Superchief F7

Logging/Mining loop

Playing with the very top of the mountain.
The escaped cars were an accident, but I think I like the concept. :-)
The over/under will both be tunnels, I think.

Steam Engine & Passenger Cars

Steam Engine (E-Bay)


Passenger Cars (DASH)

Possibly available,… Interior Light Kits with Brighter White LED - 6 Lights Set - Kato 11-212


Bachmann EMD GP50